WordPress has revolutionized how people build websites. There are hundreds of WordPress sites being launched daily, and that number keeps growing exponentially. WordPress is an open source CMS that gives you the ability to customize and develop your website to your specific needs and wants. WordPress allows the everyday person to launch a website in just a fraction of the time it would have taken just a few years ago.
One of the biggest factors that sets WordPress aside from any other CMS is their extensive library of Plugins. Plugins allow you to expand WordPress’s platform – they also allow you to do anything with your website that you can think of, like add a slider or appointment calendar or even something as simple as a contact form. WordPress’s directory of Plugin’s gives the Average Joe the ability to implement things that would have taken hours of coding in just minutes. But as we all know, with all good things there are some flaws.
Adding numerous Plugins to your site to handle all of the dirty work of coding out things may seem like the easiest and fastest route to take, but it is not efficient. Having your site rely on plugin’s to handle many of the sites features will only open the door for more difficulties and problems involving your website later on down the road, like page speed and site maintenance.
As a developer, one of the most important things to keep in mind when developing a website is user experience. In short, user experience, in regards to web development, is how the overall experience is for the user when using the website and ensuring that the website is easy to use and pleasing to the user. One of the biggest determining factors of whether or not a user is going to stay on your website and do what you actually want them to do is page speed, or how fast the web page loads for the user.
Since Plugins are an extension of what comes stock with WordPress, you need to install heavy files in order to have these plugins work within your site. Doing so will only slow down your website since it now has to load twice (sometimes even triple!) the amount of files your site initially had to load if you would have just coded out that simple contact form rather than uploading a contact form plugin to do it for you.
Plugins, as well as bogging down your load times, also open the door to vulnerabilities within your website. Vulnerabilities include backdoors, pharma hacks and malicious redirects. What these hacks can do are endless and detrimental to your website. A simple malware hack from an outdated plugin can cause your entire website to go down or even get you blacklisted on search engines for having malicious files within your website. All this is happening because you think you are only helping yourself by adding plugins, when in reality you could be hurting your website. Although there are things such as SiteLock out there that will help you scan your files for Malware and malicious redirects, you still are opening the door to these vulnerabilities.
Plugins are constantly being modified by the author, so these plugins will need to be updated regularly when a new version is released. With this it causes you to constantly update your websites plugins which is not only time consuming, but extremely crucial since a majority of hacks come from outdated plugins and themes. In the beginning, adding Plugins may seem like the fastest and easiest route to take, but in the long run it is only going to cause you to keep an eye on your site more than if everything within your site was hard coded to hold it together.
Now, I am not saying that you should never use a plugin on your WordPress site or to never have more than one, that’s not the case. But it is important to keep in mind when developing your website whether or not you actually need a Plugin to handle a specific function or is it beneficial to just take the time out and hard code it so you don’t have to worry about whether or not your plugin is going to need to be updated anytime soon to avoid a potential hack.
In my experience, you can develop a website with a bunch of different user functionalities while only using 3-5 plugins. With that being said, here’s a great write up on some awesome plugins to use on an everyday basis.