How to choose a WordPress plugins for your web site. There are many plugin options, what criteria do you use to determine the best plugin for your web site.
Before you start searching:
- Review your Website Planning document and your web schematic
- Write down the functionality you need and the features of each function
- Go into your WordPress Dashboard and choose Plugins, Add New
- Search the Official WordPress repository, be VERY CAREFUL going outside the official repository
How to choose the right plugin
- When was it Last Updated? It is ok if a plugin hasn’t been updated for a few months, but if you see that the item hasn’t been refreshed for more than one or two years. DO NOT use it!
- How many Downloads? Check the number of Active Installations. Although the sheer number doesn’t mean that much, it is obvious that a plugin with 100,000 users will take your interest over that one that has only 10,000 active installations.
- What are the Ratings and Reviews? How many stars does it have? And what are the 5-star and 1-star reviews saying?
Be sure to look at how old the reviews are in comparison to the last update, developer may have corrected the issues with the new update.
- Look at the Demos, screenshots and Plugin page. Do they have good instructions or videos on how to use the plugin? What does their support consist of? Is it free and what comes with the free versions? Updates? Support? Forum?
- Test the plugin locally and one plugin at a time. Because different, independent developers create plugins, you need to download and activate plugins individually and make sure your site is still functioning properly. Sometimes, plugins can have conflicts so once you activate a plugin check each of your existing plugins to ensure they are functioning properly.
Third-party developers create Plugins. Most of them keep improving their plugins by adding new features, improving code quality, and keeping them secure. Improvements are released as updates. Keeping plugins up to date is the best way to ensure your site remains secure and performing well.
WordPress has a built-in update system that automatically checks for updates and gives you a notification when updates are available.
Before you update, consider these things
- Review the Version details.
- Is it compatible with YOUR version of WordPress? If the plugin is not tested and compatible with your version, USE CAUTION!
- How long ago was the update? Depending on the plugin, developer credibility and frequency of updates; USE CAUTION on brand new updates, updates that are less than 1-2 weeks old. I do not suggest being the developer’s test site. Wait until you are comfortable the kinks bugs are fixed.
- DO NOT Select All and do a Bulk Update!
- If you Bulk Update and then go to your site and see it isn’t working properly, you have to go back and Deactivate each plugin one at a time to figure out which plugin is causing the problem.
- Update plugins INDIVIDUALLY and then CHECK YOUR SITE after EACH Update. This will save you a lot of time and heartache in the end. At some point in time, one of your plugins will not be compatible with another and you can then quickly fix the issue. The Bulk Update may work most of the time but the one time it does not it may take DAYS to figure out the conflicting plugins.
- Enable Automatic Updates for just those plugins you have 100% confidence in the developer and their coding. I only do automatic updates for Wordfence and WordPress.
- Update plugins on a Quarterly basis – at least. I feel quarterly gives developers’ time to trouble shoot their upgrades and allows me to use my time efficiently without jeopardizing the performance and security of my site.
- Check for Abandoned Plugins. When you update, take a minute to review your plugins. If you do not recall updating one in the last few updates, visit the plugin WordPress site to see its last update. If it has been over a year, consider it abandoned and start searching for a replacement. Abandoned plugins create security risks to your site and performance issues.
Askimet – anti-spam plugin checks all comment and filters out spammy comments
Wordfence Security – CRITICAL to keep your site secure
Yoast SEO – helps highlight ways to improve searchability of your content
Broken Link Checker – monitors site for broken links
MetaSlider – photo slider
MailChimp for WordPress – email marketing
Vendi Abandoned Plugin Check – provides “Days since last update” on each installed plugin