Are WordPress plugins highly overrated in terms of expecting each of them to work flawlessly on production?
Yes, totally overrated.
People keep mixing up multiple complex, heavy plugins, expecting them to behave as they have been authored by the same development shop.
(Honestly, even if they were, compatibility would still be a chore.)
I was recently reviewing a pull request by a team member. Yoast SEO, being among the most popular plugins ever, and the leading SEO plugin, was almost as large (codebase-wise) as the core of WordPress itself.
So you’ve got hundreds of contributors developing the core software over the course of 16 years. Resulting in 600,000+ lines of code.
Add a few complex plugins and suddenly, your project ends up with 2,000,000+ lines of code to maintain, expected to work flawlessly.
- A script that crowdsources 2,000,000 sentences from Wikipedia and bundling this into a book. Do you foresee this book as a piece of work that makes any sense at all, with chapters following a logical sequence?
- Or 2,000,000 audio files in the same “album” that you can shuffle easily?
- Even 2,000,000 LEGO pieces will likely be incompatible (coming from different sets over time).
WordPress plugins may adhere to well-designed coding standards. But you still end up with random bits of code that try to control the same environment, fighting for power, causing mishaps and overriding each other.
So every time you pick a few plugins and expect them to just work in a complex environment with a large, messy team and other plugins:
WordPress Plugins in Building MVPs
Now, in terms of proof of concept and building MVPs?
WordPress plugins are absolutely brilliant.
- Test an integration with a complex CRM? Done, there’s likely a plugin for that.
- Or a marketing automation software? Checked.
- Would a membership solution match the UX model of your eCommerce store? Just try this out on a staging environment and see.
Rapid testing or running a demo pitch is blazingly fast when it comes to WordPress, thanks to the broad suite of available plugins.
But realistically, businesses don’t use them out of the box, override them, fork them, do something else.
Plugins are often a good foundation for starters — or an inspiration for implementational workflow in larger WordPress websites or projects. This doesn’t mean that they are being used out of the box all the time.