If you use wordpress as your blogging software (and why wouldn’t you ;)) you’ll know all about the extended functionality you can add to you blog as via Plugins.
One of the first things I get asked when I hand over the key to a new WordPress blog is “what plugins do I need?”, which always leads to the conversation about what you want to use the plugins for.
Sometimes you don’t need a plugin at all as the functionality is in the theme. An example of this is “breadcrumb navigation”, if you use the Genesis framework this is a standard feature. If you use another theme (Thesis) it may not be a standard feature and you may have to code it in or use a plugin.
It can be a heady thing seeing the variety of plugins and knowing that there are free as well as premium plugins that will take your WordPress site beyond just blogging.
Coding or Plugins?
Coding every single time…. if you can’t add some code to your theme then talk to someone who can. Talk to me, Babs or Lisa and if you have no budget you can attempt it yourself, but be prepared to have to get an expert in if you wreck your blog :). One of the ways you can tell a WordPress blogging expert from an amateur is how soon in the conversation they say “there’s a plugin for that” when you are talking about blogging functionality. If it’s too soon, ie when you say “can my blog do this…” and the reply is “there’s a plugin that does that”…you know you are being led up the garden path.
Talking of blog wrecking… what do you do when plugins go nuts?
Too much of anything can be dangerous, moderation is best, except for when it comes to chocolate ;) There are two things to keep in mind when installing plugins:
- Too many plugins can slow down your site and eat up bandwidth.
- Too many of the same plugin type can cause conflicts and clashes.
Even the best plugin can also let unexpected security risks slip through your “doors” — if they are not regularly updated.
Plugin developers provide new versions frequently. They provide updates to address glitches and bugs, but often the reason there’s an upgrade is because someone has discovered a security leak, or leak potential etc in the plugin’s coding. So to help prevent plugin conflict you need to update your plugins often.
How to De-bug Faulty Manual Plugin Installations
One of the most frequent causes of plugin conflict can be through manually installing a plugin via your FTP. Occasionally this manual upload process via FTP won’t work. There are two things you can do to fix it…
Make sure your plugin is there – Open your FTP program again to make sure it’s actually in the right folder (wp-content/plugins). If it’s not there (it does happen!) upload it again.
If it is there breathe a sigh of relief and delete right from the server, then upload again
If it still doesn’t work, check out your unzipped plugin folder very thoroughly: Is there a second folder within the folder (“double wrapping”)? If so, delete the unsuccessful upload and start again, this time using the folder within the folder only.
Plugins: To Zip or Unzip?
Remember, if you’re manually uploading via WordPress, keep your plugin folder zipped.
If you’re uploading via FTP, unzip first (unless the plugin developer states otherwise). Remember to click “Activate”, once your plugin appears in your installed plugins page.
Read the instructions first when it comes to installing the plugins you want, it’s the difference between a perfect blog and a mess that you have to sort out over a day or so whilst you are trying to do other things.
Dealing with a plugin conflict
If you have a plugin conflict, deactivate the last plugin you installed and chill out for a moment. Is the plugin essential? Is it vital, will your whole world fall apart without it? If so then the next step is deactivate all of the plugins and then reactivate them one by one to see which one is causing the grief. Can you live with out that plugin? If so, un-install it and delete it. As I recently found out even un-installing and deleting some plugins isn’t enough to get rid of them and the hassle they have caused! In which case you need to pick up the phone and call someone in as quite clearly it’s a plugin gone rogue.
Of course there can be other reasons why plugins go nuts
Too many of the same types of plugin can cause problems. Do you really need 6 different versions of stats on your blog? Or 4 different SEO plugins? Chose one type and stick with it. When you change plugins for one thing often, you undo the work that you have already done. Some SEO related plugins take a little while to kick in and if you are not using them correctly then they may never deliver the results that you think they will. Installing another SEO plugin on top of that is not the cure
Incorrectly configured plugins may be a pain, again read the instructions, and dare I say it… do as you are advised.
Remember less is more when it comes to plugins
Share with us your tips for dealing with plugins that have gone nuts.