Yesterday I saw several articles touting great plugins for your blog or WordPress site. Unfortunately, some shouldn’t have made the cut. A few are known resource intensive speed killers, while others are not compatible with the latest version of WordPress. A couple of them were even unattractive looking, which is definitely a cardinal sin!
Fortunately, I have your back. I’ll share how folks in my field typically evaluate plugins and avoid server resource hogs and style disasters.
Consider the Source
You see an article entitled "Plugin Must Haves For a Successful Blog" (I made that up, but I’m sure it’s been done) by a prominent leader in social media or marketing. Sounds like a winner, right?
Well, social media gurus and marketers are not typically in the web design/developer field. They see the shinier aspects of a plugin, read that many of their colleagues recommend it, and from a marketing perspective, it looks effective.
However, with the huge push for faster downloadable sites (ahem, Google!), some of the popular plugins are slowing your website. Not to mention that some are stylistic mismatches and look about as in sync as stripes with plaid.
Checklist for Evaluation
To determine if the latest popular plugin is right for your website, use this list of criteria:
- What is his/her expertise? Check out the author bio recommending the plugin. If it’s a non-technical expert, he/she may not have checked with technical colleagues. Same for technical people, have they checked UX and marketing experts?
- Compatible with the latest WordPress version? The issue I see most often is out-of-date plugins being recommended (even on leading publications) — those with known technical problems. Also, old plugins are a security risk and may cause conflicts with other plugins.
- Check WordPress.org for reviews. For those listed on the repository, looking at the reviews is an excellent barometer. For premium plugins, search for issues.
- Google for performance issues. Surprisingly, some of the plugins I saw yesterday are banned by several webhosts – they are huge resource eaters. Hello, slow website!
- See if other fields of expertise like it too! Digg Digg may be the defacto sharing plugin of the marketing field, but what are the web developers recommending? If both fields like it it’s a safe bet, but be sure to do your homework. Technical information is like bread; it goes stale fast.
- Does it make web designers wince? Once in a while, a popular plugin has the design community scratching its head. Style-challenged or out-of-date looking plugins are not going to fly with that industry.
Check your existing plugins with the above list and install p3 to check performance. It might be time for a bit of housecleaning.
Is there a popular plugin you have your eye on?