Plugins are one of the primary reasons for the popularity and versatility of website Content Management Systems (CMS) such as WordPress. They allow website owners and developers to easily add new functionality to their websites without having to write code from scratch. However, while this may sound great and while plugins can be useful, they also come with downsides and risks that website owners should be aware of, before using any on their own website.
Here’s a list of 5 key risks and issues involved with using Plugins rather than implementing features to a website with custom code.
1. Security risks
One of the most significant downsides of using plugins is the security risks they pose. Every plugin you add to your website is a potential vulnerability that a hacker could exploit. Poorly written or out-of-date plugins can contain security vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers to gain unauthorised access to your website or steal sensitive information.
2. Plugin conflicts
Plugins can also cause conflicts with other plugins or with your website’s theme. These conflicts can result in errors, broken functionality, creation of redundant data, or even crashing your website. This is especially true if you install multiple plugins that perform similar functions.
3. Performance issues
Another downside of using plugins is that they can significantly slow down your website’s performance. Each plugin you install adds more weight to your website, which uses further server resources and can slow down page load times. This can negatively impact your website’s user experience, and as a result your search engine rankings, too. Additionally, having too many plugins can make it difficult to manage your website from an administration perspective, as you may have to navigate through a long list of plugins to find the one you need.
4. Compatibility issues
Plugins can also cause compatibility issues with your website’s theme or other plugins. This can result in errors, broken functionality, or even crashing your website. Compatibility issues are especially prevalent when using older or out-of-date plugins that may not be compatible with the latest versions of WordPress or other plugins. Furthermore, plugins that are used to interact with additional third-party tools, such as CRMs, Email Marketing platforms etc., are reliant on those systems to continue working as expected. If there is a change to an external third party tool, and the plugin provider hasn’t implemented the required updates to it for it to work with the new requirements of those third party tools, then the functionality delivered by that plugin will be hampered and may fail.
5. Inability to change functionality
If you have a plugin installed that undertakes a certain task, but then your requirements for this task change, it will be very unlikely that modifying the plugin to comply with your new requirements will be feasible. Moreover, a modified plugin is difficult to maintain in the long run. This could mean you’re left with a plugin that only partially delivers on your requirements and you have to adapt your business processes to accommodate this, or that you need to remove the plugin and either find another one that is more suitable or have a developer do some bespoke website development to accomplish the feature that you’re after.
In conclusion, while plugins can be useful for adding new functionality to your website, they also come with downsides and risks that website owners should be aware of. To minimise these risks, you should only install plugins from reputable sources, review their latest security and compatibility patches prior to installing, and avoid installing plugins that are not necessary. Additionally, you should regularly review the plugins installed on your website and uninstall any that are no longer needed.
Above all, if you are going to use plugins on your website, it’s always best to first seek advice from an experienced custom wordpress development team, and then to have that developer undertake any updates and maintenance of the plugins that are effectively needed. This will help reduce the risk of conflicts, performance issues and compatibility issues on your website
If you need any help from an experienced WordPress Developer to clean up your website or help make sense of the plugins used on your WordPress website, please feel free to contact our team via firstname.lastname@example.org.