Many website owners may yield to the temptation of downloading many plugins. The site owners are guilty of thinking that the more plugins, the greater the functionality, and the better the user experience. These WordPress tricks and best practices are sure to make your website shine in 2020.
However, every time you install a plugin, the more you expose your site to the possibility of breaking down. Too many plugins will slow down the page loading speed due to the high usage of bandwidth. Source code compatibility may also lead to a breakdown of your website. You, therefore, need to be careful when installing plugins. While it is not always possible to know whether a plugin will have any issues, there are specific steps you need to take.
What Is A Plugin?
The simplest definition of a plugin is any software that you add to your WordPress website for better functionality, or to give you access to new features. Plugins are excellent tools, but, you have to take the appropriate steps to ensure that what you install aids, rather than breaks down your website.
Before Installing a Plugin
Observe the following before you install any plugin.
- Ask yourself whether you really need the features the plugin will add to your website. More often you didn’t get which you are going to find in one plugin, so you may want to forgo the whole process of putting in one.
- Your site may have some of the features thereby eliminating the need for installing a plugin.
- Is it compatible with the version of WordPress you are using?
- You will have to do a check to see if other people are using the plugin and what they have to say about it?
- Check, if the developers have come up with any updates and if yes when was the last time?
- Check to see if the users have complained about any bugs to the developers?
- Take advantage of the staging sites that hosting providers have. You need to install the plugin onto the staging environment so that you know whether it will work properly. Even if your web host provider does not have this facility, some online tools will allow you to test the plugin, before installing it on your website.
- Will you get sufficient support from the developers anytime you have an issue? what kind of support do they give and how responsive are they?
- What is the cost aspect of the plugin you want to install? because some plugins have a monthly cost implication which may end up impacting the running cost of your website.
While the steps above can help you dodge faulty plugins, it is not a 100% guarantee. You, therefore, need to do the following.
1. Carry Out an Evaluation of the Plugins You Currently Have
Reviewing the plugins you currently have on your website is a good idea. The plugins need to be safe and actually give you value. If you have some that you are not using, then why should you have them at all.
2. Check the Compatibility
WordPress is very friendly in that, many of the plugins will work seamlessly. Unfortunately, some are not compatible and you should, therefore, do the following;-
- Carry out an individual test of all the plugins you have to see if there is any conflict.
- Take the time to read any documents that come with the plugin.
- Check out the history of the plugin.
- The fewer plugins you have, the better the user experience.
- Be careful about where you download the plugins from. Only trust those from reputable websites. WordPress has the wordpress.org plugin directory that should be the first places you go to anytime you need a plugin. While we are in no way saying that those that come from other sites are bad, they may come with some risks. You may not be able to update them for free, while others lack the necessary support.
3. Only Install Plugins That Are Trustworthy
The best way to know whether a plugin is trustworthy or not is to check how many people are actively using it? You will get this information by looking at the customer reviews. You will also see that the developers take time to update it continuously, thus sorting out any issues that may keep presenting. It will show that the developers are doing their best to support and maintain the plugin.
4. Avoid Nulled Plugins
You may be doing a plugin search on Google and come across the word nulled right next to the search words. You may want to avoid them because they come with a high-level of vulnerabilities. They may be cheaper, but you will eventually end up using a lot of money taking corrective measures, to get your website back to proper running order.
5. Resist the Temptation to Download Too Many Plugins
You may think that having as many plugins as possible is a good idea. The truth is that it is one of the leading causes of why your website may break down. It interferes with the running of your site, and some of the codings may conflict with the Source Code you are using.
You eventually pay a lot of money in monthly maintenance costs as some of them have a cost implication. Some plugins are also very heavy, and you will end up having unnecessary data loading down your pages. Only download the plugin you need, and use. By eliminating unnecessary plugins, you will find that the running of your website is so much easier.
6. Choose Popular Themes
The main advantage of choosing popular themes is that you can be sure that they’re trustworthy. It is not possible to have many people flocking to a bad one. The one you opt for should be able to integrate with the website seamlessly. There must be no discrepancy with the source code template, and it must incorporate the latest technology, for the best user experience.
7. Consider the Use of Caching
There is data that your users will continuously look for, and you need to find a way to make the information easily retrievable. A cache is the best way to do this because it will store the data, thus saving the website user time when looking for necessary information. It will make the user experience for the website user more pleasant because it eliminates long waiting times before someone can access what they need.
8. Pay Consideration to the Size of the Web Content
9. Your Web Host Provider Matters
The WebHost you choose will have a significant impact on the running of your website. You must consider certain things including;-
- Does the web host have sufficient bandwidth to support your needs?
- Will it allow you to scale, the more traffic you get on your website?
- Do you get good value for money? You get what you pay for, and should, therefore, avoid low-cost web host providers.
- Do you share the hosting with others? The more people using the platform, the larger the traffic, which may lead to the poor performance of the website. You should opt for a dedicated hosting provider so that you get an entire server to store your data.
- Do the customers have positive reviews because it is a good indicator of their capabilities.
- What security levels do they offer you?
- What is customer support like?
- What bonus features do you get when you sign on to a package?
- Are they dependable?
10. Run Regular Backups
You must never overlook the importance of running backups on your website. In case of a breakdown, you want to be able to recover all your data. Do not install any new plugins without running a backup. You can do it manually or automatically so that it runs itself regularly.
Related Read: Top 10 WordPress Backup Plugins For Your Website
11. Consider the Security Aspects
When choosing your plugin, pay careful attention to the security measures that the developers have put into place to guard against malware. You do not want to give access to any viruses which could damage your system. Web hackers will hide malicious script into the website codes and use the plugins as a gateway. A useful plugin will automatically restrict any download that has a security threat.
Hackers work very hard to identify an area of vulnerability and use it to cause havoc. Some developers are honest enough to alert their uses when there is an issue. But, it does not preclude you from taking the necessary steps to ensure you are safe.
12. Learn How to Troubleshoot
You may need a plugin, but once you install it, you find that it compromises the usability of your website. Learning how to troubleshoot can help you restore the functionality of your site. You, therefore, need to do the following:
- If you notice any problems, you should deactivate all the plugins. If it solves the problem, then you are good to go because it will be a clear indicator that the plugin was causing an issue. You will then need to reactivate the plugins individually so that you see which one may be the culprit.
- Refer to the plugin FAQ sections, and also take advantage of the support forums. You can find a lot of information and may be able to sort out the issues yourself.
- If the problems persist, contact the necessary support teams so that an expert can guide you through the process of restoring your website.
- If some plugins are very troublesome, you should consider alternatives that will give you similar functionality once you narrow down the issue
- Once you narrow down what the problem is, contact the developers so that they can take corrective measures.
The importance of troubleshooting is you get to take care of some of the problems yourself. It will save you from having to deal with downtimes on your website. You will also get to make a saving by eliminating the need for an expert any time you have an issue.
13. Disabling Plugins That Are Bringing Issues
Disabling a plugin is easy when you’re on the WordPress platform. Go to the dashboard, click on plugins, and click the deactivate button.
You can also deactivate the plugin from the back end, but only take this route if disabling it from the admin area does not help. There are situations where you will not be able to access the dashboard due to issues with the plugin. You will have to do the disabling manually. You can do this by;-
- Going to the plugin folder on the WordPress back-end directory. You will then rename it, thus disabling it. You can later try and see if you have access to the folder on the dashboard. You can then reactivate the plugins individually to test which one could be giving you problems.
- You can also disable the plugin manually by doing an edit on the database through the PhpMyAdmin or MySQL.
14. Empty Spam Folders
Many website owners will not remember to check the spam folders and empty them regularly. What you end up doing is collecting a lot of data that has no value. It ultimately impacts the speed of the website resulting in poor user experience. If you cannot remember to empty the spam folder manually, then automate the process so that you do it regularly.
Plugins make WordPress awesome because it adds some exciting features and functionalities. However, you must be careful about the plugins you download. Some will interfere with the seamless running of your website, while others will cause it to break down altogether.
Some of the errors we have highlighted above include downloading too many plugins. Other mistakes include not doing regular updates and backups, not testing for compatibility, among others. The best practices with the use of plugins will give the website visitors, a good user experience. Ask yourself if you need a plugin before you download it. See what your website builder has to offer because some web builders have inbuilt features similar to what you will get in the plugins. Our tips above will help you ensure that that is what they get.