Vacation Rental Websites – Plugging The Plugin Plughole
If you are using WordPress then you are using plugins – That’s for sure.
In this article, I’ll share some thoughts on the good, the bad. and the ugly of when it comes to pimping your hospitality website by adding plugins.
When we get our spanky fresh installation of WordPress and we start working on our websites, the software lacks a lot of the functionality that we desire, so we head over to the plugin repository so that we can add search engine optimization (SEO) tasks, we add weather widgets for a better user experience (UX), we add contact form software, security firewalls, image optimizers, email forms, social media buttons, guest review displays, page speed improvers and much more.
But, much like when we buy a new car and you go for optional extras, like a sunroof, leather seats, alloy wheels, uprated music system, etc, these addons add to the overall cost.
These addons for the car cost in terms of money but the cost of adding plugin after plugin comes in speed, weight, and potential problems.
The more plugins that you add, the longer your pages will take to load and page speed has never been more important. Google wants fast websites and ranks faster sites above slow sites (among a ton of other factors).
There’s also another problem when it comes to throwing a lot of plugins into your setup.
Plugins don’t play nicely with one another. So, the more that you add, the more likely it is that one will cause a conflict with another, and tracking down these conflicts, if and when they happen, can be a pretty difficult and time-consuming job.
Also, as WordPress is continuously updating, the developers of plugins also need to update their code and some of these developers are more up to this task than others. Some developers can abandon their plugins altogether and this can lead to security issues that you may not even be aware of.
Keep Things To A Minimum
Over time, it’s easy to get ‘Plugin Creep’. You know the thing. You’re looking at another site and see a widget that you like. You head over to the ‘Add Plugin’ section and you find, install and activate the plugin that you need to replicate what you saw.
A month or two pass and you see a plugin recommendation that you like in a group or in an article.
You add that plugin.
And, over time, before you know it, you have 25 – 30 plugins running on your site.
Not All Plugins Are Created Equal
Some plugins are very lightweight, whereas others do a lot of heavy lifting.
A plugin that connects with SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol)may only be a few lines of code.
A page builder plugin like Elementor or Beaver Builder can be a very heavy load as it offers so much functionality.
Other plugins like weather widgets, Google maps, and Youtube embeds will slow the pages down a lot as they need to call on external resources in order to display their content.
Plugins Have A Shelf Life
As technology moves forward it makes many things that we used before obsolete.
Think gas lighting, black and white TV, Walkman, floppy disks, minidisks, iPods, DVDs, the list goes on.
As WordPress has developed it has made many plugins obsolete and it will continue to do so.
Gutenberg (the ‘new’ WordPress editor) has made page builders obsolete, it’s done away with the need for email form plugins, YouTube plugins, map plugins, some social plugins, and more.
It’s a good idea to take stock every now and again. To take out the old and bring in the new.
In short, it’s good advice to have a good clear out.
Here are some recommendations to set you on the right path.
Aim to have as few plugins as possible. I aim to have no more than 10 or 12 wherever possible.
Check to see when your plugins were last updated by their developer. If it was more than 6 months ago think about removing or replacing that plugin.
Look to rebuilding your site with Gutenberg. It will be much faster and you won’t need to add as many plugins.
Some Of My Go-To Plugins
Here are some plugins that I use on pretty much every site that I build…
Top-notch security plugin (The free version)
Probably the best snippet builder
For optimizing images and serving webP images (I use the paid version but the free version will do for most).
For extending the Gutenberg block editor
A paid plugin for taking site speeds to the max