WordPress plugins are scripts that extend the functionality of your WordPress-based site or blog. For those many WordPress users who are not into learning to code, the right plugin can add functionality to a site. However, it can be challenging to choose a WordPress plugin because there are over 30,000 plugins in the official WordPress plugin directory. Some are not updated to the current version of WordPress, others may not work with your theme, and some plugins don’t play well with other plugins that you have installed, as they may conflict. There are also several choices that do many of the same things, serving basically the same purpose. When choosing a plugin, you should create a checklist of features that you would like to have added to your WP site and write down exactly what it is that you would like to have added to the basic WordPress features. The features in your checklist should be written in the order of importance. The importance factor may be useful because it will make your decisions or priorities easier when you cannot find everything you need in one plugin. There are several factors to consider when choosing the best plugin from the WordPress plugin directory. These include: Plugin Ratings — The plugin rating reflects the quality of the WordPress plugin, as rated by other WordPress users who have tried them. These are similar to the ratings that you see on Amazon.com products. The rating is indicated with a number of stars where one is the lowest and five is the highest. If a plugin has low or few ratings, it may mean that it is not good. However, thousands of people might download a plugin without rating it. I wouldn't recommend choosing a plugin with fewer than three stars except when the plugin is new, and only a few people have rated it. Plugin Reviews — Users are asked to review a plugin after rating it, which might also be compared with Amazon.com. These reviews appear on the ratings bar and you only need to click the bar to view all of the published reviews. There are times when a plugin might have low ratings numbers, yet its reviews may be good. In such cases, the reviews are probably more significant than the ratings. Many users don’t feel the need to review a plugin if it works well for them, but are more likely to do so if they believe that the plugin has caused them problems. You can break this trend and give back to the plugin authors by leaving a review and rating those plugins that you like. When published reviews tell you just what problems other users were experiencing, this might give you an idea as to whether these problems are likely to apply to your WordPress site as well. Support Overview — There will be a support section on the side bar of each plugin page. This support section has threads of bug reports, feedback and complaints. Some plugins may also have their own forum pages, so you may check them as well. The support section is a positive indicator of the author’s interest in maintaining the plugin by responding to feedback and complaints. However, if the plugin has numerous unresolved threads that the author has not responded to, then that’s not a good sign. The plugin may function well but it may fail in the long run because the author does not maintain it or update it to new versions of WordPress. While you are at it, you can also determine whether the author is dedicated to the plugin by checking when it was last updated. If a plugin has not been maintained or updated recently, this might be an indicator that it will not be maintained in the future. This is a bad sign because any bugs in the plugins will never be fixed. The WordPress plugin directory will alert you if a plugin has not been updated in two years or more. I generally look for one that has been updated since the last WordPress update. Compatibility — There are numerous plugins in the WordPress directory plugin, and not all of them are compatible with one another or with the latest version of WordPress. You can check the plugin version on the compatibility section. The compatibility section shows the latest and stable plugin version against the current WordPress version. A plugin is probably compatible if the number of users who says it works is higher than those who say it’s broken. However, a plugin may be marked as broken by a few users despite the fact that there is nothing wrong with it. For example, an enthusiastic user might install multiple plugins before learning that he has a problem, and then blame the wrong plugin, leaving a faulty review. There is also the fact that many users only vote when the WordPress plugin is broken. If it works, then only a few users will bother to leave a rating. You should always leave a rating on the compatibility section to help other users know whether the plugin is broken or it works. As for whether a plugin will be compatible with another plugin that you may have installed, you might find this information in the plugin description or in comments left by other users, but you may also have to learn it through trial and error. The good news is that most, if not all, likely plugin problems are easily troubleshooted by simply deactivating it, then checking to see whether the problem has gone away. When two plugins conflict, you may have to choose between the two, but there is also a good chance that you will be able to find additional plugins that serve the same purpose, but without the conflict.