59,000 Plugins – How Do You Choose The Right Plugin?

How do you know if the plugin you want to use is the right one?

If you're like me, then you have felt the pain and frustration of adding a plugin to your WordPress site, only to see the whole site break, fall apart, or slow down dramatically. And if you're not technical, good luck. You'll read online that you should test each plugin separately and that will have you scratching your head. What does that mean? How? How will I know if there's conflict? Things get worse when you realize that some of those posts you're reading have people paying for their position on a recommended list. Here are four strategies to help you choose the right plugin.

Four Strategies for Plugin Selection

It will be no surprise to you that the best approach to solving the challenge of finding the right plugins for your WordPress site is to leverage the community around you. After all, the beautiful thing about WordPress, and open source as a whole, is that the collective wisdom is continually developing and it's all available to you at any point. So how can you leverage this community? Here are four strategies.

The Wisdom of the Crowd

If you browse the entire list of plugins that are available online, you'll discover that the one way to know for sure what NOT to download is to look at the accompanying data related to the plugins. What kind of data? Look at things like the number of downloads, the rating, comments, and in the case of Code Canyon – the number of purchases.

I'm not telling you that the numbers tell all of the story, but they help a lot. All of this tells you whether a plugin is getting traction or not. Another important thing to look at is the creation date or last updated date. If the code was created (or last updated) more than a couple of years ago, it may not be something you want to pull down.

Trusted Communities

Another resource to consider when you're trying to choose the right plugin is recommendations by well-known WordPress communities. There are sites and blogs that will make suggestions and can be great resources on plugins and themes.

You can head to any of these folks and read what they're saying:

And so many more.

Trusted Authors or Vendors

Just like communities and sites that write reviews, there are individuals that have become trusted resources – authors who have had challenges and then worked to resolve them. They may even use affiliate links, but they're trusted members of the community that deserve to be heard. (They're not making a living on those affiliate links.)

There are many more, and you normally find them by digging into a lot of their content and learning their perspectives over time.

My Blog

The last approach is not going to shock you, right? It's what I do here by writing daily. If you want to choose the right plugin, there's a simple place to keep coming back to. I cover a lot of plugins, not just the most popular ones you know. Just the other day I told you about one.

How Are You Choosing the Right Plugin?

So that's my take – four different ways to help you choose the right plugin. Of course, there's another way – and that puts the work in your own hands, but it's maybe the best way (and this is a bonus approach).

Download it, install it, and play with it.

There's no better way to handle things than to get your hands dirty and see what it does. And if your site is hosted at Nexcess, the plugin performance monitor will help you see if it's causing your site to slow down.