So, just how many WordPress plugins do I need?

I’ve been an avid WordPress Beginner subscriber ever since I learned WP back in 2013 and it’s always packed with good information! One of the article recently posted was “How Many WordPress Plugins should you Install? What’s too Many?” and it intrigued so much so that not only did I stop everything to read it but decided to piggyback on it in this post! Now, I wrote a post about my 10 recommended WP plugins you should have and you can read that here.

The first thing that shocked me about this post is that WordPress Beginner has over 60 plugins installed on their website, WHOA!!! I thought 30 on mine was too much but the 2nd thing in reading this article that got my attention was not the quantity of plugins but that they don’t bog down WP and play nice with other plugins.

If you use WP for any time, then you’re aware that plugins are really what makes WP a dynamic CMS and not just a blogging platform. These little programs created by many developers extend WP so much and with 5.0 Gutenberg, it’s now 100% possible to create websites without knowing any coding.

Pros and Cons of WP Plugins

Let’s talk about the pros and cons of plugins and I’ll give you my “take” on what to look for in a plugin. Because I like to end on a good note, I’ll start by listing some of my cons:

  1. Plugins can slow your website down. This happens if you have plugins that don’t work well with other plugins. It’s important to understand exactly what feature you want your site to do and find the best plugin for that but in so doing, make sure it will be compatible with the latest version of WP. In the repository, it’s always listed whether a plugin has been tested with the version of WP you have installed. Pay attention to that because surprise incompatibilities can occur. And, actually there are caching plugins that can enhance speed and performance like W3 Total Cache.
  2. Outdated plugins are a “no-no”! I have recommend in past posts to stay away from any plugin that hasn’t been updated by the developer within a year. I think WP removes these from their list after 2 years of non-activity. I recommend 1 year only because that’s a long time for a developer to not have done any updates and as technology improves, these outdated plugins can’t keep up and eventually cause incompatibility problems.
  3. Plugins can be hard to install and set up. I think this can be true depending on the feature you’re trying to install and how much set up is needed. I tend to look for plugins that are easy and have good documentation prepared by the developer. Free plugins oftentimes don’t come with the best support so if you have good instructions or FAQs, it’ll go better in the set up process.
  4. Free plugins aren’t the best. This can be a con depending on how much support is available. Some developers answer support questions timely while other do not. When I’m looking for a plugin, that’s one thing I look for: how often does the developer respond to questions? Do they solve the problem satisfactorily? How was communication between the developer and the customer? If I see that many support questions were submitted but only 2 or 3 of them were answered by the developer, I look for another plugin. Free plugins get a bad rap but there are many of them that are fantastic and the support is awesome. A few I know of are: Tablepress, WP Members, Wordfence and Business Directory (both TablePress and Business Directory plugins have a premium/upgrade but their free ones work just as well and the support is excellent).

Here’s some pros:

  1. Plugins extend the life of WP. Plugins really add so much more functionality to WP and really will take your site to the next level. You can do a lot with the plugins like: building full eCommerce, membership, travel, portfolio, forum websites and even run contests! And, of course the blog function has improved a lot too through plugins and themes.
  2. Plugins make your site look more professional. This is very true. Even if all you want is an online portfolio of your work to show a client or employer, WP with the use of plugins can make your site look very polished. In conjunction with themes, plugins can make your website more appealing and user-friendly.
  3. Plugins make WP easy to update pages for non-tech people. Even with the introduction of WP 5.0 Gutenberg, many plugins can be added without coding or very little. You actually can set it and forget it depending on what you’re installing.
  4. Plugins can handle automation. This is HUGE because websites aren’t just about design, but also managing and supporting. Backing up your WP site is important and there are plugins that will do this for you automatically and all you have to do is set a schedule for when you want the backups to occur. Other automation features are caching, optimizing and running security checks.
  5. Plugins can help stop adware, phishing, hacking, etc. While no system is 100% full proof, the right plugins can help thwart any attack on your website. Also, there are plugins that will lock out potential hackers from trying to access your website after so many attempts. You can also set up plugins to block IP addresses. Wordfence is my favorite plugin for security.
  6. Plugins helps with SEO. SEO is very important to get your site seen on Google and other search engines and there are plugins that help with this with the use of keywords and tags that you put it for your pages and posts. Yoast SEO is a popular one. I use WP Meta SEO which is a free plugin.

And the pros have it…!

When to invest in a plugin:

Sometimes, there is a need to add a website feature that no free plugin can handle and that’s when you might want to invest in a premium plugin. Just be sure that you pick the right one, cause just because you pay for a plugin doesn’t mean it’ll be the best thing. I have seen customers complain about paying for a plugin and still not getting adequate support, so again do the homework first. Decide if your budget is best to be billed monthly or yearly as many premium plugins come with ongoing costs now.

Some free plugins come with add-ons that might cost less than a premium one so if you have a free plugin that you really like but you need more functionality, see if the developer has an add-on or can recommend a compatible plugin that will work in conjunction with the one you have. Sometimes, they can point you to a free plugin that will do the job.

I highly recommend you read WP Beginner’s article on this subject cause it’s very interesting. He goes into much more details on the pros of plugins with recommendations. I’m really glad as a web designer for plugins because of what they can do and I don’t have to keep learning coding!

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