Do You Really Need All Those Plugins?

With the advent of DYI (Do It Yourself) websites and blogs those that are not web designers or web developers do not know how to tweak their sites (or just can’t due to the set-up of the DYI software they are using) without using plugins. This is good for plugin developers but bad for your DYI website/blog. One really needs to look at how many plugins they are using to run their site, which are repeating tasks and whether you really need all those plugins to run an effective site.

Take Stock of the Plugins Your Site is Using

Take stock of what plugins your website or blog is using noting what they actually do for the site.

  • Are there plugins you are using that repeat tasks/benefits?
  • Are some plugins disabled and just taking up space on your web server?
  • Are the plugins on your web server making your site subject to hacks because they are out dated?
  • Are the plugins you are using providing benefits to your target audience?
  • Are the plugins you are using causing load problems at your web hosting?

Plugins Repeating Tasks/Benefits

Which of the plugins you are using repeat tasks? One common mistake people make is running a bunch of SEO (search engine optimization) plugins. You need to pick one! They are all fighting each other and adding to the download speed of your site (besides confusing the heck out of you which one is doing what). Ideally, you should not need any if the theme of your blog or website has been built and programmed properly from the get go.

Disabled Plugins

Once you have sorted out which plugins you absolutely need remove the disabled plugins. They are just taking up space on your web server. You need that space for more important stuff like great content (pictures, videos, etc. if that is what your target audience wants to see). Disabled plugins can also be a source for your website or blog to be hacked as you would not be monitoring their updates.

Did you know that even if a WordPress plugin is disabled it can still affect your site’s load time?

Yes, it’s true! Every time someone opens your site, the database is checked to see which plugins need to be loaded, including the disabled ones. Your WordPress installation queries the database to see which plugins are active and which ones load on the post/page that your visitor has clicked on. It may only take a nano-second, but it does affect load time for each and every plugin you have.

Are Your WordPress Plugins Making Your Site Slow And Vulnerable?

Keep Plugins Up to Date

Some times plugins can’t be avoided. It is really important to keep plugins up to date if you are going to use them. If it is a registered plugin with WordPress, in your dashboard you will get a notice of updated plugins (active and non active). You can also follow the RSS feed for the plugin site in your RSS feed reader to monitor other plugin updates.

Does the Plugin Benefit Your Readers?

The latest greatest technique or what you think is cool may not be of any benefit to your targetted readers. Maybe they don’t care every image in your shopping cart has a zoom feature. Maybe they would rather phone you or email you instead of usng online chat. Just like choosing the right social network site to participate on, it all boils down to what the people you are trying to attract to your site want to see. If what you are doing is working or you know for sure that a plugin adds to your visitor’s experience then go for it. But if you are posting stuff people are not interested in (e.g. videos and slideshows that take too long to download or watch) then it’s time to rethink your strategy. Not saying to avoid all latest techniques and features. Just saying be selective about what is going to work for your site.

Web Hosting Problems Due to Too Many Plugins

If your site or blog is loading slowly then one of the problems could be that your share of the web server at your web hosting is over loaded. Each request sent to the web server to make your site or blog run consumes memory and other web server power. When multiple plugins are installed each adds it’s own links in the head section of your pages to scripts on your web space and it’s own CSS file too sometimes. If you are using a specific feature just on one page, the plugins generally still add their required “stuff” to the head section of all your pages. This sends unecessary requests to the web server when that particular feature is not used on the page.

Cross Posting to Social Networking Sites

Do you really want to bore your followers by posting the same automated updates from your site? Yes, some of your social networking locations could have different followers but also you could have a lot of the same followers on all your social networking sites. Social networking is about being social, not spamming each location with automated updates (that’s a whole other post). Plus, just you plugging your articles is not a valuable as enticing followers to follow you on each social network because information posted on each is different. A bunch of different followers bookmarking your site or blog articles is better social proof.

How Do I Avoid Using Plugins?

You can avoid having to use plugins by taking a serious look at the software and theme that will be used to run your site or blog.

These are all things to look at before selecting the platform and theme to use for your site.

Google Analytics script for example can be added to the footer of your theme. This way you require one less plugin and it is added to each of your pages that use this footer. That’s the point right? To collect data about each page on your site or blog.

Adsense can be added to the sidebar (or any template or include in the theme) without a plugin.

If you have a spammer problem there are a few things that you can do instead of installing something like Akismet (which can spam can legit comments through false positive findings). In the .htaccess file you can deny access from certain IP addresses or ranges (this could ban legit visitors though) or if you are using WordPress you can blacklist certain words, IPs, emails and/or domain names.

Blogging software, content management systems and ecommerce software already (generally) require more processing on the web server and by the user’s browser due to their programming compared to a static HTML site. What is more important to you? Keeping up with the Jones by using all those plugins just because every one else is doing it or creating a site people want to visit because it loads fast, is not cluttered, provides what they want to see and doesn’t stall because of some 3rd party plugin or feature being unavailable. What ROI (return on investment) do you want from the site/blog?

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3 Responses to Do You Really Need All Those Plugins?

  1. Katie Kowalsky Says:

    Great share. This post brings up a lot of useful information about plugins. Perfect for those new to WordPress and maintaining websites. You bring up a very great points about excess plugins. These are easy things to push aside, but, like you’ve stated so well, can be very detrimental.

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