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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Why Most WordPress Plugins Aren’t Worth Your Time and the 6 That Really Matter

Eric Binnion

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WordPress’s huge popularity is largely due to its ability to become anything by installing plugins. If you want some special functionality for your website, there is almost always a free plugin that can handle it for you.

But, even though WordPress plugins can provide some amazing functionality, there are tons of plugins out there that will just give you nightmares. All you have to do is Google “WordPress plugin crashed” to see what I’m talking about.

The problem is that many free plugins on the market were either not coded properly from the beginning, or have not been updated over time. Both of these lead to big issues on your WordPress website.

Why Most WordPress Plugins Aren’t Worth Your Time

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Picture this. You imaging a new feature for your WordPress website, and you scour the web trying to find a plugin with that feature since you are not a programmer. After an hour you find what you think is a good plugin. You install and activate the plugin, only to find out that your website has crashed! Uh oh…

Websites crashing due to bad WordPress plugins happens quite often. Even big companies like Facebook have released bad plugins that brought down websites. Many times, a crash can happen just because of one letter or word being out of place.

But, this type of bad WordPress plugin is usually not that bad. Just delete the plugin and don’t use it again. Problem solved. Truly bad WordPress plugins are the ones that make your WordPress website vulnerable to malware or ones that slow your website to a crawl.

WordPress plugins can slow your website down in many ways, but usually it is due to:

  1. Loading Unnecessary Files. Let’s say you only have one photo gallery page. It would be ideal then to only have the CSS and JS for that gallery loaded on the one gallery page. But, some plugins will instead load the CSS and JS on every single page.
  2. Not Enqueueing Properly. When plugins do not properly enqueue CSS and JS, WordPress doesn’t know which files are on the page. Because of this you can run into issues where there are duplicate libraries being called or dependencies not being loaded. All of which can cause errors and slow page speed.
  3. Making a Ton of Requests. There are plugins out there that will call an API every time the plugin loads instead of storing the data temporarily using the transients API.

Usually it’s not that difficult to track down a slow WordPress plugin. You can usually use services such as WebPageTest.org to see what is slowing down your WordPress website. The real issue is when a WordPress plugin makes your website vulnerable to attacks. This is usually because the plugin does not sanitize or validate data or because the plugin includes libraries with vulnerabilities in them.

There are plenty of bad WordPress plugins out there, but there are some good ones.

The Top WordPress Plugins That Are Worth Your Time

Yea, the last few paragraphs might have scared you away from using WordPress plugins. But let’s be honest, WordPress wouldn’t be what it is without them. And there definitely are some amazing plugins out there. Below is a list of our favorite plugins that we either use or have used here at Art of Blog:

  1. Photodropper. This plugin makes it easy to find and insert free images into your WordPress website. I use this on my personal website and on Art of Blog.
  2. WordPress SEO by Yoast. This is arguably the best plugin on the market for SEO, and it’s free. This plugin not only handles the typical SEO, but it does more advanced redirects, integrates with OpenGraph, and even takes care of sitemaps! Can’t beat this amazing plugin.
  3. Akismet. This plugin goes without saying. Comment spam is horrible…
  4. Broken Link Checker. Bad links can tank your SEO. This plugin will check your website periodically for bad links from within your posts and comments and helps you update or remove bad links.
  5. Gravity Forms. We’ve used Gravity Forms for everything from a basic contact form to surveys and polls. This plugin is well worth the money!
  6. WP Super Cache. We have had very few problems with this plugin across all of our websites. Highly recommend for  your WordPress website.

What Do You Think?

What has your experience been with WordPress plugins? What are your most, or least, favorite WordPress plugins?

Leave a comment below with your thoughts!

The post Why Most WordPress Plugins Aren’t Worth Your Time and the 6 That Really Matter appeared first on Art of Blog.

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