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Could You Have Too Many Plugins?

Do you think you have too many plugins? Here’s what we think about this common issue.

The 8 Second Rule states that a user is likely to abandon your website if it takes 8 seconds or longer to load. Current research suggests that the time users are willing to wait for your website to load is continually decreasing, and in some cases can be about 2 seconds. In the age of six second videos, instant messaging, and communication with 140 characters or fewer, peoples’ patience is continually waning.

People don’t like to wait, and your website’s speed affects user satisfaction and can directly lead to business loss. Business loss, of course, is a loss in revenue. Potential customers may abandon an online purchase because your site is too slow, and they may never visit your site again. Website slowness can be due to non-optimized images, slow servers, bad code…lots of reasons. One biggie for WordPress websites, though, is too many plugins.

Plugin Overload

Having too many plugins can ruin an otherwise perfect website. The more plugins you have installed on your website, the more requests are made to your web server. The more requests made, the more your site slows down. Each plugin can add its own scripts and styles, increasing requests made per page load.

The little things can add up. Even if you have the absolute minimum amount of plugins, that still could mean quite a bit of requests, depending on the amount of visitors your site receives. Say your site has one plugin that makes about 20 requests per page load. 100 visitors per day would be 2,000 requests fulfilled. Now, imagine that one of your articles is shared on Facebook. You may have a day with a few thousand visitors. If your one plugin has 20 requests, then those few thousand visitors rocket the amount of requests past 20,000. Imagine a day with 20,000 visitors—that’s over 400,000 requests! And that may still be okay.

But what if you have 20 plugins and each has up to 20 requests that all need to be loaded? Think about what that can do to your website. You can very easily be well past the 8 second (or 3 second) rule.

But how many is too many?

There is no set number of plugins you should have on your website. WPBrain suggests that it may be a good goal to keep your site under 20. Yet, sometimes having more than 20 is unavoidable–plugins do different things, and you may need more than 30 to achieve your website’s goal. But, there are a few unnecessary types of plugins that we often integrate into our websites, causing delay:

Extremely large: When a larger block of code has to be loaded and processed, this has the potential to slow down the site’s rendering time.
Third-party resources: Widgets provided by services like Facebook, Twitter, etc. would fall into this category. Those social share buttons, or social timeline buttons have to be loaded from another server, so there’s a chance for a delay or even failure if there are problems with the other server. In bulk, these could cause some real problems.
Outdated or poorly coded: These can not only slow down your website, but can provide security issues as well. Sticking with popular, supported, known-safe plugins that have lots of downloads and high ratings is a good way to avoid this issue.

Solutions for Too Many Plugins

Get rid of some of those plugins! You should analyze each plugin on your website, then ask yourself whether the plugin actually helps your website reach its goal. No, coolness is not a valid reason to keep a plugin, especially if the plugin doesn’t help your website (or your business) reach goals that you know are important. You should also delete inactive plugins. They’re not useful to your site at all, and can actually cause clutter on your dashboard too.

If you decide that you really do need all of those plugins, you may want to hire a developer to help you sort through them all. A developer can also code some of the functionality of your plugins into your theme, reducing load time and streamlining your website’s performance. Remember that some plugins come with a lot of features, and many of which won’t be useful to you. You may install a plugin for one of its ten features, but the unused features’ code will still load, and that can slow things down. A developer can also help by creating custom plugins that give you exactly what you need and nothing more. And of course, you can try downloading a plugin to help you manage your plugins (one popular one is p3 plugin profiler).

How can we help you?