Best Practices for WordPress Plugins

Oct 5, 2016 | Web Design Tips, WordPress Plugins, WordPress Wednesday

How many plugins should you use?
How do you choose a plugin?
How do you know what’s best?

Kori Ashton from WebTegrity gives us the Best Practices when dealing with WordPress Plugins.

Full Video Transcript

Hey y’all, this is another WordPress Wednesday. My name is Kori Ashton at WebTegrity in San Antonio, Texas and we’re just a bunch of WordPress nerds that geek out, nerd out on all this fun stuff.

Today, specifically, I want to talk to you about best practices when it comes to your WordPress plugins.
How many should you be running? Do you need to update them when there’s an update alert? How do you choose the best plugins? Let’s get into it, I’m gonna make this video as short as possible, though, so you can just learn quickly. If you need to, pause me and rewind me.

Here we go.

Looking at your plugins, of course, this is only relevant to those that are running on a self-hosted version of WordPress. So, if you’re running on WordPress dot com, you are not going to be able to see this area inside of your dashboard. You need to be on a self-hosted version. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ll put another video link down in the description box below. Click the “Show More” option and you’ll be able to see a link to a video that will explain the difference between the dot com and dot org versions of WordPress.

Alright, for all those who have a self-hosted version and you’re thinking, “Gosh, I log in here and I’ve got 32 active plugins”. Thankfully, this install we only have five active plugins.

How many plugins should you be running?

So, there’s nothing over on the codex that designates a specific number. This is only my opinion after years and year of developing WordPress websites. What we’ve seen is right about the limit of one dozen plugins. You start to see the website really slow down. Become very sluggish in loading pages. We also start to see some conflict of code, which is a serious concern. Some breaking things take place or just some wonkiness take place on the site.

So, just be sure, as you’re coming into your dashboard (and you’re taking a look at your plugins) that if you have more than a dozen active…The fewer the better, right y’all? The fewer the better.

But, if you have over that, I want you to take a look and see; “Can I eliminate some of these?”, “Are they all necessary?”.

You certainly don’t need two caching plugins. One is good enough if you have to have it. If your host doesn’t already provide that. You don’t need multiple security plugins. Again, your host should be providing that for you. Like WPEngine does.

If they’re not doing that, then one plugin is plenty. You do not need multiple SEO plugins. Just try to go through here and see what is absolutely necessary.

You’re gonna find, the more of these that you can eliminate the faster your website is going to load. The last hassle in maintaining all these is making sure they’re all up to date. Which is a huge, huge necessity.

You always need to be sure that these plugins are fully up-to-date. You can see, right here, that there’s an alert telling me that my visual composer plugin is requiring an update. There’s a new version available.

It’s a little tricky, if you’ve got a premium plugin like this, to make this update happen. But, for the most part, it’s super simple just to click one button and click an update option in here and things are up-to-date and secure, yet again. Super important that you do that and what about choosing a plugin?

What’s the best practice when it comes to choosing a plugin?

Going here and clicking “Add New” plugin to your website, of course, if you’re under 12, right? We don’t want to be adding more than 12. That’s just our opinion. That’s just a WebTegrity standard. We like to see websites go live with actually seven or less. Sometimes, you have to have those photo galleries or the Yoast plugin. That’s what I’m showing you here. This is a best practice.

When you’re gonna go search for any plugin out there, you want to look for a couple of things to be sure that it’s adequate or safe enough to use on your website.

So, first things first, go have a backup of your website in place before you start adding anyone else’s code or plugin. You definitely want to be sure that you have that in place. If you don’t know how to do that, I have another video that teaches you how to backup your WordPress website for free. I’ll put that in the description box below, as well.

Once that backup is in place and you know today that you have a current version in case something goes weird and you can roll this back. You can come here. We’re looking specifically at the Yoast SEO plugin, which is a great plugin for helping you be responsible for your content. Held accountable for how you’re writing your content on your website for best practices when it comes to SEO.

What I want you to check are a few things using any plugin for that matter. You want to make sure it has a lot of installs, so we know this is tried and true. That it’s compatible with your most recent version of WordPress. That simply means that there should be no errors when you click “Activate”, so that’s great to know. The other thing is, you want to be sure that it’s been updated recently.

What you don’t want to do is come here and try to find a plugin to use and it’s been updated two years ago. That more than likely is going to be a red flag to anyone trying to hack your website. This one says a year ago. I would just say, this one says “Untested”. It’s only got 2,000. Even though it’s got pretty good reviews, still try to go with something that’s definitely more tried and true. So, that’s best practices when it comes to choosing a plugin. Of course, that goes the same for you bouncing over to an area for premium plugins.

You want to always be sure that as you’re searching through for premium plugins, that it has great reviews. That it’s been around for a long time. That it’s ready to go for your most recent version and that all the authors are responding great for support with any questions that you may have. All of this is so important, y’all.

You need to be sure that all the plugins are up to date and if you’re struggling this or if some of this seems a little over your head, please give us a call over here at WebTegrity. Shoot us an email over on Give us a tweet. Somehow reach out to us. We’d love to help you be sure that your website is safe, optimized, and loading quickly so that Google loves you.

And that your users have a really great experience being on your website. We hope you have a great WordPress Wednesday. Subscribe, because I’ll be doing this every week. See you next time. Bye, bye y’all.

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