How Many WordPress Plugins is Too Much?

How Many WordPress Plugins is Too Much?
  • 6 min read

Who doesn’t love a good plugin? Remember coding a responsive form from scratch? Adding login security? Or building a product ordering process? Now, you don’t have to. WordPress plugins do the heavy lifting, are mostly free, and install in seconds. What’s not to like? And there’s a lot of them! Almost 60,000 quick and easy ways to extend functionality and add features to your website.

Sometimes too much of a good thing turns bad. We’ve all eaten too many wings, listened to too much Taylor Swift, and logged in to those websites with 75 plugins, none of which are up to date, right? 

So, when it comes to WordPress plugins, just how many is too much? Well, most people agree: as many as it takes.

WordPress Plugins – and the Living is Easy

WordPress plugins make life easier for the user in both the front and the back end, but how many are a good thing, and when does plugin bloat start to show? The answer depends on your website’s needs. But even here, like in many things, quality is more important than quantity.

If you ask around, most WordPress sites have between 20 and 30 plugins. Some sites run just fine with five plugins while other sites need 50 to function. What’s the best number for your own website? How many do you need for your client’s site? 

Here’s the Golden Rule for WordPress Plugins

  • only use as many plugins to offer essential functionality
  • get those plugins from a reputable source – like the WordPress library or maybe develop them yourself,
  • and keep them up to date. 

It’s when you don’t follow the Golden Rule trouble might set in.And hey, review your needs going forward too. Just because you needed an image optimization plugin when the site started, doesn’t mean it still does. Deactivate and uninstall any you no longer need – after backing up of course.

Install the essential WordPress plugins you need, get them from trusted people, keep the plugins up to date, and get rid of them when your site and hosting change.

“Many non-essential WordPress plugins add functionality or style in a way that slows a website down. Often, there are better ways of accomplishing the same without a plugin.”

Search Engine Journal

The Double-Edged Sword of WordPress Plugins

WordPress Core is like LEGO. You need certain add-ons to create that representation of your city in your basement. Since there are numerous free and premium plugins, you’re confident in WordPress’ lifetime extensibility. However, installing too many may lead to compatibility issues which may potentially impact your site’s performance.

Each plugin adds new code to your site, increasing the likelihood of conflicts between plugins. These conflicts can result in various errors, from minor glitches to site-wide crashes. And don’t forget, uninstalling a plugin doesn’t delete the table.

The Consequences of Plugin Bloat 

Excessive plugins can harm both your site’s performance and security. Risks include security vulnerabilities from low-quality plugins, outdated plugins, lack of support leading to potential downtime, as well as the presence of malicious code.

Additionally, too many plugins may slow down your site and cause compatibility issues, while neglecting plugin updates can leave your site vulnerable. Opting for well-supported, maintained, compatible, and secure plugins is crucial for a smooth-running website.

WordPress plugins can impact your website’s performance and security in several ways:

Additional HTTP Requests: Plugins often add scripts to your website, increasing the number of HTTP requests. Well-optimized plugins and capable web hosting can manage additional requests without significant slowdowns.

Increased Database Requests: Each plugin connects to your website’s database, potentially leading to more database queries. Excessive queries can slow down your site, although database optimization plugins may offer limited improvement.

Security Risks: Poor-quality plugins or outdated ones create security vulnerabilities that hackers exploit to access your site data. It’s also not uncommon for plugins to contain malicious code that harms your site or exposes it to viruses and malware.

Consider plugin support: Using plugins that lack reliable support can lead to downtime if issues arise.

Plugin Bloat: The more plugins you have, the more resources your site requires to load, which may result in poor load times and a negative user experience.

Compatibility Issues: Incompatible plugins can cause conflicts with your theme, leading to various website errors.

Maintenance Exhaustion: Failing to keep your plugins up-to-date can result in site vulnerabilities, as regular updates address security issues and bugs. You also lessen the learning curve for your team and your clients.

Ultimately, the number of plugins on your WordPress site is less significant than their quality. A well-coded plugin is invaluable, while a poorly coded one can be detrimental, regardless of its apparent usefulness.The plugin debate revolves around finding the right balance between leveraging plugins’ benefits and minimizing their drawbacks.

If you want your site to run smoothly, choosing plugins with a proven track record of support, maintenance, compatibility, security, and performance is vital.

A Reminder About Nulled WordPress Plugins

Or, better yet, forget them. Nulled plugins and themes are a significant concern. These are essentially pirated versions of premium plugins or themes, available for free. While they may seem like a great way to save money, they can pose serious security risks, which is why we at Rocket.net do not allow them in our hosting packages.

“Nulled plugins often contain hidden malicious code that can lead to malware infections, data breaches, and other security issues.”

Rocket.net – Why Rocket.net Prohibits Nulled WordPress Themes and Plugins

What is the Ideal Number of WordPress Plugins?

There’s no definitive answer to the question of how many plugins are too many. Some websites run smoothly with 50 plugins, while others start experiencing issues with just five. It all depends on the quality of the plugins and your hosting environment.

Asking around, it seems that 20 to 30 is the number most people are using on their site. 

At the end of the day, how many plugins you need really comes down to knowing what functionality your website requires.

What Functionality Does Your Website Need?

Your website needs to be found, it needs to load, and it needs to work. That’s it. That’s everything in a nutshell. How many plugins would that take? Three? Five? How about ten?

  1. Security (and Backup)
  2. Optimize / Cache / Image compression
  3. Forms and Spam prevention (perhaps a newsletter)
  4. Data protection and Cookies Acceptance
  5. Search Engine Optimization / Open Graph / Schema
  6. Analytics (we’re on the fence here)
  7. Transactional Emails

Then there’s UX to consider. Your website may require extra functionality, especially if you have an online shop.

  1. Shopping functions like WooCommerce.
  2. Payment Gateways
  3. Page Builder
  4. Social or Chat support

“Maybe your question is: how many plugins can I install on my website or store without worrying about consequences? What’s the maximum number of WordPress plugins I can have installed? You might find yourself surprised by the answer.”

codeable.io

How Many Plugins? Decide by Reviewing the Website Functionality

Still unsure? Identify your website’s core needs. Make a list of the core functionalities your website requires. This could be things like contact forms, galleries, SEO optimization, security measures, or specific features required for your niche (e.g., bookings for a restaurant).

Match Features to Plugins: Look at your installed plugins and see if they directly address a need on your list. If a plugin provides a feature you don’t use, it’s likely not essential.

Consider Alternatives: For some functionalities, there might be built-in WordPress features or free alternatives that can replace paid plugins. Explore these options before keeping a premium plugin.

How Many Plugins? Review Your Technical Considerations

Compatibility: Ensure your plugins are compatible with your current version of WordPress. Incompatible plugins can cause website malfunctions. And don’t use overlapping plugins. If you’re using RankMath Pro, for example, you don’t also need a custom Schema plugin.

Resource Usage: Some plugins can be resource-intensive, slowing down your website. If you notice performance issues after installing a plugin, investigate if it’s the culprit.

How Many Plugins? Here’s Some Additional Factors

User Ratings and Reviews: Read user reviews on the WordPress plugin directory or other trusted sources to get insights into the plugin’s reliability, functionality, and support quality. Some plugins work better with others and some alone.

Support Availability: Having access to good support is crucial, especially for complex plugins. Check the plugin’s website or documentation to see what kind of support they offer (free, paid, etc.).

Keeping a Lean Setup: The more plugins you have, the higher the risk of conflicts and security vulnerabilities. Aim for a streamlined setup with only the plugins you truly need. So, do you have the ability to keep an eye on the backend? How about your client’s websites?

Determining the ideal number of WordPress plugins is subjective, but efficiency, functionality, and your capabilities should guide your choices. Quality, relevance, and maintenance are key factors; excessive plugins aren’t inherently problematic if you can manage them properly.

Hot Tip: Don’t forget to choose a performant web host. Managed hosting offers many advantages. When it comes to plugins, you may find yourself actually saving time and money.

Case Study: The WordPress Plugin Diet Plan: How to Trim Fat & Boost Performance

Fewer Plugins (or none at all)

Raj Shah is an enterprise SEO manager who has led high-performing teams at companies like AutoZone, Staples, and Oriental Trading Company.

Reducing the number of plugins was Raj’s mission, not only from a cost savings perspective but to also improve performance & reduce the complexity of managing multiple plugins across multiple WordPress sites.

“Before migrating to Rocket.net, Raj spent on average $250 per year on various plugins to help optimize and protect an individual site and about 2 hours per month updating, configuring, learning, and tweaking settings.”

Read the case study on Rocket.net

Let’s Wrap it Up: How Many WordPress Plugins is Too Much

You’re always striking a balance between functionality and performance when it comes to your websites. Like any tool, it’s not about the number, it’s about the quality. Always opt for well-coded plugins from reputable developers, keep them updated, and avoid nulled plugins at all costs.

So, how many WordPress plugins are too much? The answer is as many as your sites can handle without compromising on speed, security, and manageability. 

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