Are you using too many WordPress Plugins?

I have a pet hate – it’s using an excessive amount of plugins! You may be thinking that’s a strange thing to be annoyed by but let me explain why I hate it and the implications of too many plugins for your website.

So where did my hatred dislike of lots of plugins come from? It’s partly my need for a clean and streamlined work environment, everything needs to have a purpose or it’s just in the way. There is also the fact that I am a big advocate for the ‘less is more’ approach to all things in life.

On more than one occasion, I have logged into a client website only to find it jam packaged with over 40 plugins – eek! For a typical small business website, this seems a tad excessive and most of the plugins weren’t even necessary.

It’s not that I hate all plugins, I don’t. I currently have 14 plugins installed on this website. WordPress plugins are an essential part of adding functionality and features to websites and blogs and without them, we’d be lost.  They allow you to easily add social media buttons, sliders and even shopping cart options to your website in minutes.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE CAREFUL WITH YOUR PLUGINS

With over 44,494 free plugins currently available on the WordPress directory, it can be tempting to get click happy and install every plugin that takes your fancy. It’s so easy after all. With just a few clicks, you can add virtually any feature you wish.

It is important, however, to consider the implications it can have on your website.

Load speed

There is lots of debate about whether the number of plugins plays a part in the load speed of your website. Some argue that it doesn’t matter while others suggest that lots of plugins suck resources. However, the general consensus seems to be that some plugins can use up valuable server resources resulting in a reduction in your website speed.

A number of the plugins we use on our websites and blogs add on front end features. For these to work, scripts and extra files are added to your code. Each new addition has to be requested from the server every time someone visits the page. While this may not grind your site to a halt, it may add extra weight to your pages

The reality is that websites need to load fast. If your website takes more than a few seconds to load the pages then more often than not people will leave without ever getting to read your content. For small businesses who rely on customers finding and visiting their websites, it’s vital that it loads quickly.

Breaking your website

It’s not uncommon for plugins to clash or conflict with other plugins or with your theme.  This can result in error messages popping up throughout your website or a complete site failure. If you’re not tech savvy then this can be a headache that you can really do without.

WHAT CAN YOU DO

If your website is bloated or not running at an optimum level then there are a few plugin related things you can do.

Firstly, my advice is to regularly clean up your plugins as part of your website maintenance. This will ensure you keep a tight and clean ship.

If the thought of that sends you into a panic or you just don’t have the time to complete website maintenance, you can hire that out to someone else. Shameless plug time – I offer a number of website maintenance services from regularly monthly packages to a six monthly clean up and reviews. If you would like to find out more, please get in touch.

Tips for avoiding plugin problems:-

Deactivate & Delete

Deactivate and remove any inactive plugins that you no longer need or use.  If you haven’t used them in over 3 months, it’s unlikely that it is crucial to your website functionality.

Duplicates

Check through your plugins to make sure you don’t have 3 doing exactly the same thing. A perfect example is Yoast SEO plugin, it is crammed full of features including a sitemap option. Yet I’ve seen so many people also using another sitemap plugin at the time.

Does this add any value?

Before installing any new plugin, I usually ask myself the following question ‘Does my website really need this feature and is it adding anything valuable?‘.  It’s one I recommend you do too. If you are only adding because it looks cool instead of adding a feature that is going to improve user experience then it is probably best to refrain.

Updates are your friend

Keep your plugins up-to-date by installing the latest versions when you are prompted to.  These not only improve the functionality but also provide crucial security updates.  The lovely Krista from Krista Rae has an awesome blog post about why it is important to keep plugins updated.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I will always be an advocate for maintaining a streamlined environment  as it helps me keep things optimised and it means there is less room for things to go wrong.  And while there is definitive answer to ‘how many is too many?’, I think it is important to consider what each plugin adds to your website and whether it’s a positive or negative.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Is your WordPress site bloated with a ton of plugins? Do you really need them all?” quote=”Is your WordPress site bloated with a ton of plugins? Do you really need them all?”]

Photo by mauro mora on Unsplash

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