The WordPress plugin directory is one of the great benefits of WordPress for many people. The hundreds and hundreds of plugins offer a wide variety of solutions for functionality and design for one’s WordPress install. The options are almost endless and it truly shows the power of an mature open source community.
For many this is also a headache, with an almost endless selection of plugins how does one tell what’s good and what not good, and how do you tell if it the right one for your install and theme?
Here are my tips in choosing the right plugin.
- When searching the directory always use search terms that will help describe what your website is currently using. If you use a Genesis theme, use the “genesis” in the search term, likewise for other theme frameworks.
- Actually read the information part, work out what it does and what it does not do. This is the downfall of most folk, it’s a lot quicker to read the Description page than fix a WordPress website after a plugin has broken it.
- Support forum – Once have come across a plugin that you think is suitable for your needs, check out the support forum. This will give you great insight into the developer or development team and how well they look after the plugin. Firstly look for “[Resolved]” tags, this will give an indication about how well the plugin is supported if you do have issues. If there are none, maybe it’s a time to move on. While you are is forum also check out some of the support questions and more importantly the support answers. Are the replies written well and are easy to understand, and are they politely written? Personally I think there are a lot insights into the developer and the development team in the how well a support forum is maintained.
- Documentation – Has the developer laid out well written documentation, or has the developer left it to you to work out for yourself? You may have to head over to the developer’s website to review the full documentation. One of the great benefits of WordPress is that customisation of functionality and design can be done by plugins and via the dashboard as we all want something slightly different. This is where the plugin documentation is important, has the plugin options being explained in an easy to read and understandable manner, and allows you to configure the plugin as required?
So there you are, these are the criteria that I choose a WordPress plugin, hopefully they can help you choose a plugin a bit more wisely.