One of the advantages of WordPress, which contributes to its popularity, is the amount of downloadable plugins that are available through its plugin library. With a few clicks, you can give your site extra functionality or features that would cost thousands of dollars had you hired a developer instead.
Unfortunately, sometimes you get what you pay for. They say there is no such thing as a free lunch, and while WordPress plugins are useful, they can still give you issues if used improperly.
If you are considering downloading a free plugin for your site, consider these three things first:
- It is worthwhile to define what you are looking for from the plugin before you start looking. If you know exactly what you want, you are less likely to download the first plugin that seems to work, start using it, and then get stuck with it--or have to start all over with a new plugin.
- If it is “freemium,” look carefully at which features will require a paid license before purchase. Many plugins only require a pro license for automatic updates and support. Some will disable basic functionality. If you know exactly what you are looking for, sometimes even with the disabled functions it can serve your purposes.
- Lastly, be careful which plugins you download. Some have significant security issues or are just buggy. If it is mission critical, try to only use plugins that have lots of reviews.
If the scope of what you need is not clearly defined or you can’t find any popular plugins that you need, you may be better off paying for a premium plugin or having someone develop the added features for you.