Meetup: Intro to WordPress plugins

Thanks to everyone who joined us at the Whitby Public Library for our Intro to WordPress plugins meetup. We had 17 attendees join us in person, and we streamed the session to the WP Durham group on Facebook.

As mentioned during the meetup, we’ve installed the bbPress plugin and opened registrations on this website. That way we’re not relying on Facebook (or any other 3rd party platforms) to host our discussions.

Create your user account to join our group.

After you’ve created an account and logged in, head over to the forums to ask questions and chat with other group members. Keep in mind that all discussions are public for now, so that other folks can find and benefit from the stuff we share.

Now… on to the recap!

Plugins 101 with Matt

Where do you find plugins?

  • The WordPress plugin directory (repository)
  • 3rd party plugin marketplaces
  • Word of mouth — ask the community!

If you need it, chances are it already exists — there’s a plugin for that.

Types of plugins

  • Site Speed (caching, cdn, optimizations)
  • Visitor Engagement (newsletters, social media, forums)
  • Discoverability (search engine optimization, xml sitemaps, schema)
  • User Research (analytics, heat maps)
  • Content  (page builders, landing page creators, form builders, content blocks)
  • Security (user password requirements, spam blocking, attack mitigation)
  • eCommerce (shopping cart, product database, payment gateways)
  • Core Extension (LMS, multilingual, event management, media management)

Not everything is free

  • Free (plugin directory)
  • Freemium (free in plugin directory, paid upgrade from developers)
  • Paid/premium only
  • You get what you pay for!

Reviewing plugins

  • Check plugin information – description, screenshots, last updated
  • Reviews/ratings – what people are saying, issues they’re having

Protecting from new plugins/updates gone wrong

  • Run backups first – use your web host, a backup plugin, or a separate service
  • Test plugins and plugin updates on a separate copy of your site (i.e. staging)

Installing plugins

  • Go to Plugins > Add New
  • Search for a plugin by name or keyword
  • Click Install Now, or click the plugin name to review details
  • After clicking Install, the plugin isn’t activated yet
  • Click Activate to turn on the plugin
  • What happens after the installation depends on the plugin
  • Often you’ll need to configure the plugin settings after installation

What plugins are people looking for?

For exporting the entire website into JSON w/ CMB2

  • WP All Export, WP All Import
  • All-in-one WP Migration
  • Querying the WordPress SQL database
  • Back WP Up, Updraft Plus, Backup Buddy

Events calendar

  • The Event Calendar


  • NextGEN
  • Envira
  • Foo Gallery
  • Galleries in WordPress core
  • Jetpack


  • Breezy (?)
  • Super Cache
  • W3 Total Cache
  • WP Rocket
  • Some hosts provide their own caching

Good security plugins?

  • Sucuri
  • Wordfence
  • Jetpack
  • Limit Login Attempts
  • iThemes Security

Recommended plugins from the group


  • Sucuri
  • Really Simple SSL
  • iThemes Security
  • Wordfence


  • PublishPress
  • SEOPress
  • Page Links To […]
  • Google Site Kit
  • Jetpack


  • Gravity Forms
  • Ninja Forms
  • Contact Form 7

Performance Optimization

  • WP Super Cache
  • Fast Velocity Minify
  • Imagify
  • WP Rocket (premium)
  • Optimize DB after deleting revisions
  • Delete Expired Transients
  • Transients Manager


  • Hotjar
  • Crazyegg
  • Google Site Kit

Custom Post Types

  • Advanced Custom Fields
  • CMB2
  • Pods
  • Custom Post Type UI



  • All 404 Redirect to Homepage
  • Disable All Comments

Next topics for the group?

Note: We’re going to flip these over to a spreadsheet so folks can volunteer to present on certain topics.

  • Intro to WordPress themes
  • Intro to data privacy, legal considerations
  • Intro to hosting
  • Deep dive on cPanel
  • Managing WordPress sites / multiple sites
  • Contact forms, working with forms, connecting forms to other stuff
  • Intro to forms; deep dive on forms
  • Two session types:
    • Intro topics (beginners/users)
    • Web design & development (intermediate/advanced)
  • Intro to eCommerce
  • Deep dive on the world of WooCommerce
  • Site clinics / working sessions
  • Show and tell (quarterly / seasonal social?) casual socials
  • Intro to web accessibility
  • Connecting to a CDN
  • Themes
  • Page Builders

Thanks again to everyone who joined us! And don’t forget to create your account.

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