Introduction to WordPress plugins
WordPress plugins are great. They allow website owners to add features, style, and functionality to their sites. You generally only need to click to install, and maybe check a few configuration options and you’re up and running.
Premium WordPress plugins usually offer more capabilities. If you’re expecting a post about how to get premium WordPress plugins for free… you’ll be disappointed. I come from a programming/development background and so I understand what it takes to write good, efficient, bug-free, safe code.
Developers write plugins to conform to pretty strict coding standards, and they need to be as ‘future-proof’ as possible. WordPress itself evolves over time. Underlying software programs such as php (the programming language on which WordPress is built) also change. All of this, as well as bug fixes, means that plugin authors need to keep improving their software.
Are Free Plugins Good?
We all like free stuff – right? But think about it – how reliable is a plugin likely to be over the long term if the developer isn’t getting adequate recompense to keep it maintained? There are some really dedicated free plugin developers out there. However, it’s more likely you’re getting a robust solution, that’s up-to-date and well-supported if the developer is a proper business.
Here are my 4 reasons for buying premium WordPress plugins
- Support – You are far more likely to get a prompt reply to a support request if you are using a premium plugin. You may not think you need support very often, but when you do it will be reassuring to know it’s there.
- Security – Plugins are generally safe, but vulnerabilities do surface quite often. Premium plugins might be a little less likely to fall foul of a security risk. Plugin developers generally patch their premium plugins quickly. Earlier in 2016, a security vulnerability was identified in one of the 2 most used WordPress caching plugins. This plugin (which I’ll not name) has over a million installations. The developers took weeks to issue an update to the plugin, leaving potentially millions of sites exposed. Would a premium plugin have taken so long to be updated?
- Karma – good work deserves to be rewarded. Someone has committed a lot of time and expertise to build a plugin you use to run your business. Would you expect to not pay your accountant, or not to pay business banking charges?
- Fewer distractions – if you have purchased a plugin, you are less likely to be nagged to upgrade or ‘go pro’. If you value a clutter-free WordPress dashboard, going premium with your plugins will help!
Here are a few Premium WordPress Plugins that I like:
- Mailpoet – this is a popular free newsletter plugin, that allows you to build lists and send mailshots directly from your website, rather than using an external service such as Aweber or Mailchimp. The premium version has some great additional features.
- Imagify – simple to set up, this image optimisation service works automatically within your WordPress site to optimise all images as they are uploaded AND can bulk optimise existing images.
- WP-Rocket – good caching plugin, written by the same people as Imagify. No complex configuration options, but can preload and work with CDNs, etc.
- WP Download Manager – if you need to offer your visitors a way to download files, maybe through a private area of your site, this is a good solution. The number of permutations available is daunting, but if you’re after a lot of options – WP Download Manager is for you.
- Gridbuilder – a relatively recent addition to our portfolio. If you are looking for a way to build grids from various sets of posts on your site, take a look at the Gridbuilder plugin. It works with custom post types, and also allows you to use custom field values in your grid, and to use various filtering modes. Take a look here for an example.
- Anti-Spam by Cleantalk – removes the hassle of dealing with comment spam, contact form spam, and even spam entries in your search forms by preventing bad actors from using the forms in the first place. Removes the need for any form of captcha on your forms.
In summary, you should consider your plugins as part of the overall cost of website ownership. We wrote about the costs of owning a website recently here. Don’t always avoid paid plugins in favour of free ones – often, the premium plugin will reap far more rewards for your site than their free competitors.
Often, premium WordPress plugins will only cost £10-£20 per year. If you’re worried that this is too much for your business, maybe you’re in the wrong business!
As always, try to source all of your WordPress plugins via the WordPress Repository (‘Plugins’->’Add New’ in your dashboard will show you these). All plugins need updating from time to time, to improve performance, add new functionality, and remove security vulnerabilities. If you don’t have the time or inclination to do this yourself, check out our care plans and we’ll do your WordPress updates for you.