How to Source the Right WordPress Plugins for Your Business

It can be a jungle out there and knowing which products are right for your business is one of the most challenging but critical components to getting your WordPress website up and running.

Think that SEO is important to your site?  You’re right!  But go ahead and search the web for WordPress SEO; see how many results you come up with. How do you know which tool is right for your particular situation? In this post, I’m going to take a look at a few principles to help you select the right solutions for your site and for your business.

Starting Out

The first questions you should ask yourself are:

  • Who is my ideal customer?
  • What does my idea customer need?
  • What do I want my customer to experience?

Creating an ideal customer scenario lets you hone in on the specific features you need to provide. Just because you can do something with WordPress, doesn’t mean that you should.

Be intelligent and strategic with what you install on your site.

Thinking About Tools

Once you have a clearly defined goal for what your customer will experience on your website, it’s time to start looking for the tools to make it happen. There will be several potential plugins that could provide what you need for project but how do you know which to choose from?

Your starting point should always be the WordPress Plugin Repository. It’s great that all the plugins there are free, but how do you ensure that the quality is good enough to power your site?

There is lots of information available on the plugin’s landing page that you can use to make the right decision.

  • User Ratings:  Check out the star rating system provided on the site.  How is the plugin rated (1 to 5 stars) and how many people have voted?
  • Has it been tested with your version of WordPress? If a plugin hasn’t been tested with recent versions it may not work.
  • When was it last updated? A product that is updated frequently, and that has been updated recently, shows an active developer.  This means a higher likelihood that plugin updates will be release to correspond with WordPress updates.
  • What are folk saying? The WordPress forums are alive with activity. How are other users doing with this product? What issues are they running into?
  • Who developed the plugin? How many other plugins have they developed? Are they active in the WordPress community? Do they respond to support forum requests?

A search on Google will often direct you to roundup posts published by reputable news sources. You can use these posts to help to gauge whether a plugin is going to work how you want it, and whether there are any issues with it. Also keep a look out for plugin reviews on sites like WPMU.org and WP Lift.

Commercial Plugins

You don’t have to restrict yourself to the WordPress repository though. There are loads of commercial options available.  Often, these “premium” plugins have lots more features than their free counterparts.

Important questions to ask are:

  • How long has this provider been around? A more established business represents a long-term commitment to WordPress
  • Premium solutions normally come with a higher level of support.  What are folk saying about that support? What can you expect for signing up?

Custom Development

Finally, if nothing is available you may need to go with a custom solution. How do you go about finding a trustworthy developer?

Here are some tips:

  • Prior results.  Sites like freelancer and code poet are helpful in showing you heaps of people available.  Check out their rates and any comments from previous customers to get a sense of what you can expect.
  • Ask questions.  Get an estimate from the developer up front. A competent developer should be able to provide an estimate for the time required on a given project.

What Not to Do

Never use Warez or Torrent sites to download WordPress plugins. They may seem like an attractive free option, but these plugins often have malicious code or spam links inserted into them and could result in your website being compromised.

Where possible, get your plugins from the plugin author’s website, or from the WordPress plugin repository.

Got more questions about finding plugins? Feel free to ask me in the comments.

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