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WordPress Plugins: How many should you install in 2020

88 / 100

WordPress plugins can either make or break your website. The availability and extensive functionality that these chunks of code offer to your website are limitless. They are fun to use and enhance the functionality of your website.

Not many users realize this, but having too many plugins installed can also introduce potential problems. Since 40% of visitors leave a site if it takes more than three seconds to load, it’s important to note down the number of plugins you use.

In today’s article, we answer the most common plugin-related questions and answer how many plugins are too many to install.

About WordPress plugins

wordpress plugin

WordPress plugins are simply the essential building blocks that act as tools to improve the functionality of your website. What apps are for your phone, plugins are for a website. From adding the smallest features like building forms to things like security, there’s a plugin for everything.

Both WordPress and plugins are written in the PHP programming language. Its code runs on the website’s hosting server and thus, it is advisable to use a good hosting service that runs effectively and is easy to use. Plugins carry out small tasks that collectively build a fully developed website.

There are more than 57,000+ free plugins available on the WordPress.org plugin directory and more than a thousand premium WordPress plugins sold by individual developers.

Be it free or premium, finding the right set of WordPress plugins is another challenge for many users. With having plenty of options to choose from, it tricks the best of us into selecting incompatible plugins for our website. To answer this, let’s firstly understand why you need plugins.

Why are plugins essential for your website?

Would you ever consider buying a phone if it didn’t offer any service or apps? Just like devices, a website looks boring and impossible to use without added features and options for easy navigation.

Why are plugins so important? Plugins impact the performance of your website by focusing on aspects like security, SEO, and visibility of your website. Whatever you need your website to do can be done with a plugin.

Plugins allow site owners to have specific control over site performance because plugins are simple to swap out and exchanged for one another. If one plugin is slowing your site down, you can find a faster one or replace it altogether.

Why do WordPress plugins have a bad reputation?

The internet surrounds with negative comments on WordPress plugins and their bad reputation. While worrying about security, reliability isn’t enough, using plugins too becomes a questionable choice for a beginner.

WordPress plugins are great but, only when they’re well-coded and managed by their developers. When they’re handled well, they earn value and respect from users. Sadly that doesn’t happen always.

WordPress is great for many reasons but it has its flaws. There’s a long list of plugins both free and premium available at this time. However, the vast majority of those plugins are either outdated, buggy, bloated, or not secure.

How plugins affect website load time?

Most plugins are simple to use but, some perform complex actions on your site. In other words, you may be using 80 plugins that run your website smoothly but using one more plugin can slow down your loading time by half a second. 

 “too many plugins will only slow down your site” or “ your site is slow because of those Xyz plugins” are wrong statements to use while assessing the performance of a website.  

Each WordPress plugin offers different functionality and features. While some plugins only perform backend work, few work in the frontend loading assets and can potentially slow down your website.

Making database queries and loading assets such as Javascripts, images, etc. This adds up to your site’s load time. Most plugins make HTTP requests to load these assets and each request increases your site’s page load time.

Although there is a chance your website is slow due to a few unresponding plugins, one aspect to consider is to check if the slowdown is visible or not.

However, if you are using multiple plugins that are making too many HTTP requests, then it will affect your site’s performance and user experience.

One plugin enough to ruin your website

Before installing a third-party code to your WordPress site, you need to be careful about which plugins you install.

One wrong plugin can cause serious damage to your website. A wrong plugin is essentially poorly-coded and does not entail good backend support. These types of plugins usually cause an error by being backdoors to unintentional vulnerability and there are tons of WordPress plugins that intentionally introduce malicious code demolishing the base of any good website – the security. According to a recent report, a plugin flaw caused over 200,000 websites to be at risk. While WordPress powers 36 percent of all websites, it becomes an easy target for cybercriminals as these out-to-date plugins, themes often increase the risk of creating a vulnerability. 

To avoid these problems:

  • By using plugins from reputable developers
  • By checking average user reviews on WordPress and other platforms
  • By checking the last time a plugin was updated

ratting

While this approach isn’t foolproof, it goes a long way to ensuring you only install quality WordPress plugins.

But, how many plugins are too many?

Users don’t want to know how too many plugins might be ruining websites. Their real question is, “how many plugins will protect my website from failure” or “how many plugins will be good for my site”. The biggest question is how you determine what’s “too many” or “too less” for your website?

Just like you, your website is unique and different from your competitors. So, focusing on the quantity has nothing to do with failure or reward for your website. For example, a website can have 50 plugins and still work fine, while another with only 10 plugins can cause problems regularly because they’re using low-quality plugins.

We suggest you look at your hosting server, business type, and the quality of plugins you want on your website. Neither does the use of fewer plugins change the loading time of your website nor does the use of too many improve it. As long as you’re using good quality plugins that have a strong backend support team, you can easily use as many as you may like. 

Now that you’ve understood to focus on the quality of plugins, let’s look at some of the most popular plugins used by experts and why you need them.

Which are the must-have plugins for WordPress?

  • Akismet
  • Ninja Forms
  • WordFence Security – Firewall & Malware Scanner
  • Loco Translate
  • Optimole

The plugins we mention are developed and used by experts worldwide. These plugins are safe to use and are trusted by millions.

1. Akismet

Don’t we all hate spam emails? Spam emails or comments play a serious role in bringing less traffic to your website as it enables hackers to create multiple user accounts and hyperlinks. The purpose of a spam plugin is to prevent your website from being negatively evaluated. 

But the question remains, how do you determine which plugin is the best for your website?

Here are a few questions to ask yourself before installing an anti-spam WordPress plugin:

  • Is this plugin active and regularly updated?
  • Are you in need of an anti-spam service?
  • Do you require website security as well?

Akismet was launched in 2005 by the makers of WordPress. Its purpose is to filter out spam from a website with the information gathered from its cloud database. Your website needs to have a spam blocker else, it would be overtaken by malicious hackers and ranked down by Google.

Why is Akismet a must-have?

We believe comment moderation is a time-consuming task and should be done with a trusted plugin. Akismet helps prevent spam from both comment threads and contact forms. A popular plugin which filters out hundreds of comments on WordPress every day and makes it easier for you to focus on other essential tasks.

2. Ninja Forms 

If you are a beginner and want your website to have contact forms without coding them yourself then, Ninja Forms is for you. This is a 100% beginner-friendly plugin which lets you design your forms without the need of knowing how to code. With prebuilt templates at your disposal and advanced features like the file export option, creating forms has never been easier. You can even accept payments and donations with one of these forms. Impressive, isn’t it?

Why Ninja Forms?

The plugin’s ease of use makes the free version of Ninja Forms a highly recommended option for users simply trying to build a contact form. If you’re skeptical about choosing between the free of the premium version of Ninja Forms then you can simply test this plugin before using. We believe both plans are great and can be used instantly.

3. Wordfence Security – Firewall & Malware Scan

The security of your WordPress site should be handled with care. With over 3+million active installations on the WordPress website, Wordfence web application firewall identifies and blocks all the malicious content on your website and protects it from brutal attacks.

It scans and monitors your plugins removed from the WordPress Plugin Repository to avoid any situation of getting hacked. These are a few reasons which make Wordfence Security a great choice for your website.

 

4. Loco Translate

As a non-English speaker, wouldn’t you want your website to be fully optimized with beautiful themes and plugins in your language as well as in 29 other languages? Since not many plugin developers create their products in more than 1 language, which is usually English. 

As a result, users likely miss out on some of the best free and paid plugins available on WordPress. Rest easy, Loco Translate offers services like built-in translation editor, creation and updates on language files and much more. Altogether, it offers owners an effortless way of translating files directly from their dashboard.

    

5. Optimole

 Have you ever thought about why your website takes more than three seconds to load? With images covering more than 50% webpage size, it takes away the reader’s attention. While images may not be the prime reason for a loss in traffic, optimization boosts loading time. 

Optimole takes up every image you upload and optimizes it to take less space on your website. This plugin is free up to 5,000 visits per month and best for a small business website. Including features like automatic image compress, compatible with modern builders, start building now. These options are great for many users who are new to building their website and want to only use trusted sources of information.

How to add a plugin to your WordPress website?

Here, we are going to talk about two of the most common methods through which you can install a WordPress plugin. These are easy and will get your website up and running instantly. 

  1. Search and install- Search from your dashboard> Plugins>Add New

Then, type in your plugin name into the search box present at the top right corner of your page.

addplugin dash

Note: Most WordPress plugins are only available to website owners who pay for WordPress’ Business-level premium plan.

  1. Upload and install -If you have downloaded a WordPress plugin from somewhere, upload the .zip file and install it from the WordPress dashboard.

Click on “Upload Plugin” and browse your drive to find the .zip file.

 Note: WordPress only accepts .zip files for uploading plugins and themes.         

 Another method of installing a WordPress plugin is via an FTP (file transfer protocol). For beginners, using the search and upload method more than using FTP for their website.

When to update a plugin?

With built-in updates, you receive a notification from your WordPress dashboard if any update is available.

In your WordPress Settings, you can choose to have automatic plugin updates. Another option is to do them manually. Now, let’s learn how to do manual updates in case you want to check the newest version before installing it for your site.

Or you can manually update your plugins by Dashboard>> Update

dashboard update

 You can install these updates by visiting the plugins page. You will see a notification below each plugin that has updates available for you to install.

plugin install


Should I backup my WordPress site before updating my plugins?

Wouldn’t you feel devastated to know that all your hard work is somehow lost? Many users felt the same way until they understood the importance of backing up and updating their WordPress site. We understand how irritating it is to read the same words on a loop but let’s face it, it is of extreme importance. 

 Backup essentially means making a duplicate copy of your work. We’ve seen people accidentally deleting themes/ plugins or even some of their hard work only to realize that it can’t be restored. It is similar to saving a word document on Google Drive, Dropbox, or your desktop as it is wise to keep these important files in more than one place.

 Before learning about backup, realize that “prevention is better than cure”. These include updating plugins and themes, usage of strong password combinations, etc. 

Needn’t worry, we’ll keep it easy with 5 simple steps to backup your website with and without a plugin:

 WITH A PLUGIN 

Example plugin- UpdraftPlus, the most popular and trusted plugin used by over 2 million websites.

  • Download and install UpdraftPlus (install like any other WordPress plugin). 
  • Activate UpdraftPlus (visit your plugins dashboard and follow the instructions). Go to your WordPress menu then Settings > UpdraftPlus Backups.
  • Select the settings at the top and schedule how often you want the plugin to create a new backup.
  • Choose your remote storage options like Dropbox, Microsoft Azure, Google Drive, Google cloud- there’s a bunch of options.
  • Now, each storage option has its own set of instructions. Follow those and press Save changes on the page.

Now that you’ve set up a storage location and how often you need it, UpdraftPlus will do the rest automatically.


WITHOUT A PLUGIN

There are 3 methods with which you can backup your WordPress site without using a plugin:

  • Using a software/ service- Using services like CodeGuard
  • A manual backup option
  • Backup via FTP(File Transfer Protocol)


Contradictory to how most users update their WordPress plugins and website, here we’ll talk about how and why to do it a little differently.

By now, it has become clear why you need to update your entire WordPress site but looking at how most people do it, we want you to try a different approach this time. 

Most users use this method to update their entire system from core>plugins> updating themes, making other changes and this method works for most of them. Even WordPress experts suggest this method of backing up all the data and doing this process. 

From understanding further and talking to businesses online, we concluded that this method doesn’t work every time. According to users, they were doing the same for some time as the experts suggest but experienced several issues with certain plugins that were not compatible with the latest WP version. The result was that their site crashed and had to delete a few obsolete plugins and reinstall them to work with the latest WordPress version.

 If you’re facing similar issues with your website, to fix this, first update plugins> themes> WordPress core at the end. Though you can use the old method to do it, this is just another example to fix your website. None of the above-mentioned ways harm your website and are trial and tested by many users.

Now, let’s understand why they did it differently and so can you:

a) if you first update WordPress core, plugins don’t need necessarily to be compatible with the latest WordPress version and anything can happen to your site,BUT

b) if you first update your plugins and then WordPress core, plugins are most likely to be compatible with the latest WordPress version AND also compatible with the older versions because of good backend compatibility. 

Therefore, update your plugins and then your core if you face compatibility issues with a WordPress site.

Conclusion

As we said in the post today, there are no such things as too many plugins. This is a misconception that there is a limit to the number of plugins you use.

Having many slow wordpress plugins might be a bad idea but, using the wrong set of plugins is worse. While building your site, analyzing your requirements and purpose will set it on the right path. Focusing on the quality than the number of plugins is crucial as too many WordPress plugins make your site vulnerable to a security breach, bad performance, and much more.

As long as you’re developing good content and regularly updating your WordPress site, plugins, and themes but more importantly, using a good hosting service any number of plugins is fine.

How many plugins do you use on your WordPress website and have they affected its performance? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below!

Author avatar
Tim Michaels
I am into WordPress and web development for the last 10 years. I use my experience to help people just starting with WordPress. Follow my blog at WP Uber for everything related to WordPress.
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