WordPress is an incredible Content Management System — and it is free!  WordPress off the shelf is just that — a content management system.  The best part of WordPress is that it is extensible. 

But there is a problem.  There are tens of thousands of great plugins available, many that offer overlapping functions [see References: PlugIns].   How can a Webmaster reasonably go about finding the right plugins?

Plugin selection criteria

With so many options and opportunities in the WordPress Plugin world, selection and filtering becomes important. A first question that you might ask is how does a reasonable webmaster go about selecting plugins?  For me, first I spend some time figuring out the problem I’m trying to solve.  Once I’ve figured out the problem, then I look for plugins that meet my problem scope with some of the following characteristics:

Been around for awhile

Have been around for awhile.  Why?  Because the first version of any software is often more buggy than more seasoned software.  While I’m a-okay with testing software, I would prefer to not use untested software on a professional web site.  Adding layers of software by way of Plugins potentially introduces vulnerabilities that I just do not want to deal with.

Recent updates

Pixabay - must be FRESH!
Pixabay – must be FRESH!

Have recent updates.  Why?  Because actively updated software will have more of an opportunity to have bugs flushed out.

Well liked

Have at least reasonable ratings from a reasonably large number of respondents (say 3.5+/5 stars, and a few hundred respondents).  Why?  Because I’d rather see hundreds of people interested enough to give a 3 rating than a dozen people interested enough to give a 5 rating.

Completely free

Pixabay - must be FREE!
Pixabay – must be FREE!

Completely free, if possible, or at least part of the offering is free forever, not just a “test” or “trial”.  Why?  Because I am part of the open source community.  I am producing these web pages as part of a free offering.  Also, my recommendation is that there are so many free plugins available, try the free ones to see if they are “good enough”.  If after testing the free ones you don’t find one that meets your requirements, write down the things you want the plugin to do, and either keep searching or buy something based clearly on these written requirements.

Article framework

As it turns out, there are many Plugins that are necessary to reasonably run a web site.  This article is composed of multiple sections, with functionality grouped into five primary sections.  Remember that the Plugins themselves are in response to a desired functionality. Each group is separated on a different page because the blog became way too long.  This will likely result in my looking for additional Plugins to help organize the work!

  1. This introduction article
  2. Interacting with your visitors
  3. Security – Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability
    Backups, high availability, site speed
  4. Driving traffic and Search Engine Optimization
  5. Other Plugins to make your WordPress world a better place

References

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