What is a plugin?
A plugin is a software piece that enables specific functions that you can add to your WordPress (WP) site to extend its possibilities.
Sites require constant maintenance, enhancement, growth, and different new needs have to be solved. Through plugins, you can add features to your website without being a programmer. Yes, you don’t have to write any code. They come ready to plug.
There’s a huge amount of plugins available for WordPress. The variety includes free and paid ones. The programming language used to write them is PHP to get along pretty well with WP sites.
Just the WP official repository has around fifty thousand available free plugins.
Why are plugins useful for my WordPress site?
With plugins, you can do pretty much everything to keep your website in the best condition by yourself. By choosing the proper plugin, you can:
- Boost speed.
- Improve security.
- Enhance the design and add visual elements.
- Connect your site to Google Analytics.
- Add all kinds of forms (email subscription contact, surveys, online orders, payment, etc.).
- Improve SEO to rank better on search engines.
- Get sitemaps.
- Connect social media profiles.
- Backup automatically.
- Enable membership sites, communities, online courses.
- Turn your blog into a fully featured e-shop.
- And so much more…
How to choose secure plugins? Tips
Knowing plugins are bits of code (software) programmed to achieve specific objectives, we must be aware of site security risks if we don’t choose quality and secure plugins.
Here you have some tips not to add vulnerabilities instead of utilities:
- Get plugins only from trustable repositories or third-party shops. Such providers check the plugins, offer security to the users, and keep their reputation. WP has an official repository, but there are more sources.
- Compatibility and updates are factors to consider. Trustable developers regularly update their plugins to secure and compatible with WP updates. Check always when the last update was published. This also shows how active the developer still is.
- If update frequency looks regular enough to trust, before installing, also check if the plugin is compatible with your WP version. Sometimes, as a result of no compatibility, your website can crash.
- Check average user ratings and active installation reviews from other users on the provider page. This info is revealing and useful. If you see a low rating, warning objective comments, or that the plugin has been downloaded just by few users and not thousands or millions, you should look for another choice.
- Explore FAQs, support forums, or plugin sites to get more info (pros, cons, known threats) of the plugin. Active forums mean that people are using them to share first-hand experiences. And if the provider is actively answering questions, you will know there’s support if you need it.
- There are also paid subscription services that can inform you about plugins details.
How to keep secure a WordPress site once you installed plugins? Tips
- WordPress is secure, but every modification or new addition (plugins) could open entry points.
- Add just necessary plugins. That they exist, in a massive variety, doesn’t mean we must add them all.
- Update plugins. Issues are fixed by providers (patches). Suppose you abandon the maintenance, chances of being hacked increase. Some plugins feature automatic updates if you set this preference.
- Delete plugins out of use. Abandon plugins, when they’re too many, can slow down sites. But mainly, they represent clear vulnerabilities.
- Scan your site regularly to prevent plugins from malfunction or threats.
Plugins are quite useful for your WP site, just if there’s a real need to be solved. To choose quality written ones and keep them always updated is the key to enjoying all their functionality without risk.