How To Choose A Plugin

How to Search for a Plugin

WordPress plugin directory is the starting point for most people. It has thousands of plugins available which is great except that this abundance also makes it a little difficult to find the perfect plugin.

WordPress Plugin Directory

You can start by browsing the most popular WordPress plugins in the directory. See if there is a plugin that fits your need. If you can’t find a plugin in the first two pages of popular plugins then run a search.

WordPress plugin directory search shows results based on relevancy by default. You can sort the results by newest, highest rated, and most popular.

Search results in WordPress Plugin Directory

Below each search result you will be able to see the number of times a plugin has been downloaded, its rating, last updated date, and a link to author profile. Ideally you would want to look for a plugin that sounds relevant to you, has a decent number of downloads, a good rating, and recently updated.

Comparing Plugins – Which One to Download?

Once you have found a couple of plugins, you can open these plugin pages in new tabs to compare them. WordPress plugin page contains information about the plugin, what it does, how to use it, etc. You will need to use this information to decide whether or not this plugin is the best fit for you.

A plugin page in WordPress plugin directory

The sidebar on plugin page contains useful information about the plugin. The first section in the sidebar shows the minimum WordPress version required to run the plugin. It will also show compatible up to WordPress version. If it doesn’t show the most recent version, then there is no need to freak out. Although plugin authors check their plugin with each update, they only update the plugin if it needs it.

Below this you will see the date this plugin was last updated and the number of times it has been downloaded since first uploaded to WordPress plugin directory. The number of downloads is a good indicator of a plugin’s popularity.

Plugin Ratings

In the sidebar of plugin page, you will also be able to see plugin ratings. The number of stars indicate ratings where five is the highest and one being the lowest. You should always keep in mind that a lot of WordPress users use the plugin without rating it. It is possible that a plugin downloaded by thousands of people may still not have enough people rating it.

User ratings on the plugin page

Plugin Reviews

When a user rates a plugin, they are asked to write a review for their rating. You can see these reviews by clicking on the rating bars. For example, if someone has given a plugin one star then you can click on the 1 star link to read their review. Another thing to notice here is the total number of ratings. For example if a plugin only has one or two people rating it, then it is really not a significant number. However, if those one or two people left a good reason for their rating in the review, then this would make their rating significant for others.

Check out plugin reviews by clicking on reviews tab

Support Overview

The support section of the plugin page’s sidebar will give you a quick overview of number of support threads opened for a plugin during last two months. It will also show you how many of these threads are resolved. You can see support threads by clicking on the support tab in the plugin menu bar. Just like the reviews, keep in mind that unresolved support threads does not really mean that the plugin has some issues. However, if a plugin has many unresolved threads and the plugin author has not responded to any of them in last two months, then this could be an indicator that the author has lost interest. The plugin may still work for you, but it may not be supported in the long run.

Support overview in the plugin sidebar

Compatibility

The compatibility section allows users to check a plugin version (latest stable is default) with a WordPress version (again latest stable is default). Below this you will see votes for that particular combination. If the number of people saying it works is significantly higher than the number of people voting it broken, then the plugin is probably compatible and should work for that particular combination of WordPress version and the plugin version.

However, we have seen this a number of times that plugins marked as broken by quite a few people still has many downloads and work just fine. The reason for that is that often people only vote when the plugin is broken. If it works, then most people don’t bother leaving their rating.

Plugin Screenshots:

Plugin screenshots are a quick way to see how the plugin looks on the front-end and on the back-end of your WordPress website. Sometimes we find screenshots to be more helpful than the actual plugin descriptions which could be lengthy and confusing. With screenshots you can actually see how the plugin will look, what it actually does and then you can quickly find out whether or not you should try it.

Plugin screenshots page

Check FAQs and Other Notes:

When you are looking at a plugin don’t forget to check FAQs, and Other Notes tabs. These sub pages usually contain useful information about how to use a plugin. Many times people end up complaining that a plugin does not work without even reading how to use it.

When you are trying a plugin, make sure you read those pages so that you can configure and use the plugin properly on your website. It is also possible that you will find some other cool tips there. For example, if you are a looking for plugin that adds a widget you might find out that it also provides a template tag which you can use in your theme or a shortcode which you can use in posts and pages. You may also find out plugin author’s advice on how to add your own CSS styles to plugin output.

Exercise:

Research the following plugins, and based on the information, pick 2 you think are good plugins:

https://wordpress.org/plugins/wptouch/
https://wordpress.org/plugins/the-events-calendar/
https://wordpress.org/plugins/page-links-to
https://wordpress.org/plugins/seo-image/

References: www.wpbeginner.com / https://www.siteground.com / https://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/ / https://codex.wordpress.org