There’s no shortage of WordPress plugins out there, with 54,000+ and counting currently available tools from the WordPress Plugin Directory plus thousands more plugins available directly from third party companies and developers. The choice and range of plugins is really huge – if you think of any functionality that you would like to have on your website such as improving your SEO, creating a form or optimizing your images – then there’s a plugin for that!
However, it can be challenging to know which is the right plugin for your website as not all WordPress plugins are created equally. Some plugins can help and some may hinder your progress – remember that less is more when it comes to the number of WordPress plugins on your website.
How to start your search
– The WordPress Plugin Directory is a great place to start your search even if sometimes the choice can be a little overwhelming. So, before you start your search, ask yourself what functionality you’d like to have and be really specific – you may not find the perfect plugin to meet all your needs but if you’re clear on what functionality is essential, what’s nice to have, and what’s not so important, this analysis will point you in the right direction.
– It might be that two plugins will serve you better than one, so keep this in mind when searching through the Directory.
– Carefully read all the information on the plugin’s information page before you decide to install it, as developers will often include useful notes, FAQs and sometimes video walk-throughs or screenshots of the plugin. This way you’ll see how it will actually work and look when it’s installed.
– Don’t rush your research on the plugin, it will save you time in the long run.
Ratings and active installs
– Ratings and active installations are a great way for you to quickly understand the experience of other users with the plugin and this is also a good indicator of the quality of the tool.
– Read some of the reviews – the good and bad ones; this will help you understand what the plugin does well and whether there are any serious issues with the plugin that you need to take into account.
Support and versions
– You can also see how well-supported the plugin is and whether the developer is regularly responding to users and solving cases.
– Check for which version of WordPress the plugin has been tested – the more up-to-date it is, the better.
Paid vs free
– There are thousands of free plugins available which is one of the fantastic aspects of open source software; many developers release WordPress plugins for free for others to use. In some cases, you can offer a donation to the developer which is a nice way to show your appreciation for their hard work.
– Of course, free usually means that there is little or no support available, so depending on your skill level you may decide to opt for a professional or paid plugin that provides assistance.
– Paid plugins also tend to offer extra features, more customization and flexibility, plus they are usually quite affordable so choosing a professionally supported plugin is worth considering.
– Once you’ve finished your research and you’re satisfied with what you found, the next step is to install and test.
– Test the speed of your website before and after installing the plugin – a plugin that is coded badly will slow down your website.
– If your site’s speed is significantly slowed down after installing the new plugin, then deactivate it and continue your search for a better one.
– Plugins are a great way to easily extend the functionality of your website and there’s a wide range of them. But, before hitting the download button and installing the plugin on your website, ensure you’ve undertaken thorough research and that the plugin is going to meet your functionality requirements.
– Evaluate your plugins regularly and make sure that each one is adding value and serving a specific purpose.
– A final word on security: poorly coded and unsupported plugins could compromise your website. Solid hosting providers regularly scan their network and inform you if you are using unsecured plugins; you can also install security plugins such as the Sucuri Plugin but always think of these services as a back-up. If you have security concerns about the plugin then don’t install it.
Author’s bio: Claire Hall is the Client Services Director at London WordPress Agency Moove. Moove develops and supports high-performing websites that help their clients succeed in the digital world. To find out more about their WordPress Support Services check out their website.