Installing WordPress Plugins – A Little Goes A Long Way
WordPress is the most popular blogging and CMS (content management system) platform used by inexperienced webmasters. The reason it is so popular is because you can add plugins to increase the functionality of the site without having to have any kind of technical knowledge. However, there are some very important factors you should know about before adding plugins to your WordPress website.
What is WordPress and What is a Plugin?
WordPress, on its own, is a very powerful and stable program. It is an OpenSource (free) program that is installed on a database and is designed to manage the content that you input into it. It is updated regularly to correct any known issues or to add more features to the core program. You should always make sure you are running the newest version on your website. Upgrading to the newest version is as easy as the click of a button in your user dashboard.
Plugins are scripts that are developed as add-ons to the existing program. These give you the ability to add new features to the program to help customize the site to your needs. Because WordPress is OpenSource, it means that any web developer can use the source code or API to create new scripts for the program.
Caution is Needed When Adding Plugins
Because plugins are created by all different developers, they are not always compatible with each other. When compatibility issues arise, it can make the database unstable. In other words, the engine driving your website will begin to fail. This can result in your site crashing.
Another reason to exercise caution when installing plugins is because every one you add on to your site adds more code to the core program. Adding too many will bloat the code and make your website slow and sluggish. It can also hamper the ability of search engine bots from crawling your website effectively.
Which WordPress plugins should you install?
I cannot give you a definite answer to this since every webmaster and every website has different needs and functions. What I can advise is this; only install the plugins you really need. Typically this would be an SEO plugin such as All In One SEO, a database backup plugin such as WP Database Backup, a contact form plugin such as Easy Contact, and a social plugin such as Sociable or Share This. These are the plugins I consider to be essential.
Any other plugins you should only install one at a time and tested for compatibility before adding any more. Always do a database backup before adding new plugins as a safety net in case any issues arise and you need to restore your website.
WordPress plugins are wonderful inventions and can help you create the website of your dreams, but before you go on a wholesale plugin installation spree, be aware of the consequences.