Less is more when it comes to managing your plugins on WordPress, although it doesn’t seem that way when you have a catalog of tens of thousands of plugins to choose from. It’s easy to go plugin-happy and start installing each and every plugin that looks like it might be slightly useful or entertaining. First you have your social media plugins, then your contact forms, then your CAPTCHA forms and before you know it, you have a plugin list as long as Santa’s naughty list.
But managing your plugins takes skill. You must learn which ones you really need and which you can live without, or your site’s speed will suffer. In a somewhat recent Google algorithm change, PANDA (or PENGUIN or PARROT or KANGAROO or whatever they decided to name it at the time) determined that your site’s load speed would take part in determining how truly search engine friendly your site becomes. That’s right. If your site is a slug, you can say goodbye to first page ranking, no matter how well you structured those keyword phrases in your last post.
Managing Your Plugins: What You Really Need
In the vein of the whole “less is more” aspect of managing your plugins, try taking a bird’s eye view of what your site really needs for extensions, what you can add via code, and what you can live without. Do you really need a plugin to put a title on your header? Or can you just add it to the CSS file? Do you absolutely need five different image widgets? Or can you make do using just one? Does every blog post need to use that video widget? Or can you embed it in the HTML? These are questions you can – and should – ask yourself when managing your plugins.
The reason I bring this up is that just yesterday I encountered some fatal errors with a plugin I was using. I don’t know if it wasn’t updating properly or what its problem was, but when I removed the faulty plugins (that also happened to be slowing down my speed), my problem dissolved and my site speed tripled. This made me a pretty happy camper, as you might imagine.
The problem with installing a slew of plugins all at once and then determining which ones you need is that it’s often difficult to pinpoint which ones are slowing down your site. Split testing isn’t really something that is easily achieved as far as plugin installation is concerned, so it’s best to install one at a time and test your speed and function after each.
Managing Your Plugins: Read Reviews First
When managing my plugins, I generally read the reviewer ratings and any editorial comments first. If it says a plugin isn’t compatible with my version of WordPress, or if the plugin doesn’t get raving reviews, I don’t install it. Now granted, you can’t use this method for every plugin, especially if an expert recommended you use it and it only gets mediocre ratings. Some people just don’t know how to use a plugin and may have given it a poor rating as a result. But this is how managing your plugins the right way starts out, at least when you’re beginning to blog.