I love perusing the WordPress plugin repository. There are so many fantastic plugins that make extending the core WordPress functionality a breeze. You want a contact form? No problem. There’s tons of them available. Are you trying to find just the right photo gallery for your site? There’s plenty of them too. How about better comment control? You’ll find options galore for improving or customizing them.

Generally speaking, there’s three classes of free plugins in the WordPress repository.

  1. The tried and true, stable, well developed and reliable plugins that are updated frequently
  2. The fairly trustworthy and functional plugins that are updated on occasion
  3. The fly by night, buggy plugins that are barely updated and often abandoned

So where does it leave us when you need a specific function that you can’t find in group #1? You could take a chance with a plugin from group #2, but you may end up waiting months for a bug to be fixed or an update to be added to ensure compatibility with a new version of WordPress. Sure, it’s better than a plugin from group #3, but it’s still not a viable option if you want to keep your site working properly. Visitors may come for a specific portion of your site, and if that part suddenly stops working, you’ve just lost visitors and even worse, the changes in your sites functionality makes your site disreputable.

What’s our alternative? You need that job board to keep functioning no matter what. You need your image slider to work with any new version of WordPress that is released. The events posted to your site can’t just disappear or your visitors will too. You need a premium plugin.

Some people don’t believe in paying for open source customization’s such as premium plugins, but I think they’re a great idea. I’m not a programmer so I can’t do these kinds of modifications myself. I also like the idea of having support available if I do have an issue with the plugin. With a free plugin, no matter what class it falls in, you’re depending on the good will of a developer and a community of strangers that may or may not choose to help.

This brings me to CodeCanyon; a plugin marketplace with hundreds of enticing add-ons that you won’t find in the free repository. The problem I have with CodeCanyon (and any plugin marketplace for that matter) is the lack of developer responsibility and support.

Here’s one example that was a learning experience for me.

I found a plugin I was interested in at CodeCanyon. Having never purchased a plugin there before, I wasn’t sure how it all worked, so I left a comment for the plugin author with a couple questions about support in the event I needed help or had a question. I received a reply comment back within a day that I could get timely support via the comment area at CodeCanyon. This was a new kind of support for me, but it appeared the author was responding to others asking for help, so I doled out the money and purchased the plugin.

I installed the plugin and for all of a few days was very happy with how it worked. I asked a question, got a response within a couple days, all was well. I asked a second follow up question because the advice I got the first time didn’t fix the issue and this time it took nearly a week to get a response. Again, the recommended action failed to fix (what I deemed as a non-programmer) a rather elementary issue, but the next time I got no response…at all.

Of course, this is only one example and I can’t speak for the integrity of all developers on the site. What I can mention is that a marketplace like this makes it easy to shield the developer from obligation. If the plugin developer doesn’t provide an email, contact form, or website to support its customers, how can you feel any different about these premium plugins than you would with the free WordPress repository plugins?

I realize a premium plugin developer with a fancy website could close up shop at anytime and you’re still up the creek without a paddle, but at least they have more at stake with a website. Chances are if they took the time to create a website for their premium plugin, they’re attempting to take the business seriously and don’t want unhappy customers.

While there are a ton of great plugins at CodeCanyon, and most seem reasonably priced by the way, I would warn you to make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into as far as a support model. It doesn’t matter how cheap the plugin is if you can’t get it to work properly on your site and there’s nothing but the echo of your own voice when you ask for help.