It can feel like we’ve hit the jackpot when we find a free plugin or online application that is easy and clear to understand and use, and does what we need it to (a plugin is a piece of software that can add functionality or features to your WordPress site). However, the reality is that many come with limited features, or a fee (either one time, or ongoing), and it’s important to evaluate whether or not it is the right investment for your business, however big or small. Whatever you’re looking for, chances are there is more than one platform offering that particular service, and we want to figure out which is the best fit as quickly and easily as possible.
Check ratings and reviews. Almost all plugins and apps now have online reviews. WordPress plugins all have a rating out of 5 stars that you can use to quickly evaluate whether a particular plugin is worth learning more about. Do a quick Google search on reviews for larger apps to see what people around the web are saying. What are tech experts saying? Small business owners?
Pick up the phone. The path of least resistance usually begins by picking up the phone. Getting customer service or a sales rep on a call is the most immediate way to find the answers you’re looking for. Second best, if no phone number is listed, is to send an email (and note the response time because this is their best behavior – they want your business!). Either way, you need to lead the conversation and ask direct questions, otherwise you open the door for an often long and uninspiring sales pitch.
How to ask the right questions. A good place to begin is “How can my business benefit from using your service?” And you are looking for specifics here. We’ve found that many generally respond to this question with strategically vague answers, like “we offer you more flexibility to do what you need it to.” Do not accept this answer! Ask them specifically what they would recommend you do to get the most out of their platform. They are the experts, after all.
Test drive. Most services do offer a free trial period, which is a great way to go through the process of installation and setup, and test the functionality before you commit. Once you test it out, you’ll have a good sense of whether it meets your needs, and identify the road blocks to use it successfully. Note that during a trial period, road blocks are not necessarily a bad thing. With our limited understanding of technology, we hit many and often, but when we do, it presents an opportunity for us to evaluate the service even further.
Sooner or later, either ourselves or someone we recommend it to will run into a problem, and then what? What is the process? Is there customer service phone support? Is there a live chat on their website with someone on the other end waiting to help you? Is it email support only? How quickly can they resolve your issue? And how many times do you have to contact them to find a resolution? This process is full of valuable information that will only save you time and headaches in the future.
Reflect. In the end, did the plugin or app save you time or fix a problem with ease? Does it have a measurable ROI? Ask yourself whether you would be willing to recommend it to a friend (or in our case, a client).
With so many solutions and options now at our finger tips, it is becoming more and more difficult to identify the apps and plugins that are worth paying for. By doing your independent research, speaking to a representative, and trying the product yourself, you can feel confident that you’ll make informed choices.
Here are some of our favourite wordpress plugins.
Kindly note: We don’t like to refer to ourselves as “experts”, but we do take great pride in sharing our business advice, distilled down from our extensive research and (often) mind-blowingly frustrating experiences we’ve endured and learned from. We try our best to create a clear and humble approach to good business tactics that you and your teams can understand and turn into effective and productive revenue streams. We are actual, real people and look forward to supporting you in any way we can, whether it’s on the topic of this post, or other business development and marketing communications you may be involved in, or considering. We are proud of the services we provide; if you don’t see what you’re looking for, just ask us – we also take pride in being super responsive!