The right WordPress plugin can make your site work like a charm. The wrong plugin can bring you to your knees in frustration and cripple your site. See my winners and losers for 2015, and what we can expect for plugin development in the next year.
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More Plugin Choices Than Ever
There are over 40,000 free plugins in the WordPress repository. In his State of Word address at WordCamp US, Matt Mullenweg stated that over 9,000 plugins had been added to the repository in 2015 alone!
More Outdated Plugins Than Ever
Luca Fracassi, who produces an alternative plugin search site at Addendio, reports that over half of the plugins in the WordPress repository have not been updated in over two years.
More Plugin Developer Burnout
Because WordPress, PHP, security attack vectors, and hosting resource limits have changed so much in the past two years, Luca suggests in his report that many plugin developers are experiencing burn out on plugin support. He suggests that it’s the leading cause of abandoned plugins in the repository.
Developers are also burnt out by the outrageous sense of entitlement among end users who are increasingly intolerant of bugs and glitches. Mind you, this user outrage is over a free product that has been serving them faithfully for years, and one for which they have never donated a cent, or even said thank you to the developer for creating.
More Freemium Plugins
In the past two years we have seen the rise of freemium plugins, with a Lite, unsupported version in the WordPress repository, and a paid, supported version available directly from the developer.
It’s a great try-before-you-buy plan. And, helps offset developer burnout, and ensures the plugin stays current.
More Premium Add-Ons
Another model we’ve seen an increase with this year has been the offer of a base plugin for free, and then paid add-ons to expand the functionality.
Popular examples include:
- Easy Digital Downloads
- Yoast SEO
Plugins I Dropped or Traded for Better in 2015
Old standbys are great, until they either stop being updated, become unstable, or someone builds a better mousetrap.
Follow are the plugins I ditched, willingly or not, and the replacements I found for the function they served.
This staple of WordPress just isn’t up to the task anymore. Hasn’t been for a couple of years now. And it required adding GASP or some other helper plugin to limp it along.
The plugin I agonized over the most this past year, and hated to have to let go as a top recommendation, was BackupBuddy.
It had just become too buggy and unstable to use on all sites as a primary backup tool. I lost a LOT of money helping troubleshoot it too. And I lost a lot of sleep because it gave me an added business liability in not know if backups were making, and being stored off site properly for me and my site management clients.
So many shared hosting providers have lowered their resource ceilings to the point that I can’t even get BackupBuddy to run at all on some sites.
I still use it where I can for some clients, and as a migration tool, but that’s about it.
I’ve switched over to using the VaultPress Lite service.
I really didn’t want to drop this little database cleaning plugin. It just worked, especially for clearing out built up comment and post meta data. But, the developer has abandoned it and it’s even hard for folks to find in the repository.
I’ve switched to WP-Optimize for standard database cleanup.
Fast and Secure Contact Form
Nothing much wrong with this plugin. But other form plugins are not so bloated and are more intuitive to use.
This is another plugin I really didn’t want to let go of. I enjoyed the little module in my dashboard showing my top posts everytime I logged in. So did my clients.
But, constant ads from SumoMe got tiring, so I traded it in for Google Analytics by Yoast.
Yet Another Related Post Plugin
It still works as advertised, but it’s just too much of a resource hog now, as are all other plugins that auto find related posts. I never actually used this plugin on my sites, but a lot of my clients did.
I have always used and recommend Microkid’s Related Posts. It allows you to manually select the related posts, and it’s reciprocal.
Disqus and CommentLuv
Just don’t do it! Disqus is spying on your commentors now, and CommentLuv has always been a spam magnet.
I have the G+ comments hardcoded into my site, but hear that the G+ Comments plugin works just fine too, although it has not been updated in over two years.
New Plugins I Added in 2015
Besides the new plugins I traded for that are mentioned above, I’ve added a couple of new ones to my must-have list of top plugins this year.
GM Block Bots
Spam crawlers have gotten to be a real problem for most site owners this past year. They can be manually blocked, but I don’t have time for that whack-a-mole game, nobody does.
I wanted a plugin that had a cloud database like Akismet, and took care of this automatically for me. And, I just happen to be in a developer group with the nice folks that came up with GM Block Bots, and it’s all I had hoped for.
There is no configuration. Just activate and keep it updated so it keeps the definition files current for the bad crawlers.
This little plugin sounded too good to be true. But it has saved my site maintenance bacon on several occasions already this year.
If a plugin goes haywire after an update, you can simply roll it back to the previous version.
Way better than having to reinstall a site or figure out how to rollback a database and all the plugin files too!!!
My lead designer buddy, Cyndi Papia of Office To-Go.com, introduced me to this plugin when she completely revamped my wood carving site. I LOVE this gallery plugin. It’s flexible and super duper easy to use.
Advanced Responsive Video Embedder
This was another plugin that Cyndi introduced me to during the BlogAid site revamp. It’s fantastic for helping speed up page load time when videos are all over the page and resizes videos for responsive themes. They have changed to a freemium program, but it’s worth it.
More Top Plugin Mentions
I use the following plugins on my sites, or my top clients use them. Some are free and some are paid.
- Social Warfare – see my performance test
- WishList Member
- W3 Total Cache
- Blubrry PowerPress
- Easy Digital Downloads
More Plugins I’m Keeping
Here’s the rest of my top plugin recommendations that I won’t do a site without.
- Yoast SEO
- Revision Control
- Login Locdown
- TinyMCE Advanced – see my video overview
More Plugin Recommendations
Visit the BlogAid Plugins page for a full list of all my top recommended plugins.
Over to You
What plugins did you switch out in 2015? What are your faves? Which ones let you down this year?