If you’ve spent any time working with WordPress you’re probably aware that there are a variety of plugins available, but you may not be certain what their purpose is or what makes them different from the basic WordPress system.
A plugin is a piece of code that has been written to expand WordPress’s functionality. There are currently over 25,000 different plugins available, adding all sorts of functions that were not built into the core system. Plugins can help you integrate social media, easily organize information in various formats such as tables, make your site more interactive and provide a host of other features. If WordPress were a smartphone, plugins would be the apps.
Plugins are useful and even necessary components of the WordPress system – they should, however, be considered with a bit of caution. Plugins are written by independent developers. Some of these developers are seasoned professionals and some are hobbyists. A plugin may appear to have all of the functionality that you’re looking for, but will it actually work as promised? And if it does, will the developer maintain it consistently so that it continues to function with future versions of WordPress?
You can search for plugins using WordPress’s Plugin Directory. When you find one that seems to suit your purpose, here are a few questions to consider: Does it have a high rating? When was the last time it was updated? How many authors does it have – a single developer or a team? How many other plugins have the authors written?
None of these factors will guarantee a perfect plugin, of course, but in the face of multiple options taking stock of the whole package will help you to make an informed choice about which plugin is likely to meet your ongoing needs.