Finding the right WordPress Plugins for your website needs

One of the many tasks of maintaining your WordPress website, and ensuring it does what you need it to do is finding the WordPress plugins you need. A plug-in is basically software containing a group of functions that can be added to your WordPress website. Plugins are used for many things, from scheduling calendars, to form creation, and so much more. And they are as necessary as WordPress itself, when it comes to building a gorgeous functional website. But installing the wrong plug-in can cause some serious issues with your website. There are literally thousands upon thousands of plugins available, and finding the right one can be a challenge to say the least. So today I thought I would share with you a few things to look for, that will help guarantee you find the plug-in that is right for you.

Top 3 things to look for before installation… ​

  • How many Active Installs does it have? How many people are actively using the plugin?  I honestly look for a number that is way into the thousands before I even consider installing it on my website.
  • What is the Rating? Every plugin comes with the ability to receive a rating up to 5 stars.  Not only do I look at the number of overall stars, I also look at the number of ratings counted.
  • Is it considered compatible with my version of WordPress? Not all plugins are updated immediately, and they may not be compatible.  Sometimes this isn’t a problem, but it is a risk to consider.

Here is an example of a highly used WordPress plugin, one that I use on all of my websites. As you can see it has 1+ Million Active Installs and a 5-star rating with more than 13,000 reviews.  It is also compatible with my current WordPress installation.   But keep reading there are a few more things to look at …

Digging for more details…

While this plugin has everything I am looking for, there are still more details to consider.  When you click on the More Details link you will see a window very much like the one below.  This is where you can see the full details of this plug-in to make sure it fits your needs.  The Description is going to tell you a great deal about the plugin and all of its features, and the FAQ is pretty self explanatory.  These are the two tabs most people look at, and many stop there.  I recommend taking a look at the Screenshots as well, as this is going to give you an overall look and feel of the plugin, it’s administrative console as well as how it will look to those visiting your website.  Finally, I highly recommend reading the Reviews, particularly the lower ratings. Some of these will be people simply trash talking, but others will give you a good indication of the limitations other users have found with the plug-in.  Limitations that may be a huge deciding factor for you.

The testing phase…

Once I have installed a plug-in, I allow myself a testing phase to see if it truly is a good fit for me.  I will read through the documentation, set up or at least test out all the features if offers, and use it, monitoring my website for about 2 weeks.  If all seems well, then I keep the plug-in around.  If it isn’t quite what I had hoped for, them I deactivate it and remove it.  Leaving old unused plug-ins installed can increase your risk of compatibility issues (when they are active) and just having them installed can slow the performance of your website.