Plugins are one of the biggest reasons why people choose to use WordPress.
The great thing about plugins is that they allow you to easily set up a website with all of the functionality you require, and in many cases without having to touch any code whatsoever.
You name it, there’s plugin that can do it! In fact, there are currently over 50,000 available for you to install on your WordPress website.
But as wonderful as they are they can sometimes be problematic, and I always advise my clients to be cautious when using them.
In this post I’m going to explain why you should avoid overusing plugins on your website.
Plugins can slow down your website
If you aren’t considering how long it takes your website to load then you should be!
Website speed impacts on both user experience and SEO. Not only will a slow website annoy your visitors, and potentially result in visitors from being deterred from staying on your website, but it will also impact on your position in search results. That’s because Google takes your website’s speed into consideration when ranking.
Unfortunately, some plugins can slow down your website. This might be because they contain large files or pull in scripts from external website. It may be because they are constantly running in the background regardless of whether the website is being used or not.
Rather annoyingly some of my favourites, including WooCommerce and Jetpack are known to slow your website. If you do need to use these plugins then I suggest looking at other ways to speed up your website so they don’t drag your loading speed down.
If you are interested in checking the loading time of your website, I recommend using a tool called GTmetrix. This will tell you how long your website takes to load and it will also tell you which aspects of your website are slowing it down.
They can be a security risk
Security is a concern for many people who use WordPress, and sadly, plugins can be a security risk.
According to a survey by Wordfence, the majority of WordPress website that are hacked are hacked via plugins, so it’s important that you are cautious when installing new ones.
I would advise that you do your research. Look at how many active installations it has, see if it is compatible with the latest version of WordPress and read some reviews about it. Google it and see if you see any warnings about using that particular plugin.
Even check out the developers website and see how professional is. I know they say don’t judge a book by it’s cover but I don’t think that applies to developers and their own websites!
Also, make sure you are keeping your plugins up-to-date. If you aren’t already logging into your WordPress admin area at least once a week, you need to start doing so, just so you can check if any plugins need updating.
To check for updates, hover over Dashboard in the left hand menu and click Updates.
More plugins mean more work for you
Developers of plugins are constantly updating them to fix bugs, improve their performance and ensure that they work with new versions of WordPress. They’re particularly busy at the moment with the impending launch of Gutenberg that has the potential to impact on the way WordPress works.
As I mentioned in the last point, it’s important to keep your plugins up-to-date as old plugins can be a security risk. So, the more you have, the more you will need to update, and in turn that means more work for you!
Sure, it’s doesn’t take that long to update a plugin, but it’s still time that I’m sure you would rather spend doing something else!
More plugins mean more chance of conflict
Plugins are like siblings in that they don’t always get on!
It’s quite common for plugins to conflict and cause problems for your website. For example, I recently discovered that WooCommerce and LearnPress have compatibility issues and as a result the forgotten password functionality stops working.
The more you have installed, the higher the chance of a conflict occurring.
This is one of the reasons why we suggest that you test plugins before you start using them on a live site. I know the majority of WordPress users don’t do this, but it’s honestly so worth it. You can easily set up a local WordPress website to test your plugins on before you install them on your live website. For more information about setting up a local site for testing, check out this post.
So how can you stop overusing plugins?
As I’ve previously mentioned, it can sometimes be difficult to limit plugin usage, especially when they add essential functionality to your website. But there are many that you don’t need, and you might even have some of these installed on your website right now.
Take a look at your plugins list and question whether or not you need each one. If not, deactivate and delete them. If you’re not exactly sure what a plugin does because someone else installed (e.g. a developer), do you research before deleting it as it may be important!
Before you install any new plugins, ask yourself whether you really need or not. Is it going to enhance your website or just slow it down? Can the same outcome be achieve in another? Research the plugin to ensure that it is safe, and check for any possible conflicts.
If you need clarification on plugin usage, speak to a developer, like myself! I can identity plugins that are slowing your website or that are a security risk, and I can also suggest alternative options.
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