When building a WordPress website, using fewer plugins is supposedly better. On the surface, it makes sense. Fewer plugins mean fewer opportunities for something to go wrong.
Yet it doesn’t always play out that way. So much depends on the quality and scope of the plugins you have installed. For example, consider a large plugin that aims to do a bit of everything. Is that better than a handful of specialized niche offerings? Not if it’s a bloated, buggy mess.
There are indeed arguments to be made for sticking with niche WordPress plugins. They might provide the features you need without going overboard. Even better is that it’s possible to build one yourself.
So, before you install that do-everything plugin – take a moment to discover the advantages of staying small. You might find that it’s the best option for your website.
Small Plugins That Are Dedicated to a Specific Function
Wouldn’t it be great if a single plugin could take care of all of your needs? That is when it comes to a specific area like SEO or eCommerce.
Some WordPress plugin developers have tried with varying degrees of success. A few (Yoast SEO, Gravity Forms) do it quite well. The ones that succeed tend to have plentiful resources and a track record of stability.
More often, it seems that plugins that try to do a bit too much will struggle. They attempt to be a jack of all trades – while mastering none. You might see them beset by bugs and conflicts with other products. It may also hinder site performance.
A niche plugin, meanwhile, trains its focus on one main function. There may be a few related options to go along with it. But it doesn’t try to be all-encompassing.
In theory, this benefits everyone. It allows its author to be more concerned with maintenance than shiny new features. And users may have less worry about an update breaking something.
Need More Functionality? Look For Add-on Plugins
Another way to avoid bloat is by choosing plugins that take a modular approach. They offer add-ons rather than trying to cram every possible function into a single plugin. Each add-on is a companion piece to the core.
This doesn’t guarantee a lightweight, problem-free experience (WooCommerce is a prime example). But it does mean that you can install only the features you need.
True, this could result in having to install multiple plugins. But there’s also less chance of enabling functionality you’ll never use. In the long run, it might be better for performance and security.
Much as the Block Editor allows us to build content piece by piece, add-ons do the same for plugins.
Custom Plugins Can Be More Efficient
If you’re a developer, sometimes the best solution is to create your own niche plugin. It’s especially useful for situations where you need to add a tiny bit of functionality.
But even if you’re not a coding expert, there are still plenty of possibilities. For example, many WordPress tutorials mention adding a code snippet to your theme’s
That’s easy enough. Yet most times, this code can go into a custom plugin as well. Doing so allows you to keep functionality separate from your theme. Thus, when you change themes down the road, the plugin will keep on running.
And there are also times when a third-party plugin is overkill. Some are aimed squarely at users who want to avoid touching code. But if you’re comfortable within that environment, it’s possible to build something quickly.
Extensibility is one of the key features of WordPress. Thankfully, it works just as well for small custom plugins as it does for larger ones.
Reconsider the Role of WordPress Plugins
Choosing the right WordPress plugins can be challenging. With many options and varying degrees of quality, there’s a lot of trial and error involved. And there’s no singular path that fits every use case.
Even so, it’s still worth looking at the role plugins play on your website. Think about what each plugin does, how well it works, and why you installed it.
You might find that a large, do-it-all option does what you need. But there’s also a case to be made for those smaller, niche offerings. Sure, they’ll add to your plugin count. On the other hand, they may make your site more performant.
In the end, it’s more about quality than quantity. If a handful of narrowly-focused plugins can do the job, don’t be afraid to use them. And even better if you can build a basic plugin yourself.
When it comes to plugins, the old clichés apply: bigger isn’t always better, and good things can come in small packages!