WordPress Live Chat Plugin Recommendations

Posted on 2012-12-30
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-01-01

I'm seeking recommendations on a live chat plugin, that I can use to engage customers visiting my site. Free is good, but I understand you get what you pay for. Please only recommend plugins that you've used.

Question by:dabug80
LVL 17

Assisted Solution

jrm213jrm213 earned 800 total points
ID: 38732505

Unfortunately, this isn't a answer directly to your question, I just wanted to make you aware that the way that most live chat works, you need to have really good hosting, if you are hosting with one of the major hosting providers on a fairly inexpensive hosting plan, more than likely the live chat service you install will cause problems on the server or it might not even work depending on what restrictions the hosting service has in place.

The way the majority of livechat scripts work will be with polling via AJAX, checking the database for new messages, and depending on how often they poll, it will greatly increase the number of simultaneous connections to  your server and MySQL. They might work well in initial testing but once you have more than a couple people using them, performance may start to degrade to the point that your server stops responding.

I would recommend looking into a hosted service that you can link to, kind of like using paypal express instead of paypal pro.

I look forward to other peoples responses to see what experience they have had with live chat on their sites and what plugins they have used.
LVL 18

Accepted Solution

Matthew Kelly earned 1200 total points
ID: 38735029
I want to echo jrm213jrm213's points. If you are running on a shared hosting platform, you may not even be able to use some of the chat programs due to server settings. Each program will have different requirements. It will also depend on your needs. If you are only going to have one operator and are only expecting one or two people possibly chatting with you at a time, it would probably even work fine. The issue is when you start having a lot of concurrent connections overwhelming Apache. Each open chat session is continuously pinging the server. The Apache default is 256 for concurrent connections, but you would need to check your specific server configuration to ensure what it is set to: http://httpd.apache.org/docs/2.2/mod/mpm_common.html#maxclients

When I looked in to PHP chat applications four years ago, I found that the commercial programs offered many more features than the free ones. So again, it depends on what your needs are.

While not a wordpress plugin (although it would work on Wordpress sites) we picked PHP Live!: http://www.phplivesupport.com/. We used the On Demand service. To use it you would just need to add the javascript code to your Wordpress theme to show the chat operator status, and then you access the chat program through a URL. Four years later, the site is still using PHP Live!

While I don't have any experience with a Wordpress chat plugin, the other option is trying out different programs here and making sure it works and has the functionality you are looking for (i.e. offline tickets? multiple operators? etc): http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/

There are a few chat programs that offer the functionality of paid chats, but are free for one operator: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/clickdesk-live-support-chat-plugin/faq/

As well as Wordpress Plugins that use a third party server instead of your wordpress server for the chat: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/comm100-live-chat/

Those would be my suggestions.

Author Comment

ID: 38735167
Thanks for your help, both of you.

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