Why Do Bloggers Need to Understand WordPress Plugins?
How to Choose the Best WordPress Plugin
What problem (or problems) am I trying to solve?
How to Research the Best WordPress Plugin
Researching the Best WordPress Plugins Right From Your WordPress Site
Researching the Best WordPress Plugins From Google
- Official WordPress Plugins Site
- The Plugin’s official site (many WordPress plugins have their on website beyond the WordPress plugin page
- The plugin’s github page (some WordPress plugins have full github pages with code and additional information)
- Reviews and articles about the plugin
How to Evaluate a WordPress Plugin
- WordPress Plugin Number of Installs. You want to see a lot of installs for a WordPress plugin. That means people are using it, and likely finding problems with it, and these issues are hopefully getting fixed. This number is very relative and will vary based on plugin. Try to compare different plugins with a similar function to get an idea of how many people are using it. This is not the only metric to pay attention to, because I have found sometimes WordPress plugins with fewer users end up being the better one. If your choice is between two plugins, and one has 300,000 installs while the other has 300, this is probably not the case however.
- WordPress Plugin Last Update. You want to see active development on a WordPress plugin. While sometimes development cycles can be long, you do not want to use a plugin that has not been updated in years. Be sure to check read up on the WordPress plugin to see update history, so you can determine if the development cycles are long or the plugin has been abandoned.
- WordPress Plugin Compatibility. Do not install a plugin that is not compatible with your version of WordPress! Plain and simple, you want to make sure your plugin has been tested with your WordPress version to avoid issues. Likewise, you do not want to update your WordPress version until your plugins are compatible with the latest and greatest WordPress release. This ties heavily to our development cycle discussion, if WordPress plugins are often updated, chances are you will not have to wait long at all for it to become compatible with a new WordPress version.
- WordPress Plugin Rating and Reviews. What are people putting in the review section of the WordPress site? Do they love it? Do they hate it? How many stars does it have? Remember, ratings are based out of five stars.
- WordPress Plugin Cost. Does the plugin have a cost associated with it? Is there a free version and a paid version? How much does it cost, and is it worth it for you?
- WordPress Plugin Reviews From Peers. Go beyond the review section of the WordPress site, and look for write ups from your peers on the WordPress Plugin you are looking at. In depth reviews can help you make your decision, and often also contain tips and tricks for using the plugin.
What If You Pick the Wrong WordPress Plugin?
WordPress plugins an easily be deactivated and uninstalled. If it was a free plugin, you have not lost much more than your time, which is of course still valuable. If you paid for the plugin you have lost a bit more than your time. When it comes to picking a paid WordPress plugin versus a free one, I tend to spend more time evaluating the WordPress plugin. Often, WordPress plugins have a free and paid version, so you can start with the free version to evaluate if the WordPress plugin solves your problem, then purchase it if you like using it.
Overall, if you pick the wrong WordPress plugin, you can continue your search and get rid of the one you picked. Try not to sweat it, we all make mistakes! I recently spent hours trying hard to make a WordPress plugin work for me, and eventually just gave up when I realized how many more hours it would take to work. These things happen in the life of a blogger when it comes to WordPress plugins!
WordPress Plugins Are Great!
All in all, WordPress Plugins are great! They allow you to easily customize your website or blog, and most often require little to no programming to make these changes and customizations. Picking the best WordPress Plugin takes time and trial and error, but after you go through this process a few times, you will become a WordPress plugin pro!
Do you have any more tips for picking the best WordPress Plugin? Be sure to let us know in the comments or on Twitter!