WordPress plugins are necessary for the creation and maintenance of a successful website. They are a great way to improve the website’s functionality without having to code anything yourself. With over 58,000 free plugins, WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems (CMS).
However, too many plugins can cause issues when it comes to website performance, this is why every WordPress user should have a fundamental understanding of plugins. This article will help you identify the best practices to avoid WordPress plugins issues.
What is a WordPress plugin?
WordPress plugins are essential for creating WordPress websites because they allow users to add new features without touching any code. They are essentially add-ons that extend the functionality of a WordPress site.
WordPress plugins work the same way. Over 58,000 plugins are available for download from the WordPress plugins directory. Whatever your site’s needs are, there is most likely a plugin to meet them.
There are plenty of free WordPress plugins, as well as premium, or paid options. Free plugins offer basic functionality, while paid options bring you additional value, e.g., advanced features and dedicated support from developers.
Why is WordPress using plugins?
A plugin can extend the functionality of WordPress’ core features or add whole new ones. When working correctly,plugins can do the following:
1. Enhance functionality.
WordPress plugins can increase website functioning by cleaning cache, databases and minimizing HTTP requests regularly to improve website speed.
2. Improve usability.
WordPress plugins enhance user experience on everything from blogs to eCommerce sites. A contact form plugin, for example, makes it easy for people to contact you directly.
3. Increase the level of security.
In the same way that antivirus software protects a device from dangerous assaults, security plugins safeguard a website. In addition to safe hosting, a security plugin makes websites less vulnerable to data breaches and viruses.
4. Improve your marketing results.
Several WordPress plugins may help your company’s digital marketing strategy and provide valuable recommendations for improving performance. SEO plugins, Google Analytics plugins, and social media sharing plugins are among them.
How many WordPress plugins should a site have, ideally?
A typical rule to follow when determining how many WordPress plugins to install is that quality takes precedence over number because a poorly written plugin may jeopardize the performance of a whole website or even corrupt the site.
Another important thing is that a large number of WordPress plugins might put additional load on server resources. When resource limits are being exceeded, the site will work slower or show 500, 503, and 508 errors (the error type depends on the exceeded resource limits). You can find more information about this here:
As you can see, having more plugins does not always improve website performance.
Although there is no specific number of plugins you should use, the number usually depends on the type of web host you choose and resource usage limits. So the recommendation would be to stick to a plugin count of 0 to 5 for shared or low-cost cloud hosting and between 5 and 20 plugins if the site is hosted on VPS or a dedicated server, and no more than 20 plugins in any case.
If you have many plugins installed but only use a handful of them, there’s no reason to keep them all active. Those numerous installed plugins will eat up resources and make it more likely that you’ll have compatibility problems.
So it would help if you use these suggestions to reduce the number of plugins on your site:
1. choose plugins with good positive feedback and avoid those with a lot of bad feedback (which may point out problems you might otherwise overlook);
2. make sure a plugin receives frequent updates before installing it;
3. use a web host that can provide you with the most satisfactory performance at a reasonable price and has enough resources to host your site;
4. only install the necessary plugins;
5. test before installing;
6. have a backup on your site if something goes wrong after installing a plugin.
What happens when the site uses too many plugins?
Too many installed plugins can affect a WordPress site’s performance, conversion rates, and SEO strategy.
If a website takes longer than 3 seconds to load, almost 40% of visitors will abandon it, resulting in significant bounce rates. Furthermore, no one wants to be continuously confronted with various site failures and issues.
Before you choose which WordPress plugin to install on your site, keep in mind that having too many plugins might lead to the following problems:
1. Increase in HTTP requests
Every time an HTTP request is sent, your server resources are being used. So the more requests are sent, the more resources are used. When all of your server resources are exhausted, your server (and your site!) will be affected in a bad way that will cause losing visitors.
The other problem is that each request takes time to process. The more HTTP requests you have in the queue, the longer it takes to execute, resulting in a slower loading time for your website.
2. Too many database queries and more bloat
When it comes to HTTP requests, too many database queries are another issue that plugins may cause.
Your database has a lot of information about your WordPress site. It consumes time and resources every time your page has to load and requests information from your database. The more queries are sent to your database (similar to HTTP requests), the greater the pressure on your database will be and the lower the overall speed of your site will be. So the more plugins you install, the more data your WordPress site’s database will need to hold.
Furthermore, the more information you collect in your database, the larger it becomes until it’s completely full (usually storage is limited) and bloated. This is especially troublesome since it causes your database to perform inefficiently, resulting in a slow website.
Activated plugins are particularly problematic, but even deactivated plugins can cause bloat by storing data in your database. Even deactivated plugins might still save stray data. So it would be better to uninstall all deactivated plugins.
3. Lack of reliability
With so many free WordPress plugins to choose from, it may be challenging to know which ones are trustworthy. Due to a lack of maintenance and plugin updates from their creators, many of them create difficulties that go unaddressed. Installing an excessive number of WordPress plugins on a website increases the likelihood of encountering faulty or poorly-coded ones.
4. Compatibility issues
If you use many plugins you are likely to stumble into a compatibility problem. When the site has two or more plugins that do not work well together, there is a high risk they will eventually break each other.
Since most plugins are not created by the same people, it’s tough to ensure that all of the plugins installed on your site will operate nicely together.
5. Security vulnerabilities
Poorly-coded or maintained plugins may be exploited through attackers who will try to get admission to your website.
That’s a legitimate concern, considering WordPress is the most famous Content Management System (CMS) in the world. Almost every day, there is news about WordPress plugin vulnerabilities.
On the other hand, there are a whole lot of proactive measures you can take to shield your website.
Also, if you use plug-ins that have regular updates and security fixes, keep in mind that updating one or more plug-ins at once is not recommended.
When it comes to modifying and increasing the functionality of a website, WordPress plugins are indispensable. However, having too many WordPress plugins on your site is not a good thing.
Too many plugins can result in security breaches, site crashes, poor performance, sluggish loading times, and other issues.
Generally, it is not recommended that you use more than 20 plugins. If you’re using shared or low-cost cloud hosting, limit yourself to five plugins. The longer you wait to remove deactivated, dangerous, or corrupted plugins, the more your website will suffer, so
go ahead and trim down the list of your installed plugins!