We are all aware of the great functionality WordPress Plugins provide by adding options to our website but at the same time, they also have a huge impact on the website pace. The advantage one gets with the features that plugins bring in with them can very soon go in vain, if the effect of these plugins on the load time of the website is not properly understood. For this very reason, we will try to understand how exactly these installed plugins affects the site’s load time and in the process will see how they can be managed efficiently.
How does plugins work?
But before anything, we must know how these plugins work in our WordPress website. In simple words, these plugins are almost like small applications on any WordPress site and can be easily configured to add more options and functionalities to our website and are very similar to the addition of photography galleries or contact varieties or even E-commerce store and so on to the WordPress website. These plugins vary in size and context, starting from as small as having a simple feature like adding an image file to the sidebar up to as big as having their own platforms. Not only that, some complex plugins can also have their addon plugins just to extend them further. For any visitor to these WordPress website, WordPress first loads all the core files associated with it and then goes on loading all the different plugins that are used by the owner.
WordPress is uniquely written so that developers are allowed to add their own codes in order to modify some existing functionalities and also to add certain new functionality. For this purpose, developers get to add data in WordPress database and this enables users to store not only image and post, but also different types of contents. That actually means, upon each and every single visit, WordPress first set up a connection with the database, then masses the core software associated with and at last the different active plugins used by the owner. All of these get processed in the server itself and then proceeds to the user’s browser.
Depending upon the options and performance of the particular plugin, the database call can be backend whereas others can load it front-end, for example as we find in the photographs, CSS style sheets and so on. And these database queries and loading property determines the WordPress site’s load time. The HTTP request is made by majority of the WordPress plugins to load property like pictures, CSS and scripts. Each and every single request such as these will increase the load time of the WordPress website page. If everything that is described above is carried out correctly, the efficiency may not be so clearly visible but if there are multiple plugins active which makes several such HTTP requests, then the efficiency is observed to be depleted in a considerable manner.
Checking files loaded by Plugins:-
To monitor the load time of WordPress website’s page and the effect of WordPress plugins on them, one needs to examine the different files loaded by the plugins. This can be done using a plethora of different instruments, starting from browser’s developer instrument like that Inspect in Google Chrome to that of third party instruments such as GTmetrix or Pingdom. The advantage of these third party instrument is that, they can even provide the list of files that are loaded and the corresponding time each one of them took to load! And in browser development instrument like “Inspect”, this can be easily done by right clicking on the website and then choosing “Inspect” from the context drop down menu that appears after it. This opens up the developer instrument panel. Now within this panel, one needs to go to the “Network” tab, and then need to reload the website. As the website loads, within “Network” tab, it is possible to see each and every single file as is loaded by the WordPress plugins.
How many plugins are too many?
Once we know how to monitor the page load time for WordPress website and how loading of files by plugins are associated with the site’s overall efficiency, the next thing we must know is how many plugins are considered to be too many. Importantly, this depends upon the exact set of plugins that one chooses to use for their website, because some plugins can load up to a whopping number of 12 files, but others can just do a single or couple more extra files, because not all plugin developers are that cautious to restrict the number of files used to the minimum by retaining similar functionality.
Keeping plugins under control
The best technique to keep plugins under control to have an efficient load time of the website is just to have well coded plugins with good reviews and the ones which are identified as helpful by trustworthy sources. And if while monitoring these WordPress plugins if ever it is found out the one or many of these plugins are compromising with the website’s efficiency, some other plugins should be searched for, doing the same job but with greater efficiency. Next steps could be to try and utilize the caching and CDN to enhance the pace and efficiency of the WordPress website.
Next could be the role of one’s website hosting servers, which if not properly optimized, could affect the site’s response time greatly. This is another reason which suggests that not only plugins, but the overall response time for a website could be slower, if one cannot employ the Internet hosting companies that are considered to be the most effective by various trusted sources. And lastly, one can always stay away from installing the plugins which are not extremely important for the site’s performance and utility. And regular assessment of the all the installed plugins should be done, so that one can always take the opportunity out to uninstall some, whenever they are not needed as much as it was before. Besides all these, manually optimizing these plugin assets can increase the efficiency significantly, but that needs a bit of coding knowledge and ability to debug.