Why lightweight plugins for WordPress? Because some plugins are bloated and slow down how quickly your webpages load. In turn, this annoys both people who visit your website and Google.
Should you always use lightweight plugins? No!
When certain functionality is important to your website and there are no lightweight alternatives – use the plugin that works best for you.
But when there are viable lightweight plugin alternatives – use them.
There is increasing demand for lightweight WordPress plugins, so you can try Googling function (e.g., contact form) and lightweight). You can also avoid many of the most popular plugins, as their endless addition of extra features often means they are bloated (Jetpack).
Yet, sometimes it is helpful to be pointed in the right direction. So here are 17 lightweight plugins for WordPress.
1. Contact Form Plugins
A Heavy Plugin Option
Contact Form 7 is a popular contact form plugin. Yet, it is bloated! And, worse – the bloat loads on every page – even the ones that have no contact form.
Lightweight WordPress Plugins
Two lighter alternatives are Happy Forms or Simple Basic Contact Form. My personal preference is Happy Forms as you can upgrade functionality if you need it.
2. SEO Plugins for WordPress
A Heavy Plugin
Yoast is the most popular SEO plugin on the market and it does a good job. I have used Yoast on one of my other ‘labour of love blogs’ and it has helped me rank in the top 3 against some big players. Yet, as they have grown in popularity they have added more and more features that are not strictly SEO. This makes the plugin bloated, which in turn, slows down your site.
Lightweight Plugin Options
Two lighter alternatives are the SEO Framework and SEO Press.
3. Analytics Plugins
Heavy Plugin Options
Google Site Kit and WP Statistics are 2 bloated WordPress plugins that slow down how fast your site’s pages load.
A Lightweight WordPress Plugin Alternative
Use the CAOS (Complete Analytics Optimisation Suite) plugin to load your tracking code in the footer of your website and set it to update via Cron job.
4. Backup Plugins for WordPress
A Heavy Plugin
The Backup Buddy plugin is bloated so it slows down your site’s speed.
A Lightweight Option
UpdraftPlus is a lighter alternative. Personally, I prefer the paid premium version because it allows automatic backups prior to WordPress, theme and plugin updates.
5. Slider Plugins
Slider by 10Web and Slider Revolution both have a reputation for being bloated and slow.
Lightweight WordPress Plugin Options
Nivo Slider and Metaslider are good, lightweight alternative WordPress plugins. Personally, I prefer Nivo Slider. But Metaslider is free!
6. Gallery WordPress Plugins
Fancy Gallery and NextGen Gallery are 2 bloated gallery plugins.
A Lighter Alternative
In my experience, MEOW Gallery is the best lightweight alternative plugin.
7. Translation Plugins
A Heavy Plugin
Google Translate slows down your website. WPML used to be slow but has improved in the last 2 years.
The Lightweight Alternative
8. Page Builder Plugins for WordPress
Heaviest Popular Options
Elementor, Divi and Beaver Builder slow down the site’s the most.
A Lighter WordPress Plugin
If you must use a page builder plugin, go with Oxygen.
8. Block Library Plugins
All block library plugins are faster than page-builder plugins. Out of the 4 block plugins I tested, the 2 slowest were Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg and Ultimate Blocks.
Faster Block Plugins
The 2 fastest block plugins were GenerateBlocks and Kadence Blocks. GenerateBlocks was 7 times faster than Ultimate Addons for Guttenberg and 3.5 times faster than Ultimate Blocks. GenerateBlocks was also 2 times faster than Kadence Blocks.
9. Social Sharing WordPress Plugins
Heavier & Slower Options
According to WP-Rocket’s testing, AddThis and Kiwi are the 2 slowest and most bloated social sharing plugins.
Lighter Social Share Options
Grow Social (formerly Social Pug), Social Warfare and Social Snap are all lighter and faster options.
10. Lead Generation
SumoMe and Thrive Leads are 2 of the heaviest plugins that will slow down your site. Anything by Thrive seems to be heavy.
Holler Box is a lighter and faster choice.
11. Security Plugins
Security plugins like Wordfence offer great protection and detection. Yet, as they operate on your hosting company’s server, they can slow down your website.
If speed is important to you, don’t use a plugin Rather use Sucuri’s WAF or their full security platform. Both their WAF and platform operate on their servers rather than on your servers. This stops their services from slowing down your website. Further, you get free access to their CDN, which can actually improve your website’s speed.
To Sum Up
Bloated WordPress plugins can slow down your website. But speed is only one factor when choosing a plugin.
The first question to ask is whether a plugin has the functionality you need. Then, consider speed and alternative lightweight plugins. Always use lightweight plugins if they have the functionality you are after. But in my opinion, functionality comes first.