When it comes to website plugins on CMS platforms like WordPress, not all solutions are created equal. It’s critical to verify that all plugins are well-supported in order to ensure a secure and functional web presence.

One of the nicest features of WordPress is extending its functionality with plugins. Plugins are code that add new features to your site, or enhance existing ones, such as contact forms, social media widgets, or e-commerce features. There are thousands of plugins available for WordPress, and you can find them in the official WordPress plugin directory or in other third-party sources.

However, not all plugins are created equal, and some may pose risks to the security or performance of your site. This is why it is important to check the history of WordPress plugins before you install one on your site. A plugin history can tell you a lot about the quality, reliability, and performance of a plugin. It can also help you avoid potential problems from using an outdated or poorly maintained plugin.

How can you tell if a plugin is reliable and well-supported? One way is to look at the publisher's reputation and expertise. Some plugin developers really know what they’re doing and are well supported. Usually these are folks who are in the explicit business of creating and supporting plugins explicitly for WordPress. They have a dedicated team of developers, testers, and customer service agents who ensure that their plugins are compatible with the latest WordPress versions, follow the best coding practices, and offer timely updates and fixes. Generally, plugins from these companies are not free--you’re paying for their expertise and support.

Other publishers do not specialize in plugin development. Their plugin may be a one-time effort to integrate some other application with WordPress or a custom solution. Not all publishers in this scenario support their plugins equally. Some abandon their plugins after a while, leaving them outdated and vulnerable to bugs, hackers, or conflicts with other plugins or themes.

How can you spot an outdated or unsupported plugin? Here are some things to look for when checking a WordPress plugin history, which you can do on the plugin’s WordPress plugin repository page:

  • The last updated date: How recently was the plugin last updated? Minimally, the plugin should be updated annually; ideally it should be updated with every major WP release. If a plugin has not been updated for a long time, the publisher may have abandoned it.
  • The number of active installations: Are there a lot of active installations? A plugin that has a large and loyal user base is more likely to be maintained and improved than a plugin that has few or no users.
  • The compatibility rating: How compatible the plugin is with the current version of WordPress? A good compatibility rating means that the plugin works well with most WordPress sites and is less likely to cause conflicts or errors. A low compatibility rating means that the plugin may have issues with some WordPress features or other plugins.
  • The reviews and ratings: What do other users think about the plugin? You can read the reviews and ratings to get an idea of the pros and cons of the plugin, as well as any common problems or complaints that users have encountered. You can also see how responsive and helpful the publisher is in addressing user feedback.
  • The support forum: How active and supportive is the publisher in providing assistance and solutions to users? You can browse the support forum to see if there are any unresolved issues or questions that users have about the plugin. You can also see how quickly and effectively the publisher responds to user queries. Some support forums are maintained by the developers on their own site, which may be a further indicator of quality.
  • The changelog: What changes and improvements have been made to the plugin and when? You can check the changelog to see if the publisher has fixed any bugs, security issues, or compatibility problems that users have reported. You can also see if the publisher has added any new features or enhancements to the plugin.

By checking the plugin history, you can make an informed decision about whether to install it on your site or not. A well-maintained and updated plugin can improve your site’s functionality, performance, and security. An outdated or poorly maintained plugin can lead to a range of compatibility issues, such as:

  • Conflicts with PHP, WP version, or other plugins can cause your site to malfunction, display errors, or crash.
  • Security vulnerabilities can expose your site to hackers, malware, or spam.
  • Performance degradation can slow down your site’s loading speed, affect your SEO ranking, or consume more resources.
  • Missing features can limit your site’s functionality, design, or user experience.

If you are a business with an outdated plugin, you might want to fix it. A good WordPress developer will help you replace the plugin with an updated or alternative one that offers similar or better functionality and is compatible with the current WordPress environment. A good developer can also help you with the plugin installation, configuration, or customization.

WordPress plugins can enhance your site's capabilities and user experience, but they can also pose risks if they are not well maintained and supported. Therefore, it's wise to check a WordPress plugin history before you install it on your site. Checking a WordPress plugin history before installing it on your site is a simple but effective way to ensure that your site runs smoothly and securely. It can also save you a lot of time and trouble in fixing potential problems later on.