How to Choose a WordPress Plugin

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WordPress plugins are helpful. But they can also slow a site down, invite hackers and even cause a Google penalty. These are my top five considerations when choosing a WordPress plugin.

Five WordPress Plugin Considerations

  1. Plugin is Vetted
  2. Popular
  3. Changelog indicates fairly regular updates
  4. Support Feedback indicates a healthy plugin
  5. Doesn’t overlap with an installed plugin

Plugin is Vetted

A free plugin should ideally be vetted by WordPress. WordPress provides an official plugin repository where trusted free plugins can be downloaded.

If an issue is discovered with a free plugin, WordPress will remove the download from it’s repository. Typical issues can be coding that results in a vulnerability but can also be related to other issues as outlined in the WordPress Plugin Guidelines.

It’s not a perfect system for being assured that the plugin is safe to install. But it’s generally safer than downloading a plugin that is not available through the official WordPress depository.

The exceptions to this rule are premium paid plugins by reputable companies. Generally, the premium plugins have a free version and a paid version. The fact that a free version has been vetted by WordPress provides assurance (to me) that there is some kind of quality control.

There are premium plugins available and those plugins may undergo their own private testing. They are generally safe to purchase and download. However it may be useful to research the testing and vetting practices before purchasing.

Plugin is Popular

I’m generally not a believer in the wisdom of crowds. However I do feel some safety in knowing that a WordPress plugin is popular and well liked.

Popularity by itself does not guarantee that a plugin is not without issues. A few of the most popular plugins have been the sources of near catastrophic issues or larding up web pages with needless code.

Nevertheless, popularity along with other factors can contribute to an assurance that that the plugin is likely safe and works…

 

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