WordPress: my experience with plugins

Self-tutoring about working with WordPress: the tutor reflects about using plugins.

What I say here is just my own experience; others may have a different point of view. (I almost hope they do:)

I have several WordPress sites and have used it for many years. It’s said that around 30% of internet sites run WordPress; this blog is an example.

As a blogger, you can start with WordPress pretty easily. Eventually, however, tasks might arise for some webmasters that aren’t so simple as type-proofread-post.

A few challenges (of many) that have arisen for me:

  1. Moving my site to a different host.
  2. Changing my internal link structure.
  3. Presenting the blog decently on a mobile phone.

More or less, I’ve navigated those challenges, learning as I go. One lesson I’ve learned:

For virtually any task you face in WordPress, there’s a free plugin. Generally, I don’t recommend the free plugin approach to most WordPress tasks.

To be sure, a free plugin can often help you accomplish your goal. However, once you trust that plugin, your site might evolve a state of dependency on it. I’ve had three plugins, which seemed great at first, break on me.

One of the broken plugins affected many of my posts (well over a hundred); the garbled content after it broke took me weeks (months, let’s be honest) to find then clean up. The other two breakages weren’t nearly so bad, costing a few hours each….

I’ve found that when a plugin breaks, it doesn’t necessarily collapse completely. Rather, it can continue working in some instances, but not others. It might compromise other functions on the site…you might start to wonder if your own code is wrong. You check it a hundred times, but it still doesn’t work…a malfunctioning plugin can cause such a symptom. It can affect other code it doesn’t seem connected to. I’ve “enjoyed” such an event recently.

In no case could I complain; after all, I got the plugins for free. They worked great in the environment wherein they were developed. With updates to other plugins and even WordPress itself, however, how can developers anticipate the future environment in which their code will run?

Of the three free plugins that broke on me, one lasted only a few months. Then, I wasn’t invested enough for the breakage to hurt me. Rather, it was just an inconvenience that changed me back to “doing it the long way.”

The other two plugins that broke on me, did so after working for 4-5 years. During their function, I took my site in new directions those free plugins availed.

During my years using WordPress, I’ve likely installed about 8 plugins, all free. Three I’ve deactivated then deleted, three I’ve never activated, and two I still use.

I will be continuing in future posts:)



Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

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