I like WordPress plugins, they add functionality to websites and expand the possibilities. But sometimes, people get carried away. They select a free theme, and then add a plugin for every function they want added to their site. And in theory, this seems fine. But in reality, it’s a train wreck waiting to happen. You don’t know how the theme framework was built, and you don’t know about the code in each of the plugins. So as you continue to add more and more plugins to your site, other plugins can stop working or the new plugin can “break” your site.
What happened to the Twitter feed?
A perfect example of this has happened in the last few weeks. I have received several emails and phone calls from clients, and non-clients, frantic about their Twitter feed not working on their website. Well, on June 11, Twitter retired their APIv1 and fully transitioned to APIv1.1.
[highlight color=”eg. yellow, black”]An API is the interface implemented by an application which allows other applications to communicate with it. Application programmers, like those at Twitter, carefully create code that allows other applications to interact with their application.[/highlight]
Unfortunately, unless you are a developer using the Twitter API, you probably didn’t know about this. Most website owners were just concerned that their Twitter feed wasn’t working. As I began to navigate several websites, I realized:
- Their themes had not been updated recently, some in years.
- They were using a plugin that was no longer supported by the developer.
- If their theme had a built in Twitter feed, and was no longer supported, the feed also didn’t work.
But what many of these people did not realize was that they didn’t need a plugin for Twitter at all. The developers at Twitter want you to share your Twitter feed, and so they offer that functionality. This helps their application gain popularity. And quickly, without a plugin, you can add a code snippet to a text widget and have a Twitter feed that is not dependent on the API.
Steps to create a Twitter widget
So you see, without a plugin, you can still add functionality to your website. And as I said at the beginning, while plugins are great, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. I tend to keep plugins under 10, and if I must, 15 is the max I will use on a site. Of those 10, many are “standard” and get installed on almost every site I build:[checklist]
- Gravity Forms
- Limit Login Attempts
- UpdraftPlus Backup
- WordPress Editorial Calendar
- WordPress SEO
And sometimes I don’t need a plugin, because like Twitter, applications offer code that can be used in text widgets. Some of these are:[checklist]
So before you get carried away with plugins on your website, consider what you really need. That’s what we do when we develop a client website.