All About Wordpress Plugins - Known Design Co

To Plugin Or Not To Plugin?

April 8, 2022


This is a cautionary tale about when more is too much. Much too much. Dangerous, even.

So this is the myth:  Just install plugins to extend the features and functionality of your WordPress website.

Um. No.

Here’s the down low on why you should keep the plugin count down low. (See what we did there?) 

First though: What are plugins when they are at home? And, why are they the go-to for WordPress site owners?

Why install WordPress plugins?
WordPress can only do so many things. See: WordPress is designed so that other developers can add their own code to it.  For those who haven’t cracked coding, plugins make it easy to make your website do things it wasn’t designed to do. Like ecommerce, or as a tool to evaluate your onpage SEO, or even to filter spam. 

Thing is (like tattoos) one is never enough.  And, though there is danger from one bad plugin, the cumulative effect of many can spell disaster.

Plugins, plugins everywhere . . . and not a drop to drink*
There are over 59,740 free plugins on the plugin directory. This isn’t counting the thousands written by third-party developers. 

Are they all bad? Of course not. Are they all good? Also, of course not.

Now, for the Words Of Caution
When plugins go wrong, how bad can it be? There’s no nice way to say this. 

Plugins. Can. Break. Your. Website.

It’s not just about the website being down for a bit. Think of the shoppers who can’t get onto it. Are they going to hang about or will they go to a competitor? (Bearing in mind that, under normal circumstances, you only have seconds to grab and hold a visitor’s attention.)

And then there’s the small matter of your brand reputation. The question on everyone’s minds: How reliable is this service if the website keeps crashing?

4 Common-or-garden plugin problems

  • Sir Nefarious, the malicious plugin
    Designed by developers with dubious scruples, what appear to be good upstanding plugins are in reality messing with site stability, flooding the site with ads, or redirecting your customers. 

    Don’t look now, but there goes your online reputation  . . .
  • The Greedy Plugin
    If it looks like a useful plugin, and sounds like a useful plugin, but works like an energy vacuum, is it a good plugin? Server resources are precious. A plugin that uses more than its fair share can crash your site.
  • Sick Side Effects (and not in a good way)
    Who reads the small print? Or the pack insert? Nope. Most of just us go ahead in good faith.

    Hold your horses, cowboy! 

    Updating your plugins can cause chaos. The new version might not be compatible with your version of WordPress. And when it isn’t . . . 

    And that’s not all. The opposite is true too. Update your WordPress and . . . whoa!. . . suddenly your plugins are hostile.

How to edge ahead . . . quickly
Hot tip: Don’t install so many in the first place.

More plugins mean constant vigilance and constant maintenance. Think downtime and vulnerability to ransom malware. This’ll cost you. 

Best option? Get a custom developed site, guaranteed to use as few plugins as possible because it is developed to do what you need it to from the get go

*For those of us who did not benefit from a classic education, this alludes to The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, a poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The line goes, ‘Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink”. Basically, despite being surrounded by lots of something, you can’t benefit from any of it.