WordPress is an excellent platform for most websites, and has some great functions. A lot of these are readily available by the use of plugins. There are over 50,000 plugins in the official directory, with new ones added daily. Unfortunately with so much choice and options, choosing the correct plugin can be difficult. There are a few factors to consider when installing a plugin, which Black Nova Designs explore further.
Some plugins weigh more than others; by this we mean that they can have an effect on your website’s speed, making page load times increase.
How can you tell if a plugin is slowing down your site? Just use a website speed checker like GTMetrix and do two rounds of testing: before and after installing the plugin. This way you can notice whether your website’s performance changed and by how much.
Your tools and themes
Sometimes, some plugins are incompatible with your current theme or with other plugins running on your site. This can be because the plug-in is out of date or poorly developed. A single line of old, un-updated code can bring serious damage to various elements of your site, from the way the website looks to causing the whole website to display errors, or show offline.
A similar issue happened recently when WooCommerce 3.3 affected lots of themes, which led to a big controversy in the community, anger among theme developers who had to fix what got broken, and WooCommerce plugin being taken down temporarily from WordPress.org.
Security is perhaps the most important aspect because the last thing you want is to get hacked; it takes a lot of work to put things back in order and you can lose essential data and potential business.
A few years back, Captcha plugin was reported to have been used by its own authors as a backdoor to break into users’ admin pages. It was eventually removed from the plugin directory right after being detected, but it still had the time to harm a considerable number of websites.
Things to look into before getting a plugin
When you’re looking for a plugin, don’t just read the description and hit Download/Buy button, you need to research in advance even if it’s free/paid, especially if it’s free.
So, where to look before starting to use a plugin?
User ratings and reviews
Looking at the reviews is a great place, to uncover the truth about a plugin, as many of the users that have already tried it, will know about any faults or how well it actually works. If most of these opinions are negative, it’s probably best to walk away and look somewhere else.
Compatibility – Last Updated details
In the compatibility section, you can see when was the last time the plugin was updated. If it’s more than one year (ideally 6months), I wouldn’t go for it. If the developers didn’t update it in such a long time, it means there’s a big chance that the plugin won’t work in concordance with the latest WordPress releases and possible vulnerabilities have not been fixed during this period, leave huge security holes ready for hackers to exploit. Hackers usually target insecure, outdated, and vulnerable products.
The compatibility with the latest WordPress release is also mentioned in the plugin’s info sidebar, so make sure to have a look at it too, and match it against your version of wordpress.
When a free plugin is supported, it’s a sign saying that the developer is trustworthy. And will help you in case any incident takes place.
Where to look for support? Go to the Support tab on the plugin’s WordPress.org page. There’s a forum-like page listing clients’ issues related to the product. The support page is a good proof indicating the author’s responsiveness and attitude towards the users. Having the support team involved in answering people’s questions about a free plugin is an advantage. Not only for when you’ll need support yourself. But it’s good in general to know that a team of professionals is behind a service that you use. It means they are taking their product seriously and care about keeping it functional. Also looking in the reviews tab again, most users will mention about support levels and give you a good indication of how good the developers responds to support queries.
The number of active installs
This tells you the number of websites where the plugin is currently active. Judging by one’s logic, if a plugin is active on many sites then it must be doing something right and will generally still have a very active community.
In Summary, only allow users, website managers and reputable knowledgeable staff to download plug-ins.
Adding plug in’s without thought can cause a security loophole in your website. After spending money on your website it would be a shame to lose it because someone has added in a plugin that has a dangerous line of code in it.
Top Tip – do not share you website log in with anyone! Set them up with a user profile where possible to ensure any activity by them can be tracked. Especially if you are allowing them access to download plug in’s!
For further support or more information, please visit www.blacknovadesigns.co.uk.