The Difference Between Free vs. Premium Plugins

When you create your WordPress site, there are hundreds of plugins you can install to help optimize your site. Using plugins can enhance your site with special features and hundreds of options are available based on your individual needs. Now that you’ve installed your WordPress theme, it’s time to learn about plugins and their role on your site.

What Are Plugins?

Plugins empower site owners to extend and modify the features available in a WordPress site. Features including forms, eCommerce stores, and online courses, as well as tools to fine-tune WordPress to your needs, can quickly be added to a site without needing to write code.

An official marketplace of free plugins is available on WordPress.org and in the WordPress admin dashboard. Plugins are available for purchase from third-party developers and can be uploaded into WordPress. Developers can create custom solutions in plugins to modify WordPress features or the features of other plugins.

What Are Free Plugins

The largest source of plugins that are free and open source like WordPress itself is the official WordPress Plugin Directory. This directory is immediately available with any WordPress install so that users can browse its contents directly from the site’s admin dashboard.  

The WordPress Plugin Directory lists over 50,000 plugins for boosting a site’s SEO, creating contact or opt-in forms, installing galleries and slideshows for images, optimizing website images, and so much more. The plugins carried in the Plugin Directory have been created by members of the WordPress community and are subjected to intense review before they’re listed in the directory so that users can generally expect that they’re updated and safe to use with a particular version of WordPress.

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The WordPress Plugin Directory isn’t the only place to get free plugins. Many are available from third-party WordPress designers and developers who offer them as part of a larger suite of design and development services.

Others are created and shared by independent WordPress users with experience in coding and web development, and a large number of tutorials are available to teach anyone how to make a plugin to address a particular unique need.

How to Buy Premium Plugins

Paid or premium plugins can be purchased from design asset marketplaces and individual WordPress designers and developers. Prices for premium plugins range from $30 to several hundred dollars, depending on the complexity of the plugin and the services that come along with it. Pro version plugins can also be custom designed to meet highly specific needs; custom plugins typically command higher prices than premium ones.

Premium plugins typically come with a range of additional options, including ongoing customer support and regular updating from the plugin creator. Commercial plugin developers also confirm that any plugin they sell is created with quality code for security and stability so that it can work seamlessly with the WordPress core code.

Free or Premium Plugins: Which to Choose?

All plugins that can be found in the WordPress.org directory have to meet a certain level of quality before they can be offered to you. With that being said, within the directory there are free and paid plugin options. Premium or paid plugins may come with additional support and tutorials to help utilize the plugin, while some free plugins may not.

A free version of a plugin may also simply be offered as an incentive to upgrade to a premium version in order to get access to the full range of the plugin’s functions. If you choose to install a free plugin, especially from sources outside the WordPress directory, it’s important to research the source. Take careful note of the plugin’s compatibility with your version of WordPress as well as any concerns reported by current users.

Before installing any plugins, you should do some homework to be sure the plugin vendor is reputable and trustworthy. As WordPress designers often say, whatever your site might need, there’s a plugin for that—and many of them are safe, secure, and entirely free.

Always remember to check the browser compatibility, ratings and reviews, and the latest updates on before you install any plugins on your site. The power of WordPress gives you the ability to select any combination of plugins you need for your site.

Check out the plugin directory on WordPress.Org for an array of plugins to install today!

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