A plugin is a piece of code that some developer has written in order to expand the functionality of Wordpress. Wordpress is open source software and it's relatively easy for someone who knows how to code to write plugins to allow you to solve problems with or add capabilities to your site. There are thousands of plugins available -Wordpress plugin repository. Plugins allow you to customize your Wordpress installation in all sorts of ways.
Official WordPress plugins are available from several sources. However, a variety of plugins are available to download from a variety of sources. Keep in mind not all plugins
When you install Wordpress through your agnesscott.org site, there are some plugins that are automatically included. If you log in to your dashboard and go to Plugins, you'll see the list of installed plugins:
Some of the plugins are already activated and working automatically.
Activating Akismet is a spam protection plugin that you will want to activate. Check the help document on Managing Comment Spam with Akismet and follow along with it, get your own Akismet key, then activate that plugin.
Let's walk through installing a plugin WP Edit, which allows you to edit the buttons available to you in your Wordpress page and post editors.
From the Plugin page in your WP dashboard pictured above,
Once the plugin has been installed, you must activate it
With WP Edit, once you activate the plugin it will add a new menu item in your sidebar and automatically bring you to the WP Edit configure menu.
In that initial page, the box labeled “Editor Rows” shows the buttons that are available in your page and post editor by default. The “Icon Placeholder Container” shows new buttons that you can add because you've got this plugin.
I find when I am turning syllabi into web pages I often need to insert tables on my pages, for calendars and assessment rubrics and all kinds of similar items. Wordpress will support tables (styled according to the theme that you're working in), but by default there's not a simple table insertion button in the page and post editor, like you are used to seeing in MS Word, Google Docs, and elsewhere. Drag the small table button from the placeholder area into your editor rows and that solves that problem. (Hover your cursor over any button to find out what the button does.)
You might also want to include the insert/embed media button, which simplifies the process of embedding videos from Vimeo or YouTube.
If you want to install a Twitter feed on your site, you can do so manually using the Twitter widget generator. It does require that you log in to your Twitter account, define the kind of feed you want–you can have a feed that shows all of your own or some other user's tweets, or shows all the tweets from a list of users, or all tweets using a particular hashtag. For example, when I made the Twitter feed for the Domain Incubator, I set up the #ATLDomain widget and embedded the code on the conference site:
However, there are also many plugins designed specifically for the purpose of embedding Twitter on your site. Most of them seem to assume that the only thing you'd want to do with Twitter is embed your own tweets on the site
If you want to be able to track how many people are visiting your site, from where, and other details, then you will need to install some sort of analytics tracking. Probably the best, easiest, free analytics tracker is http://www.google.com/analytics/Google Analytics. You'll need to sign up for an account with Google Analytics first and let them know which website you're tracking. Then they give you a tracking ID, which you use when you set up your site to be measured.
There are plugins just for Google Analytics, like Google Analytics for Wordpress.