You Don’t Need A Plugin For Everything

I’ve recently being developing a new design for my first ever WordPress powered site, The design is looking a bit shabby at the moment, that’s the kind way of putting it! I digress though. The new design is what I’d call advanced WordPress. It’s got things like a background that is automatically resized (ie the background-image), a choice of three post templates, a fancy review section which holds the score and things like blockquotes that change depending on which category you’re in.

Here’s the thing. I’ve not used a single plugin.

I wanted to see what the fuss about frameworks was all about, so I took my own advice and I thought I’d try and build a site with Elemental as it was my favourite. How I got on is something for another day, but I think it says something about the power of WordPress’ built in functions (like post_class and body_class which I’ve used to get out of many a hole) that I’ve been able to get this far with no plugins. The only non-standard thing I’m using (that’s built into Elemental and not WordPress) are post templates.

So if I’m able to make more or less a whole site with some advanced features with no plugins, how come people are using plugins for utterly useless tasks?

There’s nothing wrong with using plugins, that’s not what I’m trying to say, just please don’t use plugins for trivial tasks. That’s what I’m getting at. Sure, some people find plugins easier to use, not everyone is comfortable customising themes, that’s fair enough, but if you’ve got a plugin that is doing something like changing all your permalinks so that “and” is replaced with “&” and another that changes the colour of your post titles (like, woah, it’s got a colour picker and everything!), there’s something wrong. It’s so easy to install a plugin, it’s easy to get carried away installing useless ones.

Before you jump up to defend your useless plugin that makes your life so much easier, just wait for a second. I’ve got an analogy for you. It’s fairly long, but it’s the best way I can think of of pointing out the uselessness and flaws in using a plugin for everything.

There once was a country called Bobland (named after the found, John). It was a free and fair society and one day they thought they’d revise the constitution. It started of fine, until the person in charge (we’ll call him Adam) set up a website for the people of Bobland to suggest revisions.

“As Adam added more and more, it got slower and harder to maintain.”

After they suggested them, all Adam had to then do was click ‘Add Suggestion’ and the suggestion would be added to the constitution. Some were genuinely useful and allowed for a faster running society and a safer one too. Trouble was, Adam got a bit carried away and started adding more and more to the constitution, after all, it was so easy! Occasionally he’d tweak some of the suggestions using the graphical user interface he’d built.

As Adam added more and more to the constitution, it got slower and harder to maintain. Then some people started abusing their suggestions and exploiting them for their own good. The constitution eventually become overrun with features that the people of Bobland didn’t need but thought would be useful. They ended up having to start again from scratch with their revisions. And then they all lived happily ever after.

The point I’m trying to make is as you install more and more useless plugins, you’ll only be creating something that’s harder and harder to maintain and keep running securely and quickly.

So go on then. Stand up for the useless plugin. Not the useful plugin that makes your site faster, but the useless ones that change the colour of your links. Someone’s making them, so there’s got to be a reason, no? For me the some people can’t edit themes argument is a bad one. You’ll have to do better than that.