How to Choose the Best WordPress Plugins? (Tutorial Video)

Plugins give WordPress much of its true power. WordPress without plugins is still a powerful tool of course, but as soon as you want your site to have extra functionality (such as better SEO, eCommerce, better search, fancy contact forms, etc, etc), you’ll need to add plugins. This site you’re reading now in fact, makes use of well over ten entirely different plugins (here’s a quick list). But how do you know which plugins to choose? How do you make the best choice when there are multiple plugins seemingly doing the same thing? Let’s take a look…

Here’s all you need to know:

What to Consider and Look for When Choosing New Plugins?

– (note: video credits to Topher DeRosia – creator of HeroPress)

Video Transcript:

Hi! This is Topher with Winning WP. In this video, we’re going to look at how to choose WordPress Plugins. What to consider and look for when choosing new plugins. There are many many options and it can be difficult to choose one especially when there are many options for the same task. The first thing you want to do is decide what you want. For the purposes of this video, we’re going to be looking at caching plugins which help make your site go faster. So the first thing you want to do is Google for something like, top five WordPress caching plugins, and you’ll see we got a number of results. Now the first thing you should do is read no fewer than five and maybe as many as . These two here at the top are the same article. I’m going to click in there and I’m going to skim. What I’m looking for is what plugins they recommend regardless of quality. So here’s WP Super Cache, W Total Cache, WP Rocket, and that’s it, those three really. Hummingbird is mentioned but it isn’t a mainstream plugin. So there’s WP Super Cache, W Total Cache, and WP Rocket. So let’s look at the next one real quick. There’s WP Rocket again! And there’s W Total Cache again. And WP Super Cache again. But now we also have Fastest Cache, and Comet Cache, and there’s Cache Enabler. And then at the bottom, they do have a comparison table. They’re all fairly similar. Let’s look at one more. There’s W Total Cache again and WP Super Cache again and WP Rocket again. Do you see how we’re starting to see a pattern? It’s the same ones that come up in every review. So once you’ve read through several of these and you do some comparison tables and you look at who’s better and who’s faster, then you pick one and you do some research on it. First let’s take a look at WP Super Cache. It’s a free plugin on WordPress.org and we want to evaluate this plugin to see if it’s worthy, to see if it’s good for us. Some of the things you want to look for is when it was last updated. This one was last updated a month ago and it has over a million active installations. That means it’s pretty popular and it’s pretty well-updated. The ratings are decent but you also want to look in the Support area and you want to look for unanswered support requests. So these are requests and the ones with zeroes are unanswered. There are quite a few that are unanswered, for a couple of days in some cases. Another thing you can look at is the last code change which is a little different from last updated. If you click on Development and then Read More, you can click on the development log. Now this isn’t nearly as scary as it might sound. We’re not going to look at code. We’re just going to look at some dates. So the last time code was pushed was five weeks ago, which is about on par for its last update of one month ago. But sometimes, authors push code more frequently than they actually release a version and that can help you know whether or not there’s a new version coming. Now there are a couple of exceptions to these rules that I’ve shown you and one of them does happen to be with W Total Cache. If you look at it on WordPress.org, you’ll see that it also was updated about a month ago and there are also about a million active installations. However, if you start doing research on W Total Cache on Google, you’ll soon find that it’s been almost abandoned. Paid customers are not getting support. New releases are not coming when they’re supposed to. So don’t simply go by these numbers. Use Google and read reviews and find out what people think of this plugin. Another exception is Posts Posts. Posts Posts was last updated a year ago and has only , active installations. However, because it was written very very well, it hasn’t needed an update in the last year and those , active installations, those are rock-solid websites. And I know this because I did some research on Google and I read about Posts Posts and I know some developers who use it. I use it myself. So our first rule is to look at these metrics and our second rule is to do some research and make sure they’re accurate. Now let’s look at evaluating a paid plugin. WP Rocket is not free, you won’t find it on WordPress.org so you want to do things like look at pricing. $ for one site gets you a year of support and updates. $ for three websites and $ for unlimited websites. But if you look at the top here, you’ll see that there’s a % off discount. Those happen occasionally. After you’ve looked at price, you then want to look at Features and compare them with other caching plugins. Now of course, this is the WP Rocket site so it’s going to come off as much better than all the others. Personally, I prefer WP Rocket. Even though it costs, it is extremely simple and easy to use. Once you’ve looked at Features, check out Support and Documentation. Here you can open a ticket even before you pay for it. They list their Support Hours and they provide Documentation. One of the advantages of paying for a plugin is that they do promise support. If that’s important to you, it can be invaluable. One last thing I want to talk about is downloading paid plugins for free. All you have to do is use the right Google search and you’ll find sites that offer premium plugins for free. Now the problem with this is that many of those free plugins come with malware pre-installed. So you might avoid paying or $ for a plugin but you’re going to be serving malware from your website. Another reason is that the people who build these plugins and sell them do it for a living. Instead of having a different job, they spend their entire day building this plugin to make it be the very best for you. All they ask in return is a small fee. If it saves you time and energy, it’s well worth the fee. So remember, don’t download paid plugins for free. Let’s review real quick. First, decide what you want then Google for something like, Top WordPress Plugins for X and read no fewer than five but maybe as many as or whatever you feel comfortable with. As soon as you feel like you have a handle on one or two of the best plugins, then pick one and start doing research. When evaluating a plugin on WordPress.org, look at when it was last updated, look for unanswered support questions, and look at the last code change. There are exceptions. Don’t just blindly follow those rules. Use Google to get reviews on the plugin you’re thinking of. When evaluating a commercial plugin, look for support, look for automatic updates so that you don’t have to keep an eye on it, and then look for the features. And lastly, never ever download paid plugins for free. Often they have malware built in and someone is counting on that money to make a living. If you’d like to learn more about WordPress, check out WinningWP.com.

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By WinningWP Editorial

Run by Brin Wilson, WinningWP is an award-winning resource for people who use – you guessed it – WordPress. Follow along on Twitter, Facebook, and/or Google+
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