How many WordPress plugins are too many?

Did you ever wonder how many WordPress plugins are too many?   It’s easy to fall into the trap of searching for new WordPress plugins and installing them on a regular basis. After all, they are fun to use, and enhance the functionality of your website, right? Not many webmasters realize this, but having too many plugins installed can introduce potential problems.

In today’s article, we answer the most common plugin-related questions you might have and provide some helpful tips.

Why do we need WordPress plugins?

Without plugins, the core functionality of WordPress would be severely limited. It’s thanks to them that the platform has managed to take off so well. At the given time, you choose from well over 40-thousand plugins (both free and commercial), all of which serve various purposes.

Furthermore, even average webmasters can use them to improve their website without writing a single line of code. For example, just by using a simple WordPress plugin, you can transform your website into an e-commerce store or a private membership hangout. Some of them make your front-page look beautiful, and others add functionality in the background. The possibilities are nearly endless.

Installing too many poorly coded plugins can slow down the load times

Some plugins introduce too many lines of code into the script.  For example, Javascript and multiple CSS files.   The additional code can cause render-blocking JavaScript and CSS in above-the-fold content and cause a delay in rendering your web pages.  Some plugins are worse offenders than others, but the more you have installed, the more time your website is going to take to load.

The reason being is that every plugin needs to send an HTTP or database query to the server at one point or another. Therefore, disabling or uninstalling the plugins you no longer need is considered to be a good practice, since you’re going to reduce the strain on the server.  You can try to defer or asynchronously load blocking resources, or inline the critical portions of those resources directly in the HTML.  If you don’t know what this means consider hiring a programmer who can optimize the scripts for you.

Too many plugins at once can cause stability and security issues

The fact of the matter is that individual developers abandon their projects after a while, which means no more security updates.  Not updating your plugins can introduce potential cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Since the plugins are no longer officially supported, other types of problems may occur, like stability problems.

So how many WordPress Plugins are too many?

There’s no need to worry over every WordPress plugin you decide to install. For example, any number of plugins that’s below 20, is still considered to be acceptable. This figure is just a ballpark estimate, and if you happen to have slightly more, there’s no need to worry.

It’s not (solely) about the number, it’s about the choices you make.  Quality is more important than quantity.

Admittedly, making a right call on which plugins are poorly coded and which ones are not, is a bit hard to make for someone who doesn’t know how to code. However, by reading the webmaster forums and Googling for answers, it’s relatively easy to find the answers pretty quickly.

Seven ways of ensuring your website remains operational at all times

1. Take a minimalist approach to WordPress Development

WordPress programmers are supposed to follow the same WordPress coding standards, but they don’t typically communicate with each other during development.   This situation brings up the possibility of naming convention conflicts in coding.   Multiple plugins might listen when your website is executing scripts.  WordPress Plugins can stop working and even make your site crash.   Therefore, the potential for problems will increase when more than one web designer is creating code.  Your costs of debugging and troubleshooting will grow with each new plugin you install.   For this reason, a minimalist approach is the best approach to WordPress Plugins.

2. Cut out the plugins you don’t need and those with similar functionality

If you are experimenting with WordPress plugins, the chances are that you have more than one plugin installed with the same functionality.   You’re making sure there is no excess clutter on your website by making a choice and removing either one or the other.

3. Install the plugins one by one

It’s important to wait a couple of days before each plugin installation and not try to add too many at once.  By installing each one individually, you can see how each plugin performs and determine whether it causes a slowdown in your website’s loading time.   Use online testing tools like Google PageSpeed Insights.   If you had used the plugins before and trusted them, well then go for it.

4. Update WordPress and plugins regularly

Some people think that updating their WordPress core is enough, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Keeping your website as secure requires that you take care of your WordPress plugins by ensuring they are regularly updated. Then hackers will have a harder time exploiting a previously-patched vulnerability to compromise your website.

5. Take care when choosing your plugins

Your choice regarding which plugins to install is more important than the sheer number of them you have. Your task is trying your best to avoid installing the poorly-coded ones. Generally speaking, installing plugins from well-known developers is a lot less risky than installing the relatively unknown ones.

6. Uninstall the plugins you no longer need

By doing this, you will improve the speed of your website as well as make yourself less susceptible to hacks and exploits.

7. Avoid unsupported WordPress plugins

You can view when a plugin was last updated within your WordPress dashboard as this type of information is publicly displayed.

8. Set up a staging platform and test before upgrading

Perform updates on a clone of your production site   Check your site thoroughly and identify any offending plugins.   If one crashes your site or causes problems, you can wait to make upgrades to that plugin.   Once you are 100% satisfied all your features and functionality are working properly it is safe to perform updates to your live website.

How many WordPress plugins are too many?  The secret lies in making balanced choices

If every plugin can potentially make your site slower and less secure, how can you know you’re on the right path? Simply put, you’re going to have to accept that no matter what you do, your website will never be able to have all the positives without negatives. Such a thing is just impossible to achieve in real-life situations.

M you make healthy choices and test thoroughly.   Plugins can yield significant payoffs concerning the benefits of added functionality to your website. If you feel like installing a plugin will help your site, then – by all means – go for it!

From here on and onward, it’s also about setting specific goals and priorities. What is more important: security, fast loading times, or functionality? Answering this question will point you towards the correct path of developing your website in the future.

Conclusion: Plugin Overload Dilemma

By following these simple principles we’ve discussed above, you’ll be on your way towards a faster, more secure, and a more reliable website and your carefully-chosen WordPress plugins.

Want some help with WordPress?

NH Web Design can provide custom web design, WordPress development and managed web hosting services for those who want to have a worry-free WordPress website. Contact us for a quote on your next project.