The appeal of hosting a blog on WordPress.org, as any experienced blogger will tell you, is that the customizations and tweaks you can make are virtually limitless. One of the most common ways to add functionality is to add plugins, which have all of the coding you need prepackaged and ready to go and usually come with a convenient user interface for customizing it to your needs.
I’ve shared some of my favorite plugins before, and every day I discover new plugins that I’d like to add to my blog to add features and customizations that benefit me as a blogger and you as a reader.
Unfortunately, though, it’s not that simple.
What you don’t hear as much about is the danger of overloading your blog with too many plugins. Each plugin adds an additional strain to the engine that runs your blog, slowing it down and causing it to work harder. Plugins can also interact poorly with each other and cause all kinds of mysterious issues.
In order to fight plugin overload, consider these alternatives:
1. Choose carefully.
I think most bloggers like technology and gadgets, and we can get caught up in adding the latest and greatest doodads to our blog, but take time before adding any plugin to consider whether it’s actually worth the cost of the memory, bandwidth and page load time. If it is, go for it! But make sure it really is before you install every cool plugin that you come across.
2. Review your plugins periodically.
Some plugins may not need to remain active all of the time. For example, I love the search and replace plugin, and I’m so thankful it’s available when I need it, but I don’t use it every week or even every month, so I don’t keep it activated. And because I’m type-a like that, I actually uninstall it altogether rather than leaving it on the server, which probably isn’t necessary.
Other times, my needs, layout or preferences change, and I simply outgrow a plugin. Reviewing the list of plugins regularly is a good way to make sure you’re deleting plugins as they become obsolete for you.
3. Consider hard coding certain features.
A lot of the functionality that can be added to your site with plugins (or maybe even all of it, I don’t know) can be done by adding code directly to your site. For example, the AdRotate plugin is another one of my favorites, but you can actually add the code to make this work without turning to a plugin, which is more efficient for your site. However, you lose the user interface when you do it this way, and sometimes that may not be a trade-off you’re willing to make.
This post is not intended to make you fearful of using plugins, but it’s important to be aware of the downsides of adding too many so you can watch for symptoms that they’re placing a strain on your site!
How many plugins do you have installed? Have you noticed any indications that you have too many?