Having done most of my recent web development work in WordPress, I find myself impressed by the avalanche of plugins from 3rd party developers. Why re-invent the wheel when you can search for a ready-made solution? I just completed a WordPress site that uses the WooCommerce plugin as a catalog for the products the client carries and even the plugin has plugins… But I’ve found that not all that glitters is gold. There are a few concerns I would like to point out that if you avoid them, will make you life so much easier.

The first is compatibility. Generally not a problem if you are using fewer plugins or plugins that don’t need to be aware of each other, that is, plugins that provide features unrelated to each other. But in this case, I was using a slew of plugins all centered around WooCommerce, and each plugin did not really know what the other was doing. Sometimes it was ok, but in a few cases, it was driving me mad trying to figure out why something wasn’t working.

The next is support. This is maybe the most crucial. Having a plugin solve a feature or function issue is only as good as the support it offers. The more complex the plugin, the more support it should have. And how that support is offered and how responsive it is can make or break you.

Language rules. You’ll never know frustration until you have tried to make yourself understood to someone who doesn’t speak your language fluently. I literally spent a couple of weeks going back and forth with a developer who didn’t understand my question, and then only partially answered it. I had to figure out the rest myself. I can’t imagine what people without even my moderate programming knowledge would do. Understand that I had paid for this plugin and expected at least the basics.

Timing is everything. Then there is the situation where the people you’re trying to get help from speak your language but don’t bother to reply to you in a timely manner. Again, I purchased a couple of plugins from a company. And I had questions. They have a Facebook page, a ticket system, a web comments page and email. I think there were 2 people handling all the queries. And one was the developer himself. Every round incurred a week’s time or more of waiting. Then the apology for the delay – but no answer to the question!

In another situation for this project, I investigated seven plugins that provided the same specific feature, tested them all, picked one that seemed perfect (lol, the word “perfect” was in the name), but saw that the developer had vanished off the face of the earth and hadn’t responded to support questions in over 8 months. I tried emailing directly, but that didn’t get a response either. So I had to choose another.

In conclusion. Try, try, try to limit your use of plugins. In some cases, like this one, it may be unavoidable. Sometimes choosing the right template or development platform can cut down on the use of third party plugins and addons. Make sure to check what their support system is and how often they respond to questions. See if they’ve posted updates recently and responded to other people’s queries. Lastly, make sure to build time into your project for these delays and inform your client that these things often take time. Oh, and make sure the plugin is compatible with the most current version of the platform you’re using.

Thanks for listening to my rant. I hope it helps you in your future projects.

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