WordPress Themes, Plug-ins, and Updates

by | Feb 5, 2017

In this tutorial regarding WordPress Themes, Plug-ins, and Updates we will cover these topics:

 

  • Themes – What are they, how are they installed, activated, and used
  • Plug-ins – What are they, how are they installed, activated, and configured
  • Updates – What type of items are updated, why is it important to update in a timely manner, and what can go wrong
Themes Location

WordPress Themes – how to install and use them

As shown in the accompanying screenshot you can access the themes administration section in the appearance section of the dashboard.

To begin our discussion of WordPress themes it is important to explain exactly what they are and why you should care.  The theme controls items such as:

  • Layout
  • Color
  • Background
  • Menu types and locations
  • Features
  • Dashboard configuration options (what can you easily change?)

To provide a small example of the degree to which the theme can change the appearance of your website I am using the example of a test site that already contains images, menu items, pages, and posts. The only item I am changing is the theme.

Original Theme Example
New Theme Example

You can see that the layout is different, some of the content is different, the logo at the top of the page has disappeared, and the menu items are now in the reverse order.  Changing a theme would also mean that all CSS tweaks would be lost as these are incorporated into the child theme.

To add a new theme you can simply search within the dashboard.  The “upload theme” button is used if you have downloaded a theme zip file from another website and you wish to import it into your WordPress installation.

Search-and-Upload-Themes
Once you have installed the theme you can use the “live preview” option to see how your website would appear if you actually activated the new theme.
Theme-Live-Preview
As shown previously, installing a new theme could completely change how your website appears and functions.  Also, many of the configuration settings added by Persson Technologies will not be applied in the new theme.  These instructions are included here so customers can decide if they might want to switch to a new theme at which time we should be consulted so we can customize your website for the new theme.

WordPress Plug-ins – How To Install and Configure

Plug-ins can be used to modify a wide variety of features within WordPress and can be used to add brand new features.  Before we begin it is important to mention that plug-ins should only be installed if they are compatible with your version of WordPress.  There might also be cases where a plug-in might not work properly with a theme.  Also, installing too many plug-ins can cause your website to respond more slowly.  The Divi theme which we recommend includes a wide variety of plug-ins integrated into the theme so reliability and compatibility are guaranteed.

Search-and-add-new-plug-in
In this example we are searching for our favorite free editor for WordPress.  This will be used when creating and modifying posts and pages.
TinyMCEAdvanced-Customization
Once the plug-in is installed and activated it can be configured.  This editor can be customized by adding and configuring buttons in the menu bars for the desired features.  Note that in this configuration screen there is a warning that this plug-in might not be stable in this version of WordPress.  This is not a message you would want to see on a production website.

WordPress Updates – How To Install Them and What Might Go Wrong

In WordPress there are several items that need to be kept up to date.  Some examples might be WordPress itself, your themes, or your plug-ins.  New versions are released either to fix software bugs or to patch security holes.  It is very important to keep your WordPress installation up to date.  When upgrading WordPress to a new version it is critical to know if your theme and plug-ins are compatible with the new version.  Will your website still work after the update?  If not, how will you revert the changes you have applied?  It is due to these complications that Persson Technologies offers our prepaid maintenance packages.  Please consider this if you do not wish to perform your own updates.

Main-Update-Page
On the main update page in the dashboard we can see that we have 12 updates that need to be installed.  This is a prime example of a website that has not been properly maintained and is open for hackers to attack (note that this is a test site, not production).  WordPress, plug-ins, and themes are all out of date.  Notice the warning that suggests you should perform a full backup of your database and all files before proceeding.  Please take this seriously!
Theme-Updates

There are also several themes out of date on this server.  This is a test server I was using to try out several themes.  Note that for both plug-ins and themes you can simply “select all” and then update them all at once, each theme update should only take a few seconds.  When updating themes all of your theme customization will be lost if you have not used a child theme.  Persson Technologies always uses child themes when creating customer websites.

Let me just mention again that one of the awesome features of the Divi theme is that the most commonly used plug-ins are built into the theme and guaranteed to always be compatible with no issues.  To see more details concerning the Divi theme and what is included, refer to our Divi page.

Here is an index to all the articles in this tutorial series:

 

  1. Introduction to WordPress Part One - WordPress Basics https://perssontechnologies.com/wordpress-basics/
  2. Introduction to WordPress Part Two - WordPress Themes, Plug-ins, and Updates https://perssontechnologies.com/wordpress-themes-plug-ins-and-updates/
  3. Introduction to WordPress Part Three - Introduction To Divi https://perssontechnologies.com/introduction-to-divi/
  4. Introduction to WordPress Part Four - How To Use The Included Divi Modules https://perssontechnologies.com/how-to-use-the-included-divi-modules/
  5. Introduction to WordPress Part Five - How To Use Divi Tweaks https://perssontechnologies.com/how-to-use-divi-tweaks/
  6. Introduction to WordPress Part Six - A Brief Introduction to Search Engine Optimization https://perssontechnologies.com/a-brief-introduction-to-search-engine-optimization/
  7. Introduction to WordPress Part Seven - WordPress Advanced Topics https://perssontechnologies.com/wordpress-advanced-topics/