WordPress plugins are the best way to develop your website without changing its code. You can find ones that will cover various features – some to improve your site’s look, such as the WordPress lightbox gallery, and some to enhance your SEO. However, sometimes this enormous number of plugins available becomes a problem itself, especially for beginners.
Even if you are looking for free plugins solely on reliable sources, like the WordPress plugins repository or plugin marketplaces, or choosing only popular plugins, it is vital to double-check their safety.
So how do you go about choosing WordPress plugins safely? Below, you will find information about the crucial things to pay attention to or avoid entirely as well as any possible red flags and where to find them.
Compare Plugin Pages
Once you have found a couple of plugins with similar features, open the pages of these plugins in new tabs to compare them. The WordPress directory contains information about the plugin, its functionality, and usage. Read and use this information to decide if this plugin is right for you. If there is a link to the plugin’s website, be sure to visit it.
The sidebar on the plugin page contains more precise information to pay attention to. Sections in the sidebar show the minimum version of WordPress required to run and other compatible WordPress versions. If you do not see the latest WordPress version, it is better to reconsider downloading the plugin.
You will also see when the plugin was last updated and the number of active installations since they were uploaded to WordPress. The latter does not provide you with a general number of downloads but shows how many websites are actually using it right now, which is a good indicator of the plugin’s popularity. It is better to avoid old plugins that have not been updated recently.
If the developer provides users with documentation of installing and configuring a WordPress plugin, it is another sign of a reliable plugin. It especially applies to plugins that require some in-depth technical knowledge to set them up or covers some narrow tech features. Although not every plugin may necessarily need a manual, it is a good sign of the developer’s support.
There will be detailed documentation alongside screenshots on a plugin’s page in a perfect situation, but if there is none available, make sure to check the developer’s site. If you cannot find any, you can deem it a lack of support on a developer’s behalf and opt for one of their competitor’s plugins.
Users’ Reviews and Ranking
When a user buys a new plugin, they are asked to write a review for their rating. You can view these reviews by clicking on the numbers in the rating score. In the reviews, you can find both positive and negative ratings of the plugin. Negative ratings are especially valuable to you, as they provide you with specific information about possible security issues or incompatibilities.
The WordPress community carefully protects reviews from spam, and the information about plugins is truthful and reliable enough to allow you to evaluate its work and understand the average user experience.
On a plugin page, you can also find the number of issues resolved in the last two months, which indicates whether developers actively work on their plugins and themes or not. To ensure that updates are regularly provided to users, go to the support tab where users report their problems.
It will show you the most common issues users have with that particular plugin and how quickly they are being solved. Some developers even create a separate topic with answers for frequently asked questions or possible installation issues and solutions in a support forum.
How do you know the plugin is safe? You go and check the reputation of the developer! You can find a lot of information by Googling their name and spending less than ten minutes evaluating their website. If there is none, it is your first hint to drop this plugin and move to another.
If you studied a plugin’s page and the developer’s site and have not noticed any red flags about safety issues in the review section, it is better to double-check anyway. The easiest way is to Google the plugin’s name alongside the words like “compromised,” “hacked,” “security test,” or “suspicious code,” and look for the results that prove your safety concerns or include explicit mentions about this particular plugin being unsafe.
If there is any, it is better to avoid any risks and look for more secure plugins.
A WordPress site with the proper use of plugins can become a genuinely unlimited field for creativity and bringing ideas to life. When you choose the right one, it is crucial to determine the functions you need it to perform. You can then dig into the details, like its compatibility, date of the last update, and frequency of the updates.
It will not take too much time to check the developers‘ background and reputation, and as a result, you will be more confident in the plugin’s safety and usefulness.
Ensure to make a backup copy of the site before installing and even more so before activating the plugin. Conflicts between plugins are quite a common thing, and you can discover some of them only in the process, so you need to be able to roll back if an error occurs.