WordPress Plugins: The Basics

So, you’ve chosen to create a blog on wordpress and have started to build your contents. It’s time to think about getting some plugins. In this post, I’ll share with you some basic but important facts regarding wordpress plugins.

What are plugins and why do you need them?

A plugin is a software that acts like an add on. It provides additional functionality. Think of plugins as the extra features when buying a new car. You can drive without the extra features, but they certainly help tremendously if you have them. For example:

Power Door Locks feature. Do you really want to unlock and lock each door manually every single time?

Collision Mitigation Systems feature –  A visual and auditory warning is given if you’re getting too close or going too fast.

Get the gist?

Different people require different features (different plugins) based on their needs. For example a food blogger will require a recipe plugin while a fashion blogger doesn’t. However, there are plugins that most every blogger will require regardless of their niche. For example, any that utilizes images will benefit from a plugin that compresses the images.

Free vs Premium

There are thousands of plugins available for wordpress both free and paid. Some are higher quality than others.

If you’re just starting out and do not have a budget for premium plugins, by all means, get the free versions. Just be informed that free plugins do not come with tech support. So if anything happens to your website after installation, you’re on your own.

Premium plugins differ from free ones in that you get additional features as well as support from the staff or developers of the plugin. So if you’ve used the free version and you like it, it might be worth your money to upgrade to the premium version for even better features and support.

Features of a good plugin

1. Clean & Lightweight – It is very crucial that plugins do not slow down your website.

2. High ratings, reviews and downloads – If a lot of people have downloaded a particular plugin (eg.100,000 vs 1000), it’s pretty obvious which plugin works better.

3. Last updated date – Some developers do not frequently update their plugins and may not stay compatible with the updated versions of wordpress. Besides, with no updates, there isn’t improvement to the plugins.

4. Active support page – Check the support page to see if there are frequent replies to questions posted by users. If there is, your questions (if any) will likely be answered when you need help.

5. In depth review written by the community – Some more popular plugins are researched and compared with other plugins by individuals. They will then write reviews on their findings. You can benefit from that by reading and learning more about the plugins.

Possible problems

Most of the time, plugins do not cause any problem with WordPress. However, if there are compatibility issues, if may mess up your website. For example, once I installed a plugin that was not compatible with my version of wordpress and it messed up my responsiveness feature. There are other times when I installed a plugin not compatible with my wordpress version and it worked fine.

Therefore, I will always suggest installing one plugin at a time and test after each installation and activation to see if there are any changes to your website on as many devices (eg. cellphone, tablets and desktop). To quickly check on how your website looks on different devices, go to your browser. Right click your mouse and click on Inspect Element. On the top left, you’ll see device drop down menu. There, you can choose the device. Pretty neat, huh. To restore, just click on the ‘x’ button on the right side.

 

What do you think are other basic but important facts regarding plugins?

Check out the Top 10 WordPress plugins every blogger should have.

Check out How to Install A WordPress Plugin with step by step instructions accompanied by images.

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