Recently, Ryan Imel’s piece on WPCandy concerning the over-emphasis on active plugin numbers sparked some discussion. The argument is that limiting the amount of plugins installed on your WordPress site is not a viable strategy to improve performance. Yes, having a huge number of plugins might be inconvenient at times, but the basic issue is that, regardless of how many plugins you have installed, the quality of those plugins is what matters. They should be the highest-quality plugins available to complete the task.
Everyone wants their site to perform at its best, yet everyone makes little performance sacrifices to acquire the features they require. You might install a few different plugins while getting things up and running, or newer, better plugins may be developed as time goes on. That plugin list might grow very extensive, and you could even forget what some of them do!
It’s time for a Spring Clean, which you can undertake whether or not it’s actually Spring.
The first step is to go through your plugin list and mark those that you no longer require, are unsure if you require, or for which you have forgotten what they do. Then double-check, and if you don’t require them, turn them off!
The second step is to go over the plugins that are still active. Is it true that they’re the greatest plugins for the job? Now is a good opportunity to see if there is a better plugin that can replace them, or if you’re lucky, if there is a better plugin that can replace multiple of your existing ones.
Here are a few things to check for on plugins from the WordPress.org directory if you’re looking for a better replacement plugin or if you need a new plugin and aren’t sure which one is best:
People download plugins, and if they like them, they may use them on several sites and promote them to others who do the same. As a result, a plugin with a large number of downloads has a good probability of being good. Particularly when paired with…
When a plugin gets a lot of downloads, a lot of ratings, and still has a high average rating, it means it’s good. People do not give high marks to ratings that are troublesome.
The more recently a plugin has been updated, the more likely it is to be compatible with your version of WordPress, and hopefully also with the future edition.
With any luck, someone has offered Broken / Works feedback on the plugin with your specific WordPress version (preferably the most recent!) Obviously, the more of those you have, the better.
Also, notice what shows up when you search for “best plugin for X”! One of the great things about WordPress is its large community; there’s a strong possibility someone else has done this study before you and published their findings on a WordPress blog for you to find.
Another thing to do is to monitor the performance of your WordPress installation and compare the results when you add a plugin. It might be a reasonable modification, but if a new plugin suddenly degrades performance, it’s time to uninstall it and find a successor. Some plugins, on the other hand, require more resources due to the functions they perform, but the impact on your users can be minimized if you have a decent caching configuration.
In a nutshell, adding plugins to your WordPress blog is similar to adding modifications to your vehicle. If you have a highly tuned car, any modifications you make must be done with caution. You don’t want to just attach whatever you find to them; you want them to complement the automobile and do the job they’re supposed to do (and do it effectively).
Make a list of the features you require before looking for plugins to install, and then select the best plugins to accomplish those goals. Browsing the plugin directory without a specific goal in mind is like to browsing the aisles of a grocery store without a list… You’ll return home with more than you expected, and much of it will be garbage you don’t need.
If you come across something interesting while browsing the plugins directory, please let us know so we can share it.