Plugins Worth Purchasing: A Look At Premium WordPress Plugins
Some premium plugins are worth it.
After going to WordCamp in Denver, it reminded me that I forgot to share one of my own presentations with you, a presentation on premium WordPress plugins that I gave at the Fort Collins WordPress Meetup last month, so here it is, better late than never!
About Fort Collins WordPress Meetup
If you live in Larimer County and haven’t yet heard of it, the Fort Collins WordPress Meetup is definitely worth checking out. Organized by Jeremy Green of Endo Creative and Michael Launer, the group meets twice per month, usually on the second and last Tuesdays (either 4th or 5th Tuesday depending upon the month). The first meetup each month is developer focused and alternates between an evening educational presentation on topics of interest to WordPress developers and a “Beers and WordPress” meetup that is more hang out style and takes place in the afternoon at Fort Collins Brewery. The second meetup each month is more user-focused and is on topics that are more introductory in nature. I have been attending the Fort Collins WordPress Meetup since we moved to Fort Collins in early 2014, and highly recommend it to both users and developers alike.
Last month, I was honored to be asked to present at the user-focused meetup. The following is the information that I shared on premium WordPress plugins and when you might want to buy a WordPress plugin.
What is a plugin?
Not sure what a plugin is? A plugin is a program or a piece of code that extends the functionality of WordPress. Plugins for WordPress can be free, downloaded through the plugin repository, or, if they must be purchased, then they are consider premium plugins. Some plugins are a combination: free base plugin with premium add-ons (freemium). A good example of a freemium plugin (which we love) is The Events Calendar by Modern Tribe: there is a free base version of the plugin available at WordPress.org and extensions may be purchased through their website to add functionality like advanced filtering, ticket sales, and more.
A Note on Plugin Licenses:
The presentation below includes additional information about the different types on licenses that may be purchased with a premium plugin. While you are free to continue using a plugin after the license has expired, you will no longer get updates unless you renew your plugin license. Some plugins offer lifetime licenses, but typically most licenses last for one year, after which you have to renew. We strongly recommend renewing plugin licenses before/when they expire. Besides providing access to new and improved features, plugin updates often include security patches and fixes. If you don’t renew your plugin license and are no longer receiving updates, you put your website at risk of breaking or getting hacked, which means lost opportunity cost when visitors cannot access the site and a possible large expense associated with cleaning up the hacked files.
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Why pay for a WordPress Plugin?
Often, clients ask us why they should pay for a premium WordPress plugin. There are a number of reasons to buy a plugin, including:
- More Features - premium WordPress plugins often have more features and functionality than free alternatives.
- Better Code - typically plugins that are paid have better written code. They may have larger development teams or people with higher expertise who contribute, which means they are more likely to do the things they say they will do. Free plugins are awesome, but anyone can add them to the repository, which means there is no guarantee that any particular one will even work, let alone work well.
- Save Time - lots of things that plugins do can be hard coded into WordPress sites if you know how (or if you hire a developer to do it), but why reinvent the wheel? If a plugin exists that meets your need you can save lots of time and expense by purchasing a plugin rather than building the functionality yourself or paying someone else to do so.
- Receive Support - free plugins come with no guarantee of support, which is obvious simply by looking at support threads on plugins on WordPress.org. Licenses for premium plugins typically include free support for the duration of your license.
- Continued Development and Updates - Some free plugins receive regular updates and improvement, but there is no guarantee that will continue to happen. Plugin developers who are getting paid for their product are motivated to update and improve it.
- Support the Developer - Last, but not least, though WordPress is a wonderful community of free, opensource software, the best way to thank someone who contributes and encourage them to continue to do so is to pay them for their work. Purchasing a plugin rather than using a free version is a great way to support a developer who is providing value to the WordPress community. We, at Au Coeur Design, also occasionally sent donations via PayPal to developers of free plugins that we use a lot. Bill Erickson, for example has made a lot of great free plugins that we love, so not too long ago we wrote him a thank you note and sent him some money so he could buy a couple of cups of coffee.
One of the things we also tell clients to keep in mind is that their website is their virtual store front. Many, many more people will visit your virtual storefront than may ever come into a physical location. Just as when choosing a physical you "get what you pay for," the same goes for your website. Quality plugins can make a huge difference in how your business is perceived online.
View the Presentation
(Note - this presentation was from before our rebrand, when we used to be called Au Coeur Design.)
Have a question about plugins? Ask us in the comments and we'll try our best to answer them.