Recommended Tips to Keep in Mind When Using WordPress Plugins

The beauty of content management systems (CMS) is the limitless power to extend its power and functionality. In WordPress, this is achieved through the use of plugins. Without plugins Wordress would not be such a favourite application. Today WordPress is the world's most popular web development tool. The reasons why WordPress is preferred by many abound and the limitless application to which this software can be put is made possible through plugins developed by an active support community.

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Notwithstanding the enormous power of WordPress, using it comes with some risks especially when care is not taken with plugins usage. In this post we cover the most important things to keep in mind when using WordPress plugins. The advice provided here will be useful to keep your website secured from external exploitation.

Why Do You Need Plugins in the First Place

You may be wondering why we should dedicate this post to plugins and probably why we have spent much time discussing WordPress plugins even in previous posts. The fact is that plugins are important to a WordPress website. Here are some few reasons why plugins are important in WordPress.

  1. Plugins can help you to decrease your workload. Plugins only need to be installed and activated. No coding is required to use a plugin.
  2. Plugins will help you save money. Plugins add functionality to your website and if you were to hire an expert to code these functionalities, you will spend much.
  3. It also managed your website very efficiently. This can be seen in the way plugins manage user comment on a WordPress website. Ordinarily, user comments can create a spam problem With plugins like Akismet for WordPress, you can really hold spamming. It filters spam and only allows genuine comment.

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1. Update Your Plugins

We can say this is a bit of a no-brainer.. Plugins must be ket u to date because it is extremely important to keep plugins up-to-date to avoid exploitation or its malfunction.. Out of date plugins are the targets of attackers whose major strategy had been to search security weaknesses that can be exploited.

To be able to effectively keep your plugins updated, WordPress website managers should regularly check the plugins for newer versions and make sure that they have are updated. You should strongly consider removing plugins that haven’t been updated for an extended period of time (as a rule of thumb, say one year).

To keep track of the status of your plugin updates, you should try the Easy Updates Manager to automate plugin, theme, and minor/major WordPress core updates.

2. Keep Deactivated Plugins Updated or Get Rid of Them

In a way this flows from the point made above on updating your plugins. For the same reason, you also need to keep deactivated plugins updated or uninstall them. Many WordPress users do not see the need to bother about de-activated plugins. That will be a bad practice that impacts on your website security. You will need to check the status of deactivated plugins and keep them updated also or you un-install them.

3. Deactivate Backend Plugins When They’re Not in Use

Some plugins put pressure on your site’s resources, even if that strain is only minor. As such it is recommended that you only activate backend plugins when they are needed. So bear in mind that every active plugin on your site should be utilized by your site. If not, deactivate it. If you are simply not using a plugin then uninstall it.

4. The Number of Plugins Isn’t Important

A plugin is in basic terms an extra code which adds some functionality to your website. The same code could be added within your functions.php file to achieve the same effect. So, that you install lots of plugin does not really create a problem. What really counts is how well coded and resource intensive your plugins are. While some plugins will consume lots of server resources, cause load issues and constitute a problem for the site, well coded plugins can be very good and not create any problems.

The important thing is to have lightweight well coded plugins installed on your site. It is better to have 20 well coded plugins that have one bloated, resource intensive and vulnerable plugin. In reality you should be more worried about what plugins you are installing rather than how many.

Notwithstanding, there are some exceptions and reasons we can say you should be mindful about the number of plugins. One is that there could be conflicts.

Generally speaking, plugins can conflict with each other and the more plugins you have on your site, the more likely you are to find one that conflicts with another. Having to deal with plugin conflicts is an issue developers constantly face as there are a near-infinite number of setup combinations across all WordPress installations. Most WordPress blogs are completely unique in terms of the combination of plugins installed.

So although you should be mindful of the quality of plugins you use, you should also keep an eye on the number with a view to keeping things as simple as possible. In this case, less is typically better. But where there are no issues, the number of plugins will not be an issue.

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5. Quality Always Beats Quantity

To protect the integrity of your website, you should be very selective in deciding what plugins to install on your site. Ever plugin you install may leave a footprint on your website. The way out is to test the plugin before leaving it on your site but again, there is some risk in testing every plugin.

Another way to go is to read user reviews and do not ignore any negative comment even if all other reviews are positive, take a single negative comment seriously and investigate it properly..

When it comes to installing plugins you should look at a few key items such as:

    Number of downloads
    Average rating
    Reviews
    The developer (are they well-established?)
    Evidence of active support

Plugins are codes that add some new functionality to your site and so the actually alter the behaviour of your site and should be taken seriously. If the plugin works now that’s a good start but you want to make sure it will work in the future also.

The decision to install a new plugin is a crucial one and should be taken very seriously.

6. Premium Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Best

People tend to think that the costlier, the better. You should never be guided by this orientation in dealing with plugins. The same functionality you pay for could be available for free. The fact that it is offered free does not make less valuable in terms of quality.

Be guided by the rule that being premium and attracting a fee to download does not necessarily make stress free or perfect. A premium plugin could also create serious problems.

People tend to get it wrong with premium plugins. The fact is this: there are plenty of unscrupulous premium plugin developers out there. Just because someone is charging a fee for a plugin does not make it good. There are lots of extremely good quality free plugins out there developed by people who you can trust absolutely.

Notwithstanding, dealing with a reputable premium plugin developer, you are likely to enjoy the best functionality, top notch support and consistent updates. The key is to make sure that you’re supporting the “right” developer.

Also read: 6 steps to clean and harden your WordPress website Security with the Free Sucuri Plugin

7. Some Plugins Are Considered Vital for Almost Any Site

There are plugins that generally taken to be important and vital for nearly every WordPress website. We will take a loo at some of them:

The Yoast SEO plugin is useful tool for most types of WordPress sites.

Before you install a plugin you should be considering the ind of site you run and the applications ou will want to run on them. An e-commerce store will require a shopping cart plugin, while a photography portfolio can benefit from an image gallery tool. However, there are some plugins that almost every WordPress installation should include, no matter your site’s focus.

You shoud be interested in attracting visitors as much as possible, so your site can always benefit from a good Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plugin like Yoast SEO. Security is vital for keeping your site’s data and content safe, so a plugin such as Wordfence is always a good option. As another example, custom contact forms (like those created with Contact Form 7) are useful for enabling your visitors to get in touch, whether you’re running a blog, business site, or storefront.

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8. Plugins Can Integrate Your Site with Other Tools and Platforms

The Google Analytics Dashboard for WP plugin enables you to integrate your WordPress site with the popular analytics tool.

Plugins aren’t created in a vacuum. While it’s true that many are standalone options offering independent features, some are reliant on other software. In fact, there are many plugins designed to integrate your WordPress site with popular tools and platforms of all types. That means you can make those programs work smoothly with WordPress, without knowing a single line of code.

There are lots of available integrations, but here are just a few examples:

    Google Analytics Dashboard for WP. With this plugin, you can track your site’s performance using Google Analytics, and even see the results in your WordPress admin area.
    MailChimp for WordPress. If you’re using the very popular MailChimp email marketing platform, this plugin will enable you to add new subscribers to your list from your WordPress site.
    Custom Facebook Feed. This plugin adds your Facebook feed to your website, and lets you customize it. There are similar options in the WordPress Plugin Directory for most of the popular social media networks.

So if you have some favorite tools you use every day to run your website or business, it’s worth checking to see if there’s a way to integrate them with your site. That way, you can streamline your workflow and not have to switch back and forth between platforms.

9. There Are Multiple Places to Find Plugins Online

You can find lots of excellent free and premium plugins in the WordPress own directory. If you’re completely new to plugins, we recommend that it will be best to start with the WordPress Plugin Directory. These plugins are all free, and have been put through a vetting process. The WordPress directory also displays customer ratings and reviews, along with the number of WordPress sites currently using each plugin, so you know what you’re getting into. Reviews are very important for you to make your judgement.

However, this is not just the only source for good plugins. A lot of developers sell plugins through their own websites, and there are other directories with dozens, hundreds, or thousands of options. Keep in mind that most plugins not on WordPress.org will be premium, which means you’ll have to pay a fee to use them.

Conclusion

Plugins are one of the best things about using WordPress. But very importantly, you should be able to take a good decision based on your need and considering the security implications for your website. Deciding on which plugin to install could be confusing giving the large number of available plugins as it could be overwhelming especially for newbies.

You need to consider the issue of updates bloatness and security. If you understand how to choose the needed plugins then using plugins to get the most out of your WordPress site doesn’t have to be challenging. keep in mind that your plugins should only come from reliable sources and you should also be getting rid of the ones you don’t need.

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