SiteGround offers a starter plugin (called SiteGround Central) to assist you with the installation of themes and plugins. This is an optional plugin which you can select when installing WordPress from Site Tools hosting panel. If you are new to WordPress or wonder how this add-on will work, here are the step-by-step instructions for you.
SiteGround Central Plugin
When installing WordPress, you will see an option under “Add-ons” heading saying, “Install with WordPress Starter”. Checking this box will automatically activate SiteGround Central plugin on your site. This is a free plugin custom developed by SiteGround. However, it is not available through WordPress repository like SG Optimizer and SG Security plugins. Therefore, the only way to use the plugin is to select the add-ons option during WordPress installation.
SiteGround Starter Setup Wizard
When you launch admin panel for the first time, SiteGround Central plugin will automatically open a starter setup wizard. Click on “Start Now” button to check the available options with starter setup.
First step is to select the type of site you want to launch. You will see different categories like restaurant, wedding, travel, art & design, etc. Click one of the categories and if your site does fit into any of those categories, select “Other” and click “Proceed” to move further.
Next, you will be prompted to choose a theme for your site. Browse through various available categories and select the one you like. Alternatively, you can type the keyword in search box and find your favorite themes like Astra or GeneratePress. You can also click on a theme to preview its appearance and then select.
Next step is to select the plugins for your site. Remember, the plugins you select here are in addition to SiteGround Central, SG Optimizer, SG Security and WordPress Importer which are pre-installed in your installation. Select the basic plugins for contact form, maps, gallery, shop, etc. based on your need and click “Continue” button.
After that you will see some marketing plugins like Google Analytics, OptinMonster, etc. Only select the plugins you need, otherwise do not select anything and click “Complete” button. Remember that you can install plugins/themes any time later from the dashboard.
Finally, the wizard will install all selected items on your site.
You will see a success message like below and click on “Manage Site” button to login to your admin panel.
Managing Themes and Plugins with SiteGround Central
SiteGround Central plugin will change few screens of the default WordPress admin panel. So, do not get confused if you see a new setup. The dashboard section will show quick panels for viewing and managing your site.
If you go to “Appearance > Themes > Add New” section, you will find the recommended themes along with an option to search. Alternatively, you can browse through free themes from WordPress repository or upload a custom theme.
After selecting or uploading a theme, you can preview and activate it to replace the current theme on your site.
Similarly, “Plugins > Add New” interface will also look different with the options to search and install or upload custom plugins.
Revert to Original WordPress Admin Panel Interface
If you or your client is confused with the new interface, simply go to “Plugins > Installed Plugins” section. Click “Deactivate” link showing below “SiteGround Central” plugin and then click “Delete” to get rid of the plugin from your site.
Point to Note
SiteGround Central offers a neat interface for installing plugins and theme. However, the problem is that most of the plugins they recommend in the wizard/dashboard are from a single company called Awesome Motive. This is the company behind popular wpbeginner website and the site is also hosted on SiteGround. In my opinion, it is kind of affiliate promotion to recommend plugins like WPForms, OptinMonster, All In One SEO from Awesome Motive where there are better alternatives available in WordPress repository. Showing them under “Must Have Plugins” (Plugins > Add New section) without any disclosure is not a good option for company like SiteGround.
If you do not worry about these stuffs, continue to enjoy the SiteGround Central plugin. Otherwise, simply delete it to start using the default interface.