WordPress plugins: 13 Tips For Making the Right Choice

9 Min.
WordPress plugins

What would WordPress be without plugins? Over 50,000 of these are available in the official plugin directory. But it's like searching for a needle in a haystack to make the right choice. This article will help you find the best plugins so that WordPress and WooCommerce remain as secure as possible.

With the tips presented here, there is no guarantee that you are always right in your Pluginchoice. But the hit rate will certainly increase. So let's get started! Let's start with a not so easy question:

Where can you WordPress Pluginsfind?

There is of course the official directory WordPress.org. And market places like CodeCanyon from Envato - who also ThemeForest operate. Or various smaller shops for individual Plugins. Developers can Plugins also find them at Github. But for automatic plugins you need an extra extension. And not everyone plugin supports this technique, so this is more for advanced users.

Let's start with WordPress .org on. Unfortunately the search there is anything but good. There is only a full text search and a tagged keyword search. An exact filtering by the number of active installations, number or level of ratings, compatibility, number of solved support questions or similar is not possible.

What is missing above all is an allocation to other Plugins. So it is not possible to Plugins search in a standardized way for other extensions - such as WooCommerce or Contact Form 7 - supplement.

WordPress plugins
The search for keywords on WordPress .org

Often this works by using suitable tags, for example /plugins/day/woocommerce/. But not always. Or the search results may also contain inappropriate Plugins. So for a first stocktaking it does not hurt to start a Google search first.

Tip: There are various "best of" collections for most applications, often these are renewed annually. You can use them as a good starting point for choosing yoursPlugins . Alternatively, you can search in a preselection like the Tidy Repo.

But the best clue is coming right now:

Nothing is better than a direct recommendation!

The most promising indications of good Plugins ones can be found in direct conversation with the community. At WordCamps and with local meetups you can describe your requirements exactly. And above all, you can ask questions there. This is the fastest way to find a suitable Plugin.

wpmeetups.com WooCommerce
User meetings in your city on wpmeetups.com

Sometimes Meetups also have Pluginrounds where good Plugins ones are collected. Nice summaries can therefore be found on the blogs of Meetups Hamburg and Stuttgart. Speaking of Stuttgart: In November the WordCamp Stuttgart instead - with many conversations and tips for good Plugins!

Assessing the quality of a plugin

Now you have a number of, Plugins and in the best case, a very precise idea of what functions you need. Ideally a checklist with the required features. And now? How can you separate the wheat from the chaff?

When last updated

I am not following a strict plan here, but simply using common sense. I'm afraid Pluginthe last one that was updated 7 years ago is no longer usable. Unless it is so simple that it consists of only a few lines of code and the filter used hasn't changed for 7 years. Here a look at the support forum helps. Has this question been discussed before? And if so, was it answered by the author? Or by another member of the community?


For a first assessment, this value is one of the most important criteria for an active development of the Plugins. But just because a few months have passed, I wouldn't give that up Plugin yet. There are more points that can shed light on the usefulness of the Plugins .

How many active installations?

The number of installations is another indication. Few installations are not necessarily a sign of a bad Plugin. Is this Plugin perhaps very new? Or is the function only interesting for a very acute target group? So this value should always be seen in context. On the other site hand, hundreds of thousands or millions of users clearly indicate that one is Plugin popular and has already convinced others.

Not everyone knows this additional source of information, for example: On the right side of the sidebar there is the item "Extended view". There you will find the infographics "Growth of active installations", with a history of the installations. So you can Plugins easily see "dying" installations.

Installations WordPress
The course of the installations of a Plugins

Compatible with which version?

Together with the information on compatibility, this creates a mood. It helps you to select the candidates for the job. The version should of course always be the current WordPress version. But even slight delays are often ok, as long as this doesn'Plugin t cause major problems. If it has those, a look at the corresponding support forum will show you.

How does the support look like?

Plugins may have been very popular in the past (many downloads), but the developer has stopped developing it further. Maybe the technology has also become outdated. Or the feature has already been incorporated into the WordPress -Core. Here it helps to read the Plugindescription carefully. A look at the support forum can also reveal important information. Are there threads attached that Plugins describe the status of the? Are the last questions all unanswered or already years old?

WordPress plugins: 13 Tips For Making the Right Choice

Good reviews, bad reviews

The star ratings only give a very unclear view of the Plugin. Most extensions that offer Pro versions ask the users of their free version excessively for 5-star ratings. So this info is not really helpful most of the time. I don't read hundreds of praises. Provided they come from real users at all. Because here too, people try to cheat in order to promote the business.

plugin  Evaluation
Downloads, ratings and support questions at a glance

I prefer to read the ratings with 1 or 2 stars. That's less at best. And they reveal a way of dealing with criticism. Is the author of the Plugins timely and comments? And if so, how? Does it become unfriendly or does it remain professional? This often says more than a "Super Plugin! I would recommend." - without any further indications.

For very young Plugins people with few ratings, you can completely ignore the average rating. With less than 50 ratings, the fluctuations are still much too high. Here only a close look will help. When are the ratings from? Did it Plugin perhaps only have problems in the beginning, but these have long since been solved?

Is it Plugin safe?

The majority of all infected WordPress installations are caused by security holes in (often outdated) Plugins. So it doesn't hurt to check if this had or still has security Plugin problems. A search in Sucuri's database for the Pluginname reveals any problems. For example like this: https://wpvulndb.com/search?text=yoast.

Yoast experiences
The WPScan Vulnerability Database

Is the developer of the plugins trustworthy?

Especially if the data found so far do not allow for clear conclusions, you need more data. So let's follow the links that are still offered to us. At the end of the plugin page you will find the item "contributors & developers" with links to the profiles. Here you can find the othersPlugins, including rating and number of active installations. Also the further activities of the developers. This usually gives you a better view of the Plugin. If you know that the author has others Plugins who are very well rated. And who have high installation numbers.

Free or "Premium" - how sustainable is thatPlugin?

Many of the larger Plugins ones in the official directory, which have been around for a while and are actively being developed, use the freemium model. So there is a free Pluginversion, but also a pro version with more features or more designs - depending on the type of Plugins. These Plugins are often the better choice. Because behind them is a working business model that finances further development and support.

Free ones, on the other Plugins hand, often come from individual developers, who sometimes have no time for itPlugin . There are also associations of developers, like the Plugin collective. Among other things it supports the popular extensions Antispam Bee and Statify. But even that is no guarantee for the permanent development of a Plugins.

And as is often the case, there are site black sheep on the other side. Freemium-Plugins, which are so limited and thus "crippled" that the free version actually makes no sense anymore. Unfortunately, the only thing that helps here is a detailed testing of the Plugins, in a separate test environment.

Climate positive WordPress hosting

Subscription or one-off payment

If you should choose a premiumPlugin model, then it is worth taking a closer look at the payment model. If you pay only once for thisPlugin, then it is certainly good for your wallet. But not necessarily for that of the developer. The whole thing is therefore only worthwhile if more and more new customers Plugin buy it. That in turn generates more support. This way a plugin business can destroy itself.

A sense of proportion is therefore also required here. Is it a complex Pluginone, which must be constantly developed further in order to keep up with the technical innovations? Then a subscription is completely okay and justified. If, on the other Plugin hand, it is a nice gimmick - and it is only needed as a small additional function - then a one-off payment seems more appropriate.

What to do if there are problems?

You should never rule out the possibility that the problem is located 30cm from the monitor. The better Plugins ones are well documented. Either in the Plugin-description and in the FAQ-section as well as with screenshots and sometimes even videos illustrated. Sometimes this information is so complex that the whole thing has been outsourced to a separate website. In any case, this is your first starting point. Maybe the problem is just a misuse.

"Examine those who bind themselves eternally, see if they can't find something better." Or in other words: Test what you've got before going into production, so that there are no problems later. In the best case you have set up your own test installation for this purpose. Maybe on a subdomain, or as staging.

Here you can check plugin conflicts, performance problems and any error messages before you start. Does the PHP version cause problems? Does something appear in the error log? Is the website suddenly totally slow? It's best to test all this before it affects your live website.

Tip: Also read our article How to solve WordPress -errors through. In it we show you step by step how to eliminate four of the most common WordPress mistakes.

What if the child has fallen into the well? Then there is the Site Health-Plugin. With the troubleshooting mode you can disable all Plugins of them just for the admin and switch to a default theme. After that you can reactivate them Plugins and this Theme one by one. This way you can track down a Pluginconflict.

health check plugin
The Site Health-Plugin

If this does not help, then the support forum is the next step. Sometimes the support takes place elsewhere. Just follow the info in the plugin description.

Only if all this does not help, you can leave a bad evaluation. If you are lucky you will get a helpful answer - and you can adjust your rating afterwards. This pleases the developer. And it helps other Plugin-seekers to assess the Plugins...

Nothing is eternal

Neither this article, nor the "life" of a Plugins. Even the best Plugins are sometimes sold, have security holes or the company behind them has problems. So even after successful selection, installation and use, you should regularly follow the progress of the Plugins .

Are there still updates? Is it Plugin still compatible with the current WordPress version? If you have problems here, then you should think about replacing the extension. But with the tips from this article, that's probably not the case anymore 😉

How do you select your plugins? Do you have other procedures? Is there anything else to think about? Or have I forgotten an important criterion? Feel free to let me know in the comments!

Torsten is a WordPress freelancer from Hamburg and builds websites for small and medium-sized companies from various industries. He was part of the translation team of WordPress and moderator in the German speaking support forum. Torsten is a member of the plugin collective, a group of people who take care of Sergej MüllerPlugins 's (Antispam Bee, Statify & Co.).

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