Join Carrie Dils for an in-depth discussion in this video Finding plugins that meet your needs, part of WordPress and Genesis DIY: Weddings and Special Events.
- Let's talk a bit about finding and selecting plugins. Just like themes, there's a lot of plugins out there to choose from, so I'll give you some tips to help you find the best ones. First, where do you actually go look for plugins? Well, the largest repository of plugins is over at WordPress.org. From their Plugins page, you can search from 10s of thousands of available plugins you can use on your site. These plugins aren't created by WordPress itself, but rather members of the WordPress community.
In order for a plugin author to get their plugin listed in this repository, it's gotta meet certain standards and requirements. The next best way to find plugins is actually just by Googling. A lot of plugin authors choose not to post their plugins on WordPress.org. However, they sell them on their own websites or maybe even give them away on a repository like GitHub.com. There's also a cool new tool over at ManageWP.org that allows you to compare plugins. That way, you can put two plugins side by side that have similar functionality and see which one ranks better.
So that's how you can find plugins, but how do you narrow down your search? Well, first, you wanna see if a plugin has been updated in the past year. Because WordPress is updated so frequently, it's important that plugins stay up to date, too. So if you find a plugin that's over a year old, chances are you might run into some problems with it with it in the future. Secondly, you wanna make sure that a plugin is actively supported. It's good to know that if you have a question on using the plugin, that there will be someone there to help.
Plugins listed over at WordPress.org also have a five star rating system. It's helpful to see how a plugin is rated. Let's take a look at an actual plugin over in the WordPress repository and check it against the criteria I just mentioned. So first thing, we wanna check to see if it's been updated in the past year. This one was updated in December of 2014, so that's perfect. And wow, I didn't mention downloads as a criteria, but if they've got almost 14 million downloads, you know they're doing something right.
Next, here's that five star rating system. You can see that they're getting 3.9 out of 5 stars. The other thing you wanna be on the lookout for is how the plugin is supported. So, for instance, right here I can see that 401 of 554 support threads have been resolved in the last two months. I'd say that's pretty good. If you see a plugin that's had zero support threads answered in the last couple of months, you may be leery. So just watch out if you see a plugin that hasn't had support threads resolved recently.
That is, assuming there are support threads there to be answered. Lastly, let's look at how much you should pay for plugins. Now, this is gonna be a bit like themes. There's a huge range out there, all the way from free up to premium plugins that might cost you 100 bucks or even more, in some cases. Now, any plugin that's listed over at WordPress.org will be free. A lot of plugin authors will put their plugins up on WordPress.org for free, but maybe they have limited functionality. From there, they may offer a pro version for a little bit more money.
Now, that's not always the case, but it's certainly true a lot of the time. That's a really nice way to try a plugin on for size before committing to purchasing it. Now, just like free themes, free plugins aren't guaranteed 100% support. So just know that going into it, that your expectations might be that if you ask a question, it may take a few days to get an answer or you might not get an answer at all. In that case, you'll either have to put your Google hat on and see if you can find a work-around or drop the plugin and try another.
There are lots of plugin fish in the sea. Before we wrap up, I wanted to say it's important to note that sometimes plugins can conflict with other plugins or even with your theme. For instance, in preparing for this course, I researched some guest book plugins. I found a neat looking one called Comment Guestbook, but unfortunately, it doesn't work with the Genesis framework. All of that to say, don't be surprised if you occasionally come across a plugin that doesn't play nicely with your site setup. Now that you know where to find plugins and a few basics of what to look for, let's take a look at some plugins I've selected to help with our wedding site.
Ready for the next stage? Find more courses in this series by searching for Wordpress DIY.
- Making a content inventory
- Finding, installing, and activating the right theme for your site
- Setting up menus and other configuration options
- Using plugins to add features like a gallery or guestbook
- Launching your WordPress site