WordPress Plugins that Drive me Nuts

As I'm sure most of you are aware, I'm a designer / developer who spends quite a bit of time building and managing WordPress websites.

Now with the newly launched Open Source Critic, eCommerce Critic and PlayStation Critic, not to mention my wife's website (easily the most complex of the bunch) The Kitchen Magpie, I spend an inordinate amount of time tweaking and modify plugins and themes to meet both her requirements and mine.

While there are certainly lots of things that are great about WordPress, today, there are also plenty of things that drive me nuts about it. Today, I thought I'd share with you the 5 WordPress plugins that drive me nuts.

Let's start with the one that almost everyone installs by default…


Jetpack is one of those love it or hate it plugins. Personally, I hate it. Here's why. My wife is absolutely obsessed with looking at her stats and why wouldn't she be? We both spend out time at home nowadays making our money through our websites so stats are definitely important but there are several things about Jetpack that make it one of my least favorite plugins.

Here's something you may not know: It slows down your website

You would think that something designed for the WordPress community by the very company that produces WordPress would be streamlined and efficient and not adversely affect your site wouldn't you? You'd be wrong. Jetpack, by default, slows websites down and here's why.

  • When there's a new feature added to Jetpack it's activated by default, whether you want it or not.
  • When you first install it, it activates all kinds of ridiculously useless plugins such as Gravatar Hovercards (really? Who wants these ugly things on their site) that bog you down with extra javascript.

Don't believe me? On a base WordPress install with Jetpack installed by default my average load time was 1.7 seconds. As soon as I removed Jetpack and deleted the plugin, that load time dropped to 510ms. I'd consider that a fairly significant savings of speed but that's only on a base install. When you are operating a huge website like my wife's, every second counts. Especially when it's so graphic heavy. On her site the difference is larger because she was using more of Jetpack's functionality. The problem we have, however, is that we use the related posts plugin from Jetpack to make a nice image grid on her site and if we disable it, it means more coding for me so for now, it stays but I have my sights set on you Jetpack. You will fall.

Why do people install it? Mostly due to lack of knowing any better. People assume (like I did initially) that because it's provided by Automattic, it's something that should help your site and that's true to some degree. 

90% of the people who install Jetpack install it for WordPress.com stats (such as my wife for instance). The problem is that there are plenty of analytics out there that do a far more accurate job of capturing far more data than Jetpack does. While I know lots of people use Google Analytics, I personally dislike it and find it to be far too complex for the average  user. My personal favorite is the one and only Clicky Analytics which gives you way more information in a much nicer presentation and includes the ability to see heat maps of your pages and see who's online real time via the Spy feature.

WordPress SEO

I love WordPress SEO. I truly do. In fact, it's the only SEO plugin I rely on when it comes to my sites. What drives me nuts about it is this:

It updates constantly.

More so than any other plugin I have installed ever. Sometimes it feels like there's a new update every day for this plugin which is extremely discouraging when you've just updated all of your sites and tested the changes and then the next day, there's yet another update to test before going live. Is it good that it's updated? Absolutely. Is it necessary to update it so frequently? No. Simply take your time and plan out a release schedule that's less annoying and stick with it.  

Don't get me wrong. I don't pay for the plugin and it's not that I don't appreciate the hard work that goes into it but do you really need to release a new update every day? Make it monthly unless it's a bug, you will eliminate so many headaches.

The other issue I have with it is that it sucks at getting Google Authorship working easily. Yes, I know, several of you I'm sure think it does a great job and it may be working for you but the fact of the matter is it does not load the authorship code into the header and as a result, with some themes, it just doesn't work properly. I've had to install yet another plugin specifically for Authorship in order to prevent myself from punching the screen with frustration trying to make the Rich Snippets Tool confirm that authorship is working properly.

This may sound whiney and unappreciative but as an administrator of several WP sites, I feel I have a right to complain. And it's my blog, so you can't stop me ?

The issue with alot of plugins is that they are not vetted out by anyone. A random person can submit a plugin for inclusion to the directory and it could be the absolute most horribly coded thing in the world but if named correctly and you include pretty screenshots, people will install it not knowing any better. There are tons of absolute crap plugins in the WP directory (some with 2 ratings, both of which are friends of the author) that lead people to believe they are good when in the end, they actually cause tons of headaches and issues.

This is one of the reasons why website owners really should have someone managing their WordPress installs for them. People who know what they are doing and can prevent these types of headaches from happening in the first place. For those of you out there who are fed up with trying to figure this stuff out for yourself, drop me a line.