… well not ALL WordPress plugins, just the bad ones. Like every other tool out there, there are some plugins that work for you, e.g. for creating contact forms or for helping you build an e-Commerce website on top of WordPress – and there are those which don’t.
Some plugins aren’t necessary, other times, you should totally avoid installing them. In this particular post, I’d like to share with you my personal reasons why I won’t install a particular plugin. As this is an opinion piece, I’m sure you have your reasons as well. Share them with me in the comments section.
1. It Does A Simple Job
Many functionalities in WordPress can be achieved without a plugin. They are so simple that a plugin could sometimes be overkill. For example; I will prefer of adding the following snippet, to hide an admin bar, in the theme’s functions.php file, rather than using a plugin.
Tip: Before installing a plugin, try to find that piece of code that can do the exact same job.
Read also: How To Create Custom WordPress Template Tags
2. It’s Old & Not Updated
WordPress has a policy for plugins stored in the official repository; for plugins that are not maintained for more than 24 months, WordPress will display the following warning.
The plugin may contain some deprecated functions, and may also not be compatible with the current WordPress version. I usually won’t install or keep this plugin unless there is no better replacement, and the plugin stil runs well, and I’m sure it would not harm the site it is on.
For instance, I’m still using Maintenance Mode plugin, even though it has not been updated since 2010 as it still does the job really well. We can customize the output by creating a custom template from within the theme.
3. It’s Not Native
I found many plugins that have their own styling for the Admin User Interface (Admin UI) i.e. it does not follow the native WordPress Admin UI styles. The problem comes when WordPress decides to overhaul the entire UI design like in WordPress version 3.8. The plugin’s Admin UI will look out of place. It could also look awful.
On the other hand, it will also add more workload for the developer to update their plugins once WordPress makes significant changes.
Take a look at this example. It is a plugin to make WordPress more secure. It has its own styling, which does not really blend well with the WordPress Admin U. It looks cluttered at best.
Let’s compare it with the following plugin, named Better WP Security, which offers similar functionalities. It uses native WordPress styles and looks tidier.
For me, I would always check out the Screenshot page of the plugin. If the screenshots look unappealing or they are not available, the developer probably isn’t paying enough attention to this plugin of his/hers. And I probably won’t install it.
The rule of thumb for creating Admin UI is to stick close to the WordPress native styles. Sadly, WordPress does not provide a thorough documentation as a guideline. The following, however, are a few references that may help you get started:
- WordPress Admin Style – Github
- Integrating With WordPress UI: The Basics – Wptuts+
- WordPress Admin UI: Future Proof Your Admin Pages – SlideShare Presentation
4. It’s Branded
I found many WordPress plugins that put their “brand name” everywhere on its Setting page. It is distracting, particularly when it comes to user experience. Here’s an example, a plugin that put its brand on the Menu Name as well as on the Settings Page, 6 different times.
I’m not against putting your “brand name” in a plugin. But it should be done in a more friendly way. It also should not sacrifice the aesthetics of the User Interface design of the plugin. VaultPress is a good example in this matter:
5. It’s Obtrusive
Combine #4 with ads and pro version offerings and the plugin becomes obtrusive. Creating a plugin takes a lot of time and financial support for continual developent, but displaying ads and offers around every corner is can make the developer look desperate. As always, there are better ways to do this, and they are less obtrusive.
Advanced Custom Fields is one good example for this. It is a free plugin that allows us to create WordPress custom meta box easily with GUI. It has some premium extensions that are offered in a neat way, under a sub-menu named "Add-on".
I have my favorite set of WordPress plugins that I cannot do without but if we end-users are more selective with the plugins that we adopt for use, picking only those that are done well, this may little by little help improve the overall quality of plugins. Here is to the development of more powerful WordPress plugins.