Picking a Great Plugin

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Isaac Castillo, founder of Echo Design Solutions. Today’s guest blog post was written by Isaac Castillo. Isaac is the founder of Echo Design Solutions, a San Antonio-based WordPress and WooCommerce development company. We asked Isaac to share his approach to picking plugins with our readers. Whether you’re a newcomer or you’ve been using WordPress for years, you may be able to improve your plugin choices.


An abstract representation of choosing the right plugin for your WordPress site.

WordPress has over 51,000 plugins that you can use and install hat a plugin can meet. Usually there are numerous plugins that work different but solve the same problem that you may have. So how do you know which plugin is the right plugin when it comes to choosing one for your WordPress site?

Rating

First thing I tend to check is how many stars a plugin may have. If it has 2 stars then that would mean not many people like the plugin. If it has 5 stars but only 2 people reviewed the item that doesn’t tell you much either. Now if a plugin has 4-5 stars with 1000 people voting odds are that it’s a great plugin.

Active Installs

Another key factor would be how many active installs a plugin has. If it has a great number of active installs this tells me that people who downloaded liked it enough to keep it. Looking at a plugin like Advanced Custom Fields with 1+ million active installs gives me a good indicator of a great plugin.

Last Updated

The last updated section will let me know that the plugin is in active development and changes are always happening which is a good thing. I have seen some plugins that were loaded and haven’t been updated in over 2 years. With new hacks and ways to exploit a security hole this is not a good thing with outdated code. So make sure the check when the code was last updated. I tend to stick with anything within the year is fine if all the other numbers add up.

What About Paid Plugins?

I side with “some” paid plugins as the code is not open source for potential hackers to exploit. But I am not saying all paid plugins are the way to go. Sometimes a company will release a free partial sample of the plugin in a lite version for you to try. Doing so goes through the WordPress plugin directory which then gives you the way to read if it is great or not. If a plugin does not then sometimes these plugins will be a shot in the dark.

Are We Done?

For the most part yes you are. You selected a great plugin that you needed to solve for the problem you were having. You checked the votes, active installs and when it was updated. Another thing to keep in mind is to always upgrade your plugins. When a new update is pushed it’s because there were code fixes so it would be best to backup your database and files and then upgrade your system.

Download Responsibly

Now that you’ve learned how to pick your plugins, remember to always error on the side of caution. Remember that just because it is free doesn’t mean free. Because you could be paying for it later in time spent for a poor plugin. Don’t be like that “kid” (me, a few years ago) at the free food convention that still feels guilty, just because it was free.

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