Podcast Episode

How to Analyze Your Site for Unused Plugins


Is there a plugin for that?

With more than 50,000 plugins in the WordPress repository, it’s hard to find the perfect one. Each week, I will highlight an interesting plugin from the repository.

For more great plugins, download my 50 Most Useful Plugins eBook.

WP Recipe Maker is an easy recipe plugin that allows you to add recipes to any post or page with metadata for your recipes.

How to Analyze Your Site for Unused Plugins

In this episode, we’re diving into the fascinating world of WordPress plugins and the challenges they can pose for site owners in 2023. WordPress plugins are essential for enhancing your website’s functionality, but what happens when you accumulate too many or when some become outdated? It’s time to tackle the plugin overload problem and optimize your WordPress site.

We discuss the following key points in this episode:

Topics Covered:

  • The Plugin Overload Problem
    • Identifying unnecessary and outdated plugins.
  • The Impact of Excess Plugins
    • Conflicts, slowdowns, and security risks.
  • Best Practices for Plugin Management
    • Cleaning up and optimizing your plugin list.
  • Effective Strategies for Identifying Unnecessary Plugins
    • Navigating through your WordPress site.
  • Replacing Functionality
    • Transitioning from old to new plugins.
  • Dealing with Obsolete Services
    • Removing plugins for services you no longer use.
  • Taking a Critical Look at Your Plugins
    • Assessing their value and necessity.
  • Speed Optimization
    • How plugins can affect your website’s speed.
  • Testing and Monitoring
    • Using speed tests to evaluate your changes.

Links Shared in the Episode:

  1. MailPoet
  2. ConvertKit
  3. OptinMonster
  4. WordPress Theme Detector and Plugin Detector

By the end of this episode, you’ll have a clear understanding of how to maintain a lean and efficient WordPress plugin environment, ensuring your website operates smoothly, remains secure, and loads quickly. So, let’s get started on the journey to a streamlined, well-maintained WordPress site.

Thank You!

Thank you to those who use my affiliate links. As you know I make a small commission when someone uses my link and I want to say thank you to the following people. For all my recommended resources, go to my Resources Page

Full Transcript

Business Transcription is provided by GMR Transcription.

[00:00:00] **Dustin:** On today's episode. We are going to talk about our WordPress sites and how to analyze them and understand and figure out, do we have any plugins that we're no longer using? And they're just cluttering up our site. Right here on Your Website Engineer podcast, episode number 541.

Hello and welcome to another episode of Your Website Engineer podcast. My name is Dustin Hartzler. Today, we're going to be talking about those plugins that might be on our sites that we're no longer using, or maybe they're outdated, or we change things around and we're no longer using that functionality.

I spent a lot of time the last couple of days, just updating a bunch of the sites that I currently manage the, my wife's sites, your website engineer got an update, all of these things. And there was a bunch of plugins that I wasn't using. And so I want to talk about my method and how I went through kind of analyzing and figuring out which ones were not being used anymore.

But first, I have three announcements and a plug and share.

The first thing that I want to share today is about texts. com joining Automattic and text. com brings all of your chats into one area, [00:01:00] one single dashboard. So think about like iMessage and Slack and Telegram and Messenger and LinkedIn and Signal and Discord and X and more services that are on the way, but think about all of those and you having them all into one place on your computer instead of like, Oh, let me go check LinkedIn to see if I didn't even messages.

Let me go check Instagram to see if I haven't met. Oh, I can't check Instagram very well on my computer. Let me go to my phone, like all of those interactions that you have with social people throughout your different spaces, you know, whether you don't have their phone number, so you put them on messenger or, you know, I message you want to contact them right from your computer, whatever the case may be.

Now, texts com allows you to do that all in one interface.

I really like it because there's one place that I can go to get caught up on all these types of messages and make sure that I'm staying on top of the communication no matter which way somebody tries to communicate with me.

There is a link in the show notes for episode number five hundred and forty one on how you can join the waitlist and get one step closer to having just one inbox to handle all of your communication.

The second announcement today is all about State of the Word and State of the Word is [00:02:00] an event that happens usually once a year. That kind of gives a recap of what's happened in wordpress and kind of a forward look at what's to come in the next year. And this will be happening on December 11th, 2023.

And for the first time ever, it'll be happening outside the United States. It will be held in Madrid, Spain at 1500 UTC on December 11th. be live streamed on YouTube and you can watch it later, and I will do a recap of that event, probably the week after that happens.

And I really enjoy these events just because it's really interesting to see like how many people have been using WordPress or how many people have helped build WordPress and kind of the future of things that are coming. Here's the phase that we're working on. I don't know. I watch these and I always get really inspired and I want to go create something cool with WordPress.

And so if you're interested in watching this live, I'll see send more information as we get closer, but mark that down on your calendars for December 11th. And then the last thing in the news this week is about wordpress. org. And they redid a whole section of their site, the showcase part, and now it's all powered by blocks.

It's all built with blocks. And so if you're [00:03:00] interested in getting some inspiration for a WordPress site, maybe just getting some ideas on how to structure a page or build a site. This is a great place that you can go. Look, there's a link in the show notes where you can get to the showcase and you can see this new feature.

And this again is all built to the section of this, of the wordpress. org site . Is all built with blocks.

The plugin that I wanna share with you today is called a WP Recipe Maker. And this plugin is a block level plugin and it allows you to easily add a recipe to a post or page, and it's got automatically formatted JSON data. So it gives great metadata and improves your SEO and will hopefully get you more visitors to your site.

If you're already using a recipe plugin, you, there's also some import options so you can import from tasty recipes or easy recipe or WP ultimate recipe or recipe card blocks meal planner pro.

There's a whole list of ones that you can import from. And some of the features that WP Recipe Maker has is is it's compatible with both the classic editor and the block editor.

There's an easy workflow to add a recipe to a post or page.[00:04:00]

It's also compatible with Pinterest rich pins, so you can pin those. There's a fallback recipe that shows up when the plugin is disabled. You can include a recipe video, you can add photos and videos and you can print recipe with a button or jump to recipe shortcodes.

It also adds eight new blocks that you can use. And that again is like jump to video, jump to recipe, recipe, snippet, recipe, part, nutrition, label, print recipe. You can put all of this information in and you can jump to those specific areas or you can build out your page with these specific blocks.

It's a fabulous plugin to use. And I think it's a great example of how a plugin can add a bunch of extra functionality with one thing in mind, right?

It is allowing you to create a recipe, but it's also giving you the power to rearrange that recipe with those different blocks that you're able to add. So that's the plugin that I want to share with you today. You can find out more details with the link in the show notes or head on over to the wordpress. org repository and search for WP Recipe Maker.

Like I mentioned at the top of the show, I was doing some, just some general routine maintenance and upgrades and just trying to [00:05:00] figure out and what's being used on some of my sites now in 2023. And it's just really interesting when you take a look at your WordPress sites and you think that, Oh, well I'm using all the plugins that they're all activated.

And then you're like, well, maybe they're not all being used. Maybe there's some things that are outdated. And so it's probably one of those things that we need to put on checklist. Maybe once per year, maybe twice per year to just go in and make sure that we're using the bare minimum worth of plugins and we're not having extra plugins do things that are no longer doing things on our website.

So let's talk about a little bit about breaking the show down here in a little bit, talking about the plugin overload problem. We'll work through some steps of how to identify unnecessary plugins and then kind of look at some of the impact that and some of these might have and then we will talk about what we can do to get rid of them and best practices for plugin management.

So let's go, let's go ahead and dive in.

So plugins are great, right? They're, they're one of the essential parts of WordPress. WordPress wouldn't be what it is without plugins. And it's really easy to install plugins too. I think that's where we get in a lot of trouble. Sometimes you just go to the plugins [00:06:00] page, you add new and then you start adding plugins.

And of course, like if you're looking for a recipe plugin, like we just talked about with the WP recipe maker, Maybe that's not the first one that we found. We've installed two or three different recipe plugins. We haven't really liked them. Maybe we started the site with an old version and now we're like, Oh, WP Recipe Maker is going to be our new one, but we've got some things on in the legacy version with, you know, some other plugin and we've got the new one going on and so now we've got two plugins kind of doing the same thing.

And that's not going to be good for the overall health of our site. Adding extra functionality like this is going to create some issues. Sometimes you can have two recipe plugins and one of them will clash with the other when one page is loaded. Like your whole site might work perfectly fine until you go to a page with a recipe by one of the plugins and then it breaks the footer or something along those lines.

There's too many things that could cause issues if you've got multiple plugins doing very similar things. The other big issue with having multiple plugins that we're not using anymore, but still on our sites is that it can lead to vulnerabilities with our site.

It can [00:07:00] increase that risk of having some outdated code on our site that could be exploited that somebody could get into our sites because we haven't fully updated the plugins because we're like, we're not using them. Why do they need to be updated? And so there's just a lot of things to think about.

And also like we talk about speed a lot, like a lot of folks write in and have questions about how can I make my site faster, but then you open up their site and he's got 75 plugins that are all installed. And there's multiple caching plugins that you know, some that's obviously going to cause a conflict.

And we've got multiple pieces of the puzzle doing the same thing. And sometimes they're like, well, we're not even using memberships anymore, but you've got a whole membership site set up and membership plugins enabled and just caused a lot of frustration sometimes too, because we've, we've got to keep everything updated and managed, but we're not even using parts of it.

I think also you feel a little bit overwhelmed when you open up a site, say you got 50 plugins and now you have 37 plugin updates and you're like, Oh man, that's got to take a long time to do those updates. And I'm going to have to go through and I'm going to have to do checks and make sure that they work.

The less plugins that we have, the less conflict that we could have, the less issues we could have the fewer plugins that we have on our site [00:08:00] is going to make sure that our site won't slow down as much.

It's going to make sure that we have less conflicts and it's going to make, it's going to improve the security of our site because we'll have less points where vulnerabilities could be exploited.

So once we see this item on our checklist, whether it's once per year or once every six months or something like that, we're going to say, Oh, review our site to make sure that we don't have unnecessary plugins. We're going to go into our website and we're just going to have a look around. Let's go into the plugin section and just start looking.

And so I'm going to take Your Website Engineer, for example, and I know that recently within the last six months or so that I moved over to MailPoet for all of my email newsletters stuff, mainly because that's something that Automattic owns and I wanted to try it out and I didn't want to pay for another service.

But if I'm looking at my, Your Website Engineer, local site, do as I say, not as I do, but I have a ConvertKit as a plugin, cause I used to use ConvertKit and that is installed and activated. I also have OptinMonster, which is installed and activated on my test site , which I don't use [00:09:00] OptinMonster anymore.

And so those two, I know for a fact that I'm no longer using. And I wish it was just as easy as, okay, let me just go ahead and delete these plugins. But I know that somewhere on my site, I've used a pop up by OptinMonster or I've used a pop up from ConvertKit. And so now I have to figure out, okay, where was that? Where did I do that?

Where can I find that information? And so it is a little bit more of a needle in a haystack approach of trying to figure out, okay, how did I do this? Okay, I remember there used to be a sidebar that when people clicked on it opened up an OptinMonster optin. Okay. Let me go see what that is. And then you have to go ahead and fix that.

And you could do a search and replace. There's a plugin out there that you can use that you can search and replace on your WordPress site. Maybe you search and replace for Optin monster. Or you look for ConvertKit or look for certain tags or words so that you can find those areas of your site a lot easier and a lot faster.

And then you can be comfortable and confident once you remove those plugins that you've replaced that functionality with something from MailPoet, for example.

The other thing that is an easy win to see is like, are you not using any more services? Like I have a plugin [00:10:00] on here that displays a Twitter on my website.

Well, that's not a thing anymore because of all the rules with Twitter and whatnot. So I know that that plugin can be removed, right?

So we need to kind of look through and see the obvious ones. Those are obvious. Those are easy ones to make sure that, okay, I don't need those anymore. The other ones might be a little bit more difficult. We might have to look at the plug in and say, Hey, is this still serving a critical function or is another plug in doing the same thing?

Like, how do we still use this? Like, for example, pretty links. Pretty links is one where I can say, like, go over to your website, engineer dot com slash pressable or slash whatever. I can make up a link that's easy to. It's usually an affiliate link to direct you to the correct spot. Okay. And if I turn off pretty links, then I'll obviously see things break on a site.

Or if I turn off the smart podcast player, like, am I still using that? Then I will noticeably see something on the front end that is broken. And so there's, there's some ways that you can do that. You can, some ways you can look through those and just make sure that those things are actually working. You know, Ninja forms, if you disable those, none of your forms will work.

But maybe you've [00:11:00] used Jetpack forms, like. I don't know. There's not like a perfect process of like figuring this out, but it's good to go through and just really think like, Oh, okay. Like code snippets. Am I using code snippets? Okay. Let me go look at the code snippets to see if there's any snippets that are in there that I'm actually using. Broken link checker.

Am I using that? Do I still need that plug in? Like all of these things? Just kind of like have a conversation with yourself. Like, am I using this? Is it useful? Do I need it? Okay. Yes. No. Keep it. Move on. Update it. You know, those are kind of the steps to go through.

If we get to a point where we found a plugin and we're like, Oh, we don't need this anymore. ConvertKit might be a good example here that, okay, I'm going to deactivate this and I'm going to see what breaks. I'm going to fix it with MailPoet stuff. I'm going to turn the ConvertKit back on and see if there's anything else that works or doesn't work.

And then once I deactivate it, then I'm going to go ahead and delete it. We don't want to keep any plugins around that we are no longer using. It's again, like it's just going to take up memory. It is going to take up our memory and our bandwidth to understand what's happening on our site.

We want our site to be as easy as possible and as simple as possible. We're still getting all the functionality [00:12:00] that we need.

The other thing that you could use and this could be helpful for figuring out if you're still using a certain plugin or not, is there's a Chrome extension called WordPress Theme Detector and Plugin Detector. And you can add this to your Chrome installation and then you can go to your WordPress site and then click on that button in the extension panel and it's gonna pull up and it's gonna show all the plugins that you're using.

It's basically finding the slugs of the plugins and finding the theme, and it's looking through some things like that. So that might be another way that could be helpful to go and see, am I still using this? Is this page loading and things like that? The other thing with plugins, and sometimes this is a speed thing, is you might be having a ConvertKit plugin and OptinMonster plugin.

It may not work. It may not actually do anything, but every time somebody loads your website, it's going to use those resources or it's going to try to go connect to that service and come back. And if it doesn't, it's going to slow the whole page load process down. So again, it's very, very important that we get rid of these things.

A good test is actually to use speedtest. [00:13:00] net or gtmetrix or something like that. And you can go in and load your URL and see how long it takes for your page to load. And then you can go and deactivate some plugins and then do a new page speed test. And then you can see how long it takes with those plugins disabled.

So that's another kind of a test to see, is this making sense? Like, Oh, this one is a big performance hog. Let's go ahead and remove that one from our site and that will allow our sites to move faster. So I hope you found this discussion somewhat helpful.

I know it's not the easiest discussion to have and the easiest thing to just figure out, but it really takes a little bit of time. And I think once or twice per year is plenty of time, plenty often per year to just make sure that we're only using the plugins that were actually necessary on our WordPress sites.

So that's what I want to talk with you today. If you have any questions, please reach out to Dustin@YourWebsiteEngineer.Com. And that's all I've got for you today. Take care. And we'll talk again soon. Bye bye. For more great WordPress information, head on over to your website, engineer. com.