The Theory: WordPress Plugins Cause My Website to Run Slowly.
What is a WordPress Plugin?
One of the greatest benefits of using an open source platform like WordPress to develop websites on is the extensibility of adding plugins. Plugins are basically pieces of code that get bolted onto the website to either add or to change the way the site works.
What do the plugins do?
WordPress Plugins can do all sorts of things. Here’s a list of just a few of the things that a plugin can do for your website.
WordPress Plugins can…
- Keep your website secure by protecting you from attacks and spam
- Allow you to add functionality to your site like sliders or integrate Google reviews
- Optimize your site for speed by compressing images, manipulating theme files, or provide caching for faster delivery
- Put random Dolly Parton song quotes across your website (why on earth?) 🙂
- Allow you to track your website through Google Analytics
- SO much more…
For a long time there has been a rule saying you should not have more than 10-15 plugins on your website. More plugins are dangerous to the speed of the website and/or the stability. What this particular myth does not account for is that there are the 2 different types of plugins that you can install.
So, what are the types of plugins you can have?
These are plugins that do something visually on the site that your users can see. Those plugins run on the “front-end” or visual side of the site. Those types of plugins can slow your site down. If you’re running 4 different slider plugins, a plugin that does an image gallery, and a bunch of other things that have to load for your site to display, you’re going to have some serious LOAD PROBLEMS!
These are plugins that protect, optimize, and structure your website that often never do anything on the front side of your site. So basically, they only load when you’re logged into your WordPress Admin and are making changes on your site. You could have 20 of these plugins running optimizing images, scripts, CSS, and all the code and elements that run your website and you’d never know they are running. In fact, some of them actually SPEED YOUR SITE UP!
Will the WordPress Plugins slow down my site?
A website running the appropriate mixture of front-end and back-end plugins SHOULD NEVER experience slowness or instability from utilizing the plugins. That MYTH is totally busted. Now, if you don’t know what you’re doing and you just start installing tons of random plugins, you’ll likely have a problem, but the plugins alone are not the problem. It’s typically just bad overall website implementation that causes issues, not the number of plugins you’re using!
Examples of bad implementation choices: tech mumbo-jumbo to follow 😀
- Buying a “premium” theme that is loaded up with plugins that are required to use the theme is the big one. By running your site this way, it might look okay, but typically these types of themes take TONS of time to load because they are trying to predict anything and everything you’d ever do with your site and cram that into the theme. This typically does not work out well when you start trying to increase speed on your website.
- Running more than 1 slider plugin for WordPress. So you have Slider Revolution running for your homepage, but then you want a different kind of image slider to run your testimonials. Now you have multiple scripts trying to load at the same time. Most of them cannot be deferred until after page load, so now it slows down your site.
- Calling many different types of fonts from different locations. The premium themes mentioned above do this a lot. They’ll call in like 40 Google fonts in case you want to use one of them. All of those are each contributing to the weight of the page speed. They stack up to create lag time on your site.
- Bad Web Servers. Running a shared hosting platform can be awesome, it can also be painful depending on the type of website you have, and the provider that you’re using. They have limitations. Yes they are cheap, but there is always something you end up paying, and typically it’s paying by slow load time. So a bad server setup can hurt more than the plugins you choose to use.
As you can see there is a LOT that goes into getting that page speed you desire. Plugins play a part in this equation, but just having 20 plugins doesn’t make your site slower (or faster) by nature, it’s all about what you’re using and how you use it.
As you can see there is a LOT that goes into getting that page speed you desire. WordPress Plugins play a part in this equation, but just having 20 plugins doesn’t make your site slower (or faster) by nature, it’s all about what you’re using and how you use it.
How does Muletown Digital use WordPress Plugins?
We use a combination of front-end and back-end plugins in our build. Most of our websites load well under 3 seconds on average. Most of our sites run 15 or so plugins, and some run up 20-25 plugins on them.
We primarily use back-end plugins. They keep your site safe, secure, optimized, SEO-Friendly, blazing fast, and can provide a powerful framework for us to build on. We keep our front-end plugins to a bare minimum and build what we need into your custom theme.
Why should you care about this?
- Slow websites are bad for your users, they may leave before they even see what you have to offer.
- Slow websites are bad for SEO. Google tries to match searches with the best websites possible. If your website scores poorly in page speed you can bet your ranking will either drop or fail to grow.
- Plugins are not typically the root cause of website slowness. There are many other factors that play into this so it’s good to understand how all of this works.
- Plugins can be VERY helpful to the functionality of your website
- Plugins do NOT inherently slow down the speed of your website or signify a bad website build
- There are Front-End and Back-End plugins. A combination of both, used strategically will ultimately HELP your website
- There is no set number of plugins that will work for every single site out there.
If you’re not sure about your theme or plugins, or your website is running very sluggishly, we can run a FREE WEBSITE AUDIT on your site and give you an idea of what’s happening and how we can fix it! Let us know how we can help!