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How Many WordPress Plugins Should You Install? What’s too many?


We are often asked by readers about how many WordPress plugins should they install on their site? The real question everyone wants to know is how many plugins are too many?

Since there are a lot of misconceptions about WordPress plugins, and how they can impact website speed, performance, and security, we want to explain this topic in details for our non-techy users.

In this article, we will explain how many WordPress plugins should install on your site. We will also talk about how plugins can and cannot affect your website. Our goal is to help you learn how to run your website with the perfect combination of WordPress plugins.

How many WordPress plugins can you install on your website?

About WordPress Plugins and How They Work

Before we dig deeper, let’s talk a little bit about WordPress plugins and how they work.

WordPress plugins are like apps for your website. They help you add new features and website functionality such as making an online store, adding contact forms, and more.

Like WordPress itself, plugins are also written in the PHP programming language. PHP code runs on your website’s hosting server and utilizes its resources.

This is why you must choose a good WordPress hosting company that gives you easy tools to manage those resources and run your website efficiently.

To learn more, see our detailed guide about how WordPress plugins work. If you want to dig even deeper, then take a look at how WordPress actually works behind the scenes (Infographic).

Ever since WordPress 1.2 (when support for WordPress plugins was added), plugins have been a blessing for users. WordPress without plugins is like a toy store with no toys. That’s no fun.

Why are Plugins Essential for WordPress Websites

Why you need plugins

Even though the WordPress core provides a strong publishing framework, it is the plugins that are widely responsible for making WordPress the most popular website builder in the world.

The number of total WordPress plugins available has grown over the years. At the time of writing this article, there are more than 54,000 free WordPress plugins available in the official plugins directory.

Apart from these free plugins, there are also thousands of premium WordPress plugins sold by third-party companies and developers.

Plugins can help you improve SEO, increase security, manage users, and more. It would be quite difficult to grow your business without using WordPress plugins on your website.

How Did WordPress Plugins Get a Bad Reputation

How plugins got bad rep

The purpose of plugins is to extend WordPress to do almost anything you can imagine. However, now we see a sense of fear or restraint towards plugins from many beginner users.

People get worried about performance, security, reliability, etc. This is mainly because designers, developers, and web hosting support technicians get really frustrated when they are troubleshooting a client’s websites.

In their frustration, they make comments like ‘have fewer plugins‘, or ‘it is the plugins that are slowing down your site‘.

A developer blaming plugins for slow site

These statements have resonated throughout social media, in-person meetups, and conferences. The biggest issue with those statements is their ambiguity.

What is less? How many WordPress plugins are too many?

We believe the problem is not the quantity of plugins, but rather the quality.

You can have dozens of good WordPress plugins running on your website without any issues, but an addition of a single poorly coded plugin can slow down your website.

When this happens and you ask for troubleshooting help, your hosting company support technician or another developer will blame the quantity of plugins.

This makes sense because troubleshooting a website with 5 plugins is much easier than troubleshooting a website with 30. Quantity of plugins make their job harder.

It’s extremely important to take any such advice resulting from frustration with a bit of caution.

You should politely ask them to identify which specific plugin is causing the issue because simply blaming the quantity is a result of laziness.

To put this in perspective, our WPBeginner website has 62 active plugins right now, and it loads extremely fast.

If we were to add one bad plugin that slows down the website, then we should only have to disable that one bad plugin (not all 62).

With that said, let’s take a look at how plugins can affect different aspects of your website.

How WordPress Plugins Impact Website Speed & Performance

WordPress plugins and website performance

There are many different types of WordPress plugins, and they each impact your website performance differently.

There are plugins that affect mainly the front-end. For example, page builder plugins, contact forms, galleries, sliders, etc.

Then there are plugins that are mainly made to perform tasks within the back-end or admin area. For example, WordPress backup plugins, editorial plugins, various background processes, etc.

There are also plugins that run everywhere including admin area and front-end. For example, SEO plugins, WordPress firewall plugins, and more.

A WordPress plugin’s impact on website speed and performance depends on where that plugin is being loaded.

For example, plugins that are only loaded when you are doing specific tasks in the WordPress admin area usually will not impact your website’s performance.

On the other hand, plugins that are loaded on the front-end are likely to have a larger performance footprint.

Also plugins that perform routine background processes like broken link checking, 404 monitoring, etc can also significantly slow down your overall website performance.

Plugins can impact your site performance by:

  • Making additional HTTP requests – Some plugins (mainly front-end ones) may require custom styling or scripts to work properly. Because of this, they may add extra JS and/or CSS file(s). Loading these files require making additional HTTP requests which slows down your page load time.
  • Additional DB Queries – Some plugins may increase your database queries. For example, plugins to display popular posts, related posts, or anything else that pulls database elements and displays it on the front-end.
  • Background Processes & Database Writes – Some plugins can take up a lot of server resources while running background processes such as checking for broken links, monitoring and recording analytics like post views, etc.

Most good WordPress plugins will only load additional files when needed, and they will minimize the database calls. However, sometimes it is just unavoidable.

Luckily, there are optimizations available for most cases. Let’s take a look at a short term and a long term fix for these issues.

Before we do this, first make sure that you have caching enabled on your WordPress site. Without caching, your website will always be slow.

Now, let’s move on to other optimizations.

Fixing Additional HTTP Requests Issue

Plugins have to add additional HTTP requests (i.e JS and CSS file) to work out of the box. For example, when you install a contact form plugin, you want it to work and look good too.

People complain about additional HTTP requests while ignoring that they are sometimes necessary. Here is what an unstyled form would look like.

Contact form without styling

Most users would not like it, some would even think that it’s broken. Well, that is exactly what would happen if the contact form doesn’t add the additional HTTP requests to load CSS and JS files.

In short, the additional styles and scripts are needed for the plugin to function properly.

There are three ways to optimize the additional HTTP requests issue. All of them require some coding knowledge and WordPress know-how, but one will method is definitely easier than the others.

The first method would be to unregister the additional styles and scripts that are being loaded by the plugin. After that you can combine the plugin styles into your theme’s style.css file and combine the plugin scripts into your theme’s main JavaScript file.

The second method would be to conditionally load the plugin styles/scripts on pages where they are needed.

We have already explained both methods in our article about disabling additional scripts and stylesheets that WordPress plugins add.

As for folks who are not code-savvy, you can use a premium caching plugin like WP Rocket which allows you to minify and combine files with a single click. This will work for most cases, but in some cases it can cause conflicts with specific plugins.

With that said, you must understand that a few additional HTTP requests are not as significant as you may think. We are talking about milliseconds here. However if you have a lot of plugins that are adding additional HTTP requests, then this optimization will allow you to shave a few seconds off your load time.

A lot of non-techy business owners simply hire a WordPress developer from Codeable to speed up their website (which is a worthwhile investment).

Now that we have covered HTTP requests, let’s take a look at additional DB queries.

Fixing Additional Database Queries and Background Processes

Some plugins may increase the load on your database server. WordPress itself does a very good job at caching the queries and most well-coded plugins will not cause any significant issue.

However, if you have a high traffic website, then using database-driven plugins can become an issue especially if you don’t have proper server resources.

For example if you have a membership website or an online store with WooCommerce, then you are serving a lot of uncached requests. In this scenario the only real option is to use a managed WordPress hosting solution or even a specialized WooCommerce hosting solution.

Now there are some plugins that are extremely resource intensive, and you should avoid them at all costs.

For example, there are plugins that add various analytics functionality within WordPress such as some email opt-in plugin, website stats plugin, post views tracking plugin, etc. These plugins inefficiently write to the database on every page load which can significantly slow down your website.

You can track analytics in a more scalable manner with plugins like Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights or Jetpack Stats.

You can add email opt-in forms with more scalable tracking with plugins like OptinMonster or by using signup forms from your favorite email marketing services.

There are also plugins that monitor 404 errors and track broken links which can add heavy load and overwhelm the server resources. Instead of using those plugins, you should use a third-party cloud services like Ahrefs or SEMRush that automatically track broken links and offer a lot of other useful SEO insights as well.

If you don’t want a premium solution, then you can use a free tool like Broken Link Check which lets you check 300 pages at a time for broken links.

How WordPress Plugins Impact Security

How plugin can impact WordPress security

Security is another major concern when it comes to installing WordPress plugins. Many users worry that having more plugins can make their site more vulnerable.

It is true, that a poorly coded WordPress plugin can be exploited by hackers and make your site vulnerable. However, it is also true for just about every software that exists.

Oversights are bound to happen. However, the best part about open source is that many people are using the software, which makes it faster for a vulnerability to be discovered and fixed.

You can keep your website secure by using a WordPress security plugin like Sucuri. They scan thousands of websites and will help you catch most security problems with a vulnerable plugin.

You can also protect your website by improving your overall WordPress security. This allows you to add layers of security before any vulnerability can be exploited by hackers.

WordPress Plugins and Reliability

An abandoned plugin

Some folks are concerned about a plugin’s reliability. What if the plugin gets discontinued? What if the updates are slow?

The beautiful part about the open source WordPress ecosystem is that there are always alternatives.

If you use a popular plugin, chances are that it will not be discontinued. If it is, then someone else will likely fork it and continue the development. That’s the power of open source. This is also how WordPress came into existence (previous platform was called b2/cafelog).

As long as you pick plugins with a good track record and reputable authors, then you will be fine.

Can I Avoid Plugins by Adding Code Snippets?

There are articles throughout the web that shows you: “How to do XYZ in WordPress without a plugin” (like this one).

The purpose of these articles is not to discourage using plugins but to show you how to learn code. There are basically three ways you can add code snippets to your site. You can add them to your functions.php file, a site-specific plugin, or use a plugin to add custom code snippets.

Regardless of which method you choose, adding code snippets to your website has the same performance impact as a stand-alone plugin.

If you install code snippets that are identical to a plugin, then basically you are running the plugin without installing it. The downside is that you won’t get any plugin updates or security fixes for that code.

For more information on this topic, see our guide on WordPress plugin vs functions.php file which one is better.

How Many WordPress Plugins Should You Install? How many WordPress Plugins are too many?

How many plugins to install

You should install as many WordPress plugins as necessary to run your website and grow your business.

On average, its quite common for a business website to have at least 20 – 30 plugins.

If you’re using WordPress to it’s full potential and have many advanced features, then this count can easily go into 50+.

For example, here’s the number of active plugins on our websites:

  • WPBeginner – 62 active plugins
  • OptinMonster – 67 active plugins
  • WPForms – 54 active plugins
  • MonsterInsights – 68 active plugins
  • Syed Balkhi’s blog – 42 active plugins
  • RafflePress – 17 active plugins
  • WP Mail SMTP – 39 active plugins

These count should highlight that it’s not the quantity of plugins that slow down your website.

You will be fine with a large number of plugins, as long as you are using high-quality plugins that follow the WordPress coding standards.

Here is our website’s performance result via Pingdom.

WPBeginner Homepage Pingdom

Despite using dozens of plugins and custom code snippets, our website still loads in half a second (479 milliseconds).

How to Pick the Best WordPress Plugins?

One of the most frequently asked question by our users is ‘how do I choose the best plugins for my website?’

If you are looking for a free plugin, then only download it from WordPress.org plugin directory. The official WordPress plugin directory also makes it easier to choose good plugins.

How to Find the Best WordPress Plugin

You can see a plugin’s rating and reviews provided by other WordPress users. You can also see when the plugin was last updated and how many websites have it installed.

On the other hand, if you are looking into a premium plugin, then make sure they are from a well-reputed WordPress company or developer. If you are unsure, then look around for reviews and testimonials.

For more details, see our complete guide on how to choose the best WordPress plugins.

If you are just starting out, then see our expert-pick of the essential WordPress plugins that every website should have. You can also check out WPBeginner’s WordPress plugins category where we regularly share the best WordPress plugins and how to use them.

We hope this article answered your questions about how many WordPress plugins should you install. You may also want to see our article debunking the most common WordPress myths.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

The post How Many WordPress Plugins Should You Install? What’s too many? appeared first on WPBeginner.



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What’s Coming in WordPress 5.3 (Features and Screenshots)


WordPress 5.3 is expected to be released on November 12, 2019. It will be the last major release of the year and will ship with some significant improvements.

We’ve been following the development closely and testing the first beta to try out new features that are on the way.

It is packed with new features, block editor improvements, and user interface update. There are also many more behind the scene improvements for developers as well.

In this article, we will show you what’s coming in WordPress 5.3 with features and screenshots.

Features and screenshots of the upcoming WordPress 5.3

Note: You can try out the beta version on your computer or on a staging environment by using the WordPress Beta Tester plugin.

WordPress 5.3 is still under development, which means features can still change and may not make into the final release.

Having said that, let’s take a look at what’s coming in WordPress 5.3.

A New Default WordPress Theme

This release will come with a new default WordPress theme called Twenty Twenty. This beautiful theme is designed by Anders Norén, and it is based on Chaplin, a free WordPress theme, released earlier on the WordPress.org theme directory.

The most elegant part of this new theme is the typography. It comes with Inter typeface (font), which comes in various widths (bold, italics, extra bold). The font works really well for headlines, making them more prominent and crisp. It also looks great on smaller screens.

Above the fold area in Twenty Twenty

Twenty Twenty will enable users to take full advantage of the WordPress block editor and create gorgeous content layouts for their posts and pages.

Blog post layout in Twenty Twenty

It includes a cover and a full-width template for posts and pages. There are two navigation menus on top, a social links menu at the bottom, and two separate menus for mobile screens.

The theme features a single column layout, which means there is no sidebar to the left or right of your content. However, it does include two widget-ready areas at the bottom.

And yes, it works with all best WordPress page builders as well.

Design and User Interface Updates

WordPress 5.3 will introduce several changes in the overall appearance of the WordPress user interface. These changes are not drastic and some users might not notice them at all. However, they will bring coherency to the overall appearance of the admin area.

Appearance changes in WordPress dashboard

The goal here is to improve color contrasts on form fields and buttons, add a new color palette, and combine the look and feel of the editor and rest of the WordPress admin screens.

Better highlighting of form fields

It will also improve the accessibility of the WordPress admin area and make it a fun experience for all users.

The New and Improved Blocks

There are many changes coming to the Gutenberg block editor in this release.

Aside from the improvements to several existing Gutenberg blocks, the overall user interface and experience is also improved with new animations and visual hints.

Group blocks together

You can now create groups of blocks and interact with them as a group.

Adding a group block in WordPress 5.3

You can simply add a group block and start adding blocks inside it, or you can drag and drop existing blocks into the group, or ungroup them if you want.

This allows you to save multiple block items as a single reusable group block, so you can apply a background color to the group, insert item before or after the group, and duplicate it.

Group block interactions

Improved Image block

The new image block now allows you to select a style for images. Currently, it ships with two styles: Default and Circle mask.

Image block styles

Improved Columns block

The columns block now asks you to choose a layout for your columns or adjust the width of each column from columns settings.

Column width and pattern

The add new block placeholder inside each column is also cleanly visibly, making it easier to create complex multi-column layouts.

Improved Table block

Table block will also be improved in WordPress 5.3. You will now be able to select styles and add stripes to your table rows.

The new table block in WordPress 5.3

The improved table block also allows you to add header and footer rows to your table.

Improved Button block

If you want to add button in posts or pages, then you’ll love the improved button block which will allow you to select border-radius yourself.

Improved button block in WordPress 5.3

You can also set the target and add rel attribute to the link, which means you can open button links in a new window and make it nofollow if needed.

Improved latest posts block

Currently, the latest posts block simply adds a list of your recent posts. In WordPress 5.3, the latest posts block will also allow you to add excerpts and control excerpt lengths as well.

Latest posts block in upcoming WordPress 5.3

However, it still does not show post thumbnails. See our guide on how to show recent posts with thumbnails for instructions on how to do that.

Other notable changes to the block editor

As you know that the new WordPress editor is written in JavaScript and PHP. Keeping it fast and usable for all users is a big task.

The block editor team has been able to make it even faster for the upcoming WordPress 5.3. They have shaved off 1.5 seconds of loading time while testing with 1000 blocks and 36,000 words long post.

New Social Links Block in The Editor

WordPress 5.3 will have a brand new social links block to easily add social media icons inside your WordPress posts and pages.

New social links block in WordPress 5.3

You can add or remove icons you want to add, link them to your social media profiles, and even select from a list of social media websites to add.

Related: See our tutorial on how to add fast social share buttons with total share counts for your posts and pages.

Improved Image Uploads in WordPress 5.3

Uploading images from your mobile phones or digital cameras to WordPress is not a good experience. Usually, those images have huge file sizes, which require more time and WordPress hosting resources to finish the upload.

WordPress 5.3, will improve that situation and automatically save upload and image creation process. This means your uploads will not break in the middle, and WordPress will be able to resume upload to finish it.

It will also fix image rotation using the EXIF metadata which is something added by your camera or phone to the original image.

Last but not least, this will allow you to use very large image sizes in your WordPress posts and pages. This means that your images will look beautiful and crisp.

WordPress Admin Email Address Verification

Currently, you can just go to Settings » General page and change the default WordPress admin email address.

This address is very important as WordPress sends password reset and other notification emails to the address. WordPress 5.3, will make it mandatory to verify new email address to ensure that you don’t miss those future emails.

Verify admin email address

Its extremely important that you’re using the WP Mail SMTP plugin along with a SMTP service to make sure that your admin emails are actually being delivered. See our guide on how to fix WordPress not sending email issue.

Site Health Report in WordPress 5.3

Site Health feature was introduced in WordPress 5.1. It basically helps website owners keep an eye on the performance and WordPress security issues that may affect their site.

WordPress 5.3 will bring some changes to the feature. Most importantly, it will stop showing site health score in percentage.

Site health score will be shown as a status in WordPress 5.3

Instead, it will now show users site health check score as ‘Should be improved’ and ‘Good’.

You can still get a 100% site health score in WordPress by clearing all the tests mentioned on the Status tab.

Under The Hood Improvements in WordPress 5.3

WordPress 5.3 brings many improvements for developers. Following are some of those under the hood changes.

WordPress 5.3 will offer a better way to discourage search engines from indexing a website when you check the option ‘Discourage search engines from indexing this website’ option. (#43590)

The upcoming release will also improve WordPress compatability with PHP 7.4. (#47441, #47704, #47746, #47746, #47783)

WordPress 5.3 will come with improved handling of date and timezone functionality, which will allow developers to use them more efficiently in their projects. (See details)

A show/hide password toggle will now be available on WordPress login screens on both mobile and desktop devices. (#42888)

Show / hide password on WordPress login screens

WordPress Multisite changes in 5.3

If you’re using WordPress multisite for creating a multisite network, then you will find these improvements very helpful.

Developers can now filter sites by status (#37392, #37684)

Multisite will now store database version as meta (#41685)

We hope this article helped you get a good idea of what’s coming in the WordPress 5.3 release. Let us know what features you find interesting and what you’d look to see in a future WordPress release.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.



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What’s Coming in WordPress 5.2 (Features and Screenshots)


WordPress 5.2 is expected to be released by the end of April 2019. We have been following the development and tested the first beta to try out new features that are on the way.

This release will bring improvements to the block editor, site health check, several bug fixes and minor enhancements.

In this article, we will show you what’s coming in WordPress 5.2 with features and screenshots.

What is coming in WordPress 5.2

Note: You can try out the beta version on your computer or on a staging environment by using the WordPress Beta Tester plugin.

WordPress 5.2 is still under development, which means some features may not make it to the final release.

That being said, let’s take a look at some of the upcoming features in WordPress 5.2.

Improved Fatal Error Protection in WordPress

The most common WordPress errors are usually fatal errors that stop users from accessing the admin dashboard.

Users are then required to undo changes using an FTP client or ask their hosting company for support.

WordPress 5.2 introduces a new recovery mode for site administrators. In case of a fatal error, you will see a message that ‘This site is experiencing technical difficulties’.

Technical difficulties error in WordPress 5.2

WordPress will then send an email to the admin email address with a special login link.

Using that link, you will be able to login to the WordPress admin area. After that, you can undo any changes that may have triggered the fatal error.

This feature will be a blessing for many beginners who find it quite difficult to fix such errors.

Block Editor Updates in WordPress 5.2

The WordPress block editor (Gutenberg) was introduced in WordPress 5.0. Since then there has been continuous development on the block editor to further improve it.

WordPress 5.2 will continue that with some new features and enhancements to the block editor.

Performance Improvements

The new WordPress block editor is much faster than the older classic editor. However, it could get slower when editing lengthier blog posts with tons of blocks.

WordPress 5.2 addressed that with significant performance improvements.

It will now shave 35% off the load time for massive posts. WordPress 5.2 will also cut the keypress time in half, which would make it feel way more responsive when you are typing.

Accessibility Improvements

The goal of WordPress is to democratize publishing and making the software accessible for all users. WordPress 5.2 will bring several accessibility improvements to the block editor.

  • The block editor will now support reduced motion settings in user’s browser.
  • The post URL slug will have better labeling and help text, which will make it easier to locate.
  • Block editor will have a clearer and consistent focus styling for keyboard navigating through landmarks.
  • WordPress 5.2 will also bring improved screen-reader experience with new speak messages. Existing speak messages are also improved to be clearer.

Introduction of New Blocks

WordPress 5.2 will also introduce the following new blocks in the default editor. Some of them were already available as Widgets, but now you can use them in posts and pages as well.

  • RSS block – It will allow you to easily fetch and display any RSS feed in your WordPress posts and pages.
  • Amazon Kindle embed block – Allows you to embed content from Amazon Kindle
  • Search block – Add the default WordPress search feature in your content.
  • Calendar block – Displays a calendar of your blog posts allowing users to click on a date to view posts published on that day.
  • Tag Cloud block – Displays the tag cloud in your content.

A New Block Manager Tool

By default, the block editor comes with several default blocks. You also have plugins and themes adding their own blocks as well.

However, the reality is that you’ll probably never use all those blocks. Most users usually stick to a handful of blocks for writing all their content.

WordPress 5.2 will introduce a new block management tool, which will allow you to hide blocks that you don’t want to use.

Launching the new block manager in WordPress 5.2

The block manager will list all the blocks that you have available on your site. You can simply uncheck the blocks that you don’t want to use.

The new block manager in WordPress

The Minimum PHP Version Requirement

WordPress is used by millions of people from all over the world, using different hosting companies, and hosting environments.

This is why WordPress still supports some older PHP versions, which is a bit problematic. Users may not even realize that they can improve the performance of their website by using a newer PHP version.

WordPress 5.2 will set the current minimum required PHP version to 5.6, which is still old (current stable PHP version is 7.3.2). The goal is to gradually increase the minimum required PHP version with future releases.

Users on the older versions of PHP will see a notification, that they are using an older PHP version and need to update it.

PHP version notice in WordPress 5.2 beta

Under The Hood Improvements in WordPress 5.2

These are the changes in WordPress 5.2 which will mostly affect developers.

Users will be able to provide a log file path when adding WP_DEBUG_LOG in wp-config.php file. #18391.

Plugins will be able to specify the minimum required PHP version. #40934

Dashicons, the default icon font used for the WordPress admin area will have 25 new icons to use. #41074

We hope this article gave you a glimpse of what’s coming in WordPress 5.2. Let us know which features you find interesting and what new features you would like to see in the future.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

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