The Leonardo da Vinci of Functionality

Saint John the Baptist Leonard da Vinci
presumed self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci
A detail of a presumed self-portrait by Leonardo da Vinci.


There are so many factors that affect your opportunity to rank well in SERPs and we at adroyt pride ourselves in understanding the mix of ingredients, which we accomplish creatively to help our clients’ content gain traction, that includes functionality. That said, the creative elements inherent in what we do have to be handled with measured care. One of the elements search engines consider is site loading time, and there are a number of issues that can slow them down, including plugins that extend functionality on WordPress sites.


The Leonardo da Vinci of Functionality

Paying attention to the quality and number of these is important. Though a certain variety are quite necessary, too many can throw a wrench in your ability to gain SEO favor with spiders expecting to quickly crawl your site and move on—our tutorial Particulars on Plugins contains a list of plugins we recommend. We actually read recently that the known record for the most number of plugins on a WordPress site is 637. The most we’ve ever inherited is 65 and we thought that was over-the-top!


Entry to the da Vinci Exhibition
Entry to the da Vinci Exhibition we attended in Milan.


The idea of someone getting so carried away that they would install over 600 plugins brought an impassioned inventor to mind. We came across the dynamic intellectual outpouring of Leonardo da Vinci in Milan where we were fortunate enough to see the exhibition Leonardo 1452-1519 at the Palazzo Reale. The show not only contained his paintings, many of his notebooks were on view and these turned out to be some of the most exciting aspects of the exhibition.



Seeing the thousands of sketches and calculations he did—writings and drawings that comprised 4,000 pieces of paper—was mind-boggling because they cover subjects as diverse as architecture and planning, inventions, perspective and visual perception, and the physical sciences and astronomy. We were inspired to choose him as our maestro of functionality after reading an anecdote Giorgio Vasari shared in his Lives of the Artists series. The story presented Leonardo’s quest to fashion a dragon he could use as a model for a painting. He’d concocted the anatomy of his imaginary dragon by combining the body parts of lizards and insects he’d chopped up and reconfigured.


anatomy of a male nude by Leonardo da Vinci
The anatomy of a male nude sketched by Leonardo da Vinci.


The tale concludes with the fact that it took Leonardo so long to complete the painting that the stench emitting from the dead animals in his studio was unbearable to most visitors, an odor he’d hardly noticed because he was so involved in the creative process! If we bring Leonardo into the modern era, his mind would likely be blown by the fact he could use any number of apps or pieces of computer software to compose such an anomaly, no stench required.


study for kneeling Leda by da Vinci
A study for the Kneeling Leda shows da Vinci’s devotion to perspective.


And given he had such an active mind, we imagine he’d have a tough time dialing it back when choosing from over 40,000 free plugins that are available for WordPress sites. We would caution the maestro to check the reviews for certain ones he feels absolutely compelled to choose so he would be certain they have been updated recently—if they haven’t, they can cause security issues for sites and may no longer be compatible with the latest versions of WordPress. We had the issue take a site down many years ago and let us just say that’s never an enjoyable experience!


Decrease the Size of Large Images
to Enhance Functionality

Portrait of Leonardo da Vinci who would have studied functionality to understand its implications
Francesco Melzi’s Portrait of Leonardo da Vinci, who we believe would have studied functionality to understand its implications.


Most of our sites have under 20 plugins because we use the most trusted ones and rely on our web-design partners to code in functionality rather than design-by-plugin practices, which inexperienced web designers may be prone to do. The moral of Leonardo’s passion for plugins would be don’t sacrifice healthy organic SEO ranking for more “bells and whistles.” We’d also advise him to keep his portfolio on his site lean and mean, which requires him to decrease the size of photos he uploads as to not hinder load time. We know he would have to operate at max capacity creatively, because he is who he is, so we suggest he gets his visual fix with an iPad pro and an iPhone where he can keep images of his portfolio to show off to those he meets wandering the streets in search of people to sketch and birds to set free, which he was known to do.


Da Vinci was one to study functionality
Old Man with Water Studies, one of da Vinci’s drawings that explored environmental design issues, which illustrate the breadth of his genius.


Vasari illustrates how intensely he sought out unusual looking people on the streets of Florence in order to memorize and draw them in this anecdote: “I must mention another habit of Leonardo’s: he was always fascinated when he saw a man of striking appearance, with a strange head of hair or beard; and anyone who attracted him he would follow about all day long and end up seeing so clearly in his mind’s eye that when he got home he could draw him as if he were standing there in the flesh.” Don’t you think someone as passionate about “seeing” as he was would be digging the ease technology would bring him in his artistic process today?

Back to the subject of plugins, a post penned by a blogger for our go-to hosting site, Get Flywheel, admits that being a tech junkie and sifting through the WordPress Plugin Directory is a bit like standing in a candy store, as we know it would be for Leonardo. WP Engine, another trusted hosting platform, says it’s not the number of plugins, it’s the quality of the ones you install that matters. We heartily second this notion. WP Engine has published an e-book called The Ultimate Guide to WordPress Plugins that has been downloaded more than a billion times if you want to learn more about their thoughts.


Murals Palazzo Reale
Murals hanging in the Palazzo Reale in Milan, which we marveled over during our visit to the da Vinci exhibition.


We felt remarkably fortunate to have visited the Palazzo Reale to see the exposition featuring da Vinci’s passions, and we would urge you to take the chance to see his oeuvre if you ever have the opportunity. If you want to see how lively his mind was, there are several compilations of his notebooks available on Kindle.


Ceiling detail in the Palazzo Reale in Milan
Image of a ceiling detail in the Palazzo Reale in Milan we captured during our visit to the da Vinci exhibition.


Text of The Leonardo da Vinci of Functionality © adroyt, all rights reserved. Unless otherwise stated, the adroyt blog is written by adroyt’s CEO Saxon Henry. Our downloadable knowledgebase can be found at adroytLABS.

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