|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.
November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Penta Security is a leading vendor for data security solutions, including its encryption solution, D’Amo. By using FPE technology, D’Amo allows for the implementation of encryption technology to sensitive data fields without modification to schema in the database environment. With businesses having their data become increasingly more complicated in their mission-critical applications (such as ERP, CRM, HRM), continued ...
Oct. 27, 2016 05:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,174
Enterprises have been using both Big Data and virtualization for years. Until recently, however, most enterprises have not combined the two. Big Data's demands for higher levels of performance, the ability to control quality-of-service (QoS), and the ability to adhere to SLAs have kept it on bare metal, apart from the modern data center cloud. With recent technology innovations, we've seen the advantages of bare metal erode to such a degree that the enhanced flexibility and reduced costs that cl...
Oct. 27, 2016 05:30 PM EDT Reads: 595
SYS-CON Events announced today that Embotics, the cloud automation company, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Embotics is the cloud automation company for IT organizations and service providers that need to improve provisioning or enable self-service capabilities. With a relentless focus on delivering a premier user experience and unmatched customer support, Embotics is the fas...
Oct. 27, 2016 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,055
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudbric, a leading website security provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloudbric is an elite full service website protection solution specifically designed for IT novices, entrepreneurs, and small and medium businesses. First launched in 2015, Cloudbric is based on the enterprise level Web Application Firewall by Penta Security Sys...
Oct. 27, 2016 04:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,334
Intelligent machines are here. Robots, self-driving cars, drones, bots and many IoT devices are becoming smarter with Machine Learning. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Sudha Jamthe, CEO of IoTDisruptions.com, will discuss the next wave of business disruption at the junction of IoT and AI, impacting many industries and set to change our lives, work and world as we know it.
Oct. 27, 2016 04:30 PM EDT Reads: 443
Governments around the world are adopting Safe Harbor privacy provisions to protect customer data from leaving sovereign territories. Increasingly, global companies are required to create new instances of their server clusters in multiple countries to keep abreast of these new Safe Harbor laws. Is it worth it? In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Adam Rogers, Managing Director of Anexia, Inc., will discuss how to keep your data legal and still stay in business.
Oct. 27, 2016 04:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,550
In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Nick Son, Vice President of Cyber Risk & Public Sector at Coalfire, will discuss the latest information on the FedRAMP Program. Topics will cover: FedRAMP Readiness Assessment Report (RAR). This new process is designed to streamline and accelerate the FedRAMP process from the traditional timeline by initially focusing on technical capability instead of documentation preparedness. FedRAMP for High-impact level systems. Early in 2016 FedRAMP officially publishe...
Oct. 27, 2016 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 609
SYS-CON Events announced today that Impiger Technologies will exhibit in Booth #109 at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Impiger Technologies is a world-class, enterprise software product engineering company specializing in Mobile Application Development, Cloud Applications, Microsoft Technology Solutions, Web Technology and Telecom Services. Impiger Technologies helps enterprises improve busi...
Oct. 27, 2016 03:44 PM EDT Reads: 217
Qosmos, the market leader for IP traffic classification and network intelligence technology, has announced that it will launch the Launch L7 Viewer at CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley, being held November 1 – 3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. The L7 Viewer is a traffic analysis tool that provides complete visibility of all network traffic that crosses a virtualized infrastructure, up to Layer 7. It facilitates and accelerates common IT tasks such as VM migra...
Oct. 27, 2016 03:15 PM EDT Reads: 556
In the 21st century, security on the Internet has become one of the most important issues. We hear more and more about cyber-attacks on the websites of large corporations, banks and even small businesses. When online we’re concerned not only for our own safety but also our privacy. We have to know that hackers usually start their preparation by investigating the private information of admins – the habits, interests, visited websites and so on. On the other hand, our own security is in danger bec...
Oct. 27, 2016 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 605
The explosion of new web/cloud/IoT-based applications and the data they generate are transforming our world right before our eyes. In this rush to adopt these new technologies, organizations are often ignoring fundamental questions concerning who owns the data and failing to ask for permission to conduct invasive surveillance of their customers. Organizations that are not transparent about how their systems gather data telemetry without offering shared data ownership risk product rejection, regu...
Oct. 27, 2016 02:17 PM EDT Reads: 240
As companies adopt the cloud-to-streamline workflow, deployment hasn’t been very seamless because of IT concerns surrounding security risks. The cloud offers many benefits, but protecting and securing information can be tricky across multiple cloud providers and remains IT’s overall responsibility. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Simon Bain, CEO of SearchYourCloud, will address security compliance issues associated with cloud applications and how document-level encryption is critical for sup...
Oct. 27, 2016 01:48 PM EDT Reads: 305
Successful digital transformation requires new organizational competencies and capabilities. Research tells us that the biggest impediment to successful transformation is human; consequently, the biggest enabler is a properly skilled and empowered workforce. In the digital age, new individual and collective competencies are required. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bob Newhouse, CEO and founder of Agilitiv, will draw together recent research and lessons learned from emerging and established ...
Oct. 27, 2016 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,608
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cemware will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Use MATLAB functions by just visiting website mathfreeon.com. MATLAB compatible, freely usable, online platform services. As of October 2016, 80,000 users from 180 countries are enjoying our platform service.
Oct. 27, 2016 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 992
SYS-CON Events announced today that MathFreeOn will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MathFreeOn is Software as a Service (SaaS) used in Engineering and Math education. Write scripts and solve math problems online. MathFreeOn provides online courses for beginners or amateurs who have difficulties in writing scripts. In accordance with various mathematical topics, there are more tha...
Oct. 27, 2016 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,159
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Oct. 27, 2016 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 3,995
SYS-CON Events announced today that StarNet Communications will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. StarNet Communications’ FastX is the industry first cloud-based remote X Windows emulator. Using standard Web browsers (FireFox, Chrome, Safari, etc.) users from around the world gain highly secure access to applications and data hosted on Linux-based servers in a central data center. ...
Oct. 27, 2016 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,273
Virgil consists of an open-source encryption library, which implements Cryptographic Message Syntax (CMS) and Elliptic Curve Integrated Encryption Scheme (ECIES) (including RSA schema), a Key Management API, and a cloud-based Key Management Service (Virgil Keys). The Virgil Keys Service consists of a public key service and a private key escrow service.
Oct. 27, 2016 01:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,209
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, will discuss how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team a...
Oct. 27, 2016 01:15 PM EDT Reads: 856
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
Oct. 27, 2016 01:15 PM EDT Reads: 5,089