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Own Your Plugins (Rather Than Vice Versa)

plugsLast time we looked at why you want to rely on plugins for adding functionality to your WordPress site, rather than letting your theme do the heavy lifting for you. Flexibility is the word!

At the same time, it’s very easy to go plugin-happy and install way more than you need on your site. Every new plugin you install adds more calls to the server. That is, your visitor’s browser has to talk to your Web host more and more. More talking equals slower load times, and slower load times lead to frustrated visitors. Not to mention, Google likes your site better if it loads fast.

Avoiding Plugin Overload

There are a number of strategies to avoid plugin overload on your site.

1. Only install plugins that you really need

It can be tempting to install every shiny plugin that you come across that might add something cool to your site. But before you install that plugin, stop and think: “Do I really need to display a random picture of a cat on my home page?”

2. Don’t use multiple plugins to achieve something you can achieve with one plugin

In the Web world, less is more. If, say,  you use one plugin that lets you build a contact form on a page, and one plugin that lets you build a short contact form in a widget, you’re better off using one plugin that allows you to do both.

3. Deactivate plugins you don’t need

It’s fine to install several plugins to test them out. To stick with our contact form example, there are several good form plugins available. Install as many as you want and see which one you like best; but once you’ve settled on your favorite, turn off the others! That leads to…

4. Delete unused plugins

This is more for security purposes than for site speed. If you delete your unused plugins, you no longer have to worry about keeping them updated.

5. Use a caching plugin

A caching plugin will take all of your various theme and plugin files and combine them into one file. This can greatly speed up your page load time – the browser only has to ask for one file instead of twenty.

By keeping your plugins streamlined, you’ll keep your WordPress site running smoothly and efficiently. Have fun with the possibilities plugins offer, but don’t let them overrun your site!

Photo Credit: Globalism Pictures via Compfight cc