WordPress Plugins: A Useful Guide to Know the Basics

Saud Razzak

WordPress has become the most used and powerful CMS due to its ease of use and flexibility. There are tons of WordPress plugins available for free download from the WordPress.org Plugin Directory. There are also premium or paid WordPress plugins.

Today’s in this tutorial I am going to educate you the basic WordPress plugin fundamentals as soon as is realize it will easy.

Here are the some of the WordPress plugin basics I would like to acknowledge you.

WordPress Plugin Basics

  • 1. Exploring WordPress Plugins
  • 2. Configure WordPress Plugins
  • 3. Where Plugins reside in WordPress
  • 4. Understand What Makes a Plugin
  • 5. Write a Simple Plugin
  • 6. When to Use a Plugin or a Theme

Exploring WordPress Plugins

In this section, I would like to show you which plugins are and why they are great for WordPress users and developers. To check out the WordPress plugins you need to go WordPress.org → Plugins tab. There are currently more than 46000 plugins available in the repository, which means you can easily download plugins and use them whenever you want to use on your website.

WordPress Plugin

Here you can see some of the Featured Plugins Popular Plugins like Jetpack, bbPress, Yoast, Contact Form 7 etc, and the best part is you don’t need to go deep under the plugin here you can see the plugin details like who develop this plugin, how many downloads, and how people rate this plugin.

WordPress Plugin contact-form-7

Configure WordPress Plugins

In this section we will look at how you can Install, activate, and deactivate plugin also we will learn how you can upgrade and delete the plugin that already been installed.

Log in to your WordPress Dashboard

For login your WordPress admin dashboard you need to add your website URL whatever you have and add the /wp-admin after URL. For example, https://www.abc.com/wp-admin It will through you to the login screen where you can enter your username and password.

WordPress Plugin

After successful login, you will see a plugin tab on your WordPress Dashboard. Click on Plugins tab, here you can manage all of your plugins whatever you have installed.

WordPress Plugin

You can see that here we have three plugins installed by default. On the normal WordPress Dashboard you can see the two default plugin Akismet Anti-Spam, and Hello Dolly.

But I am using Cloudways , WordPress hosting platform where we can have a Breeze – Free WordPress Cache Plugin default on all new WordPress instance launches. (This includes, WordPress Optimized, WooCommerce, and WordPress Multisite).

Now here you can notice we can see some basic information about the plugin like plugin name, description, version, author, and the link to View Detail.

WordPress Plugin name

Add New Plugin

To add a new plugin you need to click on the Add New button from the plugins page.

add a ned WordPress Plugin

Here you can see the WordPress plugin directory, here you can search any plugin whatever you want to use.

WordPress plugin directory

Let’s say I am choosing Contact Form 7. So now I am going to search Contact Form 7 to my search bar and the Install Now this plugin.

WordPress plugin directory

So now, it’s installed but not yet activated. So if you want to run this plugin you need to activate this plugin by clicking on the Activate button.

WordPress plugin contact-form 7

Now you can see the Installed Plugin section, the plugin is activated. You can also deactivate this plugin later by clicking on the Deactivate.


You can also select the bulk option and choose the multiple plugins and then activate, deactivate, upgrade, and delete simultaneously.

WordPress plugin

Now, there are many times you want to add some custom plugin or a plugin from some other source in the WordPress plugin directory. In this case, you need to go Plugins → Add New but this time you need to click Upload Plugin button. And then add your plugin zip file here and then install and activate.

add WordPress plugin

Another option you can see that here and that’s Editor link. Here you can see all of your plugins file. Here you can directly add or delete your code.

Note: “We recommend that you don’t! Editing plugins directly may introduce incompatibilities that break your site and your changes may be lost in future updates.”

Edit WordPress plugin

Where Plugins Reside in WordPress

You can see that the process of WordPress installing plugin is pretty easy, on the above section we look how we can install the plugin via WordPress Dashboard.

Now let’s take a look at the actual folder and files for this WordPress install. To do this I am going to access my website through FileZilla.

Now, if I navigate wp-content/plugins I can see here those plugins which I have already installed like Akismet, Breeze, Hello, and Contact Form 7.

upload WordPress plugin

Now, here you can also see the index.php file which is the default file in the WordPress install and does not need to be edited.

Uploading WordPress Plugin from FileZilla

In the previous section, you can see that I have installed and activated the plugin on the WordPress admin dashboard. But in this step, I am going to show you how you can download the plugin and upload via FileZilla.

Now, let’s take any third-party plugin, for example, Easy Digital Download. This plugin allows you to download plugin zip file from the official website.

upload WordPress plugin

So now I am going to add plugin manually to my WordPress website. I am going to find my plugin zip file in my Download folder then unzip and then upload them from wp-content/plugins folder.


Now go back to your WordPress admin dashboard plugin section, here you can see the Easy Digital Download is there. Now it is not activated, to activate this plugin you need to that WordPress admin section.

WordPress plugin admin

Understand What Makes a Plugin

In the previous section, we have looked the plugin folder and files are physically located within your WordPress install. In this section, we will look at some of the plugin files.

Now, under the plugin folder, you can see some of the plugins I have installed, you can see under the Contact Form 7 plugin folder we have a lot of files and folders, now do you need all of these things? Do you need CSS? Do you need JS? Do you need all of these things in order to be a plugin? No.


Now in the case of Contact Form 7, this is a pretty robust plugin. So there is a lot going on here. A lot of files conversely, let’s close this up and take look at the hello dolly plugin.

Now let’s have a look of Hello Dolly plugin it’s a part of every WordPress install. It is a single file it has not any other folder, under the plugin folder it has a file called hello.php. Download this file and open with any text editor. You can see that everything needed for this plugin happened in just a single file.

WordPress plugin code

Write a Simple Plugin

In this step, I am going to create a simple plugin to demonstrate. So first thing first, I am going to taking a look at WordPress Codex.

Creating a Plugin

Go to the sidebar and then click on the creating a plugin tab. Here you can see the detail review of plugin names, plugin files, and plugin locations.

Plugin Headers

Now, let’s talk about plugin headers, on the WordPress codex page you can see the File Headers tab on the sidebar. Let’s click on this file header and then click the link called Read about this in the plugin developer handbook for detail information on writing headers.

Header Requirements

Here you can see the complete header requirements like plugin name, plugin url, description, version, etc. For further ado, let’s have a look on the image below.


Creating a Simple Plugin

Now, I am going to create a new file called “awesome-portfolio.php” and save this file from wp-content/plugin directory.


No, let’s go back to the plugin screen on my WordPress admin. You can see that there is nothing here called Awesome Portfolio.


So it means I don’t have a plugin called awesome portfolio. So let’s go back to the awesome-portfolio.php file and add  <?php tag and some comments here.



/* Plugin Name: Awesome Portfolio


Next, save your awesome-portfolio.php file and go back to the WordPress admin > plugin tab. Now refresh your page, here you can see that the plugin will appear on your plugin tab.


You can also activate this plugin but it doesn’t do anything because right now there is nothing in the plugin.

Note: Use a unique name of your plugin, if you don’t it will conflict with other plugins in the WordPress repository.

Now, I am going to add other headers element to my awesome-portfolio.php file, like plugin description, author, version, etc. To do this I am going to add the following code to my awesome-portfolio.php file.



* Plugin Name: Awesome Portfolio

* Plugin URI:

* Description: This plugin display a awesome portfolio.

* Version: 0.1.0

* Author: Saud Razzak

* Author URI: https://saudrazzak.com

* License: GPL V3+

* Text Domain: awesome-portfolio

* Domain Path:


Now, I am going to save my file and go back to the WordPress Dashboard → Plugins. Next, I am going to refresh my page.

Awesome! You can see that the all details which I have added to my awesome-portfolio.php file has been seen.


That’s it, we have successfully created a simple WordPress plugin.

When to Use a WordPress Plugin or a Theme

In this section, I am going to tell you something about plugin and themes. Actually, the plugin will help you to create a function of your website on the other hand theme will help you to create a presentation of your website. You can find out the themes and plugins from the WordPress repository.

Final Words!

That’s it, Hope you can easily understand and I am sure you can easily create your simple plugin after reading this tutorial. Thanks for your time, if you have any query feel free to ask me via the comment section below.

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Roshan Bajaj information

Roshan Bajaj is a lazy person who loves sleeping but his passion, love, and persistence for his Team, Mentors, WordPress and Digital Marketing, keeps him at work and he finds peace in it. His hobbies include finding the truth and being happy accepting it.

About Saud Razzak information

Saud Razzak is the WordPress Community Manager at Cloudways - A Managed WooCommerce Hosting Platform. Saud is responsible for creating buzz, spread knowledge, and educate the people about WordPress in the Community around the globe. In his free time, he likes to play cricket and learn new things on the Internet. You can email him at m.saud@cloudways.com.

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