Plugins are packages of code that extend the core functionality of your WordPress site — sort of like adding new applications onto a device in order to allow it to do more or different stuff.
One of the plugins that is pre-installed needs to be activated before it goes into effect: Akismet, which protects you from comment spam. See the section entitled “Managing Comment Spam” on the post WordPress Basics: Comments for instructions on obtaining an Akismet key and activating the plugin. I strongly recommend you turn on Akismet.
Installing New Plugins
You can install new plugins in much the same way that you would install apps on your mobile device:
- Login to your WordPress dashboard. In the sidebar, choose
Plugins > Add New
- In the search bar at the top right, you can search for plugins to install. There are literally thousands of plugins to choose from, but if there’s something you want to do try searching for something and seeing what you get. Pay attention to how recently a plugin has been updated. You can click on the “More details” link for each plugin to get additional information.
- Once you find a plugin you like, just click on the “Install Now” button and then Activate the plug-in once it’s installed to turn it on.
- Some plugins will add items to your sidebar, sometimes with settings you need to adjust. Others just operate passively in the background.
Featured Images in RSS
I don’t really understand why, but for whatever reason when you set a featured image in a post, that image is not included in the RSS feed for your site. That’s why if you currently look at the Student Posts category page, there are no images accompanying your posts, even if you had a featured image assigned.
We can fix that with a plug in called “Featured Images in RSS & Mailchimp Email,” but it requires that each of you install the plugin. Follow the instructions above for installing a plugin and search for the plugin by that name. Install and activate the plugin (you do not need to upgrade to the premium version). Then go to Featured Images in RSS Feeds in your sidebar and set the options (set the size to be large or medium-large and have the image centered above the text). Save the settings.
Dynamic Content Widget
I mentioned in class the widget that I use to put my image credit information in the sidebar, which is called Dynamic Widget Content. I find that plugin useful, and you might as well. You don’t need to use it but if you do, it does two things:
- It adds a separate text editor area underneath your post editor. You can add additional content just like you use the main text editor, but that information publishes to a widget.
- It adds a widget type called “Dynamic Content Widget.”
Once you’ve activated the plugin go to
Appearance > Widgets and add the Dynamic Content Widget to your sidebar, or wherever you want that information to show up.
The way I use this is that as I write a post, when I add an image as the featured image, I then go over to the Dynamic text editor and add my attribution text. It’s a little more convenient than putting that text in the Media Library caption box because I have the formatting tools available in the text editor, so I don’t need to add links with HTML code. It also standardizes my image attributions throughout the site, making it easier to find without being distracting within the post itself.