There are nearly as many plugins as there are websites. Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, however, there are a lot of plugins available for WordPress. You’ll find that plugins are similar to themes, there are free plugins and premium/paid plugins.
Plugin choice starts with the functionality – what does it do, or enable you to do more easily? You can start your search at the WordPress directory for plugins: http://wordpress.org/plugins/ You can also do this search from within WordPress, just go to Plugins > Add New.
When choosing plugin there are a few things to be on the lookout for:
Review the plugins page at the Plugin Directory at WordPress.org.
- Check to see if this is an actively maintained plugin.
- When was it last updated?
- Does it work with the latest version of WordPress?
- Does the plugin have good ratings?
- Are basic or general questions about plugin usage answered in their support tab?
- Is it documented with a good description and explanation of how to use the plugin?
If it’s a premium/paid plugin, visit their website and view their support area or forums, review their documentation and ask pre-sales questions.
The more complex the plugin, the more important it is to do this due diligence. Check it out before you install and save yourself time and trouble later.
How many plugins is too many?
Don’t go plugin crazy – only install the plugins that you need or you will find yourself with a slow site, or you could find yourself with a plugin conflict that could take your site out of commission.
There is no set number, however a good rule of thumb is if you have pages of plugins, it's probably too many. Remember that every plugin you install has to be loaded by WordPress for each pageview of your site, the more plugins you have, the slower your site can become.
Think about why you're installing a plugin: is there a reason or is it just “cool”? If there's not a reason that adds to your site's ability to meet your business or blogging goals, reconsider adding the plugin.
You might also want to check out my recommended plugin list, it's a good place to get started.