We all know it, WordPress plugins are one of the biggest advantages that WordPress offers. But they can also be the greatest weakness when it comes to using the CMS.
Using WordPress plugins effectively is highly dependent on two things. One is the source from which you get your WordPress plugin and the second is knowing when to use a WordPress plugin and when to let it go.
WordPress plugins can offer exciting new features but you can’t forget one basic thing, plugins should be used only for the purpose of providing a fundamental function or solving a specific problem. When it comes to deciding about whether or not to use a WordPress plugin, your decision should be different based on each individual plugin.
Here we’ll supply you with the tools to know whether a plugin is primed to operate at maximum functionality without compromising on quality.
Let’s dive into questions you should ask yourself before choosing a plugin.
Do you absolutely need a plugin to run this feature?
Oftentimes, users download plugins to address a feature that can be otherwise fixed.
The question should be “Is having this feature on your website absolutely dependant on installing a plugin? Because if you can do the function you’re looking for without the use of a plugin, should you be installing a plugin? Before you commit, ask around the community to see if there’s an easier way to achieve that function.
The downside to installing a plugin you don’t use can include:
- You could accidentally botch your header or footer files this way and if you’re not prolific, fixing it will involve a lot more trouble than if you had simply installed a plugin.
- Whenever you change your theme, you will have to re-install the code. If you happen to forget, the traffic information that you miss in between cannot be recovered.
- Tracking custom variables or customizing the settings require that you know the exact analytics code that you get and if you are new or inexperienced, this can be a bit tricky.
Only move forward with the plugin if you answer yes to both of these questions:
- Is there a specific need for a plugin?
- Are you solving a particular problem by installing a plugin?
Now that you’re comfortable with those questions, we have more to answer.
Can your WordPress theme install the code for this feature?
It might not be common knowledge but your theme, especially themes on a premium framework have an option in the settings to install and edit your header and footer scripts. Check your theme and if you find this option, all you need to do is to copy the code for the feature that you seek into the section provided for header scripts.
Using this method means that you won’t have to edit the PHP code. It also ensures that the code you need will always be installed properly. This is, however, dependent on the fact that you only change child themes and not the theme framework. Whenever you change frameworks, you will still need to re-install your code.
The question still remains for those who need specific customizations. With an issue like this, a plugin will be better to enable you to easily customize any chosen code options. When you have established unequivocally that your website can’t do without the WordPress plugin, it’s time to choose the right plugin.
How to choose a WordPress plugin
For most of the features that you want for your website, there is often a plethora of plugins that are available. You will find several plugins that act in the same way. In choosing a WordPress plugin, you should consider the following;
- Source- When you look, you will find that some developers are well known and have developed a large number of both free and premium plugins. Some authors have only one or two plugins. You need to take developer credibility into consideration when trying to choose a plugin.
- Price – Plugins are sometimes free and sometimes premium. You need to decide how much you will be willing to spend on your chosen plugin and find the best one for your budget.
- Number of downloads- Sometimes, the number of downloads and active users for a particular plugin can be an indicator that the plugin has something great to offer.
- Support- Being able to have support for your purchased plugin means that you can get help with fixing any issues that may arise. Before you purchase, try sending an email to the developer to see their response rate and tone.
As this post comes to a close, the important thing to take with you is the thought process to go through before you finally decide that you need a WordPress plugin. Remember to ask these three most important questions.
- Do you necessarily need to solve the problem or include a functionality on your website?
- Must these features be installed using a plugin?
- Can my theme provide a way to install it?
If the answer to the first two questions is yes and the answer to the third question is no, then head on down to the WordPress plugin directory and pick the best plugin for your website.