In the last few years Magento has established one of the best platforms for e-commerce site.
Robust platform with lots of options that could cover almost any type of store. Ordering, payment and shipping process is quite straightforward and requires minimal input from the store owner. Security is also on a higher level, which is very important for e-commerce site.
With platform development extension also come a large number of extensions that can enhance and improve Magento basic functionality. If you need an extension for Magento, than your starting point should be Magento connect site, it is an official marketplace and a most reliable source for Magento plug-ins.
Every extension that is installed in your Magento store must have a precise purpose and that is why the store with too many plug-ins will have lower performance rate and will be slower in general. Also, it is important that all extensions come from a reliable source and have regular updates in case that security issues come up.
Once you define your search terms and lower the number of interesting extensions to a few, it is time to choose one that will be used in your store. Extensions can be classified in two groups: free and commercial. Don’t let yourself be misguided by this classification, there are many extension that are free and quite good, and this is mainly the case with ‘social group’ plug-ins and less complicated extensions. It is always good for you to choose a free extension from a company that also offers commercial extensions, just be sure that their support is available for free plug-ins as well. There is good chance that there will be no free plug-ins that suit your needs, in that case it is time to go for commercial plug-in. Don’t be shy or lazy, do your homework before you decide to buy a plug-in: read the products description and requirements (supported version of Magento, does the extension require additional software on server to be installed), plug-in documentation, check demo site if it`s available and finally contact the company`s customer service if you have any questions. Many companies offer a ‘money back’ policy which is good in case that you made a mistake, however it is even better to check and buy the right plug-in than to rely on a such policy later.
Installing and testing extensions on a live site (store that already works and have sales) is not recommended even if you have backup and can easily restore to a previous state. Best practice is to have an ‘up to date’ copy of your store on development server and do all the tests there first. Once everything works properly it will be easy to repeat the installation and setup process.
One of most valuable sources for extension research are reviews on Magento connect site, read them and see what customers that already bought the plug-in have to say. Eliminate reviews that look like they were financed to be positive or ‘rage bursts’; look for constructive reviews that describe real issues and situations.