|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.
There are several IoTs: the Industrial Internet, Consumer Wearables, Wearables and Healthcare, Supply Chains, and the movement toward Smart Grids, Cities, Regions, and Nations. There are competing communications standards every step of the way, a bewildering array of sensors and devices, and an entire world of competing data analytics platforms. To some this appears to be chaos. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate a...
Sep. 30, 2016 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,460
24Notion is full-service global creative digital marketing, technology and lifestyle agency that combines strategic ideas with customized tactical execution. With a broad understand of the art of traditional marketing, new media, communications and social influence, 24Notion uniquely understands how to connect your brand strategy with the right consumer. 24Notion ranked #12 on Corporate Social Responsibility - Book of List.
Sep. 30, 2016 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 315
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
Sep. 30, 2016 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 5,199
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. 30, 2016 02:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,153
Major trends and emerging technologies – from virtual reality and IoT, to Big Data and algorithms – are helping organizations innovate in the digital era. However, to create real business value, IT must think beyond the ‘what’ of digital transformation to the ‘how’ to harness emerging trends, innovation and disruption. Architecture is the key that underpins and ties all these efforts together. In the digital age, it’s important to invest in architecture, extend the enterprise footprint to the cl...
Sep. 30, 2016 02:15 PM EDT Reads: 712
The vision of a connected smart home is becoming reality with the application of integrated wireless technologies in devices and appliances. The use of standardized and TCP/IP networked wireless technologies in line-powered and battery operated sensors and controls has led to the adoption of radios in the 2.4GHz band, including Wi-Fi, BT/BLE and 802.15.4 applied ZigBee and Thread. This is driving the need for robust wireless coexistence for multiple radios to ensure throughput performance and th...
Sep. 30, 2016 02:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,720
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long dev...
Sep. 30, 2016 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,569
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. 30, 2016 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 576
Adobe is changing the world though digital experiences. Adobe helps customers develop and deliver high-impact experiences that differentiate brands, build loyalty, and drive revenue across every screen, including smartphones, computers, tablets and TVs. Adobe content solutions are used daily by millions of companies worldwide-from publishers and broadcasters, to enterprises, marketing agencies and household-name brands. Building on its established design leadership, Adobe enables customers not o...
Sep. 30, 2016 01:15 PM EDT Reads: 313
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
Sep. 30, 2016 01:15 PM EDT Reads: 5,164
Information technology is an industry that has always experienced change, and the dramatic change sweeping across the industry today could not be truthfully described as the first time we've seen such widespread change impacting customer investments. However, the rate of the change, and the potential outcomes from today's digital transformation has the distinct potential to separate the industry into two camps: Organizations that see the change coming, embrace it, and successful leverage it; and...
Sep. 30, 2016 01:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,287
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. 30, 2016 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 4,235
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
Sep. 30, 2016 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 4,492
From wearable activity trackers to fantasy e-sports, data and technology are transforming the way athletes train for the game and fans engage with their teams. In his session at @ThingsExpo, will present key data findings from leading sports organizations San Francisco 49ers, Orlando Magic NBA team. By utilizing data analytics these sports orgs have recognized new revenue streams, doubled its fan base and streamlined costs at its stadiums. John Paul is the CEO and Founder of VenueNext. Prior ...
Sep. 30, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 3,271
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. 30, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,263
Businesses are struggling to manage the information flow and interactions between all of these new devices and things jumping on their network, and the apps and IT systems they control. The data businesses gather is only helpful if they can do something with it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Witeck, Principal Technology Strategist at Citrix, will discuss how different the impact of IoT will be for large businesses, expanding how IoT will allow large organizations to make their legacy ap...
Sep. 30, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 498
“We're a global managed hosting provider. Our core customer set is a U.S.-based customer that is looking to go global,” explained Adam Rogers, Managing Director at ANEXIA, 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. 30, 2016 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 3,233
"We have several customers now running private clouds. They're not as large as they should be but it's getting there. The adoption challenge has been pretty simple. Look at the world today of virtualization vs cloud," stated Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, 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. 30, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,527
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. 30, 2016 11:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,577
What does it look like when you have access to cloud infrastructure and platform under the same roof? Let’s talk about the different layers of Technology as a Service: who cares, what runs where, and how does it all fit together. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Lead Technology Evangelist at SoftLayer, an IBM company, spoke about the picture being painted by IBM Cloud and how the tools being crafted can help fill the gaps in your IT infrastructure.
Sep. 30, 2016 11:15 AM EDT Reads: 3,105