If you are running a WordPress site (which many of us are), chances are that you have add a plugin or two. After all, it comes with a couple already, when you first install it.
Now, the idea is that you do not become a WordPress plugin addict (like me), but there are some really cool things and some time-saving utility type things that the right plugin (or I should say plugins) can do for you. It can even improvement the performance of your blog (i.e. loading pages faster) and the security of your blog (keeping the hackers out of your site). So, there are a lot of good things that can be accomplished by using WordPress plugins.
The key is to choose the RIGHT WordPress plugins. We have some tips to help you do that!
So you have your WordPress blog all set up, and you’re ready to get going. However, you want to find a few new plugins to help with SEO or to add new features to your site. This is a simple enough task, but there are a few things to think about before getting a plugin.
Check The Ratings
Check out the ratings of the plugin you want to download/install. You want the ratings to be positive, because that says that the users who have already downloaded it are pleased with it. Also, make sure that there are many people who have downloaded it before you. If the plugin has high ratings and no one has downloaded it recently, then that’s a red flag that the ratings may be false.
Another reason for no recent downloads could be that the developers have disappeared with their riches (so to speak) and there is no support for the plugin. “No Support” may not always be the worst, but it isn’t good and if there is something wrong with the plugin, as far as compatibility with newer versions of WordPress and your are not a programmer or technically minded, do you know what that could equal? It could equal a crashed site and you doling out money for someone to fix it for you.
Speaking of support, you want to make sure that the developer is still supporting the plugin just in case you have problems or have questions regarding the plugin. Make sure that the developer has the most current version of the plugin, and with WordPress being updated constantly, you want to make sure all your plugins and features are working properly. Check to ensure that they have tested the plugin with the most updated WordPress so that there is less likely of a chance that you will have an issue. Hey, you may not need their support, but you want to make sure it is available.
Checking the ratings on plugins is a great way to find out what plugin may be worth your time, but reading reviews about the plugin can give you a more in-depth overview. You can learn more about the features of the plugin, tricks you can use, or any drawbacks it may have before you download or purchase it.
The ratings themselves may not tell the full picture, but it is in the reviews that you get the full deal. I have even had plugins that I love that have had a poor review or two, but because I am also a programmer, I have chosen to use them (and love them) because I tweaked them with my programming skills. Granted, that doesn’t work for everyone. It doesn’t work for most people. However, I tell you, just as an illustration of how it is about bringing in that knowledge that is presented in the reviews, whether it is a positive or negative review.
Check For a Free Version
Many of the best plugins cost money (as well they should!), but they often offer a free version and a premium version. Generally, the premium versions come with more advanced features and tools, but the free version usually works just fine in most cases. If you get the free version, and you like it, you always have the option of upgrading to the premium version later on when you feel like you can’t live without it. Granted, I tend to be one of those people 😉
Even being “one of those people,” I am always thankful when there is a free version that I can check out to see if it 1) is compatible with my current site (and current plugins) and 2) that I like it (or love it, as the case may be in that instance).
When you’re downloading plugins, you want to make sure that they have security features built in, especially if the plugin has access to information that you don’t want the general public to see. This is not usually a problem, but it’s something to look out for and ensure that you don’t get one that will harm you. That is another good reason to read reviews.
On example that comes to mind and it may be a minor one, is that I had to enter a password and store it. Now, I’m not keen on that in the first place, with my IT security background, but this particular plugin didn’t even bother to use a password field! That means that if I let anyone else administer my site, they would have the password in full view. Fortunately, that is an easy fix in html, changing it to a password field. I opted, instead, not to use the plugin because it made me question what other boo boos may exist.
There are other aspects to choosing plugins, but the tips outlined above are some of the most important to keep in mind before downloading or installing any plugin. Also, be sure to test multiple plugins to see which ones work best for you and your site. And, one final word of advice, don’t get too attached. It does happen that developers move on, plugins lose support, and WordPress outgrows the existing plugins.
It is a sad fact of life and “Murphy’s Law” says it will happen to your favorite plugins first, that their developers will move on first. That’s ok. Treat it like a party and enjoy them (and use them) while you can (the plugins, that is). Life is only so long anyway and there is no time to lose sleep over it, eh?