Ah, plugins. Remember when smart phones first came on the scene, and everyone was archly assuring you that “there’s an app for that”? Sometimes I feel like those of us in the WordPress world rush to use plugins in much the same way.
Plugins are wonderful tools that make life so much simpler (anyone who has tried to manually post to their social media accounts can attest to this) and solve so many problems you couldn’t anticipate having when you first envisioned a site. And yet, they can really slow down the load time of your site.
I am ever cautious to throw around the word “ironic,” since I am pretty sure I usually use it wrong, but in this case I am going to go out on a limb and admire the irony of the P3 plugin. Immensely popular (100,000+ installs) and highly rated (though not updated for quite a while), the Plugin Performance Profiler will inform on the other plugins on your site, letting you know who is slowing down the works.
Another thing to consider is whether the need for the plugin is perhaps indicative of a lack in your WordPress theme. I am quoting from Reaktivstudios.com’s article below (since they said it better than I could):
“A well-coded theme should handle most of the standard needs a site has. That being said, needs change and evolve over time. Your content may have evolved. Or perhaps you’ve got a different focus for the site now. Regardless, there may come a time where you need to do something different, but don’t need a redesign. But when looking at a plugin, what is the goal? If you’re trying to “fix” something the theme should be doing, then the answer isn’t adding a plugin: it’s fixing the theme….”
I have made sites and had to later add what I believe now were too many plugins to just handle normal things that the theme should have been capable of. However, sometimes for whatever reason (lack of time, money or motivation) people are not able to overhaul their site. In this case, a plugin can bridge the gap between what you need and what your theme and site are currently capable of. In that case, they are a life-saver.
Another interesting article discussing plugins (and giving some great technical explanations of how they work) can be found here on the wpmudev site’s blog, How Many Plugins is Too Many Plugins? Let me know if you have any good plugin stories!