One of the greatest strengths of WordPress is the enormous variety of plugins available that can extend WordPress functionality to power anything from social media marketing to e-commerce.
On the other hand, this huge variety of plugins can be both a blessing and a curse. When you’re searching for a plugin to solve a problem, it’s not uncommon to find a whole bunch of plugins that do very similar things. So how do you choose WordPress plugins that will work best for your needs? In this post, i will share my experiences in choosing the best wordpress plugins before installing and using them for your site:
Ask your friends
If you have some friends who have many experience with WordPress, please ask them first. You can ask them anything you want and surely you get the best advice or suggestion, you will know “what’s the best wordpress plugins for you?“, “Should use these plugins?“, etc. In my opinion they are the most reliable and can advise you the most detailed.
You also should read my posts about Best Plugins.
Description and Reviews
The description contains sufficient information about the plugin. You will know the purpose of creating the plugin of the author, the features of plugin and other important informations. You should use the plugin with the most optimal features (enough features you need for your purpose), don’t use the plugin with multiple functions which you don’t need because of it will make your site slowly.
The WordPress plugin rating is also a reflection of the quality of the plugin. If a WordPress plugin has a few ratings, or low ratings it is not a good sign. A good plugin for WordPress that works as promoted will definitely have very good rating. Shouldn’t use a plugin with less than 3 stars (unless it is a new plugin and not many people rated it so far).
Read reviews that are rated 1/5. Reviewers generally rate something 1 out of 5 if a plugin is genuinely of low quality or doesn’t work, but sometimes a user can give something a low rating because it doesn’t work for themonly, not knowing that some other conflict may be happening. In addition, WordPress mods do check on reviews to overlook their substance.
How many times was the plugin downloaded?
When looking for a plugin for WordPress, start by looking at how many times this plugin was downloaded. The more times it was downloaded, it means the more popular it is. A plugin which has been downloaded just a few thousand times is obviously different than a plugin that has been downloaded by millions of users, A plugin becomes popular because it is well maintained, works as advertised and does not have any, or have just a few small issues. The number of downloads in the plugin directory is a useful companion to the positive and negative reviews.
Just a word of caution though: a plugin may have been popular in the past, but if it hasn’t been updated for a while then I’d still steer clear of it. An unmaintained plugin that’s still installed on millions of websites is the stuff hackers dream of.
Has it been recently updated?
It might be that the plugin author will no further improve the plugin and in the long term it might not work anymore. If you see a plugin that hasn’t been updated for over a year, you can assume that it is not being maintained. If a plugin hasn’t been maintained for over 2 years, you will also be alerted by the WordPress plugin directory. This is not a good sign as if bugs are discovered in this plugin, they will never get fixed.
This ties in nicely with compatibility, chances are if the plugin hasn’t been tested with the latest version of WordPress that also means it hasn’t been updated recently. To err on the side of caution, avoid anything that hasn’t been updated in the last six months or so. WordPress has received two updates in the past six months or so, and most popular plugins received subsequent updates in line with WordPress. Yes, there are exceptions to this rule, but think twice before installing an old plugin that hasn’t been updated often or recently.
It’s true to say some plugins are so simple, or so brilliantly built that they don’t often need updating, but in the absence of certainty it’s better to be safe than sorry.
WordPress Support Forums for Plugins
On every WordPress plugin page you will see a ‘View Support Forums’ button. This is where plugin users typically post their feedback, complaints and bug reports. Some of the plugins, mostly the popular ones might also have their own forum pages, so make sure you check that as well. This forum is also a good indicator if the author is responding to complaints and feedback, which means the author have interest in maintaining the plugin.
If the plugin has its own page and website that means that there are more chances that this plugin for WordPress is well maintained by the author.
Support is important and it’s good to know what to do when you have a plugin support question. When you check the plugin’s page on WordPress.org, look at the Support tab to see how well supported the plugin is. Are the developers, or other community members, actively helping answer questions?
Keep in mind that not all plugin developers use the WordPress.org support forums. Some have their own forums, ticket systems, or simply use email. No matter what the method of support, make sure you can get help when you need it.
What do the screenshots look like?
Does it look like a plugin that will do what you want it to do? Does it look like some degree of care and attention has gone into producing the user interface (and the screenshots)?
I’ve worked with enough web developers to know they aren’t all visually-thinking people, and often don’t give enough thought to how people will actually use their software. The plugin might do what you need it to do, but will you actually be able to set it up and use it with ease?
What if the plugin’s not on WordPress.org?
Not all plugins are listed on WordPress.org – especially commercial plugins that cost money. In these cases, personal recommendations, and a little research are your best friends.
Find the plugin’s site and check out their offerings, professionalism, and support. It’s also worth searching WordPress.org for mention of commercial plugins that interest you to gauge the breadth and types of questions people are asking.
As you can see, there are a few telltale signs of poorly developed plugins. Hopefully now you’ll be able to keep yourself safe from any suspect plugins in the future. Have you had a bad experience with a plugin (free or paid)? Please let us know in the comments below.