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Plugins / Tutorials

How To Choose A Free WordPress Plugin (6 Tips)

how to choose a free wordpress plugin

Are you trying to learn how to choose a free WordPress plugin to avoid inconvenience?

Navigating the vast ocean of free plugins can feel like setting out on an EPIC treasure hunt – exciting, yes, but a touch overwhelming, too.

Plus, there are many unreliable solutions out there that can harm your website.

Remember the feeling of trying to pick the best ice cream flavor at a new parlor? It’s a bit like that!

Just that the parlor had dozens of options, but there are thousands of options when it comes to plugins.

How do you scoop up the right one?

I’m here to guide you through the maze of choices, ensuring you find a reliable plugin gem for your website.

This post covers:

READY to dive in?

6 Key Things To Look For When Choosing Free WordPress Plugin

Important: Always browse and pick WordPress plugins from reputable resources – especially when it comes to free ones!

Hey, you don’t want to break your website with some shady plugins.

I always use WordPress.org.

But even when you choose from the WP repository, some plugins may not be compatible with your WordPress theme, WordPress version or even other plugins you use.

That’s why it’s important to thoroughly review each plugin using the following tips.

1. Update Frequency

check free wp plugin update frequency
Ah, remember the joy of getting a new toy only to discover it’s the “older model” just weeks later?

HOW disappointing, right?

Well, choosing a free WordPress plugin is a bit like that. It’s essential to peek at how often the plugin gets updated.

An often-updated plugin isn’t just about having the latest and greatest features – it’s about SWIFTLY addressing any bugs, security vulnerabilities, or compatibility issues.

Just as we love those toys that stay current and cutting-edge, a regularly updated plugin ensures your website remains smooth-sailing, secure, and ahead of the curve.

So, always give that “last updated” date (in the right sidebar) a little glance before diving in!

2. Active Installs

check free wp plugin active installs
You know that heartwarming feeling when you step into a bustling cafe and think, “Ah, this place must be good if it’s this packed!”?

Well, in the world of free WordPress plugins, the “active installs” (located in the right sidebar) number is like the crowd in that cafe.

A higher number of active installs often means many fellow website owners have given that plugin a THUMBS UP.

It’s a reassuring sign that the plugin is reliable, user-friendly, and does what it promises. So, just as you’d trust a cafe buzzing with happy patrons (like me in Paris yesterday), give a nod to plugins with a healthy count of active installs.

After all, there’s COMFORT in numbers, right?

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean a free WP plugin with low active installs is poor in quality – it might just be that it’s NEW.

While WordPress.org doesn’t necessarily showcase when the plugin was released, you can check the first review or the first published support forum thread to get a better idea of how old it is.

3. Average Rating

check free wp plugin average rating
Have you ever asked a group of friends for movie recommendations and noticed everyone raving about the same film?

It’s hard to resist watching it after such glowing reviews, RIGHT?

Similarly, when choosing a free WordPress plugin, the average rating is like those movie recommendations from pals. It gives a quick snapshot of how well the plugin resonated with users.

A STELLAR average rating typically means the plugin delivers on its promises and provides a pleasant user experience.

So, before you “book your ticket” and install a plugin, take a moment to see how many stars the plugin has. (In general, the HIGHER the rating, the BETTER.)

After all, there’s usually some truth in popular opinion!

You can find plugin ratings on WordPress.org’s official page in the right sidebar before the support widget.

While overall star rating gives you a more general quality idea of the plugin, you can dive deeper by reading user reviews.

4. User Reviews

check free wp plugin user reviews
Do you remember those times when you’ve dived deep into online product reviews before splurging on something and stumbled upon those golden nuggets of insights from fellow shoppers?

It’s MAGICAL, isn’t it?

In the realm of free WordPress plugins, user reviews are those cherished, detailed stories that give you a peek behind the curtain.

While an average rating might tell you “it’s good” or “it’s not-so-hot,” individual reviews spill the beans on the whys and hows.

They’ll whisper about tiny glitches, rave about standout features, or even share some delightful surprises.

So, before you commit, spend a moment with these tales from fellow users – it’s like having coffee chats with a community eager to guide your choice.

You can find reviews on WordPress.org below the plugin’s featured image – it’s the tab right after “details.”

5. Support Forum (& Documentation)

check free wp plugin support forum and documentation
Ever embarked on a DIY project and found yourself grateful for that detailed instruction manual or a helpline to call when things went a tad awry?

In our grand adventure of selecting the perfect free WordPress plugin, the plugin’s support forum and documentation are those TRUSTY guides.

Think of them as your plugin’s “life-jacket” or “instruction manual.”

A robust but friendly support forum means there’s an active community ready to lend a hand when you hit a snag.

And comprehensive documentation? That’s your step-by-step map, ensuring you utilize the plugin to its fullest.

So, as you’re on the brink of adding a new plugin to your toolkit, make sure you have these supportive sidekicks by your side.

After all, everyone needs a little guidance now and then, right?

You can PRE-CHECK the support forum to see how active it is (something I always do) before downloading the plugin, just as you can review the online documentation to see if you understand it.

6. WordPress Compatibility

check free wp plugin wordpress compatibility
You know that cozy feeling when your favorite pair of shoes fits just right? No pinching, no discomfort, just pure, snug bliss?

That’s what we aim for when discussing a plugin’s WordPress version compatibility.

Just as those shoes need to be the right size, your chosen plugin should snugly fit with your WordPress version.

If they’re in HARMONY, your website runs like a dream; if not, you might find yourself with some unexpected (and unwanted) surprises.

So, before falling head over heels for a plugin, ENSURE it’s the perfect match for your WordPress version.

It’s like ensuring Cinderella’s slipper fits before the ball!

You can find in the right sidebar up to which WP version the plugin was tested to.

And you can then compare it with your version in your WordPress backend by clicking on the Dashboard tab and checking the “Version: [number]” like you see in the screenshot below.

compare free wp plugin wordpress compatiblity with the version you use

7. Bonus: Ask The ULTIDA Team For Help

Ever been on one of those shopping trips where you’re completely lost, and then a kind store assistant comes over, and suddenly everything makes sense?

Picking the right free WordPress plugin can sometimes feel the same.

The myriad options can make us feel like a kid in a candy store – EXCITED but OVERWHELMED.

That’s where our WordPress-savvy “store assistants,” aka IT professionals, come in.

We’ve been down these aisles more times than we can count and know exactly what might be the best fit for your unique needs.

So, if you ever feel out of your depth, don’t hesitate to tap on the shoulder of someone from the ULTIDA team.

After all, sometimes, a little guidance can make all the difference between sweet success and a sticky mess!

Conclusion: Choose Your Free WP Plugin Wisely!

Embarking on the journey to find the ideal free WordPress plugin is a blend of excitement and responsibility.

It’s a bit like choosing the perfect accessory for your favorite outfit – the right choice can elevate everything, while a hasty pick might throw things off balance.

Remember, it’s not just about the shiny features; compatibility, community feedback, updates, and support all play their parts.

So, as you stand on the cusp of this digital adventure, take a DEEP breath, do your homework, and let informed choices lead the way.

Here’s to finding that reliable plugin that clicks seamlessly with your vision and helps your website shine its brightest! Not only that but take your business to the next level.

Note: After you find the ideal plugin, you may also be interested in learning how to install a WordPress plugin with ease.

FAQs About Choosing Free WordPress Plugins

How do I choose the right free WordPress plugin?

Identify the specific functionality you need from the plugin. Research plugins by reading descriptions, user reviews, and checking the number of active installations to gauge reliability and user satisfaction. Make sure it’s compatible with your version of WordPress.

Are free WordPress plugins safe?

Free WordPress plugins can be safe, especially when downloaded from reputable sources like the official WordPress Plugin Directory. Always check the update history, user ratings, and developer responses to support queries to assess security and reliability.

What are the signs of a well-maintained WordPress plugin?

A well-maintained plugin regularly receives updates to fix bugs and security issues, is compatible with the latest version of WordPress, and has active support from developers who respond to user questions and issues.

Can I use multiple plugins for similar functions?

While you can install multiple plugins that perform similar functions, it’s generally not recommended. Doing so can lead to conflicts between plugins, performance issues, and security vulnerabilities. Choose the best one that suits your needs and deactivate others.

How do I handle updates for free WordPress plugins?

Regularly update your plugins from the WordPress dashboard to ensure you have the latest features and security patches. Always back up your website before updating, in case you need to restore your site if an update causes issues.

About Author

Rok decided to put his original approach and vision into action by starting ULTIDA, thanks to his extensive experience with web development and design since 2011. Working with 100s of clients made his subconscious mind think of nothing but themes, HTML, plugins, mockups, etc.