WordPress Plugins vs. Stand Alone Scripts

The WordPress equivalent to apps is plugins. Just like there is always an app for whatever you want to do there is always a plugin available for whatever you want to do for WordPress. However, there are plenty of times when a plugin may not the best option to accomplish something.

One of the most important thing a site owner needs to think about is website speed. If your site loads slow your bounce rate is going to be through the roof. People who are online looking for something just don’t want to wait around. Your work hard to bring traffic to your site so losing those visitors due to slow loads is something you want to avoid at all costs.

There is no singular answer on when it is best to use a plugin and when you should just use a script or simple html to do what you need. There are some things you should take a look at however to make a determination. First is the size of the files, take for example a sitemap, a site map plugin is going to be several different files and processing scripts whereas uploading a sitemap to your site only requires two files and no processing.

The next thing to take a look at is will the plugin require a connection to a 3rd party. The more 3rd party connections you are making the slower your site is going to run. You also have no control over 3rd parties so if their site is down it can leave your site with blank content or errors. It’s pretty much impossible to build a site these days that doesn’t connect to some 3rd party but you should try to minimize this as much as possible.

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Another question to ask yourself when deciding if a plugin is a good idea is can you accomplish the same thing with one short line of code. I often see people who have a plugin for every single social media site. So they have one plugin that shows their twitter feed in the sidebar. Another plugin that creates a retweet button, yet another plugin for a facebook like button and one for google +. Almost everything social media related can be done with one simple short line of code. Using a plugin for applications like this is like killing a fly with a machete, it’s just overkill. If your not comfortable with code either hire someone to do it right for you or use a plugin that does everything you need such as Shareaholic or Add to Any.

Adding endless WordPress plugins can seem like you can do anything with no experience whatsoever and that is kind of true but once you start loading down your site or blog with tons of plugins you are going to render it useless to your users. So before you install your next plugin…think for a minute is there a way I could better accomplish this without bogging down my site?

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