WordPress plugins are amazing because they let you add tons of functionality to your website with minimum effort. However, a question we get asked a lot is, does having WordPress plugins, and specifically a high number of plugins installed on your site make it run significantly slower? In this article, we will examine this question also how you can control your plugins more efficiently.
Plugins are essentially apps for your website that you can download from websites such as the WordPress Plugin Repository. Plugins allow you to extend the features and functionality of your website by allowing you add things like a contact form, image gallery, an e-commerce store, widgets and so much more.
Loading assets and making database queries will add to your site's load time. Every time a plugin makes an HTTP request to load certain assets, this increases your site's load time. Normally, the performance impact would be very minimal. However, if you find yourself using multiple plugins that are making too many HTTP requests, this could impact your site's load time and user experience in a negative way.
In order to view the plugins that are affecting your site's load time, you will need to check the files that are being loaded by WordPress. There is a range of tools you can use to do this, however, we recommend simply using your browsers developer tools.
By visiting your website and right-clicking, one of the options you will be shown is the 'Inspect' option. ('Inspect' on Google Chrome, 'Inspect Element' on Firefox and other browsers). Just click this and you will be shown your websites developer tools panel.
You will now need to click on the 'Network' tab and reload your page in order to see how your browser loads each file.
The most important thing you can do when it comes to plugins is to use only well coded, well-reviewed ones from trusted sources. If you find a plugin that is negatively affecting your site's load time then try and look for a more suitable alternative.
Another step to take is to utilise caching and a CDN to further improve your site's performance and speed.
If you find that your site is still running slow and you are certain your plugins are functioning optimally, then consider that your website's hosting may be a factor. If your hosting servers are not properly optimized, then it will increase your site’s response time.
As a last resort, you can uninstall plugins that you can live without and are slowing you down. Carefully review the installed plugins on your website, and see if you can uninstall some of them. This is not an ideal solution, however, as you will have to compromise on features for speed.