What is a plugin?

A plugin is a piece of code that expands the functionality of software in one way or another. They are basically special features that you can can activate and apply to your blog. Because WordPress is open source software, there are numerous plugins to allow you to add capabilities to your site.

WordPress blogs on Georgetown Commons (a.k.a. private course blogs) already have a set of plugins that are installed and just need to be activated to begin using.

WordPress blogs for personal use through a third party web hosting site or through Georgetown Domains do not have the same set of installed plugins as the Commons. For these blogs you can install and use any plugin available through WordPress.

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Installing

As stated above, WordPress blogs that are not through Georgetown Commons can add as many plugins to the site as wanted or needed. To add a plugin, go to your Dashboard. Find "Plugins" - "Add New" along the left-hand side. From there, you can install any available plugin you want by clicking the "Install Now" button beside the name and description of the plugin.

Activating

To activate a plugin, go to your Dashboard - "Plugins". There you'll see that you can access a list of "active" and "inactive" plugins via links at the top of the page. You can activate or deactivate plugins using these links or the main list of all the plugins. The first choice underneath each plugin is to either activate or deactivate. For some plugins, features will appear as extra features on the left of your dashboard. The CampusPress plugin, for example, will add a "CampusPress" section below your "Settings." Other plugins will integrate new sub-categories in the sections that already exist, like "Tools" or "Settings". Only plugins that have been deactivated can be deleted from the list of installed plugins.

Only administrators of a blog can install and activate plugins.

Widgets

Widgets are a "simple way to arrange the various elements of your sidebar content" (WordPress Codex). Examples of popular widgets include log-in tools, RSS feeds, a list of blog pages, a list of links (your "blogroll"), and a list of blog authors. In WordPress, you can drag and drop these modules into your sidebar and arrange them in the order that you would like to have them appear on your sidebar.

Adding widgets to your blog

To browse the widgets that are available to you, go to Dashboard - "Appearance" - "Widgets." You will see a list of "Available Widgets", a list of "Inactive Widgets," and on the left a "Sidebar" box. Drag and drop your "available" or "inactive" widgets over to the sidebar box. You can then open the widgets by clicking on the downward arrow beside them; most give you the option of renaming them or changing some of their display properties. If you want to remove a widget, simply drag it back over to "Inactive Widgets," and it will save the settings you have changed until the next time you want to use that widget.

Troubleshooting

Some themes come with predefined widgets in the sidebar, and by adding widgets in the appearance menu you might overwrite the current defaults. However, you can add them back as you wish.

To learn how to add customized links to the sidebar, click here.

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Useful Examples

Google Analytics Dashboard
Admin Widget
Authors Widget
WP Google Maps
Elementor Page Builder
This plugin allows you to use Google Analytics to track your blog. You can view general Google Analytics reports, in-depth Page reports and in-depth Post reports so that you can see the performance details for each post or page from your website Dashboard. You will need to set up a Google Analytics account to get a tracking ID number from the property settings under admin menu on the Google Analytics site to assign to your blog after you install this plugin. This plugin is only available to those who use Georgetown Domains or another web-hosting site. It is not available to Georgetown Commons.
This Admin plugin adds a sidebar widget that lists the administrators/instructors in the blog when activated. It also provides the number of posts written by each admin beside their name. To to put the widget onto the sidebar menu, drag the "Admin" widget over to the right "Sidebar" menu. Name the widget "Admins" (or your relevant name of choice), then click "Save." This plugin is automatically downloaded to blogs that are on Georgetown Commons. It is available to all other WordPress users but must be downloaded individually.
This Authors plugin adds a sidebar widget that lists the authors in the blog once activated. It also provides the number of posts written by each author beside their name. To to put the widget onto the sidebar menu, drag the "Authors" widget over to the right "Sidebar" menu. Name the widget "Authors" (or your relevant name of choice), then click "Save." This plugin is automatically downloaded to blogs that are on Georgetown Commons. It is available to all other WordPress users but must be downloaded individually.
This plugin allows you to create custom Google Maps. If you don't have this plugin, there is a simple way to embed a map that you can read in the Content section. The maps without this plugin are basic and cannot be changed once they are placed in the page or post. You can have maps with locations, descriptions, images, categories, links and directions. You can also edit them in the Dashboard instead of re-downloading them from Google Maps. This plugin cannot be installed through Georgetown Commons.
This plugin is an advanced drag and drop page builder and editor. It can be used with any theme or design in WordPress. The many widgets that this plugin offers for creating pages include buttons, pictures, tabs, counters, image slideshow, and anchors. Elementor also allows regular WordPress sidebar elements like Categories, Pages, Recent Posts, and more to be inserted when needed. They are not automatically added as they are on a regular WordPress blog. The design of this plugin is fast and easy to use. This plugin cannot be installed with Georgetown Commons.

There are many thousands of such pieces of code in the WordPress plugin repository. Here is a link for your to check the best WordPress Plugins: http://www.wpbeginner.com/category/plugins.

Related Topics:

WordPress Page       WordPress Post         WordPress Content         WordPress Themes