A simple tale about WordPress Plugins.
WordPress plugins are ways to extend and add to the functionality that already exists in WordPress, by “plugging in” additional code that has been created as separate pieces, either purchasable or free, to work with WordPress. They have specialized applications – one may improve your ability to provide an ordering system for purchases, another might be an easier way to manage the images in your site, etc. They are created by WordPress plugin software developers looking to make a name or a business developing plugins.
When a developer creates your site in WordPress, they almost ALWAYS use plugins. So, if you have a WordPress site, you are incredibly likely to have plugins – maybe a few, maybe dozens. Some are free, most that last have some sort of free and subscription level options.
There are lots of issues involved in using plugins, but one that is to the fore now in the evolution of WordPress is the continued maintenance of the plugins. WordPress changes, server environments change, and security requirements change. Plugins need to keep up for usability, for security, and for competitive value in the marketplace.
Unfortunately, not all plugins make it. Not all are maintained, not all are profitable, not all are long-term projects. They have to be assessed over time as to whether they are being maintained. The Wordfence plugin is good to help site owners figure out which plugins are being maintained.
What happens if a plugin isn’t maintained by the plugin developer?
Eventually, you’ll decide to replace it. That means looking at the current functionality being used, looking at what the site needs to do that it isn’t doing, and then looking for the right solution in the WordPress plugin marketplace. And looking for a plugin solution that is being maintained at the present time. This may mean additional cost, but if it guarantees the plugin will be secure and functioning and will have adequate support, it is worth it.
Recently we found a plugin we felt we should replace because it wasn’t being maintained regularly. 13 of our sites used it, and we assessed what would be best for each site and either replaced the plugin, or used functionality in core WordPress that has replaced the original need. Our clients don’t have to do this – in fact, they don’t have to know about it if functionality doesn’t change. We take care of it.
The important thing to remember, if you have a WordPress site, is that there is going to be cost in this process going forward. If you have a WordPress site over a few years old, then plugins are going to need to be reviewed, and sometimes replaced. The choices made in the past may not have included a license cost for the plugin, which is much more likely today. So – give yourself a plugin maintenance budget if you have a WordPress site. The more your site does, the higher the price like will be. At a minimum, I’d suggest budgeting $500 for the year, and if you don’t need it, great – but at least that keeps you from being surprised at this evolution in the marketplace.