We love building websites with WordPress. Creating beautiful, functional websites with WordPress is so much easier and cheaper than coding from scratch. WordPress is the best open-source CMS out there due to its ease of use, standard features, security, and especially its extendability (more on this later). We recommend the WordPress platform to almost every client who consults with us about building a new site or planning a redesign of an existing one. We trust it so much that we built our own website with it. Simply put, WordPress is awesome, but…
(there is always a but, isn’t there?)…
WordPress’ most valuable feature is its extendability. It can be easily customized and extended with “plugins” that are essentially add-ons to the core code which make WordPress do something extra. As valuable as they are, plugins are also the platform’s biggest vulnerability. You see, the guys who created WordPress are not the only ones writing code for it. There are literally thousands of plugins which extend the core functionality of WordPress (23,062 plugins are in the WordPress repository at the time of this post), and it is difficult to tell the good from the bad because anybody who can code can develop a plugin. Making things more interesting, since WordPress is constantly being improved and updated, unless a plugin developer continues to update and support his plugin in perpetuity (to ensure it works with the latest release), there is a pretty good chance it won’t continue to work forever.
On a site built with WordPress, whenever things aren’t working perfectly (or worse, things stop working completely), fixing things typically involves figuring out which plugins are conflicting with one another. To do this you literally need to disable each plugin one at a time until you identity the conflict. If you have a lot of plugins on your site, this can be very time consuming. Importantly, your site won’t tell you when there is a plugin conflict, it will simply stop working! When plugins do conflict and you figure out the problem, your work is not done. Now you need to decide which plugin you will continue to use and how to address the functionality you will lose by deactivating the problem plugin. Sometimes this is as easy as finding a replacement plugin that doesn’t cause a conflict, but sometimes it is not.
You probably now see the importance of limiting the number of plugins you use on your WordPress site. Not only do plugins have the potential to slow down your site, when they do conflict they can make your site absolutely useless. If yours is like most businesses, you depend on your website to generate leads, provide information to customers, schedule appointments and do other things which are critical to your company. You need to make sure every change or upgrade to your website doesn’t cause it to break. In other words, don’t go plugin crazy! Make improvements that bring value to your business and test them completely.
Oh and remember when I mentioned WordPress updates? It’s great that the platform is constantly being improved, but this can also cause huge problems for the unsuspecting site owner. Before updating the code to the latest release, you’ll want to back up your entire site as well as your database. Ignore this advice at your own peril — you could lose your entire site if the update process fails.
OK enough doom and gloom; we’ll stop scaring you now. And honestly we really do love WordPress! We just recommend that you exercise extreme caution when you make changes to your site or you could easily bring down the entire thing and stifle your business.