One of the things I noticed when I first started using WordPress, is how many plugins a simple website needed. Why this got my attention is because I have used the Joomla CMS (Content Management System) for over 10 years. The difference is astounding because everything I needed in Joomla was there, but not in WordPress. I know many will say you cannot compare Joomla to WordPress, but in some ways I can.
The Too Many Plugins Problem
Having too many plugins installed on your WordPress site can cause many potential problems. Let’s take a look at some of them:
- Security – Most of the time, hacked websites are a result of unsecured coding. Usually associated with developers with lack of experience, even the best developers can miss a security hole. Some have 1000’s of lines of code and some security vulnerabilities can be missed.
- Compatibility – This happens more times than you think because there is the possibility that one may conflict with another. The more you install, the greater the chance you will run into a compatibility issue. They can also conflict with your current version of WordPress if they are not kept up to date.
- Poorly Coded – There are a lot of good developers and a lot of bad developers. Unless you are a professional coder, you may never know if the plugins you use quality coding until it’s too late. In a perfect world, all plugins would follow strict WordPress guidelines to ensure compatibility, efficiency, and security for your website.
Plugins to Add Basic Features that Should be in WordPress
This one hits close to home for me and is the most frustrating problem I have with WordPress. Coming from Joomla, I have had the luxury of having everything I need built into the core of Joomla.
Here are some of the things that Joomla has that WordPress does not:
- Publish Modules (modules are like widgets) to select pages. In WordPress, I need a plugin for that.
- Show or Hide module (widget) titles. In WordPress, I need a plugin for that.
- Change the order of posts, categories, etc. In WordPress, I need a plugin for that.
- Add more than one featured image to a post. In WordPress, I need a plugin for that.
- Add a class to a module (widget) for custom styles. In WordPress, I need a plugin for that.
- Show or hide page titles. In WordPress, I need a plugin for that.
- Have a better content editor. In WordPress, I need a plugin for that.
- Have better image management. In WordPress, I need a plugin for that.
- Be able to update an extension (like plugins, themes, etc) with the installer. In WordPress, I need a plugin for that.
- Manage user account permissions and access. In WordPress, I need a plugin for that.
I can add more, but we will leave it at that. Based on that list, I already need 10 plugins that should be in the core of WordPress. This doesn’t even include actual website features such as membership systems, download system, e-commerce, back-ups, social sharing, SEO, security, and so much more.
To give you a better idea on why it’s so frustrating, the Rough Pixels website needed 29 plugins! With a Joomla version of this website, I only needed to add 6 extensions.
Dangers of the Unknowns
Let’s briefly talk about plugins that come from developers that are not really well known, such as individuals. You never know what kind of coding they have. Perhaps they have malicious scripts, or bad ethical coding. The issue here is more on security because the more plugins you install, the more chances something bad can happen.
There is also the possibility that a plugin is no longer is maintained by the developer. As a result, this creates frustration because now you have to find an alternative. Unfortunately, if there is no alternative, you will be stuck wondering what to do.
With WordPress, you get an overload of plugin choices…just from the wordpress.org website alone, you get over 55, 081 at last count. They also recently added a special section for new Block Enabled plugins. Block enabled plugins are in reference to Gutenberg.
Most of these will be the unknowns, but if your website needs many plugins, make sure you don’t skimp on security and ALWAYS KEEP REGULAR BACK-UPS of your website!
How to Solve Too Many Plugins
For some websites, this can be difficult, but here are my recommendations:
- Use Less Plugins – Easy said than done, but try to keep the number of plugins installed. For the ones you don’t use, uninstall them.
- Add Your Own Functions – If you can, try to add functions to your theme so you don’t need a third party plugin.
- Use Reputable Plugins – Try to use only the ones that come from well known and reputable developers.
- Use the Commercial Paid Versions – Free is nice, but using a paid version (and from a reputable source) helps ensure better quality and security.
- Avoid Plugins from Unknown sources – Poor coding, malicious coding, or perhaps the developer will give up on it.
- Keep Regular Back-Ups – ALWAYS keep regular back-ups to be safe. You never know when you will run into a problem.
- Install a Security Plugin – WordPress is the most hacked platform out there. Having a quality plugin is an absolute necessity.
- Use Plugins that Get Regular Updates – Knowing your plugin is maintained and updated on a regular basis is comforting.
- Optimize your Website – Using a Caching plugin will help, but you will want to keep tabs on how fast your website loads. Google puts a LOT of emphasis on speed when indexing your pages. If your site is loading a ton of scripts, stylesheets, and other things that are a result of a plugin(s), this can hinder your site’s load times.
- Good Hosting – Make sure you are using a good web host that can handle sites that are loaded. Most people are on shared hosting, so remember that you are sharing with others.
How Many is Too Many?
This is going to depend on your website because every site is different.
For most websites, here are at least three plugins that I consider to be required:
For business websites, e-commerce, membership, or other more complex websites, this is going to depend on what features and functions you “need”. Remember, only install what you absolutely need and try to keep it to a minimum. The less you use, the better you will be for efficiency, speed, quality, maintenance, and security.