WordPress Plugins – The Wheat from the Chaff

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Upon installing WordPress as your particular CMS of choice, the next step is to select a theme and then the plugins you need to help you get the very best from your new installation. In this blog post, we are not going to talk about installing WordPress, nor are we going to discuss getting a theme set up. Instead we are going to talk plugins, and more specifically, choosing the good quality plugins – effectively sorting the wheat from the chaff.

Thousands to Choose From

When it comes to WordPress plugins, there are literally thousands and thousands available for download. Within this vast selection are both very good plugins and very bad ones. The good plugins will help improve the functionality or appearance of your new blog or website; the bad ones could potentially destroy all your hard work. The problem you have is one of discerning what plugins are actually the good ones, and what ones should be avoided like the plague. In the list below, we outline a few ways to help you sort through the field to find the wheat while avoiding the chaff.

  • Check the Chatter – There are very nearly 40,000 plugins available from the WordPress repository at this moment in time. That is a lot of plugins. The good people at WordPress now allow users to star rate and comment on each plugin. This not only lets other users know what the particular plugin is like but it also offers the plugin developer some recourse to respond to praise/criticism. So following on from this, plugins that have a low star rating with comments/reviews that back this rating up should be avoided as there are issues with it.
  • Developer Support – Whether the plugin you choose is free or paid for, there should be some sort of support offered by the plugin’s developer. You usually find that paid plugins have dedicated websites/web pages and which usually provide some kind of Free plugins typically make use of wordpress.com’s support forums, from which users can direct their questions to the plugin developer. Irrespective of what method is used, check and see how many issues have been resolved, especially recently, and see if you can ascertain how long it takes developers to respond.
  • Updates – In our opinion, it is impossible for a plugin to be released and then never updated. Bugs will need to be patched, code will need to be rewritten for operating system updates, and let’s not forget when WordPress itself updates to a new version. If a plugin you are interested in has no update history, it is probably best to avoid it and move on to the next one. Better safe than sorry. The same goes if a plugin has not been updated for a long time – the developer has probably moved on to other things and left said plugin to die a slow death.

Taking the above into account when you search for a plugin for your new WordPress installation should ensure that you avoid most of the pitfalls associated with installing plugins.

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