From a usability standpoint, WordPress has ushered in a revelation in the way content hits the internet. From a development perspective, it has made our jobs at Metal Potato even more fun.

And one of the key reasons for that is the much-beloved and much-maligned WordPress plugin. Oh, WordPress plugin—you make the job of web developers everywhere a little bit better. When a client asks, “hey, what if I do this?” Plugins make it easy for us to say, “Yes! Yes you can!”

With some basic online research developers everywhere can find a solution to their client’s needs. Usually, they can find several. In a matter of seconds that plugin can be installed on a site’s server and live on the internet.

But the almighty WordPress plugin is a double-edged sword. It is a gateway to an almost limitless array of features that the unscrupulous can easily use them to bombard the internet with mal-intent.

It was Shakespeare who said, “Love all. Trust a few. Do wrong to none.” It was also Shakespeare who said, “There are too many damn plugins on your website.”

And those are wise words to heed, Prospero. Don’t believe us? Old Bill would tell you himself were he here; but ya know, he went missing sometime in the early 1600s.

The point is this—don’t let yourself become a victim. It is possible to have too much of a good thing.

Plugins are great. Calendars, conversion tools, analytics, image galleries, advertisement plugins, Facebook plugins, Instagram plugins, Twitter plugins, weather plugins, newsletter plugins, 80’s hair metal plugins. You are free to love them all!

But don’t trust them all with a place on your website. Take Shakespeare’s advice and only trust a few. Otherwise, you run the very real risk of confounding your visitors. There’s nothing worse than being lured to a website thanks to a catchy headline only to be flummoxed by a dizzying array of features that seemingly have no relation.

Instant data overload is one of the top ways to ensure that person will not visit your website again. And that is a real tragedy (hey-o).

“Thanks for the wisdom, Romeo. Any more advice?”

Yes, actually.

It comes from personal experience and the excitement that plugins can elicit.

In this case, I was charged with tackling an internal company website design for a former employer (like a few other members of team Potato, I wear a several hats).

This particular employer was new to all things WordPress, and was transitioning from a terrifying 90’s-esque website design into a modern, responsive layout. Plugins, it seemed, were a magical discovery and the solution to all problems.

Other than a usual newsletter signup plugin, talk soon began of adding Google Calendars, live weather, a notepad, RSS feeds and the list goes on. The prospect of this website becoming a one-stop shop for all of your daily information was tantalising to the business owners.

There was just one small problem with that concept—people already have a one-stop shop for all of their daily information. It’s called a smartphone and it’s in their pockets.

The project risked becoming a completely redundant and complicated amalgamation of information. Thankfully, after realizing this, focus returned to our original concept: a better-looking company website that could deliver content beautifully on any device.

Which leads us to one final thought to remember about WordPress plugins. No matter how many you love, you can always let one go. Or, in the words of our omnipotent playwright:

“Tis one thing to be tempted, another thing to fall.”