How WordPress Plugins Harm Your Website Speed Scores

Last updated on September 21st, 2023 at 09:17 am

Over the years we all have learned the importance of website speed. Even before Google announced that website speed is a ranking factor, most people tried their best to make their websites as fast as possible. The same goes for your WordPress website. Improving the speed of your WordPress website is crucial to enhance your website’s performance. With WordPress, you have to deal with a lot of plugins. They both go hand in hand. The big question is does WordPress plugins harm your website speed?

Although the common perception is “yes it does”

The truth is, “It depends”.

WordPress Plugins harm the speed of your website. Is this a myth or a reality?

The answer is not as simple as it sounds.

To answer the above question, we will dig deep into the details of how WordPress plugins affect the speed of the website. This way you can easily audit your plugins and decide which ones you want to keep.

Which WordPress plugins slow down your website?

There is no definite answer to this question. There are several factors that impact the speed of your website. Over the years, the community has developed a rule of thumb that you can apply:

Plugins that alter the front end of your website will end up slowing the website down.

Plugins that only affect the admin dashboard will most likely not decrease the speed.

Though this is only a rule of thumb, which means you cannot rely on it in the long run. In order to find what plugins slow down your website, you will have to understand that specific plugin. Therefore we are going to discuss in detail how plugins affect your website speed and how to prevent it from happening.

How do WordPress Plugins Work?

To understand better, consider plugins as applications for your WordPress website. These plugins are installed to have additional features on your website. You can add contact forms, photo galleries, or even an eCommerce store.

When you open your website, WordPress loads the core files first then all your active plugins.

Whether you are running your own WordPress website or work as a WordPress development agency, it is always important to have a speedy website.

What Slows Down a WordPress Website?

In a single word, the answer is “files”.

When your website has to load more and bigger files, it will take more time to load all the files and hence become slow in the process.

When someone visits your website, all the files are transferred from the server to their browser. The browser’s loading indicator will keep spinning until all the files are loaded. Therefore having so many unnecessary files will slow down your website.

A website contains three types of files that it needs to deliver.

  • Stylesheets (CSS)
  • Javascript (JS)
  • Images/Multimedia (JPG/PNG/GIF)

CSS also known as stylesheets is used to style your WordPress website. All your themes are loaded in CSS which provides a unique style to your website. For example, if you add a button on your website linking to your social media pages. You need this button to be stylish. When you add CSS for this purpose it slows down the website.

Javascript is used to make your website interactive. For example, if a visitor is reading a post on your website and a popup form appears, Javascript is used to create the form and to hide it when the visitor presses the “cross” button.

Plugins rarely load images, however, if you notice additional images on your site as a result of a plugin, it will have a greater impact on the speed of your website.

For the most part, no single plugin will significantly slow you down, but the cumulative effect is significant.

Your website’s performance will suffer if you have 20 plugins all loading a stylesheet and a Javascript file. And there’s more bad news: some plugins aren’t well optimized, and they load many stylesheets and Javascript files when they only have room for one of each. Plugins like these will definitely slow down your website.

How to Reduce the Impact of Plugins on Website Speed?

By this point, you might be wondering if adding a cool effect to any button on your website is going to hinder performance, then how can you style your website?

Unfortunately, that is the harsh reality. Everything has a price to pay. So if you are using CSS to style your website you also will have to deal with the consequences.

When someone has a particularly slow WordPress site, it’s usually because they’ve been installing plugins like crazy without realizing there’ll be a performance penalty. They leave plugins active even those that they don’t use any longer, despite the fact that they have a negative influence on the site’s performance.

Let’s discuss how you can optimize your website speed with plugins working on your WordPress website.

Disable Unused Plugins

It is the most simple yet effective way to reduce the toll of plugins on your website.

Look through your Plugins menu for any active plugins you aren’t using and disable them. Once a plugin is deactivated, it won’t run any code or have any effect on the performance of your site.

You should also delete your deactivated plugins in general. Only leave a deactivated plugin on your site if you plan to reactivate it shortly, such as a maintenance mode plugin. Also, when you uninstall a plugin, it deletes all of your previous settings, so only deactivate it if you want to save your original settings.

Deleting a plugin can free up some storage space on your server, but it will have no effect on how quickly your site loads (deactivating it does).

Optimize your Plugins Manually

Advanced WordPress users might try to control how their site’s plugins load files. This necessitates some coding expertise as well as debugging abilities.

The way to load scripts and stylesheets in WordPress is by using the wp_enqueue_style and wp_enqueue_script functions.

They’re used by the majority of WordPress plugin authors to load plugin files. WordPress also has simple deregistration functions for scripts and stylesheets.

However, simply disabling the loading of certain scripts and stylesheets will destroy your plugins and cause them to malfunction. To remedy this, copy and paste the styles and scripts into the stylesheet and JavaScript files of your theme.

This way, you’ll be able to load all of them at once, reducing the number of HTTP requests and, as a result, the time it takes for your website to load.

Remove Duplicate Plugins to Consolidate

You can further limit the number of plugins you’re running by deleting duplicate functionality once you’ve deactivated the plugins you’re not using at all.

Many WordPress sites have two plugins that perform the same function. One plugin, for example, adds a social networking widget to the post, while the other adds social buttons afterward. Because these plugins are unable to communicate with one another, they each load their own files (2x the files). What is the solution? Look for a plugin that can handle both of these tasks.

It’s normal to install a plugin last minute merely to do one small item for your website when you need a feature quickly and you’re on a deadline. If you have a plugin that allows you to add galleries, for example, go back to the gallery feature in WordPress and see if you still need it.

Consolidating takes more work and investigation, but if you’ve never done it before, you can probably obtain some decent increases by removing a few plugins. Plus, when you’re finished, your admin interface will be less cluttered.

Bottom Line

The most crucial thing you can do for your WordPress site is to only utilize plugins that are well-coded, have positive reviews, and come highly recommended from reliable sources. If you discover that a WordPress plugin is slowing down your site, choose a better plugin that performs the same thing but better. After that, you should start employing caching and a CDN to increase your site’s performance and speed even further.

Another thing to think about is your website hosting. If your hosting servers aren’t correctly optimized, your site’s response time will increase. This means that your site’s total performance, not simply plugins, will suffer. Make sure you’re hosting your WordPress site with one of the best WordPress hosting companies.

You can uninstall plugins that you can live without as a last option. Examine the plugins that have been installed on your website and determine if any may be removed. This isn’t the best option because you’ll have to sacrifice features in exchange for speed.

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