WordPress is wonderful and offers so much flexibility. It uses themes and plugins to offer site owners easy access to unlimited design choices and useful features.
There are thousands of free WordPress themes available and it is very common for new site owners to test lots of them before deciding on their final choice. A website can only use one theme at a time and there is so much choice, that it can be hard to decide. It is perfectly fine to test out 25 different themes before making your final choice, or to update an existing website with a new theme after launching. The problem is that lots of people have beautiful WordPress sites, which have 20 unnecessary, unused, out of date themes sitting in the background.
I usually recommend keeping an additional core WordPress theme such as Twenty Twenty or Twenty Twenty One, as this gives you a high quality theme to fall back on, if your site ever develops a problem. The core themes that are automatically provided with new installations are guaranteed to be compatible with WordPress, if they are up to date. Having an additional core theme available is a good idea. It is definitely a bad idea to leave a large number of different themes, from a variety of different sources, sitting on your WordPress site. They clutter up your theme area, take up server space and provide targets for hackers.
Plugins add functionality to WordPress sites. They provide extra features to the software that runs your website and can be used for lots of different purposes, from tiny things like adding a cookie pop up, to huge changes such as adding an online shop.
Like themes, plugins add additional code to your website. If you decide to stop using a particular plugin, then you should delete it from your website.
WordPress makes it is very easy to test new themes and plugins by adding them to your site and trying them out. It gives you the opportunity to test new features and make sure that things work the way you want them to. You can even test exactly how your existing website will look, by quickly adding a new theme and doing a live preview. This flexibility is one of the best things about WordPress, unfortunately it can lead to some bad habits.
The first bad habit is that lots of people don’t keep their websites up to date. WordPress sites have to be updated on a regular basis, this includes the core files that make up your website, it’s themes and any plugins that you decide to use. In my experience, when people have large numbers of unused themes and plugins, they are less likely to bother updating them, because they often feel that they’re not important. Unfortunately this makes them an ideal target for hackers, who exploit weaknesses to gain access to other people’s websites.
The second bad habit is that people don’t delete themes and plugins that they are not using. Unused themes and plugins take up space on your website because they add unnecessary files. Your website will take up more space on the server and also means that your site will probably take longer to load for your visitors.
If you have a plugin that you don’t need, it is possible to deactivate it so that your website no longer uses it. Deactivating a plugin doesn’t remove it from your website. It is still there. If you have any plugins that you don’t intend to use, delete them.
When you log into your WordPress site, as an administrator, you will see a notification if you have any updates to perform. Updates will often include code that deals with potential security issues. Keeping your WordPress site up to date will make sure that everything runs smoothly and also makes it much harder for anybody to hack your website.
There are no benefits to leaving unused themes and plugins sitting on your website. They add unnecessary files, make updating take longer and greatly increase the risk of security issues, so please make sure that you always delete any that you are not using. If you change your mind you can always reinstall them in the future.