One of the first things that people want to do after creating a WordPress site is to customize it. This is one of the strengths of WordPress, and with the abundance of themes and plugins it is easy to make it your own. As you look to install plugins, I would advise you to follow at these three simple guidelines.
1. Download From The WordPress.org Plugin Repository
I recommend that you download plugins from the WordPress.org repository for a couple of reasons: First, you will get automatic plugin upgrade notifications in the WordPress admin portal. This makes it easy to know that you have the latest and greatest version of the plugin with all the newest features and security patches.
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Another benefit is that the WordPress.org repository has higher security restrictions on the code used to write the plugins. People in the WordPress community review the plugins in the repository on a somewhat regular basis, which helps ensure that you are running plugins without malicious code. This protects both your site and your users.
2. Choose A Trusted Author
Picking a trusted plugin author is a somewhat complicated task. First, look for an author who has written more than one plugin hosted on the WordPress.org repository. Additionally, look for a plugin with a large number of downloads and seek out plugins with multiple released versions. This is a good indication that some of the kinks have been worked out.
3. Be Sure It Works With Your WordPress Version
On the plugin page, there will be a line on the right hand side that states what version of WordPress the plugin is compatible with. You will be given two values, both the lowest version required and the most recent version that the plugin is compatible with. Further down the page is a spot that says, "See what others are saying…" where you can review others' opinions on the plugin. An overwhelmingly positive (or negative) response should be helpful in determining whether the plugin works correctly with the listed version of WordPress.
Check out Matt’s previous post where he talks about the dangers of installing WordPress from an OS software repository. In the next post of this series Matt explains the benefits of caching your WordPress site and some plugins that can help you do it. Learn more about how Rackspace can help you with hosting your WordPress site.