Plugins are a huge part of a custom blog design or custom website design.  As a blog designer, I do not know what I would do without them, they truly put the “custom” in custom blog design.  A WordPress blog design template, out of the box, is pretty boring.  That’s where blog designers come in, they add the graphics, fonts and general “zhush” to a basic blog.  But that’s just the appearance, or the makeup, as I like to say.  Your custom blog design needs to be functional as well as attractive.  That is where WordPress plugins come in.  What exactly is a plugin? Plugins are simply bits of software or code that extend the functionality of your blog design template.  The good thing is, you don’t need to know how to code or design to add them into your custom blog design.  Some examples of plugins include Pinterest Pin It buttons, Facebook like boxes, slideshows, photo galleries, and more.  I’m going to share how to add a new plugin to your blog.  You can watch the video or view each step below.

Step 1:
Step 1In your blog dashboard, go to Plugins > Add New.

Step 2:
Step 2In the search box on the top right corner, you can search plugins.  Now, you might have seen a plugin you want to add.  you can type the name of it here.  You can also type whatever you are looking for, eg. “Pinterest Pin It button.”  This will bring up all of the plugins that allow you to pin images on Pinterest.  Now, it’s totally okay to install a plugin to test it out, if you don’t want to use it, you can deactivate it.  Adding a plugin will not interefere with your custom blog design or blog design template, so it’s fine to add a plugin, try it, and delete it if you don’t like it.

Step 3:
Step 3After entering your search term, you will be presented with a selection of plugins related to that term.  For this example, I searched “image widget”.  I am looking for a widget that will allow me to add images to my sidebar.

Step 4:
Step 4

Plugins are sorted by ratings.  It’s good practice to choose a plugin that has a high number of active installs.  This means that the plugin has been installed and is in use on many blog designs.  I selected the Simple Image Widget.  To install, just click the “Install Now” button next to the plugin name.

Step 5:
Step 5

A loading screen will appear.  To activate the plugin, just click the blue Activate Plugin link.

Step 6:
Step 7

Where will my plugin appear after I have installed it?  Sometimes, dependent on the plugin, the plugin can be set up under the Settings link, but most often, you should go to Appearance > Widgets in your blog dashboard to view the plugin.  To add the plugin to the sidebar, simply select it from the available widgets columns on left, and drag it where you want to appear on your sidebar.  Now, you can learn how to manage your plugins by viewing my tutorial on Managing Widgets.

Plugins can be complicated.  If Little Blue Deer is your blog designer and has designed your blog template, many plugins will already be installed and configured to match your custom blog design.  However, don’t be afraid of plugins, they are also a great way to experiment and get comfortable with WordPress and to customize and improve the functionality of your blog designs.