A Beginner’s Guide To Selecting Themes And Plugins For WordPress Websites

Gary Green
Gary Green
July 1, 2023

Launching your first WordPress website can be very exciting, but you need to ensure that it looks and functions exactly the way you need it to and that can be daunting. Fortunately, themes and plugins have been created to simplify the process. These add-ons allow you to effortlessly customise your site’s functionality and appearance, and by harnessing the power of these helpful tools, you’ll be able to build you site so it matches your vision while also giving visitors an optimal experience.

Plugins – An Overview

A WordPress Plugin is a tool that helps you to enhance your website’s functionality without ever having to learn how to code. Essentially, they’re like apps which give you control over the content of your site. 

WordPress Plugins simplify many elements of building your site. It’s possible to use tools that add contact forms to pages and even tools that improve your site’s SEO. Plugins can alter the features of your site in several ways. You can add elements like social media sharing buttons or even achieve large tasks such as translating content into several languages. Plugins can also be used to carry out essential maintenance such as backups and scanning for any broken links. Some plugins even let you construct a full store on your site!

Many plugins are completely free, although not all, and some have add-ons and premium versions that cost extra. A paid plugin may give you extra features, support, and versatility, but in many cases you won’t require any premium software.

Installing Plugins

Installing plugins is quite easy. You just navigate to the admin dashboard, select “Plugins” then “Add New”. This page allows you to browse suggested plugins but if you already know what you need you can enter the plugin’s name into the search bar. Click on your chosen plugin then click “Install” then “Activate”. Once this is done, you return to the admin dashboard to find the new plugin in its menu.

You can then return to your admin dashboard and locate your newly installed plugin in the menu. Simply select it then you’ll head to a page where the plugin can be configured or potentially upgraded. Plugins can be accessed by going to “plugins” then “installed plugins” where you’ll be able to view all of your website’s plugins. 

Plugins can be configured from here by choosing “Settings”. They can also be removed by clicking “Deactivate” and “Delete.” Premium plugins can be installed from here too. 

WordPress Themes – An Overview 

Plugins are designed to control what a WordPress website can do. Themes, meanwhile, allow you to make changes to the way your website looks. Themes include various design elements like colours, fonts, and page layouts. It’s important to note that, while several plugins can be activated simultaneously, only a single theme can be active at once. 

There are several WordPress default themes and, like plugins, some are free while others are premium options that you need to pay for. In most cases, a free theme will suffice to get you up and running. Also, all free themes from WordPress are officially reviewed before being featured on the platform so you can rest assured that they’re entirely secure. Should you require any extra features, more updates, and extra support, you may need to buy one of the premium themes and these can be found either through WordPress’s directory or via marketplaces such as Theme Forest where they can be bought direct from the developer. It’s worth noting, however, that paid themes aren’t all required to be officially reviewed, so it’s important to look at the user reviews when considering purchasing themes from third party websites, as well as their last update. 

Installing Themes On WordPress Websites 

The good news is that it couldn’t be easier to install a theme on your WordPress website. First, you’ll need to go to “Appearance” then “Themes” on the dashboard to access the Themes page. There, you’ll be able to view your existing theme and customise it if you wish. If you’d like to alter the theme, just click on “Install theme”. The next page will allow you to select either from a trending or recommended WordPress theme. 

Alternatively, you can search via the search bar for a specific theme or use the Feature Filter option which sorts themes by layouts, features, and subjects. As soon as you’ve found your ideal theme for your site, just hover over its image thumbnail, click “Details and Preview” and you can find out more about the features it can offer. You’ll also have the chance to preview the theme’s demo to let you know whether it’s the right choice for your needs. Should you be pleased with your choice, just click “Install” then “Activate”. 

Depending on your chosen theme, it’s possible you can change some elements of the design. You can access those settings by going to “Appearance” then “Themes”, locating the active theme then clicking “Customise”. You’ll then be taken to the Customiser where it’s possible to edit the theme to suit your preferences. 

For example, it’s sometimes possible to alter the posts and blog page layout, or add your site title and logo to the header, or configure the main menu. Don’t forget that you’ll need to save any changes you make though. Once you’ve completed this, you’ll have installed your theme and you can get started with the rest of creating your new website!

Choosing The Right Plugins And Themes For Me

It can often feel overwhelming when you’re creating a website of your own for the first time, but luckily, WordPress supplies plenty of plugins and themes that will help you to build your website and customise it to suit your needs with ease. A plugin will allow you to add more features that bring extra functionality to a website, while themes enable modification of the pages’ appearances. As they’re quick and easy to select and install, you’ll soon be up and running. 

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