With so many social networks, commenting systems, and other features available these days how much is too much? In other words, at what point does adding more features to your site or blog start working against your goals instead of for them?
You all know the sites I’m talking about. These are the sites where the message is caught up in social media widgets, advertising, and fancy comment boxes (among other things). These are the sites with little content yet the pages take 10 seconds or more to load. In short, we all know a site has too many features when we see it. Now, how can you objectively look at your own site and determine if you are guilty as well?
There are actually 3 signs that your site has too many features. While these 3 can also be signs of other problems like hosting issues, internet issues, etc, when put together they are probably telling you that you might want to re-think your site’s architecture and remove a few features.
1.) Site Load Time
The issue here is that all those fancy social media and other widgets have a cost. They might not cost you real money to install but they add to the load time of your website which in turn costs you on Google rankings and user satisfaction. Look hard at the results page from webpagetest.org. Are all the files loaded by your site necessary or, in the worst case, do you even recognize everything that loads when a user hits your page?
2.) Dozens [or more] modules/plugins/etc
It doesn’t matter if you use WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, or something else. One quick way to tell if your site has too many features is just to look at your plugin/module/etc lists. Most sites I put together in Drupal or WordPress have less than 20 modules or plugins. How many does yours have? I’ve seen sites with 100s of plugins or modules installed and, in most cases, 99% of them aren’t needed.
Look through your site add-ons. If you have more than 20 or 30 there is a good chance your site has too many features. Not only can these slow down your site as is evidence by point one of this post, but they can become a security issue as well as the more software you have the more software an attacker can target.
3.) Are your users making use of the features you offer?
Speed and add-on counts can be easily justified if the features you offer are being used by your visitors. But how many of those features really are being used? Did that new social media plugin you installed last month really boost sharing? What about the fancy comment features you put in? Did they really boost the number and quality of comments your site is getting?
Some add-ons can have a rather emotional following. If the smartest web person you’ve ever met told you to install x add-on then you might find it hard to part with it even though it really isn’t doing anything for you. Remember though that keeping these features in place if they don’t help your goals are in fact hurting your goals. Get rid of them. As the web changes so to should the software you use with it.