Here at Valet, we’ve helped support hundreds of websites over the years. Everything from one-page business card sites, to full web app style sites that support thousands of users daily. Through all of that, we’ve learned a few different things about plugins that I would like to share with you.
This recently came to light while discussing some GDPR geolocation options with one of our favorite clients. They were considering building a fully customized solution to get the job done. As much as I like to geek out about these things myself, I knew this wasn’t in their best interest. Whether they built it themselves or they had our full-stack dev team, we’ve learned over the past decade-plus that it simply wasn’t efficient.
Here are some points I shared with them and would like to share with you:
Use plugins before custom code.
At the end of the day, it gets you off the hook for maintaining your own code. Leverage the beauty of open source! Plugins can be used by hundreds, thousands, and even millions of users with an array of different themes, plugins, and hosting combinations. Why not add your unique situation to the mix -- any fixes and updates will more than likely benefit you.
Don’t fear premium.
As you dive into the plugin world, you’ll find that many plugins are only premium or have a premium element outside of the free plugin’s basic offerings. Don’t be afraid to pay! Many plugin developers have a money-back guarantee within a set timeframe, so there’s no risk. This also lends towards the overall quality of the plugin. They are not just keeping a plugin updated -- they are caring for customers. Keep in mind that many premium plugin developers offer support, so if you run into problems, they might be able to help you. You get what you pay for.
Keep it simple.
Sometimes the simplest plugin is the best plugin. Bloat can be a real problem, so don’t hook yourself into features you don’t need. We have had clients go through several different slider plugins because the free slider plugin was no longer being updated. The truth is, they just needed something simple and it was more cost-effective to change slider plugins twice in 10-years than pay an annual subscription for a slider that made their website load slowly (FWIW, they no longer use a slider since sliders suck and should be banned from your website.
Just try it!
At Valet, we keep a tight rein on our development workflow. It’s important to have a development and/or staging environment to test your site before deploying live. Be sure you do the same! Because of that, we have the ease and flexibility to try any and every plugin we want without any risk. You can read the WordPress Plugin repo page and stare at the screenshots all day long, but in the end, you just need to try it. Don’t be shy. Just try it.
I hope you find some of these tips helpful. If you think of any you would like to share, please leave it down in the comments. And if you need help with your WordPress site, I know one of the best WordPress development and support teams on planet earth. 😉