Today we’re going back to basics and taking a look at WordPress plugins. Where to find the best plugins and avoid the bad ones! If you’ve already got this sussed, why not take a look at our TGM Plugin Activation post aimed at WordPress developers.

So you’ve got a WordPress website but you need that something extra. Maybe a contact form or perhaps an events calendar? This is where WordPress plugins come in handy. The official repository lists thousands of plugins and there are many more available elsewhere online. So where do you find that perfect plugin?

Where to find WordPress plugins

WordPress-›-W3-Total-Cache-«-WordPress-PluginsOfficial repository

The official repository is one of the best places to find plugins. To be included in this directory, a plugin must follow a set of rules. These rules help prevent the inclusion of plugins which contain dubious behaviour, such as placing links back to the author’s website without permission.

Plugin quality can be roughly judged from the stats listed on the right column of a plugin’s page. The number of downloads and last updated date will give you an idea of the popularity and general status of a plugin. There are also a number of crowd sourced stats including a star rating system, user reviews and a compatibility report which details the WordPress versions which are known to work well with the plugin.

Video SEO for WordPressPremium sellers/author websites

Many developers provide plugins from their own websites. These can be found through a simple web search. Plugins hosted in the official repository are required to be released under a GPLv2 compatible license. This requirement includes any bundled components such as images and JavaScript. By publishing a plugin outside of the official repository this limitation can be avoided and also allows the plugin author more commercial control over their source code.

CodeCanyonPlugin marketplaces

There are a number of premium marketplaces listing plugins from many authors including one which acts as an app store that runs within WordPress itself. Joost de Valk, author of the popular WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin recently blogged about the decision to sell their latest plugin and why to sell the plugin directly from their site. Marketplaces take a percentage cut of sales to handle the infrastructure.

The platform provided by the various marketplaces are great for finding unique plugins, many of the most popular plugins on CodeCanyon are image sliders which can help you stand out. You’ll also find many plugins which serve a very specific niche which would otherwise not be developed.

What to watch out for

The downside to consider with premium sellers and marketplaces is the lack of transparency. Because you can’t see the code before you buy, it is difficult the judge the quality. It is always worth reading any reviews/comments to see if there are known issues. Just as with the official repository, ratings and number of sales/downloads can give you a feel for the plugin’s status.

Plugins sourced from premium sellers and marketplaces generally do not make use of the built-in WordPress update system. Some plugins may have their own update mechanism, others rely on the user manually checking back with the seller to get their hands on an update.

No matter where you source your plugin from, it’s worth checking how updates and support are handled.

So there you have it, I hope to have given you an overveiw of the various plugin sources and some of their advantages and disadvantages. Use the comments below if you have anything to add or have any questions.

As always, remember that iWeb is a web development agency specialising in WordPress and Magento. We build powerful content managed sites and feature rich ecommerce stores. Feel free to get in touch or browse our portfolio. To keep updated, why not subscribe to our feed?