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What everyone should know about premium WordPress plugins

With virtually infinite scope for expandability, WordPress has become the platform of choice for many web developers and website owners. The development of sophisticated plugins has done wonders for enhancing bespoke functionality on the WordPress platform.

Prior to WordPress version 1.2, users had to create “hacks” to extend WordPress, which involved modifying the core of WordPress itself. Since then, WordPress has introduced a plugin API that allows users to extend the system without directly editing core files. This addition has lead to the development of many third party plugins. Free plugins are hosted in the WordPress Extend Plugins Directory, a central source for the hosting and versioning of over 10,000 GPL licensed WordPress plugins.

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Why do you need a premium WordPress plugin?
A premium WordPress plugin can, at times, provide desired functionality or extend freely available functionality further than is available in a free version. A major draw-card for premium WordPress plugins is the support that is generally bundled with many premium offerings. These factors have lead many users to explore the possibilities available when purchasing premium plugins to extend their WordPress installations. If you haven’t yet explored this relatively new and fresh market, below are several suggestions to get started in the market of premium WordPress plugins.

WP Plugins
The name speaks for itself. An Incsub project, WP Plugins is an online marketplace dedicated to premium WordPress plugins. It’s the closest you’ll get to a WordPress “app store”, similar to those for iPhone or Blackberry mobile phones. WP Plugins is a great starting point when researching premium WordPress plugins. The multi-author system allows for multiple developers to offer their plugins for sale, creating a large variety of available content.

WP Plugins aims to improve both the quality and standards, as well as the support, on premium WordPress plugins. The service also offers a unique upgrade system, whereby users who purchase plugins listed in their directory are eligible for a US$3 support and upgrades package, paid monthly. If you choose to use plugins through the WP Plugins directory, you’d be well advised to take their upgrade package and stick with it.

iThemes is a premium WordPress theme company, founded by Cory Miller, that provides quality premium WordPress themes to the premium theme-loving public. PluginBuddy, the latest division of iThemes, offers a selection of specialised WordPress solutions, including data and theme file backups (via BackupBuddy)plus e-mail marketing and list management (via EmailBuddy). The selection of plugins, while at this stage still relatively small, offers specialised services to WordPress users under a single umbrella of the PluginBuddy/iThemes brand. This ensures consistency between their plugins as well as support for the entire PluginBuddy third-party plugin collection.

These services are, for the most part, more baseline/core than other paid-for WordPress plugins, offering solutions (BackupBuddy, for example) that can apply to any WordPress-powered website, regardless of the aims or goals of the website in question. BackupBuddy could easily become a staple plugin for users with one high-volume website, or a network of smaller websites that require reliable data backup.

Code Canyon
Code Canyon is the latest marketplace in the popular Envato network. This young directory compliments Envato’s popular Theme Forest directory (a website templates directory) by offering smaller, more bite-sized code snippets in a variety of languages (from CSS styles and JavaScript snippets through to full-featured PHP/ web-based and C++ applications) as well as premium WordPress plugins.

Like WP Plugins, Code Canyon is a multi-author system creating variety by promoting different authors. Their integrated forums are a great place for communities to offer informal support as well as discussions with the plugin authors themselves. While Code Canyon is still young, the existing Envato marketplaces have given the newcomer a definite boost, along with several paid-for WordPress plugins in the system that are doing quite nicely at the moment (Event Calendar Pro, for example).

Code Canyon also benefits from being plugged in to the Envato marketplaces system. Users who have registered for the existing marketplaces get automatic access to Code Canyon, and are able to purchase with credits deposited or earned from the other branches of the hugely successful Envato marketplace empire.

Choosing your path… a few tips and things to look for

There is a wide range of premium WordPress plugins being released regularly online. When researching the paid-for plugins market, you should select a single source (or, in the case of WP Plugins and Code Canyon, a single author is ideal). This ensures consistency between plugins purchased, as well as minimising the chance of plugin conflicts, while keeping all support for the plugins purchased in a single place.

The market for premium WordPress plugins, while relatively new and unexplored territory, has the potential to have a significant and positive impact on the WordPress community at large. Making use of paid-for plugins could create a richer experience for those creating WordPress-powered websites day to day, as well as ensuring a consistent and functional WordPress macro-environment.

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