The internet, by and large, is still very much like the wild west. As in, nobody really has a handle on it, no one entity can control it. aka free-for-all.
me: started with wordpress – 2005
# of sites built? no idea, hundreds.
As a rule, less plugins is better. Choose ones that are absolutely beneficial to the scope of your project. Evaluate the rest based on workflow vs site efficiency.
When searching for plugins that will address your needs, Google is better than the wordpress.org search. Just be mindful that many of the search results are people/companies selling plugins. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but a paid/premium plugin is also not necessarily your best option.
Do the research.
Legitimate wordpress themes and plugins reside in the wordpress repository. The “Support” tab will give you a good idea of who’s maintaining their work and who isn’t.
If possible, set up a test site before going live. And, if possible keep a dev site operational to test new things in a safe environment. Especially for larger sites. If a testing/dev site is not an option (it always is, but whatever), put your site in maintenance mode, activate the new plugin, bounce around the site as an admin to see that everything works, and if nothing breaks, go for it.
Don’t update automatically. We’re just not there yet. Some plugins will make major code changes which can effect the entire site. Look first at the log changes. Then go to the support section on wordpress.org for that plugin to see the issues that update caused.
That’s all for now. More later.