WordPress is mostly a plugin-based blogging platform although it can be run smoothly even without plugins. WordPress can be greatly enhanced by installing plugins and that’s why it is always tempting for beginners to look for new plugins and install them to add new features to their blogs.
For more details, see our article how to properly install a plugin in WordPress.
Well, it’s always a good idea to update your blog with new features if they can add value to your visitors experience but this practice can also backfires if done wrong. Poor Plugins can break your website and even open security holes to welcome bad guys to take control of your blog.
Where to find and download WordPress plugins ?
You will find unlimited resources and websites on the internet offering WordPress plugins, all good and bad. Choosing the right one can be quite frustrating for WordPress beginners and this is why we have written this article on how to select plugins you want to install on your blog.
We will only cover WordPress plugins official directory as this is the best place to find WordPress plugins. At this time the directory features more than 50,000+ plugins with hundreds of plugins offering the same functionality making it the largest resource of free and open source plugins.
The best part is all the plugins hosted in the directory are hand-picked and reviewed by a dedicated team of WordPress professionals. The plugins from this directory can also be installed directly from within WordPress.
Searching WordPress plugins
Once you visit WordPress plugins directory, you will see it is nicely arranged into sections Featured Plugins, Popular Plugins and Beta Plugins. Visit these sections to look for the plugins you want otherwise use the search to find all the plugins meeting your searching criteria.
Just for the demonstration purposes, let’s say you need a cache plugin and make a search for it. The WordPress plugins directory shows all the cache plugins in its database.
It could be confusing seeing a lot of options and which plugin to use. The key point here is to see and filter the best options manually.
Just to filter the results quickly, you need to keep an eye on three important factors.
- Number of rating stars.
- Number of active installs.
- Either the plugin is tested with the latest version of WordPress.
According to the criteria above, the two potential candidates could be W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache both with 1+ million active installs and tested with latest versions of WordPress.
How to compare WordPress plugins ?
Once you are done with choosing the plugins, its time to compare them to select only one of them based on their additional features and properties. You can click both of them to open plugin pages in separate tabs. Plugin’s separate page holds more information about the plugin including detailed description, technical guides, FAQs and even screenshots.
The plugins comparison will help you decide which plugin to use.
Its advisable not to install two plugins of the same functionality. It can create plugin conflicts results in WordPress not working properly.Woopoo's Good Practice
How to get WordPress plugin details ?
On a plugin page, the sidebar on the right hand side will reveal plugin quick overview.
Last updated information is important here. DON’T use an outdated WordPress plugin if it has not been updated for the last 2 years at least. It strongly gives signal that the developer or the team behind this plugin might have lose interest in keeping the plugin up-to-date.
Even WordPress will show you a plugin warning for this.
Outdated plugins can create problems with the new and upcoming versions of WordPress.Woopoo's Caution
The other useful information includes Requires WordPress version and Tested up to which tells you the minimum WordPress version needed to run this plugin and WordPress compatibility with the latest version respectively.
Clicking the Advanced View link will reveal even more information. For example you can see the plugin downloads history which could be another indirect factor of guessing plugin’s popularity.
How to check plugin ratings and reviews ?
Just below all the information we have discussed above comes the rating and reviews of a plugin.
Being 5 stars is the best rating and 1 star is the worst, you have to check the numbers written in front of these ratings. For example more ratings given to 5 stars means the people using this plugin are satisfied with it.
The ratings have been given by real people who are using WordPress just like you so it is a good idea to have an in-depth look in this section. Each given rating comes with a review. Click See all to read reviews given by people who are already using the plugin.
Where to get WordPress plugin support ?
Support section will show you issues resolved in last two months and let you access support forum for the plugin. This will give you an idea how quickly the developers are responding to plugin problems.
Do give a visit to support forum also where you will see the real problems people are facing by installing this plugin. It could be plugin conflicts to check whether you have also installed the same plugins and related problems.
Helpful Plugin Screenshots
Usually at the end of the plugin main description page, you will see plugin screenshots if applied. The developers sometimes host images of the plugin to let people see how a plugin will look like in WordPress once installed. It includes plugin’s front-end images and backend images.
Bonus Tip: Testing WordPress plugin on localhost
It’s always a good idea to install and test a plugin on a localhost website first instead of checking a plugin on a live site. It could break your live site or can create conflict with other already installed plugins.
We strongly recommend to see our article how to setup WordPress on localhost to create a localhost website for testing purposes.
We hope you find this article informative and a guideline to find best plugins for your blog. If you still have any questions do let us know using the comments section below and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.