WordPress plugin shopping 101: 5 Things to look for

In my previous post, 5 things you need to know about WordPress plugins, I’ve reviewed five areas of caution before installing random plugins.

However, I would like to review some tips for choosing good plugins. I don’t want to discourage the use of plugins, I just want you to install the right ones – safely.

With that said, let’s review my tips:

1) You get what you (don’t) pay for

Yes, I said it in the last post. If a plugin has paying customers, the author has more of an incentive to code it properly. They are more also likely to have the resources to keep the plugin updated.

That’s not to say that free plugins are’t any good. On the contrary, many free plugins are excellent. However, you may want to investigate if the plugin has a ‘freemium’ model. If so, that author is making money on the premium version of the plugin and likely has the resources to support the free version as well.

If you paid for a theme, it’s likely that the theme has the functionality that you need. If not, check the documentation or ask the developer about recommended plugins.

2) Read the reviews!

Free or not, read the reviews!! This should be #1 really. Just like shopping on Amazon, you wouldn’t choose a product with 2 out of 5 stars. Luckily, WordPress has a similar rating system. Each plugin has a rating with a maximum of 5 stars. It shows the average review. I would not install anything with fewer than 4 stars.

But don’t trust the average review alone. A plugin can have a high average rating with only a handful of reviews. Sometimes, a plugin will have a rating of 5 stars with a single review.

Instead, you should try to find a plugin with a higher number of reviews and read a few of them. Be sure to read a few of the bad reviews to find the reason for it. Also, give greater importance to the most recent reviews. The developer may have recently improved the plugin.

3) Check version compatibility

Because WordPress is frequently updated, the plugin should be updated too. Fortunately, the plugin repository will make it clear if the plugin is compatible.

Okay: “Compatible with your version of WordPress”
Proceed with caution: “Untested with your version of WordPress”

If possible, always choose the compatible version.

4) Check when it was last updated

This is a good indicator to know if the author is actively supporting the plugin. Use your judgment here, but if a plugin hasn’t been updated in a year, it could be a reg flag.

Here is an example of a trustworthy plugin. It was recently updated, has a high number of installs, and is compatible with WordPress 4.6 (the latest version as of today’s date)

Version: 4.3
Author: Name
Last Updated: 9 hours ago
Requires WordPress Version: 4.5 or higher
Compatible up to: 4.6
Active Installs: 1+ Million

5) Delegate to a pro!

Lastly, you don’t have to build your WordPress site alone. An experienced developer will install the plugins you need – and only those – to avoid security and functional issues.

If you would like to delegate to me, I’d be more than happy to help. Book a strategy call today.

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