Adding and Updating Plugins

Tips on finding good plugins for your WordPress site.

  • You want to get your plugins in place before you go “live” because, after you go live, you’ll enable website caching through your service provider. Fortunately, on Siteground there is an option at the top of the Dashboard to “Purge SG Cache”, but until you remember to do it, cached pages may render differently from new ones affected by a recently-added plugin!
  • So, to prevent confusion, it’s best to get plugins in place before going live. But there is a lot to know about how to do it well.
  • When you have a good procedure in place for making backups and tracking changes, and have some experience finding out what you can do with the original setup, you can begin to think about adding useful plugins.
  • The problem, of course, is that installing the wrong plugin could break the site. Or a plugin that hasn’t been updated might be a problem. (Or one that has been updated.)
  • One cool WP feature is the number that appears in the sidebar, next to the Plugins option.
    That’s the number of plugins that are in need of updating. So it’s fairly easy to keep them up to date. But again, a plugin could always wind up causing a problem, if it was insufficiently tested.
  • Another option is use the Jetpack plugin to connect to WordPress.com, which updates plugins automatically.
  • Fortunately, it’s generally easy to deactivate a recently-added plugin or, in the worst case, deactivate them all and then start adding them back a few at a time until you isolate the culprit.
  • In the worst case, you ask the hosting provider (SiteGround, for me) to restore the system from the day before–at which point you will be very glad that you maintained Change Lists, which will be described momentarily.)
  • One huge tip (thanks to Nicole Scott!) is to add plugins only from within WordPress itself:
          wp-admin > Plugins > Add New > Search
    You can search the Web for plugins, but doing that won’t tell you how compatible the plugin is. But with the WordPress search, in addition to the rating and number of installations, you get one of two tags on each plugin:

    • Untested with your version of WordPress, or
    • Compatible with your version of WordPress
  • Clearly, you want plugins that are compatible, and not ones that haven’t been tested!
  • You also want plugins that have been recently updated! The reason: As WordPress is updated, plugins may become incompatible. Recent updates means that developers are at work behind the scenes, keeping it compatible.
  • Finally, a high rating suggests quality, while a large number of installs suggests reliability and/or a business proposition that keeps developers at work on the project. (A combination of many installs and recent updates is particularly good. It takes time, a reputation for quality, and, typically, good support. When coupled with recent updates, it suggests robust, ongoing activity.)
  • So high quality + many installs + recent updates + compatibility = a good bet.
  • A reduction on any of those dimensions increases risk. It may still be a good bet, though. It all  depends on the potential reward, on your tolerance for risk, and most of all on the quality of your backup strategy!

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  1. Converting to WordPress: Benefits and Drawbacks | Treelight.com March 30, 2017 (8:08 am)

    […] It can take quite a while to find a good set of plugins, because every category has so many choices. You can limit the search to the ones that are compatible, highly regarded, and widely used. But even then you’ll generally have multiple choices to consider. (For more, see Adding and Updating Plugins.) […]

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