|By Rebecca Gill||
|January 3, 2013 10:53 AM EST||
One of the great things about WordPress is the ability it gives us to extend the capabilities of the core software with plugins. The official WordPress Plugin Directory now has nearly 23,000 plugins. That’s an amazing amount of extra features we can add to our websites.
However the old adage is still true: with great power comes great responsibility. Unfortunately there’s a lot of junk in those 23,000 plugins. You can bog your site down to a crawl, expose your site to hackers or even worse if you aren’t careful.
So here are some things to think about when you are looking for plugins to install. If you pay attention to these things you will be much smarter about the plugins you install. And you will save yourself a ton of grief in the long run.
Before I get down to it, please know this. These are guidelines rather than hard and fast rules.
At the end of the day it is your website and you can do whatever you want. There may be other factors in your case that may cause you to disregard one or more of these considerations.
However, if you at least think through the potential consequences of your choices you will be making much more informed decisions. And it just might help you see some “gotcha’s” before they get’cha, if you know what I mean.
Do You Really Need That Functionality?
So you’ve got your new website. You’ve discovered how easy it is to add plugins from your WordPress dashboard. You went a little wild, didn’t you? You keep seeing cool features on other sites around the web and you want them for your site too.
Now you’ve got a hodgepodge of plugins installed. Dozens of them.
Don’t feel bad. We’ve all been there. The first step in recovery is admitting you have a problem, right?
I once had over 80 plugins installed on one of my sites. Now they weren’t all activated. But that’s still nuts!
My rationale was that I needed to “test” plugins to see what they did so I would know whether to recommend them to my clients. OK. Fair enough. But delete them after you’re done testing them.
That site’s down to 15 active plugins. Much better. Because at the end of the day you really don’t need all that crap (can I say that word here?) on your website.
Before you install a plugin ask yourself what the value of that feature really is. Will it attract more readers to your site? Will it add to the bottom line by helping to increase revenue somehow?
Is it necessary? Or is it just flashy and cool?
If it isn’t contributing to a better user experience, or actively furthering your website objectives delete the plugin. Or better yet, resist installing it in the first place.
Does the Plugin List Compatibility with the Current Version of WordPress?
This one is a biggie. I do a lot of WordPress support and am asked to add and configure specific plugins quite frequently. Assuming we crossed the first hurdle and the functionality is truly necessary, the first thing I look at is what version of WordPress is the plugin listed as being compatible with.
For every plugin in the WordPress Plugin Directory you will see an info box on the top of the right hand column. One of the pieces of info there says:
Compatible up to: 3.5
The number there is the version number of WordPress that the plugin developer says his plugin is compatible with. Ideally that number should be the most recent version of WordPress.
There are a ton of plugins in that 23,000 number that have been effectively abandoned by their developers. Many haven’t been updated in years. WordPress recognizes this as a genuine problem. That is why they started filtering out any plugins that haven’t been updated in the last two years so they don’t show in the search results when you use either the search box on the website or in the “Add New” plugin page of your WordPress dashboard.
Those plugins still show up in Google searches so they added a warning notice to let people know they haven’t been updated in a really long time.
Keep in mind out of date plugins is one of the more common attack vectors that hackers use to gain access to WordPress sites. So having an insecure out of date plugin on your website is a pretty big deal.
Now WordPress just pushed out one of their semiannual (approximately) major updates to the core software and it’s the holiday season. So if a plugin lists the previous version it might not be a show stopper in and of itself. However take that into account when you are evaluating the plugin.
What about paid plugins? Sometimes it’s hard to find any compatibility info listed on plugins available for purchase. If you can’t find the info listed publicly before you purchase the plugin, then reach out to the plugin developer. If they don’t give you a satisfactory answer, move on.
The only thing worse than installing a plugin that breaks your site because it hasn’t been updated in years is paying for a plugin that breaks your site.
Are Support Issues Being Addressed?
Every plugin in the Directory has a support forum where people can reach out for help. Since plugins are offered for free there, the plugin developer has no obligation to support their plugin.
However the best ones always do maintain an active presence and answer questions. That’s one of the things I love about the WordPress community. People are willing to help one another.
However if there are a ton of major issues being raised by users and the plugin developer is no where to be found then maybe that plugin is not the best one for your site.
While you are looking at that, see how many times the plugin has been downloaded. If a plugin has been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times and there are only a handful of people with problems, then it’s likely going to work on your site. But if it has only been downloaded a few hundred times and there are tons of people reporting problems, then steer clear.
Is the Plugin Likely to be Supported Moving Forward?
Now this question is obviously going to be a guess at best. What is the disclaimer that financial advisers use? “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.”
That said going with a particular plugin because it looks good today, only to have it abandoned and have to change to anther solution down the road can be a major pain. This is doubly true if the plugin has a shortcode associated with it that you use. Going through and changing out shortcodes because you need to switch plugins can be pretty tedious, especially if you have a big site with lots of posts using that shortcode.
So what are the indicators that a plugin is likely going to be supported moving forward?
You can look at how long the plugin has been available. If it has a track record of being updated hopefully that means the developer is committed to keeping it going.
How many other plugins does the developer have in the Plugin directory? You can click through the developer’s name on the plugin page and see. If he has several and he seems to be keeping them up to date, then hopefully he’ll keep this one updated too.
That brings us to the last (finally!) big question I look at.
Does the Plugin Developer Have a Profit Base?
To me this question is a big one. A plugin developer that has a reliable income stream that is WordPress related is much more likely in my eyes to keep up with developing a plugin they upload to the Directory than someone who is just playing around.
Sometimes this profit base looks like a premium version of the plugin. Some people get frustrated by paid plugins. But to me that indicates the author is serious about maintaining and improving their plugin. They’ll have to keep it up if they expect new people to pay for it.
Other times the plugin is related to the developer’s main service. For example the NextGen Gallery plugin is now maintained by a company that specializes in developing WordPress websites for photographers. The plugin is free for anyone to use and the developer maintains it because it ties directly in with their own business. It’s in their own best interest to keep up with the plugin.
Or maybe the plugin developer runs a WordPress development/design business. If they’ve been working with WordPress for a few years and it’s now a major income stream for them, then odds are they will likely continue developing the plugin moving forward.
The bottom line is really pretty simple. Taking just a little bit of time to think about your site’s needs and researching the plugin just a little can save you some significant frustration. It can save you from installing a plugin that immediately breaks your site because it hasn’t been updated in years. And it just might keep you from having to go through a painful transition down the road when plugin that is mission critical for your website has been abandoned.
"My role is working with customers, helping them go through this digital transformation. I spend a lot of time talking to banks, big industries, manufacturers working through how they are integrating and transforming their IT platforms and moving them forward," explained William Morrish, General Manager Product Sales at Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Sep. 29, 2016 10:30 PM EDT Reads: 4,022
The Internet of Things can drive efficiency for airlines and airports. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Sudip Majumder, senior director of development at Oracle, will discuss the technical details of the connected airline baggage and related social media solutions. These IoT applications will enhance travelers' journey experience and drive efficiency for the airlines and the airports. The session will include a working demo and a technical d...
Sep. 29, 2016 10:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,804
Developing software for the Internet of Things (IoT) comes with its own set of challenges. Security, privacy, and unified standards are a few key issues. In addition, each IoT product is comprised of (at least) three separate application components: the software embedded in the device, the back-end service, and the mobile application for the end user’s controls. Each component is developed by a different team, using different technologies and practices, and deployed to a different stack/target –...
Sep. 29, 2016 08:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,546
Why do your mobile transformations need to happen today? Mobile is the strategy that enterprise transformation centers on to drive customer engagement. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Roger Woods, Director, Mobile Product & Strategy – Adobe Marketing Cloud, covered key IoT and mobile trends that are forcing mobile transformation, key components of a solid mobile strategy and explored how brands are effectively driving mobile change throughout the enterprise.
Sep. 29, 2016 08:45 PM EDT Reads: 2,209
Identity is in everything and customers are looking to their providers to ensure the security of their identities, transactions and data. With the increased reliance on cloud-based services, service providers must build security and trust into their offerings, adding value to customers and improving the user experience. Making identity, security and privacy easy for customers provides a unique advantage over the competition.
Sep. 29, 2016 06:15 PM EDT Reads: 3,685
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management solutions, helping companies worldwide activate their data to drive more value and business insight and to transform moder...
Sep. 29, 2016 05:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,855
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 19th Cloud Expo and 6th @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Interne...
Sep. 29, 2016 04:45 PM EDT Reads: 3,447
Personalization has long been the holy grail of marketing. Simply stated, communicate the most relevant offer to the right person and you will increase sales. To achieve this, you must understand the individual. Consequently, digital marketers developed many ways to gather and leverage customer information to deliver targeted experiences. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lou Casal, Founder and Principal Consultant at Practicala, discussed how the Internet of Things (IoT) has accelerated our abil...
Sep. 29, 2016 04:45 PM EDT Reads: 2,794
Digital innovation is the next big wave of business transformation based on digital technologies of which IoT and Big Data are key components, For example: Business boundary innovation is a challenge to excavate third-party business value using IoT and BigData, like Nest Business structure innovation may propose re-building business structure from scratch, as Uber does in the taxicab industry The social model innovation is also a big challenge to the new social architecture with the design fr...
Sep. 29, 2016 04:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,343
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, provided tips on how to be successful in large scale machine learning...
Sep. 29, 2016 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,402
If you had a chance to enter on the ground level of the largest e-commerce market in the world – would you? China is the world’s most populated country with the second largest economy and the world’s fastest growing market. It is estimated that by 2018 the Chinese market will be reaching over $30 billion in gaming revenue alone. Admittedly for a foreign company, doing business in China can be challenging. Often changing laws, administrative regulations and the often inscrutable Chinese Interne...
Sep. 29, 2016 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 482
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kausik Sridharabalan, founder and CTO of Pulzze Systems, Inc., will focus on key challenges in building an Internet of Things solution infrastructure. He will shed light on efficient ways of defining interactions within IoT solutions, leading to cost and time reduction. He will also introduce ways to handle data and how one can develop IoT solutions that are lean, flexible and configurable, thus making IoT infrastructure agile and scalable.
Sep. 29, 2016 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,629
Data is an unusual currency; it is not restricted by the same transactional limitations as money or people. In fact, the more that you leverage your data across multiple business use cases, the more valuable it becomes to the organization. And the same can be said about the organization’s analytics. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bill Schmarzo, CTO for the Big Data Practice at EMC, will introduce a methodology for capturing, enriching and sharing data (and analytics) across the organizati...
Sep. 29, 2016 03:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,795
Internet of @ThingsExpo has announced today that Chris Matthieu has been named tech chair of Internet of @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 6thInternet of @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Sep. 29, 2016 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,835
SYS-CON Events announced today that Bsquare has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For more than two decades, Bsquare has helped its customers extract business value from a broad array of physical assets by making them intelligent, connecting them, and using the data they generate to optimize business processes.
Sep. 29, 2016 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,973
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, wh...
Sep. 29, 2016 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,958
Video experiences should be unique and exciting! But that doesn’t mean you need to patch all the pieces yourself. Users demand rich and engaging experiences and new ways to connect with you. But creating robust video applications at scale can be complicated, time-consuming and expensive. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Zohar Babin, Vice President of Platform, Ecosystem and Community at Kaltura, will discuss how VPaaS enables you to move fast, creating scalable video experiences that reach your...
Sep. 29, 2016 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,185
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
Sep. 29, 2016 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,628
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
Sep. 29, 2016 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 4,206
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
Sep. 29, 2016 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,130