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So, you have finished building your first WordPress blog. Then what? Besides posting, you’ll want to expand the capabilities of the blog by installing some plugins.

Then comes the second question; which plugins exactly? There are literally thousands of WordPress plugins available out there. Too many options. Everybody has different preferences, different needs. Not to mention that WordPress users tend to be happy-go-experimenty-want-to-try-them-all kinda people.

So, which one?

Well, there is one plugin that you must install first before you install any other plugins. It’s called Plugin Central (download it here).
Plugin Central
The reason is simple; this plugin will enable you to install every other plugin easily via the web interface. No more meddling with FTP clients, no more memorizing logins and passwords to the FTP account.

This also means that anytime and anywhere you come across an interesting plugin, you can instantly install it from your blog’s web interface. All you need is the download link of the file, which can be easily obtained by right-clicking on the “download” button on the plugin’s page on the WordPress site.

This plugin can also install multiple files which have already been downloaded and saved in your hard drive (or anywhere, as long as you know the address). This feature will enable the users to copy sets of plugins from one blog to another. A real time saver although I haven’t tried it yet though.

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Another benefit of this plugin over the traditional FTP method is the installation speed. The process can be done in less than two seconds after you click the ‘install’ button (but the timing can vary case by case – it depends on many factors). This is significantly helpful for those who are not fortunate enough to have a lightning speed internet connection (believe it or not, some of us still use that antiquated 56.6 kBps dial up modem – or slower – phone line!)

What I don’t like about “Plugin Central” is that users have to go to the Dashboard to use it. So you have to go back and forth between Dashboard and the Plugin pages to install and activate any other plugins.

Another disadvantage is the installation failure that you will get if the plugin is inside the sub folder of the folder of the zipped file.
Pluginstaller
The second option of this kind of plugin is Pluginstaller (here’s the download link). It’s a bit old, but still compatible up to WordPress 2.5.1. (I think. I’ve tried it but sometimes it gives me an installation failure). This plugin have some advantages over its younger and more powerful companion. Pluginstall can also uninstall plugins that you don’t need anymore. It goes further by telling you which plugins are broken and let you delete them. Anybody who has tried millions of plugins would appreciate this feature.

Moreover, Pluginstall will also simplify the default interface. This will surely make your plugins list interface less cluttered. Much less cluttered. You don’t have to scroll and re-scroll down the page to do the tedious activate-deactivate-reactivate process.

I use them both: Plugin Central to install, Pluginstaller to uninstall and simplify the plugin page. The combination works fine for me and has made my blogging life easier.

Do you have other must-install-first WordPress plugins? Let us hear the list in the comments below.

  1. Install Software
    February 1, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    Hi there.
    Great installation help...thanks, fixed my problem.
    Anyone reading this guys stuff should bookmark it.

  2. Atul
    June 20, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    WP now provides this plugin functionality automatically

  3. Thewirds
    February 17, 2009 at 9:02 am

    One more plugin that you must to install was WP Ban, you need this plugin to ban ip address from spammer, this is good when you own big blog with big traffic

  4. Dave
    June 15, 2008 at 10:53 pm

    +1 for Akismet. It is a must have for any blog that has comments open.

    My other must have installed plugin is WP-DBManager (http://lesterchan.net/portfolio/programming/php/). The automatic backups are a lifesaver.

  5. Justin Shattuck
    May 8, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    comment relish, comment relish, comment relish :) hint hint.

  6. Adam
    May 7, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    I would mention that Askimet which is installed by default, but for which you need an API key for, is the most important plugin to get set-up first.

    -Adam

  7. George
    May 7, 2008 at 7:49 am

    I have both the One Click Installer and the Plug-in Central and for fresh installations i use the one click but for updates i use the Plug-in Central cause it makes updating easier.

  8. tyronebcookin
    May 7, 2008 at 2:28 am

    I'm sorry but this information seems outdated unless you don't use firefox.

    One Click Installer for wordpress works with firefox to instantly install themes or plugins and now that wordpress is up to 2.5.1 the plugins can instantly update their selves with the new version update/upgrade link that notifies you right on your plugins page...one click and that is updated when newer versions come out with plugins you already have, even when they are deactivated it still lets you know a newer version is avaialable (this is still on the actual plugins page)

    The only quirk this has is sometimes it confuses the theme and plugin folders but the themes and plugins still work, it also has the sub folder problem if the plugin is still nestled one more folder deep.

    But I guess good for IE or other people...and yes, this is for WordPress.org (self hosted sites) with their blog software.

  9. Hendrawan
    May 7, 2008 at 2:07 am

    Great tips. I'm a wordpress user too. Thanks a lot. I'll implement it on my site.

  10. Pavan Kumar
    May 6, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    I use one click installer for the same purpose. It also has a functionality to install themes....

  11. Lethann
    May 6, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    Just one comment:

    In your article you might want to specify that Plugins are only usable with personally hosted WordPress.org blogs, not web-based WordPress.com blogs. Some of us (myself included) are still very new to WordPress. I had to dig through the forums and check the WordPress.org website itself to know the difference.

    • LaurenceJohn
      May 7, 2008 at 9:59 pm

      I agree.

      When I first began looking at WordPress I paid for a WordPress.com upgrade before I realized you had to have a self hosted installation to use plugins.

      Stupid I know... but I don't it's made very clear for first time WordPress users.

  12. Christopher
    May 6, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    I have been using the excellent One Click Updater Plugin 2.0 by Janis Elsts:
    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/one-click-plugin-updater/

    It upgrades plugins with a single click, install new plugins or themes from an URL or by uploading a file, see which plugins have update notifications enabled, control how often WordPress checks for updates, and more. I really like to see what updates WordPress is checking, though the link to the readme link with Pluginstaller is a good idea.

    The first plugin I then install with One Click Updater is Lighter Menus by corpodibacco:
    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/lighter-admin-drop-menus/

    IMO this is what the admin menu should have been in WP2.5

    • Laurence John
      May 6, 2008 at 8:43 pm

      Hey this is great!

      Thanks Jeffrey....

    • relequestual
      May 7, 2008 at 7:30 am

      I have to admit, ive also been using the one click plugin updater for quite some time now. its reasently updated to include an "update all" button, which saves me a lot of time! Mostly works. Get the odd plugin that wont update, but as to be expected i guess. Love it

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