Am I running too many plugins on my WP website

Usually we look to post something that will help you in relations to video. Our goal is to do the same for audio and images. That said we also like to post things that are connected, even if not directly. In this case, it is about having many WordPress plugins and how many is too many.

What is WordPress

Since we are talking about WordPress we should likely start with a bit about the same first. If you are familiar, just skip to the next chapter of this post. Even if you are not familiar with it, you likely saw it more than few times already. After all WordPress is utilized on almost half websites we have on the internet.

It is a CMS solution that you can download yourself and start using in just few minutes from WordPress.org website. On this website you will find most plugins, themes, and much more and all related to WordPress.

If you are not too keen on setting it up yourself, there is also WordPress.com website. It is operated by the same people that made WordPress. Difference is that they are offering you a way to just start using their system. They in return set it up and sort things out for you.

Because the WordPress CMS is a free and open source system and so commonly used, there are large amounts of plugins and themes to choose from.

Simple overview of how WordPress themes and plugins work

Now that we all have some familiarity with WordPress, let’s see how it does some things. Unless you have an engineering side within you, you might not have thought about how the plugins and themes get loaded. For people, if you need a fork, you grab a fork and that is it.

With the computers it is a bit different. WordPress in this case, has to load up everything first. This allows it to know what it has to work with. Once it loads everything up into memory it then starts processing things and providing you with the output.

  • To all fairness, loading and processing mostly happen hand in hand. Sometimes both will happen following the other. Goal however is to provide you with simple overview so we might generalize in certain aspects.

So by this logic, if we have 20 plugins installed, WordPress has to load up 20 different plugins before it can show your page. This is true to some extent, however this is not as important as it might seem right away.

Enter PHP

PHP is the server side language that is used to run WordPress. It is great for many reasons, and while PHP has some things going against it, it has been greatly improved from version to version.

PHP is very fast in processing different files and directories. Inclusion, requirements and alike is child’s play for PHP as it goes through a large number of different files. The same is true for PHP processing of WordPress files, plugins and themes.

When is too many

So we know that PHP does not care too much about the few more files plugin can add. For WordPress that too does not really matter. Then why can you hear sometimes someone say that more plugins makes WordPress slower?

Well because it is true. However it is not exactly the number of plugins that is the cause, rather the plugins code itself.

For example let us use 2 identical websites in terms of database size and number of visitors. Let us even say that they are using the very same theme. The only difference is that one has 70 plugins and another 4 plugins.

If you just look at the numbers, you would be correct in saying that the one with 70 plugins will likely be slower. In most cases that would be true. However in some cases, those 4 plugins could make the website much slower instead.

Directions in code

This is because in some plugins you have controls and directions. They tell PHP or WordPress how things should be loaded. Likewise, in some plugins you might not have them. For example, in our plugins we try to do our best to only load minimal amount of code as required. This is achieved by making some checks and only if they are valid, to continue with the load.

Let’s call that as directions placed for PHP and WordPress to know what parts of code to load and when.

Now on the other hand, there are plugins that load up a huge number of classes and add many more through inheritance to offer various features. This process is generally fine, unless you load all of it regardless of the request.

As an interesting detail, in past classes would add some difference to execution time, however you would be surprised just how much it has changed over time. If you want to get a quick info, you can check this StackOverflow post.

Should plugins then avoid using classes?

No, actually classes serve a great role in programming and they add a lot of benefits to the entire project. What is important to note is how they are used. For example when a reply from a function is 0.2ms when it is empty, it means it will always be much bigger if there are things to process within it.

The amount of classes, their size and complexity can play a role in speed. They can change how much memory your website requires and how much data your server’s CPU can process at a given moment. The same is true with huge functions standing on their own across a ton of files your plugin or theme includes.

So procedural as well as OOP approach (classes) are both good; As long as you are using them in optimized manner.

How to know what plugins are optimized and which ones are not?

Well this one is very difficult to answer directly. We will try to add pointers for you to be able to detect it yourself. The best approach is to test your website for speed. You can always add some small output to your pages, allowing you to see the timings.

As you get more simultaneous visitors you will see the timings change.

Just installing a plugin and observing your website behaving would be best. Keep in mind that different plugins do different things. This is also why it is a bit difficult to have a specific indicator if plugin will slow your website or not. That is unless you make your tests.

Some plugins for example have to process your content as it is pulled from database. In doing so they show some info or add functionality. These plugins will always add a bit more time compared to other plugins. The reason is simply because this is made as page is created. Others that are strictly working on backed (admin side) and for example running only on save, will not.

Similar can be with caching plugins. Upon install they often require some time to get everything cached before you can actually see the benefit.

Another point that you should check is your theme as well. Many themes will try to add functionality that you might not be using. This can be fine, unless it is loaded regardless if you are using it or not.

Assets

Everything we mentioned above is really mostly focused on your server side. The reason for that is because more optimized you are on server side, later the requirement is for you to upgrade to better server setup. It is usually a great place to start when optimizing and to focus on.

What it does not cover however is the assets load. These are all javascript files and styles some plugin adds to your page. It is great when something has a large number of libraries to extend it. However unless you can turn on or off exactly which assets are loaded, you might end up having a large number of assets loaded on pages where that is not even needed.

These could impact your feel of how fast the page is loaded. For example server might process and output your page within 800 ms and then you wait for 2 seconds for page to show.

How to know if you are not developer?

Well this might be interesting for developers and non developers alike. It will definitely make some things easier for those that are not. There are various plugins that can actually help you. Yea, you will be adding one more plugin, however they will still help.

One such plugin is Query Monitor.

Great thing is that it will add a small section in the bottom of your page and allow you to quickly see the page load speed or other details.

You did and you saw a lot of assets being added and you want to change that? Maybe you want to read about this some more? Check out WPBeginner.com tutorial and see the steps you could take.

Ziggeo plugins

Now we told you about WordPress itself, and we talked about the effects plugins can have on your website. We also told you a bit about our plugins, still let’s look into them a bit more.

Our goal is to make well optimized plugins. Plugins that will bring you some additional functionality to various locations on your website. We do not run complex database queries, however we do need to process the content before it is outputted to the page. The Content is a special part of WordPress which usually consists of text on your page. By utilizing it, we are able to process the important part without processing and going through entire page content.

Our plugins also use the standard WordPress method of including styles and scripts. This makes it easy for WordPress to apply many different operations on them. For example allowing you to easily manipulate them through other plugins.

Next to that we also look to separate the administration codes from the public codes, leaving you with smaller footprint.

As you know, we also separate the codes. That way all of our plugins are designed to be as small as possible while offering exactly what they should.

Of course, we still suggest testing them out on your website. Of course also reaching out to us if you have any questions. Especially since if you really do not want to add one more plugin, with Ziggeo there is another way. All you need to add Ziggeo is to copy and paste few lines of code to have Ziggeo on your website, WordPress or otherwise.

Author: ZiggeoPublished on: 01/14/2022

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