When setting up your brand new WordPress website, you’ll find that you need to also install what is commonly known as plugins.
There are snippets of code that add specific functionality to your website.

For example, you might be using WordPress as an event management system, so you install plugins to enable ticket sales, listings etc.
If you’re looking to run a membership site, there are many plugins to help you achieve this.

How many plugins you need totally depends on what you want to do – look at WordPress as the engine to drive a content management system (CMS) and the plugins are ‘souping up’ your website giving it flared arches, spoilers and nitrous oxide.
The obvious answer to this question, though, is ZERO – the more plugins you install, the more chance these can affect your website speed and security, so, less is more, but if you want to upgrade the fuel system, you’re going to need to modify the engine a bit.

To find out what plugins you need, most people just ‘Google’ for suggestions, and end up installing the generics.
As we all know, the obvious answers are not always the best.

Here is a list of general plugins that you might see banded about and why you should go for an alternative.

When you first install WordPress you’ll see 2 plugins installed by default: Akismet and Hello Dolly.

Akismet – Spam filtering plugin.
Checks your comments and contact form submissions against a database of spam to prevent your site from publishing malicious content.
What they don’t tell you is that it’s only effective up to a point and, of course, as it ‘phones home’ to send data to/ from the Akismet servers, it can slow your site down and sometimes gives false positives.

If you’re not running a blog then you’ll more than likely not have use of the comments system and therefore, uninstall.

Hello Dolly – Apart from sentimental values, this plugin is an absolutely pointless plugin that adds no functionality at all.

Definitely delete Hello Dolly without it having any impact on your site.

Next you’ll find the following generic recommendations and here I’ll list why they’re not to be used and any alternatives.

Jetpack – A behemoth of a plugin that covers security, marketing and performance.
The problem is, it’s huge and sends data back/ forth to the parent company.
Like Photoshop, the vast majority of users only utilise around 10% of the functions.
You need to connect it to a main wordpress.com account so it can send data back/ forth to the parent company servers and can slow your site down.

Alternative: Decide what specific functions you actually need and research individual specialist plugins.

Yoast SEO‘More nags than a pedigree stable’ … that should be their strapline.
Install this plugin and you’ll be bombarded with sales messages. It’ll take over your admin area and scare you into believing all other plugins will eat your babies.

Alternative: All In One SEO or SEO Framework – Much lighter plugins that just do the job of assisting with correct SEO code and don’t nag you like an obsessed mother.

Contact Form 7 – This is a form plugin that has had security and performance issues in the past. It’s often recommended because it’s free, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right plugin to use.

Alternative: Gravity Forms or, if you’re using Advanced Custom Fields, look at Advanced Forms Pro.

Don’t be tempted to install a raft of caching plugins – instead get a quality hosting package, optimise your website appropriately and your website would be just as fast.

The same with any plugins that give admin access to files or the database – Adminer, WP DBManager for example – as these functions should be available via your webhost and using these plugins can open up security holes.

Our usual advice when it comes to building a successful WordPress based website is to do the research and don’t just go for the obvious and, of course, get in touch if you need any other help.