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Why You Might Need Custom WordPress Plugins

WordPress plugins are what makes WordPress the most user-friendly CMS on the internet today. There is virtually a plugin for everything from calendars and forums to e-commerce and memberships. WordPress plugins are written in PHP but can allow the use of other popular programming languages such as JavaScript, Python and Ruby on Rails by tapping into the WordPress API system or webhook library. Although there are thousands of options when it comes to WordPress plugins, you may not always find a solution that checks off all the boxes, which is why you might need custom WordPress plugins programmed to your specific application.

Not finding the plugin you need or that even exists to add a function you want on your site is the most common reason why one might need a custom WordPress plugin for their site. Adding custom code to your theme’s functions.php file is one way of adding new functionality to your site. While effective in some circumstances, this could cause issues in the future when switching or updating the website theme because custom code can disappear or be overwritten unless a child theme is used.

For complex plugin functionality, it is ideal to compartmentalize the functions and source code files into its own plugin to create more flexibility. A custom WordPress plugin works around theme dependencies by being independent of the theme.

Custom WordPress Plugins Best Practices

Reviewing the recommended best practices for custom WordPress plugins is important to ensure the plugin has a solid foundation and is compatible with other plugins and themes. These are the best practices:

  • The name of the plugin, variables, and functions should all be unique to avoid them interfering with other plugins. The best way to do this is by adding prefixes to variables and functions.
  • Ensure the plugin is secure to avoid site risks and hacking. This means sanitizing inputs and outputs, using nonces to help secure query strings, and validating data inputs. Refer to the WordPress Plugin Handbook for other techniques to keep plugins safe.
  • Organization is essential. Decide in advance on the structure of the plugin and file hierarchy so you have a solid framework to use and an easier to understand plugin for other developers. Comments should be thorough and abundant.
  • Avoid using deprecated code or making common coding errors. For more insight, view the WordPress coding standards.
  • Build on Github or Bitbucket. This will help version control, bug tracking, and collaboration if multiple developers are working on the same plugin.
  • Build a shortcode library for the plugin to avoid coding functions directly into page templates. This will compartmentalize the plugin and allow easy access to plugin funcationality on any new page as the website is built out.

Adding new functionality to your site via a custom WordPress plugin is something we specialize in here at Fyresite. We have built dozens of custom plugins for Woocommerce, MLS feeds, BDX feeds, Event API’s, Infusionsoft API’s, React/Node.js plugins for single page applications and iOS/Android data feeds from WordPress.

For a consultation regarding custom WordPress plugin development or other services such as web and mobile app development, contact us today.