WordPress has more than 49,000 plugins to choose from. They provide different functions that help users get the most out of your unique offerings online. Read about the 3 ways plugins affect site performance. Know what plugins are, understand how they work, and use them to optimize your website!
What are Plugins?
Plugins are like the applications we install in our phones and computers. For example, when we need a handy dictionary or want some entertainment, we install the necessary apps to cater to our needs and wants. Plugins work similarly.
When we install plugins to our WordPress websites, we provide ourselves and our site users with extra functions. There are a number of plugins already available to every WordPress website, but you can install additional ones to improve the experience that your users gets. You see, plugins allow you to customize our websites in the way you want.
Imagine being able to add contact forms, create forums, optimize SEO, secure your website from malware, avoid spams in comments, add media gallery, and so much more functionalities! You can find the appropriate plugin in the WordPress Plugin Directory or in other reliable plugin sources. Most of the plugins are entirely free, so you can just search for the one you like and install it to your website.
How to Install WordPress Plugins
Plugins are easy to install. However, they are only available to Wordpress.org websites. Here’s how to install a plugin from your admin area:
- Go to your WP admin area and hover over Plugins at the collapsible menu on the left and click Add New. It will direct you to an area where you can search for plugins.
- Once you’ve found what you like, simply click on the plugin and install it.
- A success message will greet you afterwards.
- Once you see the message, click on the activation link to complete the installation.
- When done, you can then configure your plugin settings to suit you best.
There are also free and commercial options outside of the WordPress directory. When you’ve downloaded your plugin from the outside source, here’s how to install:
- Follow step 1 above.
- Click the Upload Plugin button beside Add Plugins.
- Upload your plugin file in .zip and click Install Now.
- Follow steps 3 to 5 in the previous set of instructions.
You can do the same if you choose to download a file from the WP Plugins directory first instead of directly installing them from the plugins area in your admin. To deactivate, simply head on to your admin collapsible menu > Plugins > Installed Plugins and click deactivate under the plugin you wish to get rid of.
You are free to choose which plugins stays and which do not. Only remember to check the credibility of those plugins first before installing them. They might be harmful for your site.
How Plugins Affect Site Performance
Plugins give you a variety of ways to make your website more useful to users. If you want them to have a forum in your site, you can install a plugin that can help you do it. If you want to avoid spammers, you can also find a plugin that can do the work for you.
Whatever you wish to achieve, your site’s look and feel matter. Here’s how plugins make or break your website:
1. Strengthen or Threaten Security
It is not a secret that WordPress is the most popular content management system. This, however, makes it even more vulnerable to hackers and other security threats.
Such threats also lurk around plugins. In April 2016, 11.5 million documents of wealthy personalities and public officials around the world were exposed. The case is known as the Panama Papers. In the investigation, as reported by Checkmarx, they found that an outdated WP plugin was behind the largest data leak in history.
Poorly coded and outdated plugins give way to different attacks. They weaken site security, thus, making them vulnerable. It happens among online stores, education portals—anywhere in the internet.
This is why it’s critical to update your website regularly. You never know what could happen, but you can prepare for it. Once a threat penetrates a system, it can do whatever it wants.
You can invest on security plugins to protect your account.
In a study by CreativeMinds, only 2% of WordPress users think that codes are important in plugins. Many believe that security and support matter most. It’s good to remember that codes contribute a lot to the security that a plugin has. A poorly coded plugin can affect your site negatively. This goes the same for outdated ones.
Here’s what you can do to strengthen your site security through plugins:
- Browse through your database and find those plugins that could no longer be used or you’ve already forgotten about, and deactivate them.
- Be aware of new plugin releases, and upgrade your old ones when necessary. Keep your plugins fresh and your website in good shape.
2. Boost or Slow Down Site Speed
Site speed is another key player in user experience. Too often users leave websites that take a long time to load. Everyone simply doesn’t have all the time to wait when there are alternatives.
Plugins can either boost or slow down your site speed. When a user visits a page in your website, it activates the plugins it contains. In the process, the plugins send requests between server and browser to provide the user with the feature or function he needs. It could take some time for that page to load depending on the number of requests sent.
Regardless of the number of plugins you have, quality remains to be the top priority. Many issues, such as security breach, usually come from having poorly coded plugins. They create penetrable holes that weaken your system.
Quality also necessitates compatibility. Refrain from using two or more plugins with the same function or feature. In the same study by CreativeMinds, only 1% of WP users look for compatibility in plugins.
It’s good to remember that some themes and plugins don’t work with certain plugins. They can work against one another in your site if you choose to keep them. For this, know what you want to achieve, keep the plugin that can give the best solution, and deactivate those that don’t.
You can use reliable plugin evaluation tools, such as ManageWP.org, to help you decide.
Things to Consider
While there are thousands of plugins available within and outside of WordPress, we have to consider some important things first.
- CONSIDER QUALITY. Before installing plugins, make sure to choose only those with good quality. When you find a plugin you like, browse through its features and snapshots. You might also want to consider going through its user reviews, ratings, number of downloads, and its author. Anyone can create a plugin, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- CONSIDER CLEANING. Deactivate plugins that you no longer use. They will continue to work unless you get rid of them. Keeping unnecessary plugins can interfere with your new ones.
- CONSIDER UPDATING. Make sure the plugins you install and use are updated. Outdated plugins can weaken the security of your website. The older they are, the more susceptible they are to being broken.
Plugins provide you with limitless possibilities to customize your WordPress websites. Depending on the type of website you have, you may need to maintain only a few plugins. To keep your website at its best, remember to keep only those that are needful, and update them when necessary.
If you have anything you’d like to say about the 3 Ways Plugins Affect Site Performance, write down a comment or suggestion. We love hearing from you!
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