Plugins Pros and Cons: Learn How they can help or hurt your sitePlugins Pros and Cons: Learn How they can help or hurt your site

If you are a WordPress user like me, you probably have this same dilemma: Plugins, plugins, plugins!!!! WordPress is an awesome platform and web tool. You have the total control over your site and content. And the best part is you have every imaginable tool available to make it function according to everyone’s needs. But today I wanted to talk about Plugins pros and cons a little more in depth and how they can help, and also hurt your site.

Plugins Pros and Cons: Learn How they can help or hurt your site

Plugins Pros and Cons: Learn How they can help or hurt your site.

If you have been on WP forever then this post might make you re-think and consider a few things. If you are new to WP or if you are planning on moving to a self-hosted WP, then this post is a great place to start because you will be aware of what you are doing.

You know and I know we need plugins, right?… Why? I don’t know, I could list many reasons. But I’m guessing the biggest reason is that we want our posts to be seen and because we want our sites to perform well right? And let’s face it, we want things easy, the easiest the better, am I right? =D

We’ve got plugins for pretty much anything we can think of… It’s unbelievable the number of plugins we can find out there. Many of them are so awesome and help so much to build a great site. I personally love those plugins that make my site perform well and keeps it safe, of course also those that help me connect with the rest of the world.

THERE IS NO PERFECT PLUGIN BUT THERE ARE POORLY CODED PLUGINS

The thing with plugins is that they can hurt as much as they can help. If we don’t know exactly what they do and how they might behave with others already installed, they can be harmful. Many people seem not to be aware of how delicate it can be installing plugins like crazy and worse, leaving it installed and deactivated when they think those plugins don’t work as expected. And I believe some plugins can be REALLY bad. But there is no way to say this “XXX” plugin is really bad, because my system, my installs, and my whole site is not the same as yours. So a plugin can really hurt my site and they can be awesome on your site. Sadly, there is no perfect formula for this matter.

I just wanted to share with you some things that I’ve learned these past couple years that might help you prevent or fix some issues. It’s not about not using plugins, it’s more about wisely choosing the right and really necessary ones and of course a little of trial and error but never before doing some research. I’ll talk about my favorite plugins and why I love them, and also some tips to keep your site clean and safe.

It’s sad to say, but there are many poor coded plugins out there. They might do what they say they do, but sometimes they are hurting your site behind the scenes so you don’t see it until the whole site crashes. Not fun, huh?. Has it happened to you that overnight, something on your blog disappears or stops working, and you’re like WTH? And then if you have contacted host support they probably have told you to deactivate all your plugins and switch to a generic theme like twenty-fourteen or something and start activating plugins one by one until finding the problematic one. Am I close?

Well, that’s exactly what can happen when a plugin is conflicting with another one or even with your theme. A bad plugin can go from crashing your site (worst case scenario) to make stopping other functions. The most common and talked about issue is that they usually slow down your website, why we don’t want to happen, right?.

Plugins poorly coded will most likely to create issues, so it’s so important to check reviews, stars and mainly how many installs they’ve got. That tells you how popular it is and in consequence how good or bad it’s functioning. But again it also will be affected by our own system and settings. If someone had a bad experience and gave a bad review, it is not necessarily a bad plugin. But, if that plugin has no stars and only around 10 installs and 5 bad reviews I would say stay away from that plugin. On the contrary, if it has 5,000 installs, 4 starts and like 10 bad reviews against 100 good ones, chances are that it might be a good plugin with good experiences against a few bad ones. There is no perfect plugin, that’s for sure.

Let’s check out my favorite plugins and why they are my favorite…

My favorite plugins {apart from those necessary ones} and why I love them.

W3 Total Cache (W3TC) for sure! This plugin goes above and beyond greatness. This plugin keeps your system clean. If well setup, it will help your site load faster and cleaner. The performance with and without it makes a huge difference. But here again I’ve read some bad reviews but based on my experience using it for over a year, those people had either bad luck or some incompatibilities in their system. This plugin is by far the best site performance plugin. BUT… Be aware that not every host allows using this plugin. Some servers already have their own caching. But if yours does allows you, I totally recommend it. I used it until I switched hosts and couldn’t use it in the new one.

WordPress SEO by Yoast. SEO is a hard thing to understand. I tried to explain a little on this one in my post how to craft an SEO friendly post a while ago and also suggested using this plugin to help. This plugin gives you guides to where your keywords should be placed to make it better for SEO. It’s so easy to use. At the bottom of your post editor, you will find this plugin setting, you have to choose your keyword/phrase and add your meta description that will be in your search results and it will tell you if the keyword is in the correct places by putting it in red or green. If you are meticulous you can also use the advanced tab and it will tell you how you can improve it, even more, following their suggestions. This plugin can be connected with W3TC and improve performance even more.

Broken Link Checker. Gosh, you want to install this, mostly if you come from another platform. I didn’t do it in time and when I did I had over 1 thousand broken links, can you believe this? 1 thousand??? Some came from a whole post’s images. I was dying. It took me about 4 full days to fix all those broken links and I’ll probably get more with time. But beside this, what I loved about this plugin is that it tells me when a link to someone else’s blog got broken so you can go and fix it or delete it depending on the source of the issue. This plugin is a must have if you want to keep your site healthy. Again some hosts don’t allow using this plugin because it uses lots of resources. But if yours does, go for it!

ShortPixel Image Optimizer. This has become my new favorite. This plugin helps optimizing images so they are less heavy but keeping quality. It makes the site load faster by loading lighter images. I talked about this plugin on my post How images can affect positively and or negatively your SEO and Loading Time. Check out Shortpixel website HERE

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Easy Content Adder. I love this plugin because it’s a light and basic one. It only opens a space in posts and pages so you can add things like your signature, bio summary, short-codes to features and it all goes into one plugin and not 3 or 4 to add those things. What do I have there? I have my signature, my Bio summary Image and my subscription opt-in box. You could add there also the Pinterest widget and even ads. Mine are in core files but you can add them in this plugin and have it all in one place.

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Google Analytics for Dashboard or Google Analyticator. It annoys me to have to login to my GA to check my stats so this gives me the chance to see it on my dashboard. Not a big deal but helpful.

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Ultimate No Follow: This is another simple plugin that only adds the function of no follow links into your link box in the post editor. You don’t want to make everything dofollow, so this is helpful so you don’t have to go to text and add re=”nofollow” manually to each link you want no-follow. The easier the better, remember?

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Comment Email Reply. I love to let people know I read and reply to their comments, even if it’s just for a Thanks!… But my readers matter to me so I like them to know I read and appreciate them! So this is not a must have but I love what it does.

My not so favorite but useful plugins

JetPack. Uhmm not my favorite I must say. It’s heavy, it slows down the site a bit but it has some modules that I feel are super important like JetPack protect. I tried using another plugin for this but it didn’t work as I expected. I also use the shortlink and a couple more things that are not really important but since the plugin is there…

Shareaholic sharing button. I can’t say it’s my very favorite, but I like how easy it is to set it up, that they added floating buttons now and that it’s free. I’ve tried many others but they either slow down my site or create conflicts, so I decided to stick with this one since it works fine for me.

I use many others that I only use because keep updated, haven’t created any conflict and helps me with specific things for my system and interests. Like MailChimp {optin-box}, Triberr, Akismet {spam protection}, the usual, 301 redirects and permalink finder. I use a total of 22 plugins and 3 inactive {only because they belong to the host} and believe me If I could, I would have a lot less than that.

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Important tips to keep your plugin stock and site safe and healthy.

1.- Avoid installing more than one plugin for a specific task. For example, if you have W3TC, don’t install any other performance plugin nor any cache optimization plugin. It will create many conflicts and none will probably work properly. Another example is Sharing buttons, you don’t need to have 3 different ones. Find one that works for you and delete the rest. When plugins are conflicting, they slow down your site, make functions stop and can also open a breach for hackers or bad bots to enter! You definitely don’t want that to happen!

2.- If you decide a plugin no longer works for you, not only deactivate it, DELETE it. Even deactivated, plugins can create conflicts because the files and data are still there. No good will come from keeping them, quite the contrary. The worst that can happen is if you change your mind you go and install it again.

3.- Keep plugins up-to-date. YES update everything. I know sometimes updates mess up things but these guys go quick and release another update that fixes. Besides, if after a plugin update screws things up, you can go and deactivate it until another update is released. But outdated plugins are an easy way in for hackers and bad bots. You don’t want to get hacked, trust me, I know first hand.

4.- Keep plugins to the minimum. Don’t add them all just for fun or because they are cute, or hey! That’s interesting. Install plugins that you think will really help you reach specific goals. Excess of plugins slows down your site’s performance drastically.

5.- Don’t go blind installing. Take a few minutes to check them out first. Check stars, how many people gave 5 and how many gave 1. How many installs that plugin has already. Check for competitor’s plugins to see if they do better. A bad plugin can really hurt your site.

The bottom line…

I know you care about your site as much as I do about mine. And plugins are an important part of it. So use them but wisely and carefully and you will do great. Like we used to say in my country, plugins are a double-sided blade!

So, I would like to know your thoughts on this topic! Do you have any other tips when it comes to plugins that I didn’t mention? We can all benefit from your knowledge too!

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6 Comments on Plugins Pros and Cons: Learn How they can help or hurt your site

  1. avatar
    Lisa Sharp says:
    October 9, 2015

    Great tips! It’s so easy to install way too many plugins and slow your site down.

    • avatar
      Camila says:
      October 9, 2015

      Yes that’s right Lisa, We definitely forget about safety when it comes to our sites. It’s easy to get lost among so many awesome plugins! Thanks for taking the time to visit and read this post!
      Hugs

  2. avatar
    Winnie says:
    October 4, 2015

    You are so right Cami! We really have to watch the plugins we use.
    To be honest – I have a company that takes care of my site, so I don’t deal with these issues myself

  3. avatar
    Zografia says:
    October 3, 2015

    Thanks for such a helpful post. I donot have many plugins installed. I love Yoast SEO, it makes that weird thing much easier!

  4. avatar
    September 28, 2015

    Great info Cami! I always love learning how to make my site better and this info is prefect. Hugs, Lisa

    • avatar
      Camila says:
      September 28, 2015

      I’m so happy that this post was helpful for you!!! That’s all I want!!! Thank you for stopping by my friend!!!
      XOXO

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