Upgrading your website: Identifying and Adding Plugin / Modules

Post by Heather H Picture of Heather H
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I wanted to know how to describe a website plugin or module in its simplest form. I asked a few of the developers in my team and they told me to think of a lego person.

You have your basics. Head, arms, legs, body.

Then you add things to create something more personal: hats, clothes, accessories.

You might dress them as well known characters, or make up your own outfit.

I thought this analogy was brilliant.

Your website has the basics that keep it secure and allow you to use it and then how you dress it reflects what CMS you’ve built your site on and what you need your website to do. 

lego men in rows

Upgrading your website starts with assessing what you already have to work with, and what it is you want to add in as features to dress your website up.

After creating your SMART website goals, addressing who your users are and what everyone requires from your new site, it’s time to add in your new features.

To clear things up …

The terminology can throw people off quite quickly. So here’s a way to understand the different wording people/developers will use for different CMS platforms: 

definition of a module and plugin
definition of a widget/block

A plugin or module is just a different name for the same thing across different platforms. The CMS your website is built on will determine which label they are given. Simply, it means that new features have been added to your site using a section of code created specifically for the feature.

However, due to the fact that those new features can be so different because of the different platform structures, there are still notable distinctions between the meanings of these terms. To try and distinguish themselves, these major CMSs use different words to describe the same key ideas only makes matters more confusing and make the term specific to the platform.

WordPress

Have you seen a website, liked the design and wondered which theme they’re using? Or what plugin they used to create a certain feature?  

Maybe you’ve been handed a website that you didn’t build and you need to find out what features are being used on it?

We’ve come across a lot of clients in this position! 

The only accurate way to find out all of the installed plugins on your site is through the plugins menu bar. However, many clients will not have access to this area as other plugins can be installed causing issues across the rest of a website.

screenshot of the plugin option on toolbar

There are some resources that may be able to detect some plugins on your site but this will usually be a very small proportion of what is actually being used on your site.

There are more than 55,000 various plugins in the official WordPress Plugin Directory, which goes to show how many different addons there are to have on your site! Moreso, if you still can’t find what you need, it’s website allows you to create your own. 

Wordpress makes it really easy to add on the features you desire too. All it takes is to simply search and download plugins from the back-end of your site. Yes, it’s that easy! 

Always err on the side of caution when it comes to plugins (if you have access to that area). We never recommend downloading a plugin straight to your live site without testing it first. This can cause a lot of issues and may lead to other features or areas of your site not working as they should too. 

computer with quote

Drupal

Similarly to the Wordpress plugin list, the only accurate way to find out what modules a website has it through the back end.

Drupal 7 - These are listed under modules in Drupal 7.

drupal screenshot

Drupal 8 - These are found in the extend section.

drupal screenshot

There’s a cool module available called ‘Upgrade Status’ that allows you to run a check and see the status of all your modules, whether there is a version in Drupal 8 already available or if it’s perhaps still being worked on. This module works for upgrading from Drupal 6 or 7 to Drupal 8 and also from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9.

It’s important not only to list what are currently being used but also why they’re important where possible.

The only way to get a true representation of what plugins or modules your website is using is from the backend list. If you don’t have access to this area, you should be able to ask your agency for a list of what is installed on your website and what these do.

For our clients who don’t have access to this, we would encourage them to submit a ticket to the support desk where the request would be actioned.

By understanding what is installed onto your website and why it is there, you will gain a better understanding of your new website requirements and allows you to start afresh removing any unwanted or unused features.

lego men under a computer keyboard

It’s important not only to list what are currently being used but also why they’re important where possible.

The only way to get a true representation of what plugins or modules your website is using is from the backend list. If you don’t have access to this area, you should be able to ask your agency for a list of what is installed on your website and what these do.

For our clients who don’t have access to this, we would encourage them to submit a ticket to the support desk where the request would be actioned.

By understanding what is installed onto your website and why it is there, you will gain a better understanding of your new website requirements and allows you to start afresh removing any unwanted or unused features.

We’ve covered a few of our CMS upgrade steps in our new podcast series which you can find on Spotify, Google Podcast and Anchor

Still not so sure where to go next or on a tight schedule to get your website upgraded? Give us a call or send us an email.

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