WordPress — How many plugins should I install at most?

Do you know that WordPress is the most used content management system in the world?

More than 500 sites are designed every day with this CMS which also offers a library of more than 55,000 plugins.

When it comes to plugins, many entrepreneurs cannot imagine their importance.

Some don’t know how they work, while others wonder how many to install on their business website …

So how many plugins should you install on your website? Is there a maximum number that should not be exceeded?

It was the exchange I had with Laurent that allowed me to understand why it is important to use WordPress plugins.

It is not the number of plugins installed that is important. Rather, their quality is decisive. One “bad” extension can have disastrous effects on the performance and security of your site.

But before I find out how many plugins can be installed on your website, I’ll try to answer these questions:

  • How do WordPress plugins work?
  • Are they essential for your WordPress site?
  • Can they have an impact on the speed and performance of your website?
  • Are WP plugins reliable?
  • Can they make your site more vulnerable?
  • Is it possible to not use extensions, but just add snippets?
  • How to choose your plugins?

What are WordPress plugins used for?

Since version 1.2 released in May 2004, WordPress supports many plugins specific to the CMS.

To put it simply, the concept of plugins is similar to that of the applications that you install on your smartphone.

They add new functionality to your WordPress site or extend existing functionality.

You can, for example:

  • Create contact forms, subscription to your newsletter,
  • Create an online store,
  • Publish your Instagram feed …

And to parody, the Apple slogan, when you are looking to improve your website, have the reflex “there is an extension for that”.

And it is not Thierry, my angel for WordPress who will contradict me:

Publishing a professional WordPress website without any plugin is practically inconceivable ! They have become essential. The possibilities become endless with the right WordPress plugins.

Technically, the plugins are written in PHP, just like the heart of the WordPress software. Their PHP code runs on your server at your host and therefore uses the resources of your host.

Are plugins essential for your WordPress site?

Without a doubt, the core of WordPress performs very well. However, some basic features are not available as standard.

I want to talk about:

  • Regularly back up the content of your website,
  • Secure your data, your content … and therefore your activity,
  • Speed ​​up the loading time of your pages …

And all this becomes immediate with the addition of the right plugins, without the help of a developer.

In addition, with a page builder, you will be able to build pages via drag and drop.

In addition, some extensions improve the performance of your site such as image compression, cache management, etc.

Not to mention, extensions to optimize the natural referencing of your site on search engines.

Finally, most of the most popular websites use WordPress plugins, so why not you?

This is the case of Neil Patel whose site has several million visitors per month and who is an expert recognized as such worldwide for SEO …

To sum up, you will have a hard time enjoying your work while developing the visibility of your website, without using these add-ons.

Can plugins degrade the performance of your website?

Plugins can have a negative impact on the performance of your WordPress site.

It depends on certain technical criteria.

  • Some plugins are too heavy and resource-intensive,
  • Others load automatically each time an Internet user accesses one of your pages while they are only useful in the administration console, for example.

In addition, here are some features for which some plugins slow down your site:

  • Adding custom styling or scripts that require additional HTTP requests. This usually concerns plugins that influence the layout.
  • Constantly queries the database. This is common in display modules for popular articles or related articles,
  • The amount of data added to the database. This may be the case with plugins which store statistics and their history,
  • Background processes. This is the case for extensions that constantly monitor broken links, which display the number of views on your articles …

Fortunately, there are solutions to all of these problems.

How to optimize the speed of your website?

To optimize the performance of your website, first, remove all unnecessary plugins … Also avoid leaving them also disabled.

Then for plugins that are constantly running background processes like monitoring broken links, 404 errors, ask yourself the following question:

Is it really useful to know in real-time that a link is broken?

My answer is NO.

This is why I recommend that you do not use them and run online services regularly:

  • Free as Broken Link Checker
  • Or premium solutions like SEMRush.

Likewise, plugins that consume too much server resources should be avoided at all costs. If not, switch to a more solid hosting solution, but in general, it’s backing up to jump better. Sooner or later, performance will deteriorate.

For extensions that add additional HTTP requests, install a caching plugin.

On #audreytips, I am using WP Rocket. In most cases, it manages to combine all the CSS and/or JS files into one, which de facto reduces the number of HTTP requests.

However, there may be cases where it does not work. In this case, I recommend that you do it manually.

Save additional stylesheets and scripts loaded by plugins. Then combine them in your theme’s style.css file and the main JavaScript file, respectively.

And best of all, load plugin styles and/or scripts only on pages where and when they are needed.

On the same topic: Secure your WordPress site with another login URL!

Are all WP plugins reliable?

The answer is no.

You are right to doubt the performance, security, and reliability of WordPress plugins at first.

But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some well-developed and maintained plugins like:

  • AMP for WP,
  • Beaver Builder,
  • Contact Form 7,
  • Elementor,
  • Gravity forms,
  • Imagify,
  • Sucuri,
  • WooCommerce,
  • WPML,
  • WP Rocket,
  • Yoast SEO …

In general, there are companies behind all these plugins and also a premium version.

But this is not necessarily the case.

WordPress developers and/or web hosting support technicians do not hesitate to provide feedback on social networks and review platforms. So, before installing a WordPress plugin, check its reputation on the web to determine if the quality is there.

Can plugins make your site more vulnerable?

The answer is yes.

A poorly coded WordPress plugin, like a theme, can be exploited by hackers. In this case, your website becomes vulnerable. But this is the case with virtually all software on the market.

So, take the initiative, install a recognized security plugin like Sucuri.

Is it possible to do without WordPress extensions?

Obviously, you can ask your WordPress developer to code the expected features or add the plugin code to your site.

Indeed, there are mainly 3 ways to do this:

  • Directly in your functions.php file,
  • Via an extension module developed for this,
  • Use a plugin to add custom snippets.

However, this does not change the problem since it is the same code. This, therefore, has the same impact in terms of performance and security as a stand-alone plugin.

How to choose your WordPress plugins?

Faced with the multitude of plugins available on the market, it can be difficult to make the right choice.

To choose the right WordPress plugin:

  • Do not hesitate to look at user reviews,
  • Check how many websites have it installed,
  • Check when it was last updated,
  • Make sure it comes from a reputable WordPress company or developer, among others if it’s a premium plugin,
  • Do not hesitate to inquire with the webmasters that you know …

Note: If you opt for a free plugin, be sure to download it only from the WordPress.org plugin directory.

Now, on to the final question …

How many plugins can be installed on your website? Is there a maximum number that should not be exceeded?

Adding a single poorly coded plugin can slow down your WordPress site.

Conversely, using several quality extensions can optimize the performance of it.

To sum up, it’s not the number of plugins installed on your website that will slow it down or not, but rather their quality.

Developers who say otherwise are usually the ones who want to make their jobs easier. Indeed, it is much easier to maintain a website with 5 plugins than 40.

There are sites that use more than 60 extensions and load quickly.

On average, most sites use at least 20–30 plugins.

On Audrey angel websites, the number of active plugins is:

  • #audreytips — I have 38 active plugins,
  • Proinfluent — Yannick, our LinkedIn expert, uses 43 active plugins,
  • WP Assistance — Thierry, the WordPress expert beats us in full swing with his 47 plugins.

And yet, the result of WP Assistance’s performance through Pingdom is impressive:

Despite its fifty plugins, WP assistance still loads under the bar of one second (638 milliseconds exactly).

In short, what is important is not the amount of extension, but rather their quality!

As long as they are of quality and meet WordPress coding standards, you can use as many extensions as you want.

Conclusion on the number of plugins to install on a WordPress site

Are you an entrepreneur using a WordPress site?

Know that there is no limit to the use of WordPress plugins.

In order not to slow down your website, however, I advise you to:

  • Basically, use the extensions you need,
  • Choose only quality plugins, which respect WordPress coding standards,
  • Avoid questionable plugins,
  • In short, favor quality over quantity …

Remember, however, too many plugins kill the plugin …

To save time on these technical aspects, here are my best WordPress plugins that I highly recommend you to use.

Written by

Christina Cheeseman is a Technology Strategist at Elitech Systems. She enjoys writing about Technology, marketing & industry trends.

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