WordPress is one of the most basic and widely used content management systems (CMS) on the market today. In fact, WordPress powers almost 26% of the entire web. While it’s considered straightforward and easy-to-use, it’s also highly functional and sophisticated, thanks to its capacity for customisation. WordPress plugins provide a solid foundation to build a smart website without having to write a single line of code.
WordPress plugins are essentially third party software components that add extra features to an existing programme. They add depth, richness and functionality to a website, helping it to perform better overall. With the right combination of plugins, you can enhance your user experience and boost leads and conversions.
There are over 54,000 plugins available today that are compatible with the WordPress software. With all of these frills and add-ons, the more you install the better your website, right?
Not necessarily. Don’t be tempted to download every plugin under the sun in a bid to build a super-website. Unfortunately, it’s just not that simple. While plugins are an essential element of the WordPress experience, there are some risks associated with plugin overkill. Here’s why you shouldn’t go plugin-crazy.
Too many plugins can pose security risks. Rest assured that WordPress itself is a highly secure CMS. Plugins, however, are a different story. No matter how strong the foundation, third party plugins can cause cracks to develop. A website should at the very least be safe to use, so you should avoid doing anything that weakens its security core. The more you add, the more vulnerable your website becomes.
Malicious scripts can be embedded in the code of a plugin, which makes a website an easy target for hackers. Beware of outdated, obsolete and obscure plugins. These can often include hacking exploits which are extremely dangerous to your site.
Picture this: a prospective customer has heard about your products and is excited to learn more. They head over to your website only to be greeted with the dreaded “This site can’t be reached” 404 error message. Your site has crashed, and you’ve lost a conversion opportunity that you might never get back.
As WordPress is an open-source creation tool, most plugins are free to install and use. However, not all plugins are made equal and downloading the wrong one can actually be detrimental to your bottom line. The solution is testing. Always test your plugins rigorously before deploying on your live site.
Assume all of your visitors are in a rush. 40% of users will abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. They don’t have time to hang around, and a slow website will send your bounce rate through the roof.
Going overboard with plugins can increase your website’s loading time. The more plugins you’ve installed, the more codes you add to your browser. This demands more processing time which ultimately slows down your site.
Websites require regular updates. With WordPress, every update includes core files, themes, and of course, plugins. This process can sometimes make your website perform rather peculiarly. The reason behind this unusual behaviour could be the number of plugins you have installed and how they interact with one another. The more you have, the higher risk of compatibility issues between plugins during updates.
While there is no set number, the golden rule is 20 or less. Think “less is more” when it comes to your plugin strategy. But it’s all about finding the right blend.
Here are some considerations worth keeping in mind for a healthy balance of plugins.
Only install the necessary plugins that add value to your website. Attend to your most basic needs first. Your site should be secure and functional, so worry about that before anything else.
For installed and active plugins, update them as soon as updates are available to prevent them from corruption.
Keep track of the plugins you are using on a regular basis. If you find you’re not using any, it’s best to get rid of them. A plugin that isn’t being updated takes up precious space, and could potentially pose a security threat to your website. Similarly, remove any inactive plugins.
Do some basic research before downloading a plugin so that you know it’s legitimate. Check things like its most recent update, its description, the number of installations etc. Your most valuable resource is ratings and reviews. Search online to find testimonials describing other people’s experience with the plugin. Weigh up the good against the bad and make an informed decision about whether it’s worth it.
To avoid plugin overload, one thing you can do is add few more lines of code. WordPress provides lots of ready-written codes online to which you can add by searching on Google. And to safeguard your website from potential risks, create a back-up plan whenever you add code.
To make things easier for you, there are online tools available that can measure the impact of the plugins you’ve installed on your site. Google Pagespeed, for example, will score you on how quickly your website loads.
Plugins are an integral aspect of the WordPress experience, and can enrich and enhance your site when used responsibly. By following the guidelines outlined above, you should be able to use them with fantastic success, adding value to your website.
Still feeling a little lost?
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