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No, plugins are not required to build a WordPress website. Plugins are simply compiled pieces of code that allow the webmaster to effortlessly add additional features and functionality to a WordPress website. If you opt not to use any plugins on your WordPress website the result will be a functional but basic website.
Why Are Plugins Not Required?
The reason why a WordPress website can function without any active plugins is that WordPress Core (plain WordPress by itself without any themes or plugins) is well developed and includes all the essential features to build a website.
These essential features include but are not limited to:
- Admin Dashboard
- User Management (add or delete users)
- Gutenberg Page Builder (Used to create posts and pages)
- Media Library
- Categories and Tags
These built-in WordPress features are what allow WordPress users to build a functional website without any additional plugins.
However, it must be noted that although WordPress themes are technically not a part of WordPress Core they play an integral role in WordPress and an active theme is required to view, use or edit a WordPress website.
Why You Should Consider Using Plugins?
There is really no drawback to using plugins. If you do some research around this topic you will find that a lot of people state that plugins will slow down your WordPress website or leave it vulnerable to hackers.
In my experience, this is not necessarily true and plugins, on the whole, should not be blamed for this. Rather these issues stem from the quality of the plugin and the number of plugins that you choose to install on your website.
Plugins that are created by established and committed developers are built to be as efficient and as secure as possible and should not noticeably impact your page speed or website security.
Each new plugin that you install adds additional assets to your website that have to be loaded each time a user visits a page. So if you have experience in web development you can reduce the number of plugins you install on your website by only using the ones that are required by your theme and adding all other simple features and functions by yourself.
Best Practices When Choosing A Plugin
The following should be considered when selecting a plugin:
- Is the developer reputable and known for other great plugins?
- How recently has the plugin been updated?
- Is the plugin tested and compatible with the latest version of WordPress?
- How many active users does the plugin have?
- Do the positive reviews outweigh the negative reviews?
- Are the developers responding to and resolving issues that users are having in the plugin support forum?