In “How Many WordPress Plugins Should You Install on Your Site?” WPBeginner asks a question I bring up in my workshops, training programs, and college courses: How many WordPress Plugins are too many.
The article brings up some valid points worth considering when choosing WordPress Plugins.
- Are WordPress Plugins a security risk? How would you know?
- Do WordPress Plugins slow down your site and impact performance?
- Does the ease of installing WordPress Plugins make a nightmare for professional developers and designers when their clients are free to add anything they want or make changes?
- How reliable and trustworthy are most WordPress Plugins?
- What do you do about a WordPress Plugin that isn’t compatible (or compatibility not listed) for a upgrade?
- Can the functionality you need in a Plugin be put within the Theme? How would you know and how would you go about it? What if you change the Theme?
- How do you choose between two WordPress Plugins that do the same thing?
As for the number one question, can WordPress Plugins slow down my site, here is what WPBeginner reports.
Before we go any further, let’s establish that it is NEVER too many plugins that are slowing down your site. It is always poorly coded plugins that are slowing down your website.
The answer to the question: “How many WordPress plugins should you install on your site” is as many as you need. When we tell this answer to folks, they are like you are being just as vague as others. How many plugins do you use on your site? Currently, there are 53 active plugins on WPBeginner. A good number of the plugins we are using can be seen on our Blueprint page.
According to Pingdom, our homepage load time ranges from 483ms – 1.7s depending on the time of the day…
At this point, you should have your question answered.
Truly, with 53 WordPress Plugins active on their site, those are fast loading times. The article goes on to explain the impact of performance and WordPress Plugins, seriously worth a read.
Lorelle’s Recommendations on Choosing WordPress Plugins
Here are suggestions and tips I give my students and clients on how to choose a WordPress Plugins.
- Take advantage of the WordPress Plugin Directory crowd sourced rating and feedback system. How do others rate these Plugins? What have been the issues reported in the WordPress Support Forums? It’s no different than reading the reviews and ratings on software or mobile apps.
- If you have problems or great joy with a WordPress Plugin, participate in the crowd sourced rating and feedback system on the WordPress Plugin Directory to help others make their decisions.
- Look at the compatibility versions and age of the Plugin. The Plugin Directory automatically “ages” the Plugins older than 2 years if they haven’t been updated or shown activity. It doesn’t mean the Plugin doesn’t work, it is just information to consider as you make a decision.
- Visit the Plugin Author’s site to see how they promote and support their Plugin. Do they have articles about their work on the Plugin and a lot of activity around it? Then it is likely to have a continued existence and be updated and well supported.
- RTFM. Seriously. Read the installation, screenshots, and all the documentation associated with the Plugin. If it is written poorly, how good do you think the code is? If it is well documented with helpful information, then that speaks loudly for the quality of the code and the attention to details by the author(s).
- When choosing between two or more versions of the same functionality, take into consideration the above points, and look closely at the feature details. There is usually some functionality that is different.
- When choosing between two or more versions, try them all. Most WordPress Plugins are free or free for the lite version. Try each one. Take notes. How are they different and the same. Which is easier, faster, and more efficient in handling the task? It may only take a few minutes. Remember, making a commitment to a WordPress Plugin could impact your site for years.
- Adding Plugin functionality to your WordPress Theme traps you with that Theme. If you wish to change the Theme, you will lose that functionality and have to add it to the new Theme. That might be out of your skill set or require too much time, thus constraining your ability to stay flexible with your WordPress Theme.
- Test your site’s bandwidth and speeds before installing the Plugin. A few days after installing and using the Plugin, test it again (or sooner depending upon the Plugin’s functionality and purpose). If you see noticeable difference, deactivate the Plugin and test again. The same or different?
- Talk to the Plugin author if you have questions or concerns. Most are amazingly open and helpful, but don’t consume their time. They also have lives and businesses, and more code to create.
At one time I had over 70 WordPress Plugins on one of my sites. Matt Mullenweg has often mentioned meeting a man with over 300 WordPress Plugins active on his site. My clients tend to have 5-25, depending upon functionality and need. Some of the Plugins are to compensate for required functionality such as Akismet for comment spam, the File Gallery WordPress Plugin to replace the annoying and time-consuming native multimedia management of WordPress, and a contact form WordPress Plugin as WordPress does not currently have built-in contact form capabilities…these “required” Plugins add up.
As WPBeginner stated, the number of WordPress Plugins you need is the number you need, and not one more than that.
Be judicious in your WordPress Plugin choices and your WordPress web publishing life will be much easier.
Note to WordPress.com Users
If you are on WordPress.com, you may be among the few complaining or confused by the inability to add WordPress Plugins to your WordPress.com site. You cannot.
However, you are using WordPress Plugins on WordPress.com all the time. Much of its functionality is based upon WordPress Plugins such as the contact form, social media sharing, and the Writing Helper, among others. Installation is not permitted, but usage of the included Plugins will help you do just about everything you need to do.