I use WordPress all the time because it’s relatively easy to use for beginners and having built a few websites for friends and family. I didn’t start with this tool but that is another story, however I choose this tool as a content management system because it fuels 25% of all websites on the net. In doing so, hundreds and hundreds of add-in modules called plugins are provided, often free, in order to perform different functions on your website.
From picture galleries to e-commerce, from SEO to auto-responders, from membership to widgets; mostly free, or free basic with paid pro versions, or totally paid plugins.
There are plenty of courses out on the net which will show you how to use WordPress including installing plugins, here I am going to go through how I choose a plugin, to make sure it’s suitable for what I want to achieve.
Decide what you want
First of all I check what is already available in the Theme I am using and in what comes with the WordPress core. If I can’t find it in these then I will start my search.
Either way I need to decide what I want the plugin to do; I define the features I want to use and what priority each of these have. First step then is to write down a check-list of features and their priority.
Some experts say that even if you can’t find a plugin to do all you want then use two. A note of caution on two accounts: putting two similar plugins together may not work together, i.e. they aren’t compatible together. Secondly, choosing one as it presents say better graphics you can’t add another hoping to use its graphics.
Having decided what you want you need to find the right one. Research is key to finding what I am looking for and I do this in two ways. I use Google and if I can’t find an answer I’ll use the WordPress.Org search feature, though it will throw up a raft of answers that can be difficult to find the right one.
Step 1: Use a good keyword to describe what you want.
I start with Google to find out what is the latest advice on what is recommended, so enter words like “best”, “latest”, “popular”. Then I need to describe the key feature I am looking for – SEO, cache, e-commerce, sidebar etc which for these examples are quite encompassing description so will probably come back with a lot of results. Therefore I try to add a more features around the keyword.
Recently I went looking plugin that would allow people to share my posts and one key feature I was looking for was I wanted it be the side; to stay put as the reader scrolled up or down on the page called floating.
Finally I’ll add a year to this to try to find the latest advice, though if you just entering a new year I’ll put in the previous year.
Therefore my keywords for this plugin could be “best WordPress social media sharebar” or “best WordPress floating sharebar”.
Then I look through the results and start to check out the recommendations.
Step 2: Looking at the key information about the plugin
Once a recommendation is given, the review will usually tell you why they think it’s a good one to be in their post and a link to the WordPress.org plugin. This is where I next go to in order review what it’s saying and checking out the information.
That’s a brief look at what to look for a plugin. Even this won’t guarantee it will work with your theme so install it and activate it, don’t add a new one until you have checked your website to see all the rest is working. If it doesn’t seem to work – switch off the other plugins as that can be a problem as well.
I love plugins and have found on the whole, using popular ones that are updated and reasonable close to the version of WordPress you use, but occasionally they don’t work.
If that is the case, don’t despair there is usually another one out there that will be a reasonable alternative.