Installing Themes and Plugins

WordPress became popular after it adopted Themes and Plugins concept. Themes enable quick complete design change of a site, and Plugins enable easy expandability of the additional functions. Basically you can do almost everything with WordPress with these features. Just like the WordPress itself, many of the themes and plugins are free and under GNU license. WordPress.org is hosting repository of themes and plugins and they are all under GNU license, so you can download them and use them freely even for the commercial purpose. (In fact, WordPress.org will not host the plugin or theme if it is not under GNU)

1. How to install and use Themes

Installation and Settings

WordPress.org has GNU Free Themes and they are very good. You can access them from the ‘Add New Themes’ menu under ‘Appearance’. You can search themes by using particular search keywords , tag, or by Author. Also you can use predefined filters to find the themes. However, we recommend you to start with ‘Featured’ menu first. This menu presents the most popular or featured themes from the wordpress.org. They are very sophisticated , nicely created themes.

Once you find the one that you like, you can install and activate it easily by clicking the ‘install’ link. The downloading and installation processes are done at the server side , so you don’t download any files to you desktop computer. It’s very simple and easy.

If you want to install a theme from other website than wordpress.org., you can do so under the ‘upload’ menu. (Right below ‘Install Themes’ title) First download the theme as zip file and upload into your wordpress blog using the ‘upload’ menu. The rest of the setup process is the same as previous.

Some of the themes have their own theme setting page. This setting can be accessed under ‘Appearance’ Menu, usually the last submenu item. Its about tweaking the theme. You can fine tune the theme setting. For example, ‘Fusion’ theme has options for the custom background image, logo image, sidebar position, and additional CSS.

‘Editor’ menu is used to modify the theme files. If you want to make the layout change or to enhance or to make it as unique theme, use this menu. But if you are modifying files to add additional codings (Javascript or hidden html) for Google Adsense or Analytics, do not directly modify the themes but use plugins or widgets because eventually you may want to change the theme and once you switch to different theme, the codes will not work any more.

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Widgets

Widgets are little modules or addons that you can insert into the sidebar. Many of the latest themes are widget ready, but not all supports it. Most popular Widgets are Category, Calendar, Search box, Tag Cloud, and Recent Comments. Also many popular plugins come with widgets that you can use in your side bar — such as Adsense or Twitter related Plugins.

Click on the Appearance menu and then Widgets menu. There are two columns on the page. Left side column represents available widgets and right side column represents the sidebar. To setup a new widget, just drag the widget item from the Left column to the Right side column. That’s it. By the way, for some widgets, you will need to define the required setting before it can be used properly.

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2. How to install and use Plugins

Installation and Settings

Plugins is where everything gets truly interesting. Under ‘Plugins’ menu, click on the ‘Add New’ submenu. The first pages shows search box that you can search wordpress.org’s plugin repository. You can search by keywords, tags , and author. The search results shows the list of related plugins. And you can easily install and activate the plugin using the ‘Install’ link. Personally, I think plugin management page can use some enhancement that it shows screenshot of each plugin if there is one.

You may want to try ‘Featured’ link right under ‘Install Plugins’ Title. It lists the popular plugins in the order of high to low popularity.

Just like the themes, you can install non-wordpess.org plugin by downloading the zip file into your desktop and again uploading that file to the server from the ‘Upload’ (right under ‘Install Plugin’ title)page

Once you install and activate the plugin, you should go to the plugin’s option page. Usually the option page is located under ‘Settings’ Menu with the submenu name as same as the plugin’s name. (However the menu name is the developers preference.) Make sure you read the instruction on this page thoroughly. Most of the time, all the necessary guides are described in the settings page.

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Typical usage

There are different kinds of plugins to do different things. But many plugins are related to dynamically changing text and adding additional information to the article content. For this type of case, plugin can be used by embedding the specific tag developer has chosen. This tag or shortcode usually starts with angle, curly, or square bracket and contains unique keyword to distinguish itself from other texts. Some plugins provide editor button to insert the shortcodes into the post easily.

See the below image for your reference. I used [hana-flv-player /] as the shortcode for my plugin ‘Hana Flv Player’ . User can insert below shortcode to show Flash Video Player inside the blog post.

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Here are the wordpress.org’s themes and plugins repository links.

WordPress.org Plugins Resource

WordPress.org Themes Resource

For more questions, please use forum: http://wpmarketing.org/forum/forum/wordpress

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