This article will grow and evolve as I keep finding lightweight alternatives to the slowest WordPress plugins on the market, so please bookmark us and check back in from time-to-time to see what’s new.
We all know choosing the right plugin for your website can be difficult. You want to make sure it’s easy to use, has an active development team and won’t slow your site down.
You can read reviews and easily see if the development team is active by checking the “last updated” date on wordpress.org. However, knowing the impact it will have on page speed is a bit more difficult.
But not anymore! This article lists popular plugins known to slow down WordPress sites. While many other lists stop there, we have taken the time to find you a better alternative.
Sometimes you can just switch to a lighter plugin and other times you will want to seriously consider the value of having certain functionality on your site. Yes, I’m talking about image sliders! Repent, repent!!!
If you want to see anything added or know a faster alternative then I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.
Here is the table of contents so you can easily jump to the plugins that interest you the most:
- All-in-One Plugins
- Backup Buddy
- Broken Link Checker
- Contact Form 7
- Disqus Comment System
- NextGen Gallery
- Revolution Slider
- Thrive Leads
- Visual Composer
- Yet Another Related Post
What is the AddThis Plugin?
AddThis is a popular social sharing plugin. WordPress users implement it on their site to improve the social reach of their content.
Another important for slow load times when using this plugin is the social share data it must retrieve. In order to display 12 Shares or 22 Tweets on an article, AddThis must make a number of queries to retrieve this information and that takes valuable time.
WP-Rocket ran some experiments to find the fastest loading social sharing plugin and found Social Pug and Social Warefare to be the fastest options available.
What is an All-in-One plugin?
There are many all-in-one plugins on the market. One of the most popular ones out there is Jetpack which we cover later on in this article. All-in-one plugins offer a range of different tools from a single source. This is convenient but also adds a lot of bloat to your website.
The phrase “Jack of all trades, master of none” is probably the best way to describe all-in-one plugins.
Think long and hard about the exact functionality you want and then find a single lightweight plugin that does it very well. Have a look at the Jetpack section further down to see lighter alternatives for each Jetpack function.
What is Backup Buddy?
Backup Buddy is a popular plugin used to make scheduled backups of your WordPress site. This plugin is slow compared to its competitors and even slower when used in compatibility mode.
Swap over to UpDraftPlus or All-in-One WP Migration. Both are excellent alternatives to Backup Buddy. I have personally used both and would lean more towards using UpDraftPlus.
Broken Link Checker
What is Broken Link Checker?
Broken Link Checker scans your site looking for broken links. If any are found you get a notification.
Because Broken Link Checker uses your server’s processing power to do a scan it can lead to overloads and a laggy website. You want to avoid any type of scanning plugin for this reason.
The solution is to use a free external service like Dr. Link Check to do the work. This kind of service will be powered by their own servers leaving yours free to do the important stuff.
Contact Form 7
What is Contact Form 7?
Contact Form 7 is the number one plugin used to implement contact forms on WordPress sites. However, the plugin forces your website to load code on every single page, even on the pages that don’t contain a form.
Hard to believe given the popularity of CF7 and the skill of its lead developer. It would be great if this issue was fixed but there doesn’t seem to be any plan to do it any time soon.
There are no shortage of plugins to choose from, however, WP Fluent Forms is widely regarded as one of the fastest options available.
If you want to stick with Contact Form 7 there are complex ways to block its script running on pages that do not contain a form.
Disqus Comment System
What is the Disqus Comment System?
This plugin allows users comment on different websites using the same identity. It’s supposed to increase engagement and create a commenting experience across the web.
The concept is pretty cool but the downside of using this plugin is its effect on your load time. It is widely reported to have a very negative impact on your page speed.
There is a really good alternative to the Disqus Comment System called wpDiscuz. There was another good solution called Epoch but it doesn’t seem to be supported anymore.
What is Jetpack?
Jetpack is a bundle of different tools for WordPress. It includes things like a downtime monitor, security protection, automated backups, themes, analytics and a lot of other tools.
Jack of all trades and master of none, Jetpack offers a lot but fails to provide a fast-loading experience. There is a lot of discussion online about this plugin and how it negatively impacts your load time.
Whatever Jetpack tools you’re using just find a faster alternative. Here’s a list of some of the most popular features and a faster replacement:
Downtime Monitor – Uptime Robot
SEO – Yoast
Backups – UpDraftPlus
CDN – Cloudflare
Lazy Loading – Swift Performance Lite
Analytics – Google Analytics via Google Tag Manager
What is NextGen Gallery
As the name suggests, NextGen gallery is a plugin used to display images in a gallery format. All gallery plugins are known to slow down your site so avoid them unless they are going to provide a lot of value i.e. for fashion designers, hotels and so on.
Using this plugin with its default settings won’t hurt your load time too much. However, once you begin customizing the plugin turns into a resource eating monster.
A good alternative is Envira Gallery Lite. It’s a lot lighter while still offering standard functionality. It won’t sap your server resources reducing your site to a slow crawl.
What is Revolution Slider?
Revolution slider is a popular plugin used to add a slider to the top of your site pages. While slider plugins allow you to display a number of images and marketing messages, they also come with a hefty price tag. They cost you page speed.
I say “they” because all sliders will slow down your site. There are no good guys to be found in this story. Because sliders feature above-the-fold of your webpage you can’t load them async which means they will always be “render blocking”.
They also rely on jQuery which will make your site sluggish.
Remove it. Just stay away from them. If you want to show your product range why not set up a separate tiled page highlighting them all?
You can even set up a double column on your homepage with a nice image on the right and a call to action on the left leading to your product page.
What is SumoMe?
SumMe is a useful WordPress plugin used to collect leads. It allows you to set up annoying pop-ups to collect visitor information. While it helps you with list building, it also helps to slow your site down. There are countless threads and conversations online talking about this plugin and its nasty habit of slowing down sites.
Use a lighter solution like PopUp Domination (paid) or WP Subscribe (free). Or you can try a light gamification email sign up like WP Optin Wheel.
What is Thrive Leads?
Thrive Leads is a list building plugin for WordPress sites. It’s known to slow down sites, something I have experienced firsthand with a previous client.
Use a lighter solution like PopUp Domination (paid) or WP Subscribe (free). Or you can try a gamification email sign up like WP Optin Wheel.
What is Visual Composer?
Visual Composer is a free WordPress website builder. It falls into the category of page builders, one of the slowest page builders. Page builders are known to slow down WordPress sites and are best avoided.
A simple website with lightning-fast load times will always generate more revenue than a beautiful site that takes 4+ seconds to load. Build for your visitors, not your ego.
Ditch the page builder. We avoid page builders at all costs opting instead for simple designs and Gutenberg blocks. Start with an incredibly fast theme like GeneratePress or Astra – we use both on our own sites and for our clients. Then choose a template from the theme library that doesn’t rely on a page builder.
Next use Gutenburg blocks, advanced custom fields, and a little CSS to get the desired effect.
If you can’t live without a page builder and all the extra bloat it brings, then at least choose one of the fastest available. Some robust testing by the good people at Pagely revealed SiteOrigin, Beaver Builder and Elementor to be the best for performance.
Note: Elementor is built to work with page speed plugin WP-Rocket.
What is WP-Bakery?
WP-Bakery is another popular page builder used to add some fancy design to your WordPress site. Unfortunately, WP-Bakery is one of the worst page builders when it comes to load time.
Page builders are good at hammering some nice design on to your website but are terrible for performance. As mentioned above, we avoid them at all costs and advise our clients to do the same.
Start with a light theme like GeneratePress or Astra – we use both for our clients. Choose a prebuilt template that doesn’t rely on a page builder from the GeneratePress or Astra library. Then use Gutenberg blocks, advanced custom fields and a little CSS.
If that sounds complex you can give those instructions to a developer or designer on Fiverr, UpWork, Freelancer or Freeeup and get the job done for a reasonable price.
If you must use a page builder then use a quick one. Pagely did some research into this and found SiteOrigin, Beaver Builder and Elementor to be the best of a bad bunch.
Yet Another Related Post
What is the Yet Another Related Post plugin?
This plugin is commonly used to feature related posts at the end of a blog post. They’re a good way to encourage users to continue reading your amazing content.
The price you pay for this feature is added load time. Pretty much all related post plugins are going to slow down your site.
The solution is not to use a lighter related posts plugin, instead you will have to ditch the plugin and instead use internal links. Yoast, the good people behind the popular SEO plugin put together this really interesting article on internal linking.