How many WordPress plugins are too many?

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How Many WordPress Plugins Are Too Many?

Last Updated on April 23, 2021

Here at USDP, we frequently hear this question from clients: How many WordPress plugins are too many? With 58,000 + WordPress plugins available, chances are, there’s a plugin that improves or fixes any aspect of WordPress. So why not have a plugin for everything?

Well, the fact is, after you install a certain amount of plugins, the weaker your site becomes with security, maintainability, functionality, SEO, and more.

If you’re wondering if you’ve overloaded your WordPress site with too many plugins, this blog post is for you.

Table of Contents

      1. What is the Purpose of Plugins and How Do They Work?
      2. Risk Factors From Having Too Many Plugins
      3. So, How Many WordPress Plugins are Too Many?
      4. Solutions for Having Too Many WordPress Plugins
      5. Conclusion

What is the Purpose of Plugins and How Do They Work?

Plugins are pieces of code that perform a certain function on a site. For instance, Yoast SEO is a plugin that serves as a search engine optimization tool, helping to enhance pages on a site. The Gravity Forms plugin builds advanced forms that can be customized for a contact page on a website. WooCommerce creates an entire eCommerce online store.

four popular WordPress plugins

 

If you want to take your website up a notch, plugins are a great solution. However, too many WordPress plugins can put a site at serious risk.

Risk Factors From Having Too Many Plugins

Let’s break down some of the problems that result from having too many WordPress plugins.

    1. Vulnerable to a Slower Website
    2. Poor Organic Search Rankings
    3. Accessibility Considerations
    4. Website Security Threats
    5. Website Maintainability
    6. Redundant Functionality
    7. WordPress Admin Complexity

Vulnerable to a Slower Website

Speed is crucial to your site performance, and if a site takes more than 3 seconds to load 40% of viewers will leave. What causes slow site speed? There are numerous factors such as internet connection, large file sizes, or excess code. However, another common cause of a slow site is too many plugins. When a website is clicked on, the browser has to load all the files and pieces of code that go with each plugin, which means the more stuffed a site is with plugins, the longer it takes to load.

Poor Organic Search Rankings

A direct consequence of a slow site is poor SEO rankings. If your site takes too long to load, search engines will mark the site as slow and bump it down in the search results. This can lead to a dent in overall site traffic as fewer people are able to find your site or have the patience to sit around waiting for your site to load.

Accessibility Considerations

All of the elements of your website should be accessible to everyone, even those with disabilities. You should design and build your WordPress site to be ADA compliant. If you rely on plugins to create elements like copy, video, images, guided tours, forms, and social buttons, then you are losing control over the accessibility of your website.

Website Security Threats

Not every WordPress plugin stands the test of time. Plugins can be made by anyone, whether that’s Joe Shmoe in his basement or a large company like WordFence. If the developer of a plugin decides to stop supporting the plugin with updates, security flaws can arise and won’t be remedied without support. The more plugins you have, the more potential risk you assume with regards to security.

Website Maintainability

Continual maintenance of your website is a key determinant of your website’s overall health. Plugins are no exception. The more plugins you have, the more options and fields of data there are, and all of that information must be stored in your site’s database. This information isn’t always deleted when you remove a plugin which means the database can become cluttered and slow. Beyond that, plugins receive regular updates (monthly or even weekly), and sometimes critical updates related to security. These have to be updated with care as sometimes there are incompatibilities between certain versions of WordPress and plugins.

Redundant Functionality

Some plugins are, or at least attempt to be, a jack-of-all-trades. Sometimes plugins will have overlapping functionality, which is not efficient and can also lead to bugs or errors. Conflicting plugins is a common mistake made in WordPress, especially if you’re asking how many WordPress plugins are too many. How can you identify it? Often times certain parts of the site start to break, or the site experiences random glitches. Wherever possible, plugins that have duplicate functionality should be removed.

WordPress Admin Complexity

Finally, one of the simplest and most obvious risk factors with plugins is complexity. A WordPress dashboard that’s packed with plugins is not only disorganized but can also lead to user confusion. The fewer plugins you have, the cleaner the backend of WordPress will be, making admin duties much easier.

So, How Many WordPress Plugins Are Too Many?

While there isn’t a set-in-stone number, as a general estimate, we’d say that 15 plugins are the max amount to have on a WordPress website. If the number of WordPress plugins is over 15, a red flag should go up. However, more than 15 plugins may not be a problem if you’ve reviewed the list of risk factors and confirmed the plugins you use are not causing issues.

Solutions for Having Too Many WordPress Plugins

Here are some helpful questions to take into consideration before installing a plugin on your WordPress website.

  • How necessary is this plugin?
    • There’s an overabundance of WordPress plugins out there and it can be difficult to resist the urge to just simply install another one. Lots of WordPress plugins promise to save you time, fix an issue, or manage some of the mundane behind-the-scenes maintenance for you. Of course, who doesn’t want that extra help? However, it’s easy to become dependent on plugins and impulsively install them without questioning if they are really necessary. Ask yourself, do I really need this plugin?
  • How often will I use this plugin?
    • If you won’t be using the plugin often, it’s better to not install it. Only install plugins that will always be in use on the site.
  • Is this something that I could do on my own?
    • Installing a plugin that performs the teeniest tiniest function is unnecessary — just learn how to do it yourself!  A quick Google search or a how-to YouTube video can be a quick and easy fix.
  • Does this issue require the assistance of a developer?
  • Is this plugin frequently updated?
    • Updates are important in the world of plugins. Technology is constantly advancing, and plugins need to keep up with the pace of the website. Plus, out-of-date plugins are more vulnerable targets for hackers.

How to Maintain Current Plugins

If your WordPress website has more than 15 plugins, you might be stuck and wondering how to cut down on the number of plugins you have installed. Here are some pointers.

  • If a plugin is marked “inactive,” uninstall it. You can always reinstall if need be.

If a plugin is inactive, uninstall it

  • Is there a similar plugin that does more? A little digging and you could find a plugin that does more than 3 plugins combined. (Just make sure to not install a plugin that conflicts with the function of a plugin you already have installed.)
  • As mentioned before, keep plugins updated. If updates are unavailable and the plugin is out of date, uninstall it.

how to update plugins in WordPress

Quality First

In the world of WordPress plugins the phrase “quality over quantity” is frequently used. This is a good rule of thumb for navigating plugins. Just because there’s a plugin for something doesn’t mean that it’s well built, and with over 58,000 WordPress plugins available, there’s bound to be a lot of poorly coded plugins in the mix.

In that respect, there are many pros and cons to installing WordPress plugins. While a well-built plugin can work wonders on your site, a poorly coded plugin could be wreaking havoc on the backend of your site. Do careful research on a plugin before installing it. What are the reviews on the plugin? How reputable is the author of the plugin?

Conclusion

Take the time to sort through the current plugins you have on your site and rank them according to priority and necessity. The bottom line is to keep the number of plugins that you have installed to a minimum. Having a curated batch of essential plugins that enhance your website, rather than clutter or hinder it, will lead to an overall healthy and user-friendly website.

If you’re struggling with WordPress, please reach out and we can help!

Catherine Brecount Image Alt

By: Catherine Brecount

As a marketing intern at USDP, Catherine spends most of her time learning the ins and outs of digital marketing. In her spare time, she enjoys skiing, pick-up basketball with her siblings, traveling, and fun conversations.