When you install WordPress for the first time (or get a WordPress site from a hosting company you will see in the themes and plugins that there are very few things installed by default (unless your hosting company put certain themes or plugins on the site for you) and there are many reasons for that.
- WordPress can do many things
- Multiple plugins do the same thing
- There is no exact science to the number of plugins you should have
- Things can be outdated / insecure so quickly
- Why are there some plugins installed by default?
WordPress can do many things
WordPress is mostly known for blogs, publishing and general websites. But WordPress can do a ton more, it could be a forum, coupon site, invoicing site, coming soon site (affiliate link), booking site, shopping site, and more. WordPress doesn’t want to have certain plugins or themes installed by default so it can offer you the flexibility to do whatever you want with it. The options are endless, it’s only limited by what people can code (or modify the existing WordPress code to do).
Multiple plugins do the same thing
The awesome thing about WordPress is that there are so many options for plugins, as of the time of writing there is over 54,000 plugins on the official WordPress site. This doesn’t count the number of plugins (or themes) on other sites like ThemeForest or plugins that people just create for fun. It would be too hard just to choose a couple to install by default as there is so many people who help with WordPress (from working on the newest version, to testing, to supporting users in the forums and more) that everyone should get their chance for an opinion and there won’t be a consensus.
There is no exact science to the number of plugins you should have
Plugins can affect the performance of a website and too many plugins will slow down your website, but not having enough won’t allow you to do what you want on your website. Some sites mention a specific number on how many plugins they think you should have on your website, but you shouldn’t pay too close attention to that number since there are many other factors that could go into that number (including what website hosting you have, if you use a cdn, what exact plugins you have installed, what plugin version you have and more).
Things can be outdated / insecure so quickly
If a plugin is selected to be included in the WordPress installation then an old version needs to be chosen, to ensure it can be thoroughly tested to work with every detail of WordPress. The newest version can’t be included by default as there is a always a newer version which would require either WordPress staff or contributors to constantly test the newest version. The problem with choosing an old version is that it may have unknown bugs (zero-days) that could quietly affect your website without you knowing.
Why are there some plugins installed by default?
You are probably a bit confused how this post is talking about why there are very little plugins installed by default, but yet there are some plugins that come default on every WordPress website. Most websites will come with Akismet and Hello Dolly installed. Both of these plugins are run by Automattic (the company which started WordPress), Akismet is a plugin that isn’t updated that often (since most of the things it does on Akismet’s own servers) and Hello Dolly is only updated to keep up with the newest version of WordPress since it meant to be a basic plugin that someone can take and edit for their own use.
On certain website hosting companies they may install other plugins, these plugins are installed for various reasons and may not always be needed or there may be better alternatives to. Read through the description of each installed plugin to see what they do and if there is a plugin that you know of that may be better than consider contacting your hosting company (or your web developer) and ask them if it’s ok that you remove the pre-installed plugin and use a better plugin instead. If they say no ask what the plugin does and if your alternative offers the same thing then tell them that, the other party may have another reason so be sure to understand their point of view.
WordPress offers so much flexibility, customization, and updates often that a WordPress site can be whatever you want. Just be sure to update your plugins and themes when there are updates available.