If you need help choosing a WordPress plugin, we’re here to make it easier! Check out our top tips for keeping your site functioning and safe.
WordPress plugins give you an easy way to add sophisticated functionality to your website. Used properly, they can increase user engagement and save you hours of custom programming time. Used improperly, they can slow your site down, or worse. Bad plugins can crash your site if they don’t play nicely together, or may expose your site to security breaches. This often happens when the plugin is badly coded or isn’t updated regularly.
So how do you identify a good plugin? Here are some of the rules we use to choose:
How to Choose a WordPress Plugin
- Focus on known-safe, updateable, and tried-and-tested. Names like Gravity Forms, Akismet, Nextgen, and Yoast are familiar for a reason.
- Choose plugins that are supported by their developer through dedicated support forums and helpdesks (not just through the WordPress repository forum or a personal email address). Often these will require payment, but not always.
- Look at the number of active installs. The more the merrier, and the number of active installs will give more context to the star ratings. 4 out of 5 stars doesn’t mean much from 100 users, but it means a lot from a million users.
- Click on the author link to make sure it’s legit. Bonus points if the plugin is developed by Automattic, which means the code is definitely 100% WP standard and safe.
- Look at when the plugin was last updated (recent is good), then check the changelog to make sure the plugin is updated regularly.
- Read the reviews if you’d like, but take them with a grain of salt. Large companies often get a disproportionate number of unjustified negative comments, and we’ve all heard about mean people who write bad reviews on their competitors’ feeds.
- Geek Level: Look into the plugin’s codebase to see how organized it is. This can tell you a lot about the developer’s abilities and if the plugin relies on externally-called libraries (e.g., jQuery) that are likely to change.
WordPress is flexible, scalable, and customizable. Choosing the right plugins, installing them properly, and keeping them updated makes your WordPress site easy to love and engage with.
Watch Andi in action in her video Choosing WordPress Plugins: Like Being a Kid in a Candy Store to find out more about this topic! Or read all our blog posts about plugins!