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WordPress Plugin vs Functions.php file (Which is a better option?)

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We’ve often received questions from some users about whether they should install a WordPress plugin or add code to their theme’s functions.php file? Most users believe that adding code is better for stable website performance, but this method isn’t true. This article will describe the pros and cons of WordPress plugins vs. functions.php files and which is the better choice for you.

Installation WordPress Plugin vs Custom Code in Functions.php File

There are two solutions when you add something to your WordPress website. You can either add a code snippet to your themes or install a plugin.

These two methods do some things, and they both are correct. However, many numbers want to know which method is best for speed and performance.

Many users feel concerned about installing lots of plugins and how it may affect their website security and WordPress website speed. Other types of people worry that adding custom code can cause to break down their website, and they may not be able to fix this problem.

Let’s find the solution which method is best for you and which method we suggest to you.

Pros and Cons of functions.php File

Plugin vs Functions.php

Functions.php file in WordPress allows theme developers to define custom functionality for their theme. Functions.php file work like a giant WordPress plugin that helps you add any kind of code snippets to your website. 

Here are some advantages of adding custom code to your WordPress functions.php file:

Pros

  • You can easily use the built-in theme editor in the admin area to edit the functions.php file
  • You can easily go with the copy-paste method
  • This gives you to chance to learn about code

However, there are also many disadvantages of using the functions.php file to add something to your website. 

Cons

  • Your custom code won’t work if you switch one theme to a different theme
  • If you’re using a child theme, this method overwrites the code. 
  • It becomes harder to understand where the theme code starts and ends. 
  • Some code snippets can be too large, needing additional scripts and styles.

Understanding Limitations of WordPress Functions File

Lots of handy tricks are available for WordPress functions files, making it easier to tempting. But it’s not the right replacement for a Proper WordPress plugin. 

If you add some code snippets to your functions.php file, then it’ll be the same impact on performance as a WordPress plugin with the same code would’ve otherwise.

Another hand, you can add all the functionality and features you can’t add with the functions.php file. For example, a custom code may need additional scripts and different stylesheets to work properly. 

We believe that a theme’s functions.php file be used for its intended purpose: a theme-based functionality added by the developers.

Pros and Cons of Installing WordPress Plugins

Plugin vs Functions.php

WordPress Plugins work as an app for your Website. They contain code that is collaborated with WordPress and provides more features and functionality.

Here are some advantages of using the WordPress plugin for adding some custom code to your function.php file.

Pros

  • A WordPress plugin doesn’t depend on any theme
  • If it is the same code, then it would have the same performance
  • It is easier to install, activate, deactivate and delete.
  • Easier to manage all kinds of plugins

After providing these pros of a WordPress plugin, we don’t say that All WordPress plugins are good. Also, there are some disadvantages to all plugins.

Cons

  • You will have to install updates for your plugin
  • Plugin author could abandon the plugin in the future, especially if it’s free
  • Your code-changing practice doesn’t improve.

WordPress Plugin vs Functions File – Which One is Better?

If your WordPress plugin has the same code, we believe that using a plugin is the best choice for you.

When it comes to terms of performance, where the code runs isn’t important. Also, it loads from a separate plugin to the functions.php file; if the code is the same, it’ll have the same performance impact.

Managing separate plugins is much easier than editing or changing a single large function.php file. Adding random code to your snippets in the same file even when they’re not dependent or related to each other makes things complicated.

If you choose a plugin for coding code, then you can be more benefit from future plugin updates, and also, plugin developers fix bugs, increase security and improve your site performance. 

When Should I Add Code to Functions.php File?

If the functionality you’re trying to add is not available, you can go with a code snippet; then, you can add code to your theme’s function.php file.

On the other side, you’re adding functionality that is fully related to your WordPress child theme or parent theme. For example, creating image size, showing dates, or adding custom code after and before your content or more.

If you always add custom code snippets to your WordPress website, there’s a better way to do this. You can save all the code into a specific WordPress plugin or use the Code Snippets plugin to organize all your snippets code.

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