Choosing a WordPress plugin

By November 17, 2016 February 15th, 2018 Expert Series, Robintek, Software, Website Design, WordPress
The Puzzle Piece

Written by Liz Ziemba, Web Developer

Do you want your WordPress website to have some functionality?

Whether it’s a dynamic calendar or a shopping cart, this is handled by a WordPress plugin. It’s an add-on to the WordPress core designed to give extra features to the site. There are almost 50,000 plugins available right now, so how do you choose? Make your way to the official WordPress plugin page and keep these things in mind:

  • When was the last time this plugin was updated? WordPress itself updates every few months, so the plugin needs to update also to ensure its features work properly within the new core. If the developer is still actively involved, an update might include new features or address bug fix concerns from clients. The more recent the update, the better.
  • How many active installs does this plugin have? If you’re searching for a niche plugin, a few hundred installs is fine. If you need something basic, like a calendar, a number in the thousands is a better gauge to lead you to a good, working plugin.
  • What did other users think about the plugin? Check the star ratings, or dig deeper into the plugin’s support tab to see what comments or problems other developers have encountered.
  • Does this plugin look user friendly? Review the screenshots to see what the plugin dashboard looks like. Often the plugin will have its own website, that can offer front end and back end demos. If it looks like you’re going to have to do math, learn to code, or take a 2 week training course in this plugin, this might not be the strongest plugin for the job.
  • Does the plugin actually do everything you need it to? You’ve found a plugin that looks great, including the stats and user interface, but does it check all of the boxes that you were after? That functionality is why you’re looking at plugins in the first place, so you might have to let go of the aesthetics.
  • What kind of budget do you have? There are a range of free and paid plugin options, so this is worth considering. There are definitely tons of powerful free plugins out there, and sometimes that’s all you need. If, however, your functionality requires the paid pro upgrade of a plugin, this option could save you headaches in the long run.
  • Have you asked your friendly neighborhood web developer? We’ve logged countless hours working with WordPress and its plugins and would be more than happy to offer suggestions to help point you in the right direction.

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