A Guide to Understanding Plugins

When having a website built, it is vital that you look for various solutions you can use to make your site more functional for the users, thus improving the user experience. One of the most popular solutions that most people are using, and which you can consider, is the use of plugins, software applications that can be uploaded to your site to extend or expand its functionality. For example, video plugins that can make it easy to embed videos, content plugins that can improve readability, SEO plugins that can help improve your website’s SEO strength, etc. All these added functionalities that the plugins offer makes the idea of using them very enticing. But are they always beneficial? What most people do not understand is that while plugins can offer you many advantages, they can also cause problems on your site. Therefore, if you are in the process of having a website built and you are considering using plugins, below is a comprehensive look at what plugins can offer you.

Advantages of using plugins

As already stated, plugins help to improve and expand the functionality of a website. Below is a look at some of the advantages you can get from using plugins on your website.

  1. They help to improve the user experience of your website

One of the benefits of using plugins on your website is that they help to increase and expand the functionality of your site. Therefore, by installing plugins on your website, you can make it possible for the site to do things beyond what its design is capable of. This helps to improve the user experience of your site, thus improving your websites, traffic and lead generation.

  1. They help to make your website flexible to your business needs

The needs of a business tend to keep changing and/or expanding with time, and thus your business needs at the time of having a website built will be very different down the line, say after one or two years. As a result, your website will need to adapt to your new business needs, which might need you to redesign it – something that can be quite expensive. Fortunately, with the help of various plugins, you can be able to expand the functionality of your website when a new business need arises, saving you the hassle and the expensive cost of a website redesign.

  1. They allow you to add functionality to your site inexpensively

Plugins can offer your business website limitless functionality, for example, you can use plugins to improve your site security, increase search engine rankings, improve leads conversions, and many other things. The best part about using plugins is that they are inexpensive – there are even free plugins – and thus they help you to improve your website’s functionality while keeping the cost low.

  1. They make it easy for you to manage your website

In addition to improving the functionality of your website, plugins also make it easier to manage it, for example, content management plugins make it easy to upload, update, or remove content on your website. Therefore, if you are not tech savvy, having plugins installed on your business website will make it easier to manage it. This is the reason WordPress websites are favored by small business owners; they come with lots of plugin options that make it easy to manage them.

  1. They can help you customize your website

Website customization is an important aspect when establishing an online presence, as it helps to make your website stand out. One of the benefits of using plugins is that they can help you to customize your website – by adding functionalities that competitor websites do not have. This will help to make your website more memorable to your website visitors, thus encouraging them to stay longer and come back again.

Disadvantages of using plugins

Looking at the advantages above, there is no doubt about the fact that plugins are very helpful when creating a business website. However, what most people do not realize is that as much as plugins can help, they can also hurt your site. Below is a look at some of the disadvantages of using plugins on your website:

  1. The plugins do not always work

One of the main challenges with plugins is that they might not always work, especially with some website themes. This is usually due to compatibility issues, where some plugins are not compatible with the theme or cause some problems with some of the theme features.

  1. Some plugins need a lot of customization to make them work properly

Plugins are designed to function on various types of websites, which mean that they might need some tweaking to make sure that they function properly on your site. The problem with this is that some plugins, especially the ones that offer advanced functionalities, need a lot of customization and configuration to make them function properly. This can increase the amount of time needed to build your website and inflate the budget.

  1. Updating the plugins can cause compatibility problems

To make sure that the plugins are functioning properly, they need constant updates. Unfortunately, one of the main challenges with updating plugins is that they can become incompatible with your site or cause incompatibility problems with other plugins you are using, which can cause your website to crash.

  1. Plugins can slow down your website

One of the main benefits of using plugins is that it can offer your website unlimited functionality. Unfortunately, there is a limit to how much functionality your website can handle, and thus plugins usually lead to performance problems. This is especially the case when there are too many plugins, something that can even cause your site to break when it can no longer support the added functionality – like how a power outlet will short circuit if too many devices are plugged in.

  1. Plugins can cause security vulnerabilities on your site

Another major issue with using plugins is that they can cause security loopholes, thus giving hackers a backdoor to your website. This is especially the case when you use free plugins, which are usually ridden with malware. Paid plugins can also be a security threat, especially when hackers find security vulnerabilities in one of them.

Custom website plugins

Another option you have when you are having a website created is to use custom coded plugins, which are designed to do a specific thing and built specifically for your website. These plugins offer many advantages such as:

  1. They will only do exactly what you want them to do – this is quite different from free or paid that can deliver unnecessary functionality or offer less functionality than what they are designed for.
  2. Updating custom plugins is easy – accessing updates for your plugins is quite easy since it will mean dealing with your website building company. This is quite different from free or paid plugins, where you have to deal with another third party to get the updates.
  3. They are more secure – one of the ways of overcoming the security issue of free and paid plugins is to use custom plugins, which are more secure. This is because they are designed specifically for your site, which means that compromising them is much harder.

Disadvantages of custom plugins

As is the case with free and paid plugins, custom plugins also have some disadvantages. These include:

  1. They are quite expensive to build since they are coded to do something specific on your website only. Therefore, they cannot be used on any other website, as opposed to paid plugins that can be downloaded by thousands of other customers.
  2. They take a lot of time to build – building a custom plugin that will function properly on your site is a time-consuming process since they have to be built from scratch and tested – where there are chances that they might not work, thus causing the process to start all over again.
  3. They can still cause conflicts – using custom plugins might seem like a great way of making sure that there are no compatibility problems on your website since the plugins are custom tailored for your site. However, this does not guarantee that there will not be any problems since the custom plugins can still affect other free/paid plugins or third party software applications you install later.

Summary

Plugins are popular for the functionality they offer, which can help to improve the performance of your website greatly. However, most people tend to focus so much on the benefits plugins offer, thus forgetting that they also have some drawbacks. Therefore, when you are building a website, you should be cautious when using plugins as using the wrong plugins or too many of them can break your site, leading to expensive repairs and maintenance.