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How to choose a WordPress plugin

How to choose a WordPress plugin

Selecting WordPress plugin for your site is a little like walking into a hardware store. You know what job you want to accomplish but are not sure what tools and materials you need. We hope to provide you with some pointers that should make the selection easier.

What is a good WordPress plugin?

A good plugin has to fulfill three criteria:

  • Provide the functionality you are looking for.
  • Be easy to use.
  • Not compromise the health and security of your site.

The first two criteria are very subjective. You need to make your own decision here. For the last criteria you might want to turn to the WordPress community for advice or ask your web development team.

Before you install anything

The best place to get a feel for a plugin is checking if it’s listed on the WordPress website. The WordPress community pre-selects plugins that meet certain security standards and are well maintained. This is your first line of defense against installing questionable code on your site. Not all legitimate plugins are listed on the site, but all plugins that are listed should be safe to use as long as they have been updated recently and get positive reviews. There is a lot of information on this site. You want to make sure the plugin was last updated within the past 3-6 month (at least), that it has been tested on the latest version of WordPress and supports your current PHP version.

If you are anticipating needing technical support, take a peek at the support forum and the response time. The rating and number of active installations is also a good indicator whether other users are happy with the product.

The WordPress Plugin listing also provides you with screenshots of the plugin itself, and the configuration screens. Checking these out is a powerful tool in deciding if the plugin is worth installing or not.

It’s not a lifelong commitment.

Do not hesitate to try out multiple plugins before you make your final decision. You might find two or three plugins that accomplish identical tasks but one is easier to configure. You can install the plugin, play with it for a while and deactivate and delete it if you do not like it. It’s a no hassle return.

Installing a plugin is easy, but maybe too easy.

As straight forward as the process may seem, we do not recommend anyone who is not an experienced developer installing a bunch of plugins willy nilly on a site. Even the best plugins can cause conflicts with already installed software and the more plugins installed, the more likely this is to occur.  Always check with your web development team before installing anything, and better yet, simply ask them to manage the initial installation and configuration to avoid any issues.

Still cannot find what you are looking for?

If you need custom functionality on your site, let us know and we will be happy to write a plugin according to your specifications. Kind of like walking into Home Depot and asking the associate to build a tool – just for you.

 

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