I’m not sure who it was who decided that it was a woman’s prerogative to change her mind, whoever it was, kudos. It’s nice to know that all the mind changing that’s been going on around here has someone’s approval.
I’ve had some thought revisions as regards WordPress and plugins – (though my thoughts where they pertain to the business of good beer and coffee (but not both at the same time) is, as it ever was. But that’s a story for another day…)
On Plugins. It seemed to me in times gone by that if there was a plugin for what you wanted to do, it had to be a good thing and should be deployed at once. And it seems that there is a plugin for everything. And on some of my earlier sites there are still a large number of plugins running that I ‘deployed at once.’
This is of course one of admirable things about WordPress and open source in general. That there are coders out there making plugins to add whatever functionality they want and many of them giving it away for nothing. Nicely done fellas (and chicks), and thanks.
As useful as all these added extras are, I’ve found as I’ve matured as both a developer and a WordPress user that having a bajillion plug ins running on a site isn’t ideal. For a number of reasons.
1. Some plugins are badly made… they may do what you want but they may also introduce things to your code that you don’t want (“Security!”).
2. The more http calls each page initiates when a user opens it, the slower your page will load.
3. It’s a bugger to have to update plugins constantly.
4. It’s also a bugger when a plugin you use gets left behind when the creator stops supporting it.
5. Large numbers of plugins increases the risk of interoperability issues and incompatibility between plugins. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve had to deactivate plugins to find a culprit who’s breaking some other part of my site. The more plugins you have to trawl through to find the culprit, the more annoying it is.. you get the idea…
So what’s the answer? How do you get your site to do what you want without having to install that bajillion’th cool piece of added code?
1. First, decide what your site’s about and only install stuff that achieves that end…
2. Avoid the “wouldn’t it be cool if” factor… if it isn’t achieving what you need your site to achieve and it’s a bell or whistle that’s gratuitous… think twice.
3. Check the last time the plug in was updated, and the version of WP it’s compatible up to. If it’s too long ago and clearly not being updated, think twice, even three times, but don’t install it.
4. Read the reviews. See what people are saying about it. If the reviews are outdated, think twice.
5. Dig deep into the repository to find and evaluate all the possibile plugins that do what you want… there’s no guarantee that the one your favourite tweeter recommended is the one you need… play with a few, and choose the one that works best with your set up, and meets the above criteria.
6. For goodness sake, don’t discount paid plugins. – This is the 2nd area where I’ve had my mind changed of late… commercial plugins are by and large, well looked after, carefully coded, up to date and worth their weight. The kicker for me, that I confess I’d never considered, is that by buying a commercial plugin you’re contributing to its ongoing development and you’re contributing to the WordPress community in a meaningful way. And frankly, if there’s money on the line the developer (and I) are much more invested in it working well on the site.
So, this begs the question, as this is kind of a brain dump, what haven’t I considered? If you have any what are your rules on plugins?