To Install WordPress Plugins or Not To Install A WordPress Plugin

To Install WordPress Plugins or Not To Install A WordPress Plugin

Did you know that Yahoo! Answers has over 171 questions related to the topic “When not to install a WordPress plugin? Yet, most content written online is about “how to install WordPress Plugins” like this tutorial from Site Ground.

The closest thing we could find on this topic, is an article from WPbeginners titled “Should you install plugins not tested in your WordPress version”.

Wordpress Plugin DirectoryAs of this writing, there areĀ 36,512 plugins in the official WordPress directory with 865,261,841 total downloads. Some are “fant-abulous”, like the WordPress Yoast SEO plugin, and Jetpack Plugin by Automattic . However, some WordPress Plugins offer really redundant functionality that is nowhere near necessary for most websites.


So what is the mystery behind plugins?

It is simple, plugins are essentially simple pieces of software, which I’m sure you know. And this type of software can have security flaws that endanger your site (or your client’s site).

Apart from that, there’s also the issue of performance. Every plugin you install adds its milliseconds on top of the total load time of the site. This can add up quickly if there are too many plugins on the site in total.

So here are some tips on when not to solve your WordPress development challenges with new plugins:

1. When the plugin’s functionality is very simple

Some operations are really simple, yet there are still plugins for them. For example, things like hiding the admin bar, or email address encoding (anti spam bot feature).

Basically, the thing we advise you to do when you need a certain simple feature implemented is to first start looking for a “functions.php hack” that handles it, and only them switch to the plugin department of the WordPress world. But, make sure you know what you are doing. One wrong move can ruin your WordPress website.

Pingdom Website Speed TestIn fact, I recently was wanting to speed-up our website, so I used the Pingdom Website Speed Test to see what improvements could be easily made to our WordPress site.

A couple of things which surfaced was the need to cache the site and to minify css. In an attempt not to better my coding genius the “Webbrewer” I decided to try and read a few belong post and theme documented and create a WordPress plugin – less solution.

Bad item. Instead, I crashed the site and had to bother the Webbrewer with a bigger issue. His response to me was “why are you touching the function.php files”… brief pause “Do not touch them. I do not even like to touch them.”

The point is if you have a Webbrewer, or are one — then fix the issue, otherwise find one, or default to the directory of WordPress plugins to find the best answer.

2. When there are too many ads everywhere

Some plugins have very clean admin areas with only the essential stuff displayed, plus some minimal advertising.

But when you stumble upon a plugin that dedicates more space to promoting other products than to the actual plugin’s functionality itself, you should probably think twice before rolling it out to a client’s site.

3. When the plugin is outdated

When on the plugin’s page in the WordPress directory, it’s best to pay attention to two things:

  • The compatibility information : The best case scenario is to only get the plugins that are compatible with the latest version of WordPress, but plugin developers are not always that quick with the updates. So the least you should do is to not get plugins that are compatible only with the versions of WordPress older than 3.8.
  • The last update date: No matter what the compatibility information says, if the plugin has not been updated in more than one year then it’s probably not the best idea to install it.

*HINT: The rule of thumb

There is a lot that can be said about WordPress plugins and why sometimes you simply don’t need any. But let’s just conclude with a simple rule of thumb.

Only install new WordPress plugins to handle things that you can not do yourself easily, either through functions.php hacks or other adjustments.

Now tell us what is your take on this? Are you a plugin-happy type of a WordPress person?