WordPress is arguably the most popular content management system on the web. It is so popular that some statistics say it accounts for as much as 30% of all web content. So, it should be no surprise that there are more than 54,000 active plugins ready to go in the WordPress library.
One of the downsides to having so many plugins is obscurity. For instance, you may be a plugin developer who comes up with a great plugin that never sees the light of day. Why is that? Why are some WordPress plugins left to die in obscurity? And more importantly, should you take a chance on the obscure? The answers are explained below.
1. Lack of Marketing Effort
One of the main reasons some new plugins remain in obscurity is that they are not marketed. Marketing actually presents a conundrum for a lot of plugin developers. They find marketing distasteful in light of their commitment to open source.
As for whether a lack of marketing should sway you or not, it should not. Marketing in no way denotes quality or functionality. It is quite possible to find an excellent plugin that meets your needs even though it has never been marketed. If you find something that appeals to you, at least consider it.
2. Lack of Maintenance
Another thing that dooms some plugins to obscurity is a lack of maintenance. The developers themselves take the blame for this one. If a developer writes a plugin and then only provides one or two updates before losing interest, that plugin will gradually fall down the list. It may get so far down that no one ever finds it.
Should this matter to you? Absolutely. An improperly maintained plugin almost always presents security risks. You should never install plugins that haven’t been updated for 6 months. Some experts warn against plugins that haven’t seen maintenance in as little as two or three months.
3. Lack of Buzz
Lastly, some plugins are relegated to obscurity because they simply fail to generate buzz. Let’s face it, most plugin categories are dominated by a half dozen or fewer candidates. Just like search engine results, those few plugins get all the attention because they stay at the top of the list.
This should only concern you if the top plugins in a specific category do not meet your needs. They may not have the functionality you’re looking for; they may cost money where you are looking for something free; or they may fail to meet your expectations in some other way. The long and short of it is that you don’t need to settle for a plugin that doesn’t meet your needs when there are so many options.
The world of WordPress plugins is a vast world indeed. With 54,000+ and counting, the sheer volume of plugins makes WordPress a nearly limitless platform for web development. Don’t be afraid to search until you find the plugins you need. Whether they are at the top of the list, in the middle, or way down at the bottom, you’ll find something.