Imagine this: you’ve spent countless hours and a good chunk of money designing a custom website. You’ve thought about every small detail. You’ve mapped out how the user will interact with your website. You’ve written a thoughtful, clear, and conversion-driven copy. You’ve chosen between dozens of fonts, images and designs and you’ve arranged them just so. You’ve integrated third-party plugins to track analytics, capture emails and take care of back-end details. Now, you publish.
Your website crashes before it even has a chance to shine. Well, it turns out you are not alone in this situation.
According to the Third Parties chapter of their 2021 Web Almanac report, “a staggering 94.4% of mobile sites and 94.1% of desktop sites use at least one third-party resource.” They also found out that “45.9% of requests on mobile and 45.1% of requests on desktop are third-party requests.”
You may have a lean, agile, responsive site design only to find it gradually loaded down with more and more “extras” that although were designed to enhance the back-end experience and analytics, often hinder functionality.
Recent research finds that third-party plugins could be hindering your website’s performance more than helping it. In this blog post we will be exploring five reasons why plugins hurt your website’s performance and a simple, integrated solution — go custom. After all, a custom website deserves custom solutions.
1. Third-party plugins cause conflict
A main cause of errors on your website is conflicts between two or more WordPress plugins that you may have installed. A conflict happens when two plugins are trying to accomplish the same thing in the same way, which causes one or both of them to malfunction. Third-party plugins are a major source of security vulnerabilities and website performance bottlenecks.
A perfect example of this is the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin. The Yoast SEO WordPress plugin version 19.7 was discovered to contain a conflict with other plugins which resulted in websites experiencing fatal errors. To make matters worse, this is the third time this year that this has happened.
To find a solution to this problem, WordPress recently announced a proposal to take a more proactive approach toward third-party plugins to improve security and site performance. What is being discussed is a plugin checker that will make sure that plugins are following best practices.
"While there are fewer infrastructure requirements for plugins than there are for themes, there are certainly some requirements that are worth verifying, and in any case, checking against security and performance best practices in plugins would be just as essential as it is in themes. However, as of today, there is no corresponding plugin checker” explained the team at WordPress.
One of the main problems is that there is a multitude of plugins available created to boost website performance, track SEO, user activity, etc. The intent is a good one. However, because of the large number of plugins available, multiple are used on websites simultaneously, making it hard to know which combination of them is creating conflict with each other or with the website’s custom coding. Another issue is the need to periodically update plugins, which again opens the door to possible conflict and website malfunctioning.
Many of our customers come to us with this exact issue, beyond frustrated and unsure of what to do next. We have transitioned each one of them to our custom-built CMS, WebWiz@ard, and have taken the reigns on managing all development and updates in-house, eliminating the need for third-party vendors. Our customers have realized the benefit of having a stable and custom solution to their problem, ensuring that their website is performing optimally, and not needing to compromise on any key features. Not only has this saved them time and money, but it has also ensured that no customers were lost because of their website’s lack of performance.
2. Some themes are incompatible with third-party plugins
The reality is this — plugins are built by various developers. This means that sometimes a website theme will be incompatible with a certain plugin. Although the plugin itself might have dozens of features, if one or two of those features don’t work properly with your theme, your website will not function well. You could try and troubleshoot each individual plugin, but that is a time-consuming and often fruitless task. Surely not how you want to spend your working hours!
3. Third-party plugins can be discontinued without notice
One of the most concerning aspects of using a third-party plugin is that at any moment it could be discontinued. This would mean that you are essentially left to your own devices to troubleshoot the issue, find which plugin has been discontinued, search for an adequate replacement and then hope that the one you chose does not conflict with your custom-built theme. It’s truly a hassle and a real way to lose time, money and potential customers. There is ample uncertainty in our world, but this is one that is truly avoidable.
4. Third-party plugins can slow down your website
5. Unexpected costs can arise
Developers earn an income by providing a free service for a limited or trial amount of time, and then charging the user once that time is up. In most cases, third-party plugins operate the same way. Most developers offer a free trial for up to a year and provide ample support during this time. After that period, however, you may have to pay to continue using the plugin or try to find support elsewhere. Additionally, some developers will charge customers for continued updates to their plugins. This can be a major issue because WordPress tends to change its core code often to improve performance and security. Outdated plugins can conflict with the new version of WordPress and cause issues on your site.
We believe a strong case can be made for the fact that third-party plugins can wreak havoc on your custom-built website, costing you time, and money and potentially losing customers. Finding where the conflict is between your theme and the plugin (and which plugin at that!) can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. With constantly changing and evolving plugins, updates to both the plugin and WordPress as a platform, unexpected website crashes and unexpected costs, this can be a frustrating experience at best.
There is a better way. At REM Web Solutions, we have removed the guesswork from the situation and have created a custom CMS, WebWiz@rd. Because of the nature of our work, we handle all the development and updates in-house, eliminating the need for third-party vendors. This stable and reliable solution can allow you to breathe easier knowing that your website is performing optimally, your users will convert to customers because of the fluid navigation, and no more time and money is spent troubleshooting an endless problem.
As we said, your custom website deserves a custom solution.