People who are just starting out with a self-hosted WordPress site might find the terms and options completely overwhelming. This is meant to be an introduction to plugins and widgets.
Oftentimes the two terms are used interchangeably, but there are slight differences.
A plugin is basically – an add on. It’s like a mini piece of software that you install on your site to allow you some extra functionality. A plugin might change the way your fonts look, change the design of your comments, or give you the ability to show ads, feature posts, etc.
A widget is like a plugin except it is limited to the sidebar, header, and footer. A widget gives you extra perks but generally they are options like a GoodReads button, a Paypal button, a widget that allows you to feature a post, etc.
Plugins can be widgets and widgets are always plugins – but plugins can be more than widgets.
Whenever I do a blog consult, I install a handful of plugins that I consider a “must”. These are plugins that help your site run more smoothly. With thousands of options out there, it might be overwhelming to choose! Use this list when setting up your own self-hosted WordPress blog for a bundle of widgets and add-ons your blog shouldn’t be without. I consider these beginner-friendly.
How to find these widgets
Go to plugins. When you get to the page, click on the button that says Add New. Type the title of the plugin into the search bar. The ones I’ve mentioned should be right at the top of the search results. These are all well-loved and highly-rated plugins. If you don’t find it, you can go to theWordPress plugin page and search there.
I installed a plugin and now I can’t get into my site
Once in a while, a plugin has an error that triggers a crash of your site. This is fairly common and host providers who’ve listened to frantic bloggers on the phone affectionately call it, “THE WP WHITE SCREEN OF DEATH.” If this happens to you, call your host provider and have them restore your site to what it was before you installed the plugin. When it is back up and running, immediately delete the plugin and do not attempt to use it again!
Don’t forget to update your plugins!
When you login to your site, you may see a number next to your plugin page. That means you need to update your plugins. You can do it individually or globally. Keep them up to date so they are free of bugs and glitches.