Maintaining WordPress And WordPress Plugins

Are you experiencing issues with any of your WordPress plugins that seem intermittent or unpredictable?
Do you find that some of the WordPress plugins you are using seem to be behaving oddly and you can’t seem to find out exactly what the problem is?

First of all, let me explain that a WordPress-based website is not necessarily something that you can just set up and forget about. Theoretically, it’s possible to set up a WordPress website, add your content, and just let it go, but for a variety of reasons, it’s important to make sure that you do some regular maintenance on all of your WordPress sites to keep them running optimally:

Ongoing WordPress Maintenance Suggestions:
  • At least once a month (if not more frequently) make sure you update the WordPress core and any plugins for which updates are available. This will keep you up to date with the advanced functionality provided by WordPress and any plugins you have installed, as well as make sure that you have the latest security-related updates that may be in the code (this may keep your site from being hacked).
  • At least once a month, click through your WordPress site and make sure everything looks right. Sometimes, you may notice that a widget or plugin or some other aspect of your website isn’t doing what it’s supposed to, and if you discover this, it’s a good opportunity to do a bit of research to see if you may need to replace a plugin with something that provides better features or may be updated more frequently (frequent plugin updates are often a sign that the developer is either adding functionality or fixing bugs… both of these are good things).
  • At least once every 3-4 months look through your plugins and see if any of them have become obsolete because of some advanced functionality that has been built into the WordPress core or is better provided by another plugin that you’re using. WordPress custom menus, for instance, made a TON of WordPress plugins obsolete because it allowed folks to create custom menus that only show links to certain pages… so if you were using a plugin that “hid” pages or rearranged your nav menu, it’s possible that this new WP core functionality provided you with a better way to achieve this.
  • Delete unnecessary plugins. While providing WP support for some of my clients, I often log on to their admin dashboard and see that they have WAY TOO MANY plugins installed or activated. It’s very normal to have a bunch of plugins installed during the development phase of a new WP site, because you often have to test functionality and usability of different plugins and want to compare features and stuff, but once you’ve identified the plugins you want to use, delete the ones you’re not using. This will help you keep your WordPress plugins list pretty and concise.
  • Don’t use too many plugins if you can help it. It’s my personal opinion that if you have to use 12 plugins to achieve the functionality that you want for your website, then use 12 plugins… If you start to see your plugins list grow to 20 or 30 or … 50 (yikes), you’re getting in way too deep. It’s probably very likely that there’s a way that you can consolidate some of your plugins (i.e. find a single plugin that does what 5 of your plugins do together…).

In closing, I’ll point out that I’ve logged into more than one admin dashboard where the site owner has installed 5 different SEO plugins, for instance… because they figured that it would somehow magically drive millions of hits to their website. Without going into unnecessary explanation, and keeping with the SEO plugin example, I’ll say very simply that 99.9999% of the time, using a single SEO plugin correctly will give you infinitely better results than using 5 SEO plugins incorrectly… and it will most likely perform better than the 5 plugins EVEN IF you use them correctly.