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Should I use plugins on my WordPress website?

17 Jun 2017
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Congratulations on selecting the right CMS and with millions of global WordPress users you have made the right choice! Ease of use and ‘seamless integration’ with third party plug-ins help WordPress thrive as the CMS leader. When you know the ground rules, it makes your life easier and helps your business to grow. We at WebSpeedMaster are living with WordPress since its birth and our expertise with it helps us deep dive with insights on how it works and how it should be handled in better ways to benefit businesses.

The best features are easy plug-ins and sometime it turns to be nightmare when you end up with the wrong plug-ins. So we wanted to take this up, share our experiences and would like to put up some useful notes.

Probably you have also followed all common trends and spiced up your website with awesome Word press plug-ins that offer helpful features like – auto backup , contact forms, for security, Google analytics integration, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to name a few basic ones among the vast ocean of plug-ins, some free and others at a premium price.

As a smart knowledgeable online e-business entrepreneur, you already know that-

“The faster the website loads, higher will be the customer conversion rates”

However did you know you could be losing customers due to “Word press Plug-ins” slowing down your website?

YES! Let us take a look at the real picture and see how these guidelines could help you.

Word press plug-ins has its advantages with ease of use but they also slow down the loading of your websites. For instance, so called ‘speed up plug-ins’ are usually built to increase your PageSpeed/YSlow score, or the pingdom score but in reality they leave us with slow loading sites.

So what are the reasons for Word press Plug-ins slowing down the websites?

1. Choice of Plug-ins  

Your choice of plug-ins can be a common cause. Plug-ins, are written by different developers with highly varying skill sets. Plug-ins with poor coding creates slow performance issues. Free Plug-ins does not get updated periodically, slow down sites, or are not supported and also are prone to be hacked. So you have to be very careful on what is installed and how many are installed. The rule of thumb is “Less plug-ins is best”. Choice of Plug-ins:

You can choose high quality plug-ins if available for the feature or preferably use custom code to enable more control on the code and functionality to improve site performance.

Here are some useful tips we recommend to help you choose the right WordPress plug-ins

  • Check for plug-ins with good reviews along with a 4 star or higher rating coupled with positive user experience from the community.
  • Compatibility of the selected plug-ins with recent version of WordPress or your specific theme is a core issue as WordPress changes rapidly and can lead to strange errors in the website. (Warning will say : “This plugin has not been tested with your current version of WordPress.”)
  • Always refer to the last updated date. Probably there should be an update at least on last 4-6 months else it could imply abandonment of development or support of the plugin.

2. Too many Plug-ins

The more plug-ins you use makes sites slow as the browser has to load more code which is not streamlined with your website code or themes. Plug-ins can conflict with each other slowing the site. Simpler codebase sites load faster than complex ones.Too many Plug-ins:

You should reduce number of plug-ins and add custom codes for the functionality that will be streamlined with your website code or themes.

3. Plug-ins loading too many scripts  

Plug-ins adds functionality to websites by loading of CSS files and JavaScript libraries on every page which is resource intensive. Loading too many scripts slows down your site. Each CSS or Java script library is loaded with an http request similar to an image that requires an http request to put web pages together.Plug-ins loading too many scripts

You have a Custom code options that can stop plug-ins from loading certain things altogether like – specify when the file is to be loaded, load assets asynchronously (controlling the timing of operations) and other techniques.

4. Overdose of database queries  

Plug-ins that has multiple database queries inbuilt to serve the complex functionalities may store values in database every time a page is loaded – which means additional multiple database requests for the number of times the page is loaded.Overdose of database queries:

You could try finding an alternate plug-in that makes fewer database calls or use custom code to reduce queries to the database, or cut down frequency of queries or kill specific database queries which help in saving processing power besides speeding your website.

5. Plug-ins performing complex operations

Complexity in plug-ins involves activities like querying large size data or actions with data which all impacts site speed performance. Queries become problematic with increasing data size which over time can slow the site or some functions drastically.

Plug-ins performing remote requests:

You could better have these types of complex operations off the word press hosting environment or optimize complex functions with custom code.

6. Plug-ins performing remote requests

Some plug-ins perform requests to external API’s from third party services. Running external requests impact the website performance.

Plug-ins performing remote requests
Using custom code to optimize and prevent remote requests every time the page loads will save time and effectively load the site.

Alternatives to plug-ins Setting aside the ease of adding plug-ins, if the quality of code is poor, your site will take more time to load. Using manual codes is better than plug-ins. A good example would be – instead of using the hugely popular ‘Yet Another Related Posts Plug-in’ (YARRP), using custom codes to show ‘related posts’ would make it much simpler and faster.

Let us look at a popular plug-in like Lazyload.

Lazyload plugin case study

Lazy load plug-ins is used to improve page load times by delaying the loading of images till it is in the viewport (web page part that the user can currently see). Images bring life to the site in displaying graphics or products the customer would like to buy. However unless you check the compatibility of the theme code and plug-ins or with the users browser, you could be losing customers views and opportunities for sales. Mobile and tablet devices many times do not trigger lazy loading events unless the user has scrolled the full page. Let us look at an example below.

A simple case is wordpress themes or plug-ins which loads dynamic views. Dynamic views will not load if javascript is disabled on a theme page. The same can happen if the user’s browser has javascript disabled. In both these instances, you lose thousands of customer page views. The solution would be to have custom code that takes care of ‘what-to-do if Javascript disabled’ scenarios which will ensure that your pages load properly and customer page views are ensured at all times. Custom code can help you avoid loss of customer views with plug-ins with mysterious and hidden code.

At the surface, you may or may not have realized the complexity in Word press Plug-ins and the impacts to your sites loading speeds as elaborated above. We at WebSpeedMaster can help you to speed up your website with optimal custom coding solutions and remove the plug-ins bottlenecks.

Our highly experienced and skilled technical consultants can help improve loading speed by reducing the number of plug-ins yet have the desired functionality with high quality coding that amalgamates with your website codes or themes and prevents the site speed bottlenecks by readymade plug-ins.

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