We had a question on our Facebook page asking how to go about selecting a good plugin to add some functionality to a WordPress site. There’s over 400,000 plugins to choose from, so we thought we’d enlighten some of the less WordPress-savvy site owners on how to choose a good one!
It should be noted that having a lot of plugins on your site can cause problems with the site. There can be conflicts and security issues that arise. It is sometimes better to have a web developer build in functionality to the website for you. You should always make sure you keep plugins up-to-date to minimise the risk of security issues, and you should delete any plugins you’re not using. With that said, let’s dig in:
The beloved Google Search
Jump onto Google and enter best [insert relevant keyword] wordpress plugin. For example best membership site wordpress plugin or best image slider wordpress plugin. More often than not you’ll find at least one blog article that goes through a few of the WordPress plugins that provide this functionality, or a recommendation for a particular plugin. This can give you a good insight into what others are using, and also help to ensure that the plugin fits your needs. If you find one head to the WordPress Plugin Directory and make sure it has a high rating, and also that it matches the 4 questions below.
WordPress Plugin Directory Search and Analysis
Next head over to the WordPress Plugin Directory and search for a relevant keyword, e.g. “facebook like box“. There are 4 main questions that you want to take note of when looking for plugins.
- Does it provide the functionality you need?
- Is it popular? ie has it been downloaded a lot? High amount of downloads generally provides social proof that the plugin is good.
- Does it have a high rating? (Preferably 4+ out of 5). When looking at the plugin page you can also see how many votes the rating is based on…more votes = more accurate
- Is it updated regularly to fix any bugs or security issues? Look at the date it was last updated, if it hasn’t been updated for a few months you might want to try another plugin.
Note: Contrary to what you think it’s generally best to keep the “Sort by” as “Relevance”. Often when you choose to sort by “Most Popular” or “Highest Rating” there will be a lot of irrelevant plugins at the top
So you can see the answers to questions 2 – 4 in the plugin search underneath each plugin. Find a plugin that fits the criteria above and click on it to see more about the plugin. You will then be met with a description which you can look through to ensure it meets the functionality requirement.
Other areas worth checking
At the bottom of the grey box you’ll notice there’s different tabs such as decription, installation etc. The next thing I look at is the FAQs if there are any, just to see if there’s any questions of interest.
Then I will also have a quick look at the Support tab. The support tab is a forum for that specific plugin, and can be quite handy in working out how to fix any issues. I’ll have a quick look through before downloading the plugin to check if there’s anything that I need to be aware of.
So now you’ve found what looks to be a good plugin, the next thing is to install it, and have a play. You’ll soon know if it’s the right plugin for you or not.
Oh and one last thing…if you’re looking for a plugin that makes SEO easier on WordPress, forget about the process above…look no further than WordPress SEO by Yoast. We add this to every one of our websites because we absolutely love it!