How to Update a Plugin

How to Update a Plugin

For the security of your website, it is important to keep your plugins and WordPress code up-to-date.  Some security plugins will let you know when a plugin needs to be updated.   More recent versions of WordPress will update the core code on its own and a few plugins can be set to automatically update but most have to be done manually.

How do you know if your plugin needs an update?

When you log into your WordPress dashboard, WordPress will notify you there are plugin updates by putting that number in a red circle next to the Plugin link.  Click into your Plugins page and you will quickly see what plugin(s) needs updating.    In this example, the Akismet Anti-Spam plugin needs updating.

Before updating any plugin, it is always a good idea to back up your website externally to something like Google Drive or Dropbox. 

After backing up your website, feel free to read the change details included in the update – this is a good way to learn more about how your website works. I recommend this after backing up your website because backing up your website should always be your first step.

Update the Plugin

To update the plugin, click on the Update Now link in the peach section under the plugin.  Hang tight and leave the site alone while the spinner shows the update is being completed.  Once the update is complete, you’ll get a green check mark showing the update was successful.

Once the plugin is updated, go back and check the front end of your website (what your website visitor sees).  Make sure everything looks good.  It should be fine but it is always good to check after an update to make sure the update is successful on the front end too.

Multiple Plugin Updates

If you have multiple plugins to update, avoid the temptation to have them update simultaneously.  That is an easy way to have a code failure and break your site. (Read: NEVER update more than one plugin at a time.)  Instead, follow these steps:

  1. Backup your website
  2. Update the first plugin
  3. Once the plugin update is done, check the front-end of your site – click thru a page or two
  4. Repeat, starting with step 2 until all plugins are updated.

Adding Images to the Meta Slider

Adding Images to the Meta Slider

The Meta Slider plugin is one of my go-to options for adding a photo slider in a WordPress website. These instructions can help you add photos to an existing slider.

Start with photos all the same size

1.  Make sure your photos are all the same pixel size.  That way they will fit nicely within the slider space

2.  Compress your photo(s) at tinypng.com, https://tinypng.com/ – this is a free tool to compress your image size – quality will not be compromised.

  • Upload the image and then download the compressed version.  You can do this for 20 photos at a time.

3. From your dashboard navigate to Meta Slider at the bottom of the left sided navigation menu

4. Once you’ve opened the Meta Slider, you’ll see the slides

5. Media library showing images for a meta slider.On the right hand side above the blocks for the slides there is button Add Slide – click this and you will be brought to the Media Library where you can either use an image already in the Media Library or Upload Files

6.  Select your image and click the blue Add to slider button at the bottom of the screen

Image showing the General and SEO tabs in a Meta Slider.7.  Once you’ve added your photo, using the General tab, you can add a link if you want the slider image to be clickable to a page in your website or another website

Note:  If you want the link to open into a new window, click the New Window box on the right

8.  Next to the General tab is the SEO tab.  Click on this tab to write a short sentence in the Image Alt Text box.  Search engines and screen readers use this text.  It should briefly describe the image.

The Image Title Text is used to create a little pop up box of information when you hover over the image.

Once your photos are in the slider, click the blue Save button on the right.

Refresh the page your slider is on and you should see the new photos in the slider.  Have fun with it!

What is a Plugin?

A plugin is a package of software/code that gives you the opportunity to add new features.  The plugin extends the function to your website beyond the base core code of WordPress.  The base WordPress code is designed to be lightweight and avoid code bloat.  Rather than a one-size-fits all solution that adds lots of code you do not need, use WordPress core code and then customize your website’s function through plugins.  This allows you to have the functionality you want your website to offer, such as a slideshow, photo gallery or a contact form without a lot of unnecessary bloat to slow your site down.

What is a Plugin?

Written in the programming language PHP, plugins work with WordPress code.   They often have other assets such as images and may incorporate other coding languages.  Using them allows you to increase your website features without needing to write code on your own.  You can use free or paid/premium plugins through the WordPress repository or other online resources.  Be careful where you get your plugin so that you can be sure it helps rather than hurts your site with unwanted malicious code.

Where to Find a Plugin?

WordPress offers a repository of plugins that are vetted by WordPress core developers.  At this writing, there are 51,937 plugins in the repository.

So, Where Do You Start?

Well, decide what feature you want to add to your site.  Is it a slideshow or a contact form?  Use the search feature provided in the repository to narrow down the results.  Looking up slideshow left me with 71 pages of plugins to chose from.  Don’t despair if you get this many results back.  Here are some things to think about before making your choice:

  • Has the plugin been tested with the most current version of WordPress?  Not sure?  Check this link to find out the current version off WordPress.
    • As of this writing, WordPress is at version 4.8.1.  If you are looking at a plugin that was tested with WordPress 2.5, it’s probably not going to be as stable with the current code as you’d like it to be.
    • Developers that are keeping up-to-date with the WordPress core code are more likely to be maintaining their plugins, making them safer and more reliable to use.
  • How many active installs?
    • Each plugin tells you how many installs are active on websites.  Some will have a few hundred, few thousand, hundred thousand, or a million or more.  The numbers are rounded:
      • 30+ active installs
      • 50,000+ active installs
      • 700,000+ active installs
  • What kind of reviews and how many?
    • A plugin with 4 stars and 1,952 reviews v. a plugin with 5 stars and 3 reviews.  Read the reviews.
  • Support
    • While on the plugin repository, pick a plugin and then click the support tab.  Has the developer answered the questions?

Still not sure?  See if WP Beginner or another, similar, site has any reviews before you decide.

 

User Roles

WordPress uses a concept of User Roles, designed to give the site owner the ability to control what users can and cannot do within the site. A site owner can manage the user access to such tasks as writing and editing posts, creating Pages, defining links, creating categories, moderating comments, managing plugins, managing themes, and managing other users, by assigning a specific role to each of the users.  https://codex.wordpress.org/Roles_and_Capabilities

WordPress comes with six roles with varying capabilities:

  • Super Admin – gives access to the site network administration and all features
  • Administrator – gives access to the administration features within a single site
  • Editor – gives the ability to publish and manage posts, including posts of other users
  • Author – gives the ability to publish and manage their own posts
  • Contributor – gives the ability to write and manage posts but cannot publish
  • Subscriber – gives the ability to manage their own profile

Creating a New User

Creating a new user role in WordPress.

To add a new user, navigate to Users in the left hand sidebar of the dashboard.  When you click on Users in the menu, a carrot will appear on the right of the menu bar and the Users option will drop down revealing three options:  All Users, Add New and Your Profile.

As with creating pages, posts or adding another image to your Medial Library, simply click on the Add New link under Users to create a new user.

 

Image showing the form fields for adding a new user.

After you click on that Add New link, you’ll be brought to a page called Add New User.  Here you will have the opportunity to input:

  • Username, which is required
  • Email address, also required
  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Website
  • Password – WordPress will generate one for you – just click on the Show Password to see and copy the password.  Remember to save this somewhere safe!
  • Role – here is where you choose the new user’s role.  The system automatically defaults to the subscriber role.  If you want to grant someone  more privileges than that, click on the caret and select a different role for your new user.

You also get the option to send the new user an email notification about their new role in your WordPress website.

Once you’ve completed all the form fields, click on the Add New User button to complete the process and make the new user an official part of your website.  Added bonus:  as an administrator, you’ll also get an email from WordPress letting you know a New User has been registered.  A great way to keep track if you have multiple administrators.

Changing a User Role

If sometime in the future you’d like to change a user’s role, here is what you can do (assuming you have the administrative privileges of an admin user):

  • Navigate to Users >> All Users
  • Hover over the User you want to change.  Below their username an Edit link will pop up
  • This will bring you to the Edit User ___________ page
  • In the name section, immediately below the username is the Role option with a drop down list.  Change the role and scroll to the bottom of the page to Update User.

 

Adding a PDF to Your Page or Post

While it may seem like a lot of steps, adding a PDF to Your Page or Post can be pretty painless.  The process is similar to adding a photo and will get easier after each time you successfully upload a PDF.  Here are the steps:

Adding a PDF to Your Page or Post

  1. Navigate to an existing Post or Page or create a new Page or Post.
  2. Adding a PDF to Your Page or Post - Insert Media screen image.Click into your Page or Post where you want your PDF link to go.
  3. Click on the Add Media button above the toolbar.
  4. In the Insert Media screen choose Upload Files.
  5. Navigate to the PDF you want uploaded to your site and click Open on the bottom right of your screen.
  6. Once the PDF has been uploaded, click on the blue Insert into post button on the lower right of your screen.
  7. The link to your PDF will be inserted into the Page or Post.
  8. Remeber to Save Draft or Publish your changes.

To Upload a PDF to Use at a Later Time

  1. From the Dashboard menu, click Media >> Add New or click Media to go to the Media Library and then click on the Add New button.
  2. Click the Select Files button to access the files on your computer.
  3. Select the file you want to upload.
  4. Click the Open button.
  5. When the upload is complete, you will see the new file in your Media Library.

Note: If the file does not open, then the file type is not supported.  There are file types WordPress won’t upload.