How to choose a WordPress plugin

Plugins can add all sorts of functionality to your WordPress site, and they’re easy to install and manage.

Plugin researchSometimes, though, plugins don’t play nicely with other plugins, your theme or the current core version of WordPress.

While you may not be able to avoid plugin conflicts completely, there are a few easy steps you can take to make sure the plugins you choose are solid. By that I mean that the programming is professional, they’re up to date, and the coding follows the guidelines for best practices.

Even though a plugin looks like a safe bet, it could still clash with plugins or the theme already installed. So before installing any plugins, the site needs to be backed up, just in case.

You need to choose plugins very carefully. An updated plugin is more secure (plugins are doorways for malicious attacks) and need to be compatible with the most current WordPress version. Don’t just randomly select a plugin, research it based this criteria:

  • Determine it was built and is maintained by a reputable and dependable developer. Good developers keep their plugins updated frequently and keep them compatible with the current version of the WordPress core (as of 6/15/15 current WP core version is 4.2.2 with 4.3 to come soon). If there has been a major WordPress update within the past couple of months without a corresponding update to the plugin, I’d be a little cautious. And in the last two months the WordPress core has been updated 3 times for serious security issues.
  • Check the support and see if the developer is resolving issues and in a timely manner. Look around the information screen to see if there’s a link to a support forum or email address. If there’s a forum, click the link and check the dates. Is the plugin author providing ongoing support in case you have a problem with the plugin?
  • If you’re not a programmer don’t use a plugin that has less than a four-star rating.
  • Only review plugins with lots of positive reviews and more than 1,000 active installs.
  • Don’t use any plugin that says” Not tested with your current version of WordPress”. If you do you could break the site and it may not work with existing installed plugins.
  • Check the version number. While the version number isn’t important by itself, you can get a sense of how much ongoing work has gone into it. A version of 1.0 usually means it’s the first version.
  • Don’t install plugins that duplicate a function of already installed plugins.

Once you’ve found a good plugin, backed up your site and install the new plugin. Then review and test your website. Look at the sites pages to see if there are any conflicts or errors. If there is, deactivate and delete the plugin and try a different plugin.

One Response to “How to choose a WordPress plugin”

  1. Marjorie June 17, 2015 at 11:21 am #

    Great article, thanks for posting!

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