Plugins create wonders for WordPress. With Plugins, you can make pretty much any website you desired. It is like making your dream come true, whether you are a beginner or a webmaster. Having said that, before installing any plugin, you need to know how to choose the best WordPress plugin. Remember, NOT every plugin is the same.
Below are the important checklists that you need to take into consideration when it comes to installing WordPress plugins to your site.
WordPress Plugin Checklists (See This Before You Install Any Plugin)
Review Your Requirements
When you search for a WordPress plugin to install, you must have a reason or objective for what do you want to achieve, You do not install plugins just for the sake of installing. In other words, if the plugin is expensive and recommended by your WordPress guru, it doesn't necessarily mean you need it. Most of the time, plugins add the load to your site, thus affecting your site loading speed. Therefore, ask yourself “why do I need this plugin” before installing any.
It's worth noting that, some of the functions that you need do not require a WordPress plugin. Either the function is already available in your WordPress Theme (depending on the theme that you are using) or the function could be a duplication of your existing WordPress Plugins. So check to ensure the function you required is not available in your existing theme/plugins.
For example, You would like to add code to the header section of your site to connect to Google Analytics. Before you install a dedicated plugin to connect to Google Analytics, check:
a) If the site already has Google Tag Manager(GTM) installed? With GTM, you can add Google Analytics, FB, and pretty much any other codes within GTM itself, without messing with your WordPress site. GTM provides a central location for users to install any 3rd party tracking codes. If you already have GTM, then, by all means, log in to GTM and add your code there. If you have not, it is a wise choice to install GTM so you can install not only Google Analytics, but any other future third-party codes as well.
b) Does your site's existing plugin allow you to insert code in the header of the site? For example, if you already have a header and footer plugin installed, you do not need any extra plugins as the head and footer plugin performs the same task.
Search Plugin Using Simple Keyword
You start by searching with a keyword in the WordPress Plugins Repository. The keyword is the term used to retrieve the most relevant plugins that you need. If you use a long and complicated keyword, chances are you may not get accurate results.
For popular plugins, it will show you relevant results even if the keyword entered is fairly broad. For example, if you are looking for a WordPress security plugin, you can either enter security, WordPress security, protect my website, secure my website, no more hackers, chances are you still get the closely relevant results.
If you would like to remove the data, author info from your post, you should enter “remove meta” or anything along the line instead of “get rid of meta”. You get the point. Just enter a simple keyword to locate the most relevant lists of plugins available.
Understand What The Plugin Does
Click on the More Details link to get a glimpse of what the plugin does. Don't rely solely on the title of the plugin as the title may not always give an accurate representation of what the plugin is doing. Only after you have convinced the plugin does what you want, then you may proceed to install the plugin.
Ensure The Plugin Supports Your WordPress and PHP Version
WordPress is always evolving and new updates are released every now and then. As time passed by, the plugin may be outdated which means it may not perform optimally with your current WordPress or PHP version, or in the worst-case scenario, it won't work or even crash your site.
How to check your current WordPress and PHP versions?
- From your WordPress dashbaord, go to Tools – Site Health
- in the Site Health page, click on Info tab
3. At the bottom, scroll down to WordPress and expand the tab. You will then find your WordPress version.
4. For the PHP version, scroll down further to Server, likewise, expand the tab to view the info.
WordPress Active Installations and Ratings (and Reviews)
If you were to do online shopping and you found a product that you want at Amazon, what would you do next? Yes, as usual, you will read the descriptions, watch the video (if there are any), and the next step before it gets your green light, is the number of sales up-to-date, and customer ratings and reviews!
Likewise, in choosing the Plugins, you want to check out active installations, and the average ratings the plugin gets.
Of course, you can also have a quick look at the reviews to see if anything worth noting about the plugin. Personally, I pay more attention to the active installations and average reviews a plugin gets rather than reviews.
Plugins Last Updated
If you shop for vegetables at a local supermarket, you definitely don't want to buy rotten vegetables. The last updated basically tells you when was the last time the developer updated their plugin. It was not the most important factor but it cannot be ignored.
If the plugin was not updated for 5 months, it is perfectly fine (notice that not all plugins required frequent updates – by frequent, I mean days or weeks). Some plugins are just simple WordPress plugins (i.e perform a very simple function) that do not require updates at all. That may only need updates only when WordPress itself comes out with a new version, in which the plugin developer may need to release a minor update in order to be compatible with the latest WordPress.
Having said that, if the plugin is not updated for years, that is always not a good sign, avoid that if possible.
My Conclusion – How To Choose The Best WordPress Plugin To Install
The best plugin is the plugin that usually fulfills most of the factors given above. Having said that, that is not the definitive answer as to whether a plugin is good or bad. The best rule of thumb is to evaluate all the factors above, include your own judgment and you can't go wrong.