One of the best things about WordPress is the fact that there are so many resources out there to help users. From forums to tutorials to conferences there are a lot of ways the WordPress community helps each other out. One of the most significant ways is the abundance of plugins out there. No matter what you need your WordPress site to do, it seems like there’s always a plugin that can help you do it more quickly or easily. Since so many of these plugins are free, it can be hard to resist installing them without much consideration. Once you’ve installed one WordPress plugin, deleting one can also be tough since you “might need it later.” While installing and keeping more plugins than you really need seems pretty harmless, there are a few sneaky ways that it can cause problems for you and your site.
Problems for Admins
The first problem excessive plugins can cause is unnecessarily cluttered admin pages. Since so many plugins are free, many of them offer upgraded versions as a way to generate income. This is all fine and dandy unless they choose to add promotional banners all over admin pages. Between promotional banners, update alerts, and other types of messaging, it’s easy for just a couple of plugins to create a lot more for you to sort through when you sign in. While some of the notifications may be helpful and relevant, some won’t be, so it’s worth evaluating if the benefit you get from a plugin outweighs the clutter.
Each additional plugin on your site means one more thing to keep updated. If you’re diligent with your plugin updates, it takes up to a minute or two to read through the updates that are available for it and if it’s been tested with the most recent version of WordPress core. A minute or two every month or so doesn’t sound like much, but you do need to be aware of the cumulative effect it can have. If you have 5 or even 10 plugins that aren’t doing much for you, then updating them is eating away your time unnecessarily and making the process of keeping your plugins up-to-date more daunting than it needs to be.
Problems for Sites
In addition to the administrative issues excessive plugins can cause, there is a set of more technical issues as well. The first of which is conflicts between plugins. Though it’s not overly common, sometimes one plugin will cause another one to break. The more plugins your site has, the more code there is written by multiple developers who don’t know the details of your site and what other code may be in use.
Similar to conflicts are security risks. Again, the more plugins you have, the more code you have living on your site, and more code equals more opportunity for security risks.
Finally, site speed can also be negatively impacted by having lots of plugins. Depending on the type of plugin, it may load lots of resources when a page loads or it may perform a lot of functions in the background, which can slow things down for your visitors.
So Should I go clean house?
By no means should you go and uninstall all of your plugins. There’s a good chance that most of them are truly useful and make your site better than it would be without them. If you haven’t been mindful of your plugin habits in the past or if it’s been a long time since you evaluated the ones you have installed, let the problems listed above prompt you to take a closer look and put more thought into future plugin decisions. If you’re not sure where to start or come across a plugin that you can’t even remember why you installed, feel free to reach out. We’d be happy to help you evaluate which plugins you do and don’t need.