Select WordPress Plugins With Caution

One of the best things about WordPress is the ability to easily add features and functionality with plugins. When you find that you're ready to add new functionality and features to your website you'll want to know how to select WordPress plugins that are reputable and safe. Not doing so could leave your website vulnerable to hacks and errors that may either take your site down or show visible errors to your visitors.

6 Best Practices For Selecting WordPress Plugins

As you look for and decide on the right plugin for your needs, follow these best practices to provide some assurance that the plugin you're adding will not pose a security risk.

1. Search the WordPress repository first

The WordPress repository contains tons of free plugins to download and install on your website. Just because the plugin is in the repository doesn’t mean it’s safe though.

Do not install plugins found in other places unless they are from a source that you know and trust.

You can search the repository by tags to find a selection of relevant plugins to chose from. Put in your search term and then you can evaluate the results.

2. Look for a plugin with 4 stars or better

WordPress uses a star rating system so people can rate how well they like or dislike a plugin. Unless someone I know and trust recommends a plugin with 3 or fewer stars I’m not likely to look any further at a plugin. I will select WordPress plugins with a 4 or 5-star rating then move on to the next piece of information.

3. Look at the number of active installations

This isn’t a hard and fast rule but if you see a plugin that has many more active installations than the others, it might be worth checking out first. If many people have installed the plugin on their website, they must like it and it must meet their needs?

Unless I've come to the repository with a specific plugin in mind, I'll evaluate the top two to three plugins with the most active installations.

4. Read a few of the reviews

So now, you identified a plugin with hopefully 4 stars or better and it's been installed many times by others. The next thing to do is read some of the reviews. Even if someone I know and trust recommends a plugin for me, I'll still read reviews first.

There has actually been more than a couple of times, I've decided against installing a plugin that was recommended because of bad reviews. These plugins get updated pretty regularly, or they should be at least, and you never know when something critical will change that will have a negative impact on others. This is a good place to find that out.

5. Check out the responsiveness of the plugin author

It's common for plugins to have technical issues at some point. It's good to know that when and if something comes up, the plugin author is going to pay attention, address and reply to those issues.

6. Install the plugin with confidence

I would recommend that you make a backup of your site if you haven't already and then install the plugin with confidence. You've done your due diligence and now you can get about the business and configuring the plugin settings and enjoying the new functionality you just added to your website.

Now that you know what to look for, you're ready to select WordPress plugins that will meet your needs.

Here is a recap of the 6 steps for selecting a WordPress plugin:

  1. Stick with the WordPress Repository
  2. Select WordPress plugins with 4 stars or better
  3. Highest or next to the highest number of installations
  4. Good reviews
  5. Responds to support tickets
  6. Backup website, install and configure the plugin

Have Questions?

I'm happy to answer any questions you have about selecting WordPress plugins safely. You can leave them in the comments below or send me a message.

If there's another important step that you think I've missed, please let me know. I've been doing this for several years, but there is always much we can learn from each other.

p.s. Do you need someone to help you with your website? I offer WordPress monthly maintenance that comes with 90 minutes of support each month for updates and technical support.