Why You Need to Understand What Plugins Your WordPress Site Uses
Is your website built on WordPress? With the incredible theme options for creative businesses, WordPress is by far one of the easiest platforms to build on. (And it’s the platform we build sites for clients exclusively.) And the plethora of plugins (those things that connect in and add really cool functions to your site) available to enhance WordPress sites is limitless. Well, there are probably limits out there, but chances are pretty strong you can find a plugin to do all sorts of amazing things.
For instance: Add some bacon to your site.
No, not THAT bacon.
Yes, yes, I’m serious here. This plugin will add dummy text and images, all about bacon, for your viewing fun. So seriously, there is likely a plugin for everything.
but in all seriousness, why should you care? What has a plugin done for you lately? A lot, probably. A plugin is an extension that is added into your WordPress site to do additional things. Part of the fun (okay, if you’re a geek like me) is in testing them out, seeing what they can do. But you can tell me the truth. You probably think testing plugins sounds as fun as pulling teeth. (It’s okay. I’ll still like you.) If you weren’t involved in testing and choosing them in the first place, perhaps your site was created and someone else who chose all the plugins for you, does it matter?
Let’s face it: Out of sight, out of mind. If you didn’t install it, it doesn’t matter, right? Or perhaps you’ve deactivated a plugin someone else installed just to “get rid of it.” It can’t do any harm then, right?
Every plugin installed into your site generally changes the way your site runs in a significant way. It could be adding functionality. It could be adding easy-to-use social media connections. Each plugin piggybacks into the how WordPress works and gives you more customized ability to do what you need to do. Some are really complex. Some are really simple.
And with that customization and integration comes a lot of power.
WordPress is one of the most often hacked website platforms today, because it’s by far one of the most popular frameworks that websites are built on. That means the number of WordPress powered sites are in the millions. And hackers – though who knows why they do what they do, look for weaknesses in your sites’s structure to get in and create havoc.
One of those weaknesses comes in the form of non-updated elements, like plugins.
[Tweet “One big weakness to your WordPress site security is unupdated plugins.”]
This is why it’s imperative to understand how your site works. Which plugins are required for the functionality built into your site, what they do. Once you take over the management of your site, you have to be able to keep your plugins up to date or make the decision to delete the ones you don’t need or deactivate the ones you want to use later.
What’s the difference? When you deactivate a plugin, you just remove it from actively working. But you haven’t removed the files on your server or the potential risks those files can pose if they are not kept up to date. This option is good if there is information it has collected you want to keep. Deleting a plugin completely removes it from your site, including all the files you don’t see.
Here’s a great article at wpbeginner.com on how to properly uninstall a plugin. But before you go down this road, make sure you understand what each plugin on your site does, so that you can make informed decisions about what to keep and what to delete. Go through the list of activated plugins them, one at a time. Click on the details to understand what they do and how they function on your site. If you’re not sure, ask your designer to walk you through them. Keep up with updates regularly — those little numbers by the “Plugins” Tab on your dashboard mean “pay attention.” Not Ignore me.
So be a good housekeeper. Dust every once in a while. You’ll be glad you did, and believe me —the few minutes it takes is far better than being sorry you didn’t.