With so many options available to you, how do you know what plugin to pick? You could do research on plugins until you’re blue in the face. But instead try focusing on these key questions to ensure your choice is a good one for your online business.
1. What problem am I trying to solve?
To start off our plugin pondering, it’s best to take a step back + first get a clear picture on what problem you are solving. Because knowing what you are trying to accomplish will help you pick the best solution.
Odds are you needed to do something on your site + googled for help. When one of the first results was a plugin, you figured you’d just install it + be done.
There’s no shame in that thought process. In fact, it’s resourceful + decisive. But since we are likely talking about your livelihood (your business) it’s fair to say taking a brief pause won’t hurt you in the long run.
Getting more curious about the problem you are trying to solve does 2 things. First, like I mentioned above, it helps you pick the best solution because you know what features you’ll need. And second, asking this question could help you land on a solution that doesn’t require a plugin at all.
Dedicate 90 seconds to getting the problem summed up in a few sentences so that you feel confident picking a solution for you, your site + your site visitors.
2. Will it work with my version of WordPress?
Once you know your problem clearly + have found a plugin that solves that particular problem, you’ll want to make sure installing that plugin won’t lead to more problems for you.
Head to your WordPress dashboard to snag your WordPress version. If you don’t see it there, you can always get your version number by clicking on the updates icon or link (even if you don’t have any updates pending.)
On the main page for the plugin you’re considering, you’ll see “Requires” in the far right column below the big download button. That lists the minimum WordPress version you can have for the plugin to work.
Say your plugin has a requirement of 4.6 but your version is 4.4.2. that means your chosen plugin will likely not work if you install it on your site. You can either update your site (recommended) or find a new plugin that will work with what you’ve got.
3. When was this plugin last updated?
In a similar spot as the “Requires” line, you’ll see a note about when the plugin was “Last Updated.” If it’s a week or so, you are in luck because that can be hard to find. Anything within the last 6-10 is likely fine, as long as it meets the other requirements. And if you find something that hasn’t been updated in years, you’re better off finding something else.
The reason being that technology is changing faster than we can deal with — and the same is true for plugins. Picking an old copy of a plugin (handfuls of months if not years) sets your business up for a potential security risk.
If that’s not enough to get you to check out the update date, give this a try — I like reminding myself that new features + tools are coming out faster than anyone can keep up. Which means the latest + greatest will not only work with my site, but it will also perform better than a plugin made 6 years ago with no updates since.
4. Does this plugin have too many features?
Remember when I told you to get clear on the problem you were solving? The new benefit to having done that step is that you know for a fact when a plugin has too many bells and whistles for what you need.
If you set out to add a plugin to your site that allows you to show + hide certain page titles based on a checkbox, but you pick a plugin that does all of that PLUS it can add a slider to your homepage that you don’t want. What do you think that plugin is doing to your site? It’s slowing your site load time, which is bad news bears.
Save these 4 questions for the next time you want to install a plugin on your WordPress site. I promise the few extra minutes of work will pay off in the long run.