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How to Choose WordPress Plugins via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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WordPress plugins are helpful. But they can also slow a site down, invite hackers and even cause a Google penalty.

These are my top five considerations when choosing a WordPress plugin.

5 WordPress Plugin Considerations

  1. The plugin is vetted by WordPress.
  2. It is popular.
  3. Changelog indicates plugin is not abandoned.
  4. Support participation and feedback indicate a healthy plugin.
  5. It doesn’t overlap with a currently installed plugin.

1. The Plugin Is Vetted by WordPress

Some paid plugins don’t have a free version. But many of the most respected plugins have a paid premium version and a free version that is vetted and included in the official WordPress plugin repository.

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The fact that a free version has been vetted by WordPress provides assurance (to me) that there is some kind of quality control.

If a serious issue is discovered with a free plugin, WordPress will remove the download from its repository.

Coding that results in a vulnerability or a state of abandonment is one potential issue. There are many other reasons why a plugin may be removed, as outlined in the WordPress Plugin Guidelines.

It’s not a perfect system and doesn’t 100% ensure that the plugin is safe to install. But it’s generally safer than downloading a plugin that is not available through the official WordPress repository.

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Premium plugins may undergo their own private testing. They are generally safe to purchase and download. However, it may be useful to research the testing and vetting practices before purchasing.

2. The Plugin Is Popular

I’m not totally convinced of the wisdom of crowds. However, I do feel a sense of safety in knowing that a WordPress plugin is popular and vouched for by many users.

Popularity by itself does not guarantee that a plugin is without issues. In fact, a few of the most popular plugins have been the sources of near-catastrophic issues or larding up web pages with needless code.

Nevertheless, popularity can (alongside other factors) contribute to an assurance that the plugin is likely safe and works reasonably well.

3. Changelog Indicates Regular Updates

Some plugins may be abandoned. Every plugin’s WordPress page notes when the plugin was last updated.

A plugin might not be updated because the function it performs is relatively simple. But in general, this is a sign that a plugin has been abandoned.

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Abandoned plugins should in most cases be avoided.

WordPress is constantly evolving. Installing a plugin that hasn’t been updated could cause conflicts with the current version of WordPress or the version of PHP that your website runs in.

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4. Support Feedback Indicates a Healthy Plugin

Every plugin page in the WordPress Plugin Repository has a support page. The support page may provide evidence of a plugin that has ongoing issues.

Typical issues might be that the code conflicts with other plugins. Sometimes the WordPress template may need changes in order for the plugin to function.

The support page will reveal any potential issues you may face before discovering them the hard way.

Plugin Doesn’t Overlap With an Installed Plugin

A common issue I see is when two or more plugins designed to do similar things overlap. This generally happens with structured data and speed optimization plugins.

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The usual result is that you have more plugins than you need.

It’s important to use as few plugins as necessary. Overloading your site with plugins can slow down the server.

Even a plugin designed to speed up your site may slow down your site if you are using too many of them at the same time.

Before you install a plugin, think hard about how this plugin will solve your problems. If it doesn’t solve all of them, will installing a second or third plugin cause duplication in functions?

How to Choose a WordPress Plugin

These five considerations are not a complete list. You may want to take other factors including user reviews, the reputation of the company behind the plugin, whether the plugin is over-engineered and slows down the site, and so on into consideration.

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Downloading plugins can seem like a shell game, where a pea is placed under a cup and then shuffled around.

Are you making an educated guess or just guessing?

I hope that what I consider important factors for judging if a WordPress plugin is trustworthy will help take some of the guesswork out of choosing a trustworthy WordPress plugin for your site.

How to Choose WordPress Plugins

How to Choose WordPress Plugins


Image Credits: Paulo Bobita

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Customize Your Entire Site With New Block Themes – WordPress.com News

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Customize Your Entire Site With New Block Themes – WordPress.com News

Customize Your Entire Site With New Block Themes

Experiment with a new look for your site with themes created to take advantage of Full Site Editing.

In case you missed it, we’ve been rolling out a new set of powerful site design tools called Full Site Editing (or “FSE”) and it’s now available for all WordPress.com users!

Don’t worry if you’re just hearing about Full Site Editing for the first time. We’ve been releasing these new tools in a way that doesn’t actually require you to do anything with your existing site(s). If you are up for a change though, we’re happy to announce the launch of a brand new family of themes made specifically with Full Site Editing features in mind. As of this writing we have over two dozen themes available that support Full Site Editing.

These new themes have been designed with a wide variety of sites cases in mind. But their potential stretches well beyond their screenshots and demo sites. Because each theme is fully editable in the Site Editor, every one of these themes can be heavily customized to fit your site’s needs. You can start with theme that features single minimalist homepage, and then add as many menus and sidebars as you wish. Or, you can start with a complex business theme and strip it down to something minimal to suit your vision.

The Site Editor also includes a new feature called “Global Styles,” which allows you to edit site-wide settings for color, typography, and more. You’re free to change your theme’s default color scheme to whatever fits your mood, or even make all site text larger or smaller in a couple of clicks. To kick off this new feature, we’re also providing a few pre-built variations on some of these new themes.

All the new themes and variations can be found in the Theme Showcase. Or, if you’re starting a fresh site, they’ll be offered to you automatically in the site creation flow. This collection of themes is just the beginning, and we’re excited to continue launching a variety of diverse theme options for you. What would you like to see in the next set of themes on WordPress.com?

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