How many plugins should I use in WordPress?

The Do’s and Dont’s of running a small business site

By Bradly Spicer

Over the course of 2019, I worked on a few business sites built by agencies in Kent which simply purchased a premium theme from ThemeForest, threw on around 20 plugins and called it a day.

This is NOT an acceptable practice, overcrowding your site plugins can cause a ton of pagespeed issues, update issues, attack points and sluggish backend operations.

For example, did you know WordPress has their own cron tool which runs externally to your control panel? This means you don’t have control over how exactly it’s run without modifying the core WordPress Structure.

By default, this is enabled. However, it can be disabled and run manually (Which I’ll show you below).

Table of Contents

How many plugins should I have on my WordPress Site then?

How long is a piece of string? It really depends on the type of string, the strength of the fibers and how long it’s been supporting itself.

What do I mean by this? Assuming you have a cloud hosting plan with one of many hosts, you will likely be on a shared platform and limited to CPU Cores and Ram Usage.

This means the more plugins you have, the more resources are used per viewer on your site.

There’s no definitive way of measuring the statistics you need, it really is too dynamic to work with.

However, I’ve been working in the Web Hosting & Web Design industry for roughly 10 years now. My general rule of thumb is for every 5 plugins, add 1/2 of a CPU core.

But Brad, I can’t add half a CPU core?

This is correct, you cannot normally add half a CPU core due to the way various platforms work. However, you should always consider scaling up for extra breathing room. You never want to fit to the minimum.

Here’s an example, if I have 12 plugins, I should have at the very least 2 CPU Cores for the plugins alone.

Assuming you have traffic reaching in the 1000’s per day, you’ll want to keep note of the amount of concurrent viewers you have.

Let’s say you have 20 readers on your site at any given time loading all 12 plugins. Take the 2 CPU cores and for every 20 readers add an additional 1 CPU core.

Great, your site with 20 concurrent viewers and 12 plugins is running smooth! But you keep seeing spikes in CPU and RAM usage? What’s that all about?

Unfortunately, there are two more factors to take into consideration; Plugin Weight & Your Theme.

What is plugin weight?

Plugin weight is how bloated the plugin is and how you would compare them. I’m going to compare two plugins here that most users will know.

These are WooCommerce & Smush.

 

WooCommerce

WordPress Shop Framework
Heavy
  • A Framework ontop of WordPress
  • Complete new Functionality
  • Not optimised for small plans

Smush

Enter your description
Lighter
  • Utility Tool
  • Used to Optimise your site
  • Standard Weight Plugin
Lighter!

But what if you NEED them? Unfortunately, there’s only two options here, either upgrade your hosting package or remove any unnecessary plugins.

Here is a list of plugins I found installed on a clients site I took over, I have bolded out all the plugins I don’t believe are necessary.

  • Appointment Hour Booking
  • BackUpWordPress
  • Classic Editor
  • Contact Form 7
  • Duplicate Post
  • Clone posts and pages.
  • Duplicator
  • Easy Testimonials
  • Elementor
  • Essential Addons for Elementor
  • Gallery Slideshow
  • Genesis Responsive Slider
  • Google XML Sitemaps
  • InfiniteWP – Client
  • Insert Headers and Footers
  • Jetpack by WordPress.com
  • Really Simple SSL
  • Simple 301 Redirects
  • Slideshow
  • UpdraftPlus – Backup/Restore
  • Wordfence Security
  • WordPress Editorial
  • Calendar
  • wp-jquery-lightbox
  • Yoast SEO

All of these bolded plugins either exist in a theme or they’re duplicated. For example, Google XML Sitemaps is in the list, however Yoast SEO creates its own XML sitemap for Google to check.

Really Simply SSL forces https:// traffic across everything on your site, but forcing https:// correctly can remove any need for this plugin.

Classic Editor is not necessary when we use Elementor.

BackUpWordPress exists, but we use UpdraftPlus, so this is another duplicate.

Can WordPress themes impact performance?

You would not believe how many poorly built themes there are out there. I don’t even mean ones which are free.

Whether it’s WordPress, Shopify, Joomla and even PHPNuke, there’s a metric ton of dodgy developers out there.

For example, I bought a Shopify theme to test out the software, it was simply removed with no further support or download link:

So, you cannot always trust any theme you purchase on a site like ThemeForest / Envato. However, there are some industry known themes that everyone recommends (Some for affiliate reasons) which have users selling child themes which are poorly optimised.

This is just page rendering, if this had extra utilities such as its own page builder or poorly written functions this would only increase the PHP Memory (RAM) and CPU usage further.

Check the reviews when you buy a theme and don’t blindly follow it.

But my Guru/Public speaker said...

Your Guru / speaker is here to make money, whilst they do have knowledge that’s worth knowing, a lot of it is stuff you will need to learn yourself.

I’ve had countless bloggers who have poorly optimised and built sites because they follow a specific paid course without understanding the fundamentals of Web Design / Maintaining a site.

I’m not selling anything in this post, there’s no adverts, there’s no upsale here just pure advice, so do yourself a favour and find multiple sources of information / guru’s. YouTube is a fantastic source of information if you can ignore the upselling and I’ll continue posting blog posts on how to better your business online here.

Can I schedule a meeting with you?

I provide free site Audits to anyone in the South East England area; Canterbury, Folkestone, Margate, Herne Bay etc.

If you want a digital meeting or to meet up for a coffee, use our contact form below and we’ll be in touch.

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