At the time this article was written, there were nearly 25,000 plugins available in the WordPress directory. And keep in mind that these are only the free plugins, there are many more throughout the web that provide a premium set of features only available after purchase. The trouble is, not all of these premium plugins are created equally. So how do you make sure that you’re not wasting your time and money on a plugin that doesn’t work? Well, follow these five easy tips and you’ll walk away with a premium plugin that rises above the standards and gives you the functionality and support you really need.
1. Determine a Precise List of Needs and Requirements
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This may seem nonessential or even over-the-top to some, but this list will come in handy later on and makes it significantly easier to decide exactly what you’re looking to get out of a new WordPress plugin. The main idea here is to kick-start your critical thinking and prevent you from purchasing a shiny, over-priced plugin that doesn’t provide the features you need or has many unnecessary add-ons that will end up wasting your cash. It will only take a few minutes, but it will end up saving you time (and possibly money) in the end.
2. Find a Plugin That Meets All of Your Requirements
Since there are thousands upon thousands of plugins out there, some will be better than others. You’ll likely find several plugins that do pretty much the same function, but with slightly different features or extras that can make all the difference. While there are some times you just have to use two separate plugins to reach the functionality you need, for the best results you should try to find a plugin that can do everything you need all in one package.
One thing you want to avoid is having too many plugins. This can cause your site to run slower and you might find that some plugins just don’t play nice with each other. An over-abundance of plugins can potentially create glitches and errors on your site or in the Administrator back-end. Worse yet, it can be a real pain to find which plugins are causing the issue when there are so many active at once.
In many cases you can find plugins that will accomplish a wide range of functionality in a single package. This is the kind of plugin to look for when making a purchase and ideally you should keep the number of plugins running on your site no more than 10, the fewer the better.
3. Check The Plugin’s Documentation
What you’re really looking for here is to see if the plugin has good documentation. You don’t have to read through every detail if you don’t want to, but you need to make sure that there is plenty of material covering how to use the plugin. If there isn’t any documentation at all, then I would avoid that purchase. This might mean that the developer isn’t interested in supporting the plugin and that if something goes wrong you’ll end up on your own. The types of documentation for plugins can range from videos tutorials, FAQs, forums, email and/or telephone support, and a general page listing the features and how to use them.
4. Contact The Developer
This is a good chance to test how well the plugin is supported and to utilize your list of requirements for a solid answer on whether or not it truly meets your needs. I told you that list would come in handy! You can find out how fast you’ll get a reply in case there’s an issue with your plugin later on and it gives you a good opportunity to make the final step before purchasing…
5. Request A Demo
In most cases, you’ll find a free version of the plugin on the WordPress Directory. It won’t have as many features so you likely won’t be able to test some of the more important features you need, but it should give you a good idea of what it will be like to use the plugin.
And it never hurts to ask the developer for a full-on demo of the premium product, at the very least they should be able to point you to a few websites that are currently using the purchased version, giving you a preview of how it will look on your own WordPress website.
So to sum it all up, here are the five tips:
- Determine a Precise List of Needs and Requirements
- Find a Plugin That Meets All of Your Requirements
- Check The Plugin’s Documentation
- Contact The Developer
- Request A Demo
It shouldn’t take you more than an hour to complete them, excluding how long it takes to hear back from the developer. If you follow these simple guidelines, you’ll have a much easier time avoiding a plugin that wastes your precious time and hard-earned money.