Managing your WP plugins (3 rules + a hack)
Speedy blogs satisfy the Google gods. 🙂 And, so far this week, we’ve been talking about some ways to speed up your blog.
The biggest source of blog slowdown, though, is your plug-ins. Generally speaking, the more plug-ins you run on your blog, the slower your blog will be. Each new plug-in you activate is a new piece of payload that Wordpress has to load up… kinda like adding another clown to the clowncar. 🙂
So, there’s a few basic rules to keep in mind when it comes to Wordpress plug-ins:
- Only run the ones you absolutely need. Don’t get carried away.
- When you can accomplish something without a plug-in, do it.
- Generally speaking, the paid plug-ins are better than the freebies because they have a reason to code it properly and maintain.
So, rule #1 is easy. And I would recommend you go through your current list of active plugins and remove the ones you really don’t need.
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Rule #2 can prove a little daunting for the non-technical among us and I totally get it. But, just keep it in mind. Many times, people will use plug-ins to accomplish basic stuff that could be done rather easily by tweaking the theme. I know the plug-in gets the job done and makes it easy, but just keep in mind that you’re adding to your bloat.
And rule #3 isn’t an across-the-board thing. There are some free plug-ins that are very well coded, often because they’re incentivized by a “pro” version upsell. But, a plug-in can be programmed sloppily or done very well. The well-built ones are done using proper standards. They are done with performance in mind. And, more often than not, it is the paid ones that do it better.
If you’re interested in clocking the performance impact of any of your plug-ins, there’s a couple plugins you may want to check out:
- P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler). This plug-in is from GoDaddy. It hasn’t been updated in a little while, but it should still work without any issue.
- Query Monitor. This plug-in allows you to track all kinds of geeky things with Wordpress. You can even see every query being run. With it, you can play detective and figure out what plug-ins are causing more overhead than others.
Now, let me give you a little hack. 🙂 Mhuahahaha! 😉 (just kidding)
OK, what happens if you have a plug-in activated on your site that you only need in a few places, but most of your site doesn’t use it? One example might be a podcast playlist plugin like Smart Podcast Player (from Pat Flynn). You want to use the playlist feature, but all of the other pages of your site don’t need it, right?
Problem is, most of the time, those plug-ins will load up the support files across your whole site whether they’re needed or not. For instance, just a standard written blog post without any podcast on it at all, yet in the background, chunks of Smart Podcast Player might be loading up, slowing things down.
There’s a plug-in called… Plugin Organizer.
I know, a plugin to manage plugins. It is all very meta. 😉 Anyway…
This plugin will allow you to take much more fine-tuned control over when and where plugins are enabled. You can turn plugins on and off depending on post types, URLS, specific pages, etc.
For more on this, you can check out this post on my own site about it. I wrote it about 3 years ago now, but it is still relevant.
One last little thing…
Sometimes you may find that a plug-in that is causing more load than others is actually something you really need. From a pure site speed perspective, you might like to get rid of it. But, there are other things to keep in mind.
An example is an opt-in form plugin like Thrive Leads. Opt-in plugins like this typically take more horsepower to run than some other plug-ins because, typically, they’re loading up opt-ins on every page. Plus, with features like split-testing and conversion tracking, they need to be running all the time.
But, don’t worry about it! See, a plug-in like that is necessary to conduct business. Some plug-ins are just so fundamental to growing our business that we use them anyway. Plus, if we stick to the well-supported (and generally paid) plug-ins, they see to the performance issue pretty well.
So, just keep that in mind. Some plugins are more important than others. Just use some judgement.