The hidden cost of WordPress plugins

What so many bloggers + website owners don’t realize is that their plugins might be costing them customers. That information can be more valuable than the up front cost of the WordPress plugins you choose to use.

What’s the harm with adding plugins?

I’m not even talking about the heated debates that most website owners get into on social groups…

  • “The second I see a pop-up, I close the site and never come back”
  • “Why is everyone removing comments from their blog?! I won’t come back if I can’t ask questions”
  • “Does anyone have a favorite sharing plugin that doesn’t cover blog post content edges? My site visitors can’t read my content right now!!”

What I am talking about is the countless plugins that make your site slower than molasses in January. If you didn’t know, that’s really slow. And when your site is slow, your potential clients lose their patience + take their attention (and business) elsewhere. That my friends, is no bueno.

Why are plugins causing the slow down?

There are a number of things that can lead to a slower site load time. But the biggest cost of WordPress plugins is the number of script files they run every time a visitor tries to view a page. Without getting too nerdy, these script files are what enable the plugin to do whatever fancy work you’ve asked it to. That might be display a slideshow, operate a shopping cart, display a popup on page exit, etc.

All plugins are made via at least 1 code file, but some have dozens. And if those dozens of files are script type files (aka asking the site to actually perform a task vs just looking pretty), your site has to do that much more work before the page is done loading.

And if you want to get really nerdy, which I of course do, if the plugin author asks your site to load the script files before anything else on the page loads, things will appear even slower. The better way to do things is to have the top of your page load first. That includes the look + feel. And then load the scripts after. That way, clients that are there to simply read aren’t waiting for the form dropdown script to load (even though they may never use that form + therefore won’t see the dropdown functionality.)

Weed out the bad apples

The good news is that it is easy to figure out which plugins are causing the most problem + likely costing you business. Head to + enter your homepage URL then click “test your site.”

After the test has run, click the tab titled “Waterfall” which will show the content that is loading slowest. At first glance, this list may look completely useless. But when you hover your cursor over the file names, you’ll see the entire file directory shown. Work down the list until you catch repeated plugin names + make note of those. For example, PopupAlly is the first plugin file that appears on my list. Before that are WordPress or theme files.

the cost of WordPress plugins // tiny blue orange

Decide if the cost of the WordPress plugin is worth it

Armed with the scan information, your next step is to deactivate + remove any plugin on the list that you aren’t actually using. There’s no shame in having a collection of unused plugins on your site, it happens to all of us! Which is why I’m reminding you to check your current plugin list + clear out those you aren’t using. It saves space, time + keeps things more secure for you + your readers.

If your scan lists a plugin that you need to have installed on your site because of the functionality it adds, you might want to start researching alternative options that won’t slow your site down as much, or at all. Let’s say your social sharing plugin has 5 files that appear at the very top of your waterfall… I’m confident you could find a better + faster option because there are currently 1,271 plugins available under the term “social sharing.” Simply install the one that has the same features lists, more recent updates + great reviews. You can run another scan to make sure things have improved — but remember to deactivate + remove the slow plugin first.

Another way to reduce the cost of WordPress plugins (slowing your site to a crawl) is by running your plugin updates. Site speed is crucial to a successful online business, so most plugin authors work to make things better for those that install their plugins. New versions may be lightning fast, or remove some of the unnecessary files that were to blame. Yet another reason to keep your site up-to-date.

Backup plan

Let’s say your scan results left you with a list of plugins that simply cannot be deleted or replaced, for whatever reason. Fear not, because there is still hope for keeping your site fast — by setting yourself up with amazing hosting.

When you have a hosting company that not only specializes in WordPress sites, but also gives a damn about how fast they can make your site go, you are in good hands. And in case you didn’t know, tiny blue orange offers partner WordPress managed hosting with our friends at Flywheel. Not only do you get their great support, lightning fast servers + hack-free guarantee, you also get extra perks from tiny blue orange like site uptime-monitoring + plugin updates so you don’t have to think about keeping things current, we’ll do that for you.

To learn more about our hosting, check out the breakdown or use the form below to get in touch for a call.

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