Maybe Your Developer Should Remove Some Code

Steve Zehngut - March 15, 2018

Most of the time we think we’re hiring developers to write us some new code. The best developers can write a lot of code fast, right? At Zeek, we’ve found that one of the most important things we do is to remove some code. That’s right – we often remove more than we replace.

Why this doesn’t make sense

It feels completely wrong to pay someone to simply remove lines of code. They’re not really working, right?

More importantly, if there is bad code in there, shouldn’t the person who wrote it also fix it (and shouldn’t it be free)?

The problem isn’t the code, it’s the coder. The developer may have written the best code they knew how to write. Asking them to write better code than they know how to write won’t get you better code. In fact, it may just get you more complicated, and even worse, code.

Not all developers are equal. So going back to your original developer may not make things better.

We know it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but we know it’s true.

Why this makes sense

Here’s the good news. Experts – people who have done this for a long time and continue to develop their skills to match their experience – know how to determine what to optimize, what to replace, and what to eliminate.

That decision is critical and maybe the most important thing you can ever hire a developer to do.

Three Areas to Review

At Zeek, we find there are at least three areas where we may be removing code.

Plugins that aren’t needed because of WordPress features

There are features that weren’t in older versions of WordPress, but today they exist. And yet we still see older sites using plugins to do what WordPress supports naturally. If you’re trying to put an image gallery into your blog post, you can do it without a plugin. If you’re trying to reduce spam comments on your posts, there is an built-in option that works without a plugin. You can limit comments to only those who are registered, limit posts to have no links, and make it so that you are alerted when you need to approve a comment. This will reduce spam.

We find that we can remove plugins and get rid of code that’s no longer needed.

Plugins that aren’t needed because of other plugins

We have some clients using Beaver Builder’s page builder. When they use it, there are other plugins that may have installed that are no longer needed. For example, if you’re using Beaver Builder, you can get rid of plugins you previously had installed for:

  • Tabs
  • Testimonials
  • Pricing tables
  • Countdown timers
  • Accordion sections (for FAQs)

Bloated themes that offer a lot of features

Another place where we find code that isn’t needed is bloated themes. We see it all the time. Customers arrive with themes that are slow, and we find that the theme included four slider plugins, two form plugins, tons of additional layouts and more. We also find that these included plugins can’t be used at the same time for technical reasons. The theme developers bundled the plugins for choice, but the site ends up carrying all that weight. For no good reason.

It’s why we write custom themes for customers. But that’s more about code we write, rather than code we remove.

That said, sometimes we just have to go in and remove some of the bundled code that came with a bloated theme. We remove code that hasn’t been, and likely will never be, used.

We enjoy writing new code

Because we’re always learning, several of our returning customers have benefited from our ability to remove some code – even when it was originally ours!

But before you walk away with the thought that we only remove code, here at Zeek, I should be clear that we love writing new code.

We write custom themes from scratch. We write plugins that integrate with enterprise systems. We write SaaS applications on top of WordPress and standing apart from WordPress. And we write mobile apps.

We write a lot of code.

Whether you need a digital agency that needs to replace or remove some code, or you need new code written, Zeek is ready to partner with you.