A Simple Solution To Running Lots Of WordPress Plugins Without Sacrificing Blog Performance

When it comes to WordPress blog performance, one of the most common suggestions is to limit the number of plug-ins you’re running. But, that isn’t necessarily welcome advice when you really LIKE the plug-ins you’re running.

 

Being forced to pick and choose which plug-ins you’re going to keep on your blog and which you’re going to sacrifice is annoying.

But, many are made to face these decisions because their blog is running kinda slow. And we know that site speed is most definitely a factor when it comes to SEO.

Not only that, when you’re using your blog to sell, it really will screw up your conversion rates if people feel like your blog is slow. 40% of people will abandon a website which takes more than 3 seconds to load.

When it comes to WordPress blog performance, one of the most common suggestions is to limit the number of plug-ins you’re running. But, that isn’t necessarily welcome advice when you really LIKE the plug-ins you’re running.

[Tweet “Plugins are one of the best features of WordPress! Why be forced to disable them?”]

The Reason Plug-ins Harm Blog Performance

The advice to limit your plug-ins is based on solid fundamentals. It comes down to two main factors:

  1. Every plug-in you tack onto WordPress means more code that has to be executed by your web server every time a page is loaded.
  2. The way most plug-ins work, any of their “payload” is tacked onto every page of the blog.

Now, how much those two factors impact the blog’s performance comes down to the nature of the plug-in. If the plug-in is designed to do something on the front-end of your blog (as in, your visitor will SEE it), then typically the plug-in will be coded to hook into common elements of the theme. The header and footer sections of the theme are the most common places that plug-ins like to dump code.

For instance, let’s take OptimizePress. A very popular marketing system for WordPress. It can run as either a theme or a plug-in. Personally, I use it as a plug-in because I really like my custom theme (powered by Genesis). But, here’s the problem with OptimizePress…

To support the look and feel of any OptimizePress page, there are a bunch of stylesheet (CSS) and javascript files which have to be pulled into the theme. OptimizePress pulls those things in by hooking into the header section of the blog. If you view the HTML source code of the page, you’ll see a number of OptimizePress CSS and JS files being pulled in.

Problem is, they’re even being pulled in if you’re not even using OptimizePress on that particular page.

It is completely unnecessary to load in all the overhead of the OptimizePress plug-in on a page which isn’t even using OptimizePress styling.

And this same thing happens with other plug-ins, too. Most plug-in developers don’t know where you’re going to be using their plug-in, so they will dump any support files (CSS and JS) into your common site header. And there they are… being pulled in whether they’re needed or not.

Needless server processing. Needless bulk to the blog. And it slows things down… for no reason.

How To Enable or Disable Plug-ins On A Per-Page Basis

I was getting really close to dumping OptimizePress. Not because I didn’t like it (I actually think it is an incredible platform), but because I was weighing out the excess overhead of all those support files being pulled in on the other 99% of pages on this blog where I wasn’t using OptimizePress.

But, then I found a solution via a Facebook conversation.

It is called, simply, Plugin Organizer.

It seems to be a little heralded plug-in kinda buried in the plug-in directory… but honestly, I wish this was functionality they had baked right in.

It does this:

  • Change the order that your plug-ins are loaded.
  • Enable or disable plug-ins based on post type or URL matching.
  • Group plug-ins together and enable or disable them collectively.

What you’ll get is an interface like this:

plugin-organizer

You’ll get this so you can set global rules, then you’ll have it on each post and page so you can set up custom settings for each one.

For instance, as you can see in the above screenshot, I have OptimizePress disabled by default. However, on any page where I am using OptimizePress (on a sales page, for instance), I simply turn it back on. And like magic, OptimizePress works fully just like it is supposed to.

It could be used for any other plug-in which tends to load stuff into your site even when it isn’t necessary.

It could also be used to resolve plug-in conflicts on certain pages.

While I hesitate to say this, in theory I don’t see why you couldn’t run 7o+ plug-ins on your blog and have things still function fine… if you’re using Plugin Organizer effectively. Especially if you have solid web hosting for your blog.

Plugin Organizer is completely free – and it’s a great solution if you’re trying to increase your blog’s performance without sacrificing some of those plug-ins you love.

Now, as much as this plug-in is a great tool in your blog performance arsenal, it doesn’t make up for crappy hosting. If you’re hosting your blog on a crappy host where your blog isn’t allocated very much horsepower with which to run, this plug-in isn’t going to magically save you. It’ll help, but it isn’t a cure-all.

I host this blog on WPEngine. These guys specialize in WordPress hosting and they tweak the bejeezus out of their systems so that your blog will be snappy. And you don’t have to worry about any of the geekery usually involved with WordPress performance tweaking… because they just have it all baked in. Couple WPEngine with Plugin Organizer and your blog will be definitely fast enough to fuel your business.

Either way, if you’re going to use a big beefy plug-in like OptimizePress, DEFINITELY use Plugin Organizer.

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About David Risley
David Risley is the founder of the Blog Marketing Academy, a 20-year veteran blogger and online entrepreneur. His focus? Building a reliable, recurring business around his "lifestyle" and the lives of his students. He has this weird obsession with traveling in his motorhome around the country with his wife and 2 kids. David also likes to talk about himself in the third person. In bios like this one. Read his full story.