How to choose the right WooCommerce extensions

WooCommerce is the most popular solution to add shopping functionality to WordPress sites. It has more than four millions active users. Automattic joined the family in 2015, increasing the support available and the number of extensions to help you grow your store. Although WooCommerce is a wonderful tool, having so many options can make it difficult to choose the right extensions for you.

It will make the process easier to select extensions from trusted sources, and it will help you avoid potential conflicts before implementing them on live sites. To ensure that you select the best WooCommerce extensions, consider the following:

Is the source of the information legitimate?

Many sites offer premium extensions for free. These are known as “nulled” versions. These versions are often out-of-date and can contain malicious code that could compromise your website.

It’s tempting to try an extension’s features with a nulled version before purchasing a full license. It might be tempting to save a few bucks, or even hundreds of dollars, but it won’t pay off in the long-term. You will have to clean up any mess that a nulled version could create. Premium extension authors offer a return policy. You can ask for a refund if the extension doesn’t work within a specified time. WooCommerce extensions have a 30-day return policy. This allows you to test them and decide if they are right for you.

Is the author trustworthy?

It doesn’t matter if your extension is from a single developer or a large team. You need to be sure that your source of information is reliable. Are they experienced in building and maintaining WooCommerce extensions? A free extension may be provided by a developer who is newer. This could mean that they don’t have the resources or time to update their code regularly. You may encounter more compatibility problems than options offered by experienced developers.

WooCommerce official extensions are either created by the WooCommerce team directly or by vendors who have a track record in providing great support, regular updates and high-quality extensions. These extensions are often popular and will be developed and maintained over time. This means that you don’t need to constantly search for new extensions.

Is the extension maintained regularly?

Verify the date of the last update to see if it is compatible with WordPress or WooCommerce. It doesn’t have to be updated for a few months. Some extensions don’t require frequent updates. Complex extensions, especially those that interact with other extensions or platforms, will require more frequent updates. This information can be found in the WordPress.org repository.

Notice: Extensions are referred as “plugins” in the WordPress.org repository. They are called extensions by WooCommerce, but they are meant to extend WooCommerce’s functionality.

Check the reviews or support forums if it has been a while since an update. People will complain if it isn’t maintained well.

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Are there any good reviews?

A large number of positive or negative reviews can indicate overall quality. In most cases context must also be considered. It is possible that developers are not responding to users who report the same problem repeatedly, particularly if they do so over a prolonged period of time. However, reviews complaining about the extension not being compatible with a particular theme or another extension may not apply to your situation.

The extension you are researching could be causing conflicts, or it may be due to a range of issues on the reviewer’s site. An extension may not work for someone because of outdated or poorly coded themes, PHP versions older than 7.0, or server issues.

Does it work with your website?

No matter how many reviews you have, if your extension doesn’t fit with the rest of your site, it’s not worth it. It could indicate a poor-quality extension or a need to make some changes on your site. You should ensure that WordPress, your theme and any other extensions are up-to-date and that your site functions properly. Make sure your server uses at least the minimum necessary version PHP and MySQL.

Some extensions might not work well with other extensions. To check if an extension you are considering is compatible with another, visit the known conflict page.

Are you able to test in a staging environment?

Before installing your extension on your live site, it is a good idea to test it in a staging environment. This will help you troubleshoot many of the problems that may arise from installing an extension. You should always have a backup copy of your staging site. Staging sites can not be replicated exactly like live environments. If the extension is causing major damage, you can easily roll back to the original version.

Do you have good documentation?

To ensure you fully understand the features and limitations of a new extension before you use it, make sure to read the documentation. You might consider removing the extension if there is no documentation, or if it isn’t clear and comprehensive.

Even though the documentation appears to be well-written and easy to understand, ensure that the developer offers reasonable support. You can find this support in the form of a forum or ticket-based system. You can browse the support forum to see how many people have posted, how old they are and what has been solved. If not, it may be worth reconsidering the extension. To gauge the response time of the author who uses a ticket-based system to communicate with you, please read their FAQ. Most developers will respond within 24 hours if it is a premium extension. It may take longer to receive a response if it is free.

Is it used by a large number of people?

Popularity doesn’t necessarily mean that something is good. Extensions are more popular than you might think. This is because the greater the number of users, the more likely it will work well and continue to receive support from a professional team.

However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try new extensions (someone must be the first), nor that you shouldn’t use an extension that has been around for a while and isn’t getting much attention. Some extensions may be very niche and only useful for a few websites. For most extensions, however, it is important to verify that many people have used and had positive experiences with the extension.

Do you want to see a live demo?

Although documentation is helpful, you will be able to interact with the live demo to get a better idea of whether an extension is right. Documentation should include screen shots of backend interfaces and front-end features.

A live demo is more helpful for complex functionality than a simple demonstration. WooCommerce, for example, offers a live demo of its feature-rich Books extension.

It can replace multiple extensions.

You may have many extensions if you’ve been using your website for a while. If you are looking for a new one, make sure to look at options that offer multiple extensions replacements. Site speed and potential conflicts can be reduced by limiting the number of extensions you use.

Jetpack provides a great example. Your site can be extended with anti-spam and security features.

Is it valuable to your customers?

Although it can be tempting to add features to your website just because you like the look of them or see them on other websites, it is important to evaluate whether they will benefit your customers. Multiple payment options is one example. It’s a good idea not to offer multiple payment options. However, it is a bad idea to offer all ways to pay. This could cause problems in bookkeeping and lead to confusing checkout processes.

Before adding new features to your website, take a look at the reviews and purchasing habits of your customers.

Is it of value to your company?

You might consider reconsidering if the extension places additional demands on customer service, logistics or overall business management that are not possible to meet. It might not be a good idea if it slows down your website, makes checkout difficult, or reduces sales.

Expand your store

WooCommerce allows you to create any kind of online store that you want. In just a few easy steps, you can make sure you are doing it safely and building for future.