Perhaps you all know that WordPress has over 56.000 free plugins in WordPress.org, not including other premium versions for different WordPress user’s purposes. What you want can be adapted by plugins. However, swimming in the ocean of WordPress plugins to find the desired one is not simple. Even when you find out some plugins that seem to meet your demand, it’s still pretty difficult to make a decision.
To have the desired plugin you need to consider many things. Let’s figure out what they are and what you should notice when choosing a WordPress plugin.
1. Needed Features
On looking for something, apparently, you already have all your demand in mind. But that’s not enough. To avoid wasting time, effort, or even money to the stuff that you thought was suitable, you should write down your demands with as many details as possible first.
The best way to do is making a list of needed features in the descending order. After making sure that you don’t miss any requirement, the searching will begin.
This manipulation will help you find the necessary plugin and avoid being ripped off because of buying a plugin with too many unnecessary features.
2. Searching for Plugin
Nowadays, finding a plugin for your demand is quite simple. You can find a keyword for your needed feature on wordpress.org or google.com. Then, you will receive numerous results. They may be the introduction page for a plugin, a review, or a list of plugins for your demand.
You should scan the name and features of the recommended WordPress plugins, comparing them with your needed features on the list. If there is something coincided with your list, save it to your shortlist to evaluate later.
3. Features Comparison
Normally, this is the most time-consuming and challenging step, especially when you find more than one plugin on your shortlist. But if you already have a list of features that you created at the beginning, things will be much easier in this step. You need to modify the initial list to a comparison table below.
Don’t try too much to figure out all the features of each plugin and what they are, which extremely costs your time. Instead, you should check all the needed features and see whether these plugins have them or not. If they have, put the tick to the comparison table.
Sometimes, not every plugin that meets the most essential features will be selected. Plus, you may not find one that meets all your demands. This time, you should consider finding more plugins that adapt the rest of the features and ponder which one to use. The combination of two different plugins can be beneficial than one, and vice versa.
A good plugin that has many features but can’t be compatible with the website and other software on the website is unusable, even brings about trouble. Thereby, you should check the compatibility of your plugin carefully.
Initially, you should read the information about the plugin and find out which version of WordPress and PHP it’s compatible with. Most of every plugin doesn’t work on the too outdated version. So if you are using the outdated version of PHP and WordPress, you should upgrade them.
Next, if your website has already been launched, had a large amount of data or a fixed design, you should definitely check the compatibility of the plugins you want to use. That’s so important, especially when you are using a theme or different plugins. If there is any interaction between the software, an error of your website will probably occur. Hence, you need to check it before installing a plugin. There are some tools that help you do it. My most frequently used one is Sandbox.
5. Speed and Capacity
A high-ranking website on the search engine is what most of the website administrator wants. However, If you select a wrong WordPress plugin, it will make your website consume much more capacity, slow down the page loading speed, and downgrade.
Plugin P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) will check these problems for you. Besides, I recommend that you should read the reviews from users to have more information about the plugin’s effects on your website speed.
According to the estimate of WPScan, 20% of the security vulnerabilities of a WordPress website come from plugins. If you don’t want your website to be attacked by hackers, the first and foremost work to do is checking out the plugins you are using or want to use.
A plugin with security vulnerabilities is not totally a bad thing. There is proof that the plugins at the top of the list of plugins with the most security vulnerabilities are the most popular and trusted plugins. However, you should consider whether the plugin is regularly updated to fix these security vulnerabilities or not. If so, you can still use that plugin, but you need to update it regularly.
Here is a list of security plugins recommended by WordPress experts all around the world that you may need.
As I mentioned above, a regularly updated plugin can limit the security vulnerabilities. Moreover, updating will bring about new features for you. Thus, frequently updating from the author means that they are trying to meet the users’ needs and make the plugin better. You will greatly benefit from that such as better security, more advanced features, easier use, more efficiency…
You should check the changelog of the plugin to know the specific timing of updating, error-fixing, and extra features each time it’s updated. The changelog will tell you every change in history. Then, you can predict if this plugin is really worthy in the future.
8. Testimonials and Ratings
Nowadays, searching for information on the Internet is not difficult. You just need to type some keywords about a WordPress plugin and you can read much information about it. However, instead of reading the introduction, advertisements,... you should be selective to find and read the reviews or comments, evaluations from users.
There are many situations that you have to try the plugin to know if it is good and suitable. Therefore, reading comments and experiences from other users will help you save time as this is also a way to foresee your experience in the future.
Nevertheless, you can’t always read clear verbal assessments from other users. In this case, you should view the ratings.
But remember that rating has actual meaning when it’s derived from a number of users’ opinions. And this number is for reference purposes only. As you can see from my example above: there are both negative and positive opinions about one plugin. It’s not always negative or positive about one plugin.
You can’t be sure that you will never have any problem while using a plugin. Seeking help from the author or user community is so popular. If one plugin isn’t supported by any source, your question while using this plugin is hardly solved. Therefore, plugins that are regularly supported by its author and user communities should be prioritized.
As for the free plugins on WordPress.org, you can easily see how many requests the plugin needs to be supported and how much the author has handled.
The premium versions or other plugins, you can go to the support page of the provider or join the user community (on Facebook, Slack…) to look over and review.
10. FAQs and Documentation
Don’t forget to read the frequently asked questions and documentation from the provider/author.
If the author provides comprehensive documentation, you will save a lot of time tinkering and finding ways to use that plugin. Furthermore, you will know how to use this plugin properly to have the highest efficiency.
11. Free or Paid
Lastly, it’s a matter of budget.
After considering all these factors, you will realize that paying money doesn’t mean you will have the best and most suitable plugin. Sometimes, you will find a free plugin that meets all your requirements. In that case, just need to use this free one.
However, in case you can’t find a free plugin like that, it’s unavoidable that you have to pay for some tools. Just try to select a plugin that meets as many criteria as possible within your budget.
Don’t take this issue too seriously because eventually, the ultimate goal is to operate your website well.
Here I have the last note for you: you should choose a plugin based on your situation and requirements such as traffic, your products or services.
Thinking and remembering information in mind and then making a decision are likely to confuse you and make you miss the best tools, or even overlap the plugin. Hence, you should try to create a comparison table and add items such as updates, support, reviews, rates together with your needed features. In the end, you will have a synthesis of information and easily choose a plugin.
I hope that the information in this post can help you select plugins more conveniently. Wish you find suitable tools for your website.