This question has often been asked in the WordPress community and there really isn’t answer to be quite honest.

Plugins are essentially pieces of code that can be added to WordPress that provide additional functionality. There are literally thousands of WordPress plugins that can offer a solution to almost everything you’re looking for. In fact there are dozens of plugins available offering similar functionality.

Through the WordPress dashboard anyone can search through the thousands of available plugins that can be installed with just a couple clicks. This sometimes leads to webmasters going plugin-crazy not knowing that they are hindering on the overall website’s performance.

Recently I was hired to improve the performance of a clients WordPress website which had serious page loading problems. Upon reviewing the plugins I noticed that most of them were redundant or unnecessary. Often times plugins are installed for functionality that is already available through the theme or existing plugins. This particular client had a plugin for Google XML sitemaps when they already had YOAST for SEO installed which provides that functionality.

Upon reviewing the installed/activated plugins with the client we removed roughly 3/4 of them. The end result was the site speed skyrocketed almost 50%.

When it comes to purchasing a web hosting package you typically get what you pay for. Being on a good quality web hosting package allows a website with many plugins to run more efficiently since scripts can be executed faster.  While it’s tempting to purchase a $2/month hosting package this can negatively affect your overall site performance. I recently migrated a clients website which normally took 10 seconds to load on their hosting package only took 3 seconds to load on dedicated server. If you understand the importance of page speed, then you’ll understand that significant different in loading time can determine the overall success of a website.

How to know which plugins are slowing down your website?

P3 Profiler is a useful plugin to see which plugins are using up the most resources. By looking at a simple pie chart you can see a breakdown of which ones are the biggest memory hogs. Based on the information provided through this plugin you can then made an executive decision as to whether to keep or replace them.

Aside from too many plugins bogging down your site’s performance you also have to keep in mind that not all plugins play well together. However rare, code conflicts do occur which can sometimes affect other plugins or worse crash your entire website. This is why it’s important to setup your site in a testing environment.

If you’d like to setup a testing environment on your local machine that works similar to a hosting environment then I highly recommend downloading and installing XAMPP. When planning on making any major changes such as testing new plugins, they should be installed first in a testing environment before applying them to a live website.

Here’s a few tips when installing WordPress Plugins:

1. Make sure the plugin is necessary and will improve the users overall site experience.
2. Read the plugins reviews to see what others have to say.
2. Review documentation and support forum.
3. Install the plugin in a testing environment such as XAMPP.
4. Keep plugins updated for security and performance updates.
5. Check page speed after the plugin is installed.
6. Compare against other plugins if possible.

So to answer the question of “How many plugins is too many?”, it’s really about the quality of the plugins rather than the number of plugins installed.

If you’d like to hire a WordPress expert to help you build a strong online presence, contact NexToronto WordPress Development today!