WordPress Tutorial 3: How to Install a New Plugin, Theme, or Widget

This is part 3 in an ongoing series on WordPress. Please see Part 1: WordPress Tutorial 1: Installation Setup and Part 2: WordPress Tutorial 2: Terminology and Part 4: WordPress Tutorial 4: Recommended WordPress Plugins. Please note that this guide is primarily intended for customers utilizing a Linux server running cPanel. If you do not have a Linux server with cPanel please see the documentation at wordpress.org for further assistance.

The three most common changes you will make to your website involve the look (themes), the functionality (plugins), and modular elements (widgets).

Here we will briefly define each again, and give you directions on how to install them. For longer explanations, see part 2 in this series.

Installing a New Theme

A theme is a group of files that work together to define and build what your WordPress installation will look like to anyone that visits your site. WordPress stores its themes in a subfolder of the ‘wp-content’ directory called ‘themes’ that you will find in the root directory of your WordPress installation. For example: Assuming WordPress is installed in the main document root for the domain: ‘/home/username/public_html/wp-content/themes/’

To install a new theme using SSH:

  1. Log in to the server via SSH as the user (not root, or you will run into permissions problems).
  2. Download the the theme package (usually a zip file) to the themes directory, unzip, and then remove the zip file when done.
    [benny@host /home/benny/public_html/wp-content/themes/]
    : wget http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/download/constructor.1.2.1.zip
    [benny@host /home/benny/public_html/wp-content/themes/]
    : gunzip constructor.1.2.1.zip
    [benny@host /home/benny/public_html/wp-content/themes/]
    : rm constructor.1.2.1.zip

To activate the new theme:

  1. Log in to the WP admin interface.
  2. Click on the Appearance button/link on the left side of the interface.
  3. Your new theme should now appear in the list of theme thumbnails. Click on it, then click “Activate Theme” near the top right of the preview window.
  4. The new theme will now be active for your entire site.

NOTE: You may have to clear your browser cache to see the change, even if there are no caching plugins installed.

Installing a New Plugin

A plugin is any group of php files that work together with your theme and your WordPress installation to increase functionality in your site. WordPress stores its plugins in a subfolder of the ‘wp-content’ directory called ‘plugins’. For example: Assuming WordPress is installed in the main document root for the domain: ‘/home/username/public_html/wp-content/plugins/’.

To install a new plugin using SSH:

  1. Log in to the server via SSH as the user (not root, or you will run into permissions problems).
  2. Download the the plugin package (usually a zip file) to the plugins directory, unzip, and then remove the zip file when done.
    [benny@host /home/benny/public_html/wp-content/plugins/]
    : wget http://downloads.wordpress.org/plugin/wp-super-cache.0.9.9.3.zip
    [benny@host /home/benny/public_html/wp-content/plugins/]
    : gunzip wp-super-cache.0.9.9.3.zip
    [benny@host /home/benny/public_html/wp-content/plugins/]
    : rm wp-super-cache.0.9.9.3.zip

To activate the new plugin:

  1. Log in to the WP admin interface.
  2. Click the Plugins button/link on the left side of the interface.
  3. Find your new plugin in the Inactive Plugins list and click the Activate link.
  4. The page will reload and show the plugin as active.
  5. The Edit button/link next to each plugin allows you to edit the actual PHP code of the plugin. NOTE: this only works if the files are writable by the server.

Widget (sidebar) Management

Widgets are what WordPress calls the individual sections of the sidebar(s) (generally where public plugins will be displayed), and are extremely customizable and flexible.

Important Note: A fresh installation of WordPress will automatically load a few basic widgets into the default theme’s sidebars (categories, meta-login, links/blogroll, etc.), which will disappear as soon as you modify the widget settings/layouts in the admin interface.

Things to keep in mind:

  • When using a three column theme, Sidebar 1 refers to the sidebar on the left, and Sidebar 2 refers to the sidebar on the right.
  • Widgets can be added from the middle column which displays all available widgets by default.
  • The blue-ish bars on the right represent the order in which the widgets are displayed in the sidebars. These bars can be dragged-and-dropped to reorder them.
  • The “Edit” link on the right side of each blue bar allows you to modify the contents of that particular widget.
  • The “Text” widget is particularly useful in that you can easily ad new code-based widgets like Google Adwords, Flickr user badges, etc.

Conclusion

Now that you know how to install and manage themes and plugins, you are starting to discover the true power of WordPress. Get started by installing our recommended plugins.

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support@liquidweb.com
https://manage.liquidweb.com/

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