Joomla Extensions: Choosing Between Free and Paid

Joomla Extensions Title Image

You need something added to your site as soon as possible and need to be 100% certain that the solution you choose will get the job done. Some Joomla extensions, from e-commerce to forms, offer you multiple choices that can range from free to paid. Here are some tips on choosing the best extension for your site.

List Extensions and Features

Start off by going through the Joomla Extensions Directory and finding as many extensions as you can that do what you need them to do. The best case scenario for your situation is that you find a free, highly reviewed, popular extension that does exactly what you need it to do. It’s great when that happens, but here’s how to approach the decision-making process when things aren’t that easy.

List the extensions you find and keep their pages open in a few browser tabs. From here on out we can focus on the qualities that make them different and figure out what works for you.

the Joomla Extensions Directory

Have Time? Just Try the Free

This may seem obvious, but if you’re in the middle of a tough decision it can help to remember the basics. If you are trying to choose between free and paid extensions, and you have the time available to you, go ahead and download the free extension and install it to either a staging site or a test site set up for this purpose. This will also let you rule out any free extensions with unusual use or licensing requirements early on.

Not every free to download extension is actually free to use! Free to download extensions could just be demos for a paid extension, or they may require payment to modify or fully utilize the extension even after you install it.

Study the Terms and License

For paid extensions, figure out exactly what you are purchasing. Will this purchase allow you to use the extension however you wish, or will the license only apply to one specific website? Are updated versions built in? Do you qualify for any premium support for your purchase? These aren’t small considerations. While it’s rare for Joomla extensions to have the same sort of aggressive pricing strategies you can encounter in certain premium WordPress plugins due to the nature of the community, you still need to be careful of the fine print.

Product Longevity & Community Engagement

Over the last decade, Joomla has gone from one of the most popular Content Management Systems available to a niche platform kept alive by a die-hard fanbase. Various developers have come and gone, but those that have stuck around and continue to support their products are likely in it for the long haul.

If cost is not an issue, and the extension you find does everything you need it to do, favor companies that have built and maintained a reputation over the lifespan of Joomla. If they are still engaged with the community, supporting their product and responding to feedback, then they are clearly dedicated to the platform.

Independent developers are already fighting an uphill battle; many will build excellent products for something like Joomla, only to eventually face the reality that they no longer have the time or money to support something so niche. If a developer has stuck around this long, then their products are a much safer bet.

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