The Problem with Plugins

WordPress is an amazing platform, and with both free and premium plugins, you can extend its functionality beyond simple post-and-display pages, into a fully-functional e-commerce store, membership site, forum, and more. But, of course, there’s a downside, which is that too many plugins can have a massive impact on the speed and security of your site.
Too many duties for one person

Slow Speeds

Some plugins are heavier than others, but the main culprits for delaying loading times are usually SEO plugins and page builders. Both are great for displaying and optimising content on your website, but keep in mind that you should only be using one of each. Multiple heavy plugins can cause chaos with loading times, and even with a good caching plugin, database loads can get pretty hefty if you aren’t careful.

Security Vulnerabilities

No one wants their website to get hacked, and although most hacking attempts are brute-force (repeatedly trying to enter in login details until they find a correct combination), there are potentially damaging types of plugins that you should be aware of.
The first issue is simply that they may be malicious, extracting data or inserting it into your website in a way that corrupts your files or inserts content you don’t want to be there (like unwanted advertisements, downloads, and dodgy links). The second is simply when they’re so outdated that they’re no longer using best practices for security, creating all sorts of problems. Often they’ll simply cease to work, but those that do could become targets for more technical hackers.

Compatibility Issues

Not only outdated plugins can become incompatible with your current setup. Some plugins just don’t play well with others, particularly if they’re modifications for an existing plugin, like WooCommerce. Sometimes they’ll be trying to manipulate the same data or override the effects of each other, and the results can be hard to control. For best results, always install new plugins one at a time and test them thoroughly before adding a new one. It’ll make figuring out which plugin is going wrong that much easier.

Being Sensible

You should never have more plugins than you absolutely need, and although places like WordPress.org, CodeCanyon, and Envato have an extensive library, some of them just aren’t necessary. You don’t need a plugin to embed a Twitter Feed, for example, or even add a search bar. WordPress comes with a bunch of tools added in already, and if they don’t suit your needs, at least be choosy when it comes to extending your website’s features. Here are some good rules to follow:

  1. Only install highly-rated plugins from reputable websites.
    2. Check the last time the plugin was updated – if it was more than a couple of months ago, you’re probably going to run into trouble.
    3. If there is one, check the ‘Support’ forum for the plugin, and see how many issues have been raised vs. those actually resolved.
    4. Don’t install more than one plugin to serve the same purpose.
    5. Keep your plugins updated regularly, and back up your website *before* you run those updates.
    6. Don’t buy or download ‘cracked’ or ‘nulled’ plugins or themes. They may be cheaper than the author’s price point, but you can’t guarantee that the code is clean and that support will be there if you need it.
    7. Install and activate each plugin one at a time to make sure it’s compatible with your current setup before adding more.

If you’re worried about the number of plugins on your site or that it’s become slow and unresponsive, feel free to get in touch to see how we can help you manage a cleaner, faster website.

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