WordPress Plugins are an enormous reason for the success of WordPress. Plugins allow anyone to add nearly any function to any WordPress powered website with a series of clicks – no coding knowledge required. You can add anything from social networking to ecommerce to email capture to SEO options to really anything you can dream up.
As a bonus for website owners the world over – thousands of plugins are free to use and available in the community supported WordPress.org repository.
That said – plugins can also present problems. Since anyone can create a plugin…they can suffer from bad quality control (to say the least). And even if a free plugin is well-supported, it might not be up to the standard that your site needs.
Although the WordPress community has a habit of destroying the idea that “you get what you pay for” – plugin code quality is usually directly related to the resources that the author has to invest in the plugin.
Enter premium plugins – aka, WordPress plugins that you pay for directly before use. “Premium” does not necessarily equal “good” but it does make the relationship more direct. If you have a critical website function, premium plugins are certainly worth a look.
Here’s a roundup of the most stable & reputable providers of premium WordPress plugins based on my experience and following of the WordPress community.
Aside – before looking at the list, please remember that WordPress is GPL licensed software and any software that is dependent on WordPress must follow the license as well. It gets complicated, but just be sure to always check that your plugin is licensed correctly to follow the GPL license.
Disclosure – this website receives customer referral fees from companies and products mentioned on this website. All data & opinions are based on ShivarWeb staff’s independent research and professional judgement.
WordPress Premium Plugin Providers
Automattic has a number of plugins that most WordPress site owners would consider essential – for security, traffic, and spam. They have some free and some premium plugins, but all of them are high quality. In fact, Automattic is the primary “sponsor” of WordPress.org, and is the parent company of WordPress.com. Check out Automattic here.
CodeCanyon is a marketplace platform for freelance programmers to sell their plugins. They enforce usually high design and quality guidelines. Check out CodeCanyon here.
ElegantThemes is most well known for their…well, their themes. But they have some very practical, functional plugins like an email subscriber and a social sharing plugin that you might consider. Check out ElegantThemes Plugins here.
iThemes makes several plugins to help your site run better, including tools for sliders, file/database backup and emailing. Check out iThemes here.
WooThemes made the highest quality eCommerce plugin (free) and add-ons for it (since sold to Automattic). They also have a solid widget manager and a great slider display plugin. Check out WooThemes Plugins here.
WPMUdev is the oldest premium plugin provider out there for WordPress. They have a huge library of plugins that can help you build practically anything and everything. Check WPMUdev out here.
Free Plugins from Premium Providers
If you want to start using a premium plugin provider, but aren’t sure about a specific plugin – keep in mind that many have free plugins for use. Here’s a few examples.
If you are going to allow comments on your website, you’ll have to have Akismet activated (it comes pre-installed). It will stop spam comments in their tracks – and will free you up to write and run your website. See it here in the WordPress directory, though it does have a premium upgrade from Automattic.
Keeping your site running without being hacked is important, right? iThemes Security (formerly WP Better Security) will help you do that for free or you can upgrade to the premium version. Here’s how to get started with it.
This is by far the most powerful and versatile SEO plugin for WordPress. It’s easy enough to start off as a beginner and offers all the complexities that a professional SEO needs.
Not all plugins need to be premium or free – most site owners have a mix. Be sure to read my post on the must have plugins for WordPress. When you are looking for the right plugin, don’t limit yourself to “free” – sometimes a good function is worth paying for.