I wrote my first plugin in April 2015 and have learned a lot along the way. A few of these include, how not to break everyone’s sites, how to receive feedback & how to respond, and more. This short post should provide you with a few tips if you are just starting on your first WordPress plugin and wanted to learn more.
#1 ALWAYS Check for Compatibility & Update
WordPress core updates major versions about once every 6 months. These updates are planned ahead of time and are visible on the WordPress Versions page and WordPress Roadmap. It’s important that you verify your plugin is compatible with the latest version of WordPress at least, so you don’t harm your user’s sites. Once you’ve verified that the plugin is functional, then update your plugin’s readme.txt file – “Tested up to: x.x.x” to the latest version.
Pro tip: Every time you update your WordPress plugin the repository will place your plugin near the top of the search results. This is a great incentive for keeping your plugin up-to-date.
#2 Ask for Reviews & Track
Reviews can easily cause users to choose your plugin over another. There is a fine line between politely asking for a review and spamming the end user. I enjoyed how the very popular plugin – What The File – asked for feedback. After you have the plugin installed for two weeks, it politely asks you to leave a positive review or let’s you ignore it by choosing “no thanks, I’ve already done this.” There is definitely something happening at the psychological level that boosts user response.
If you are like me, then you are interested in what percentage of users actually interact with request for feedback. An easy way to track this is using Bitly. The link that you use to ask for feedback can be tracked and you can easily calculate the percentage of people who leave feedback. You’ll see my total clicks & total reviews below. To calculate the percentage of people who leave reviews simply divide the number of clicks by the number of reviews.
My plugin currently has 52 reviews and 1,106 review request clicks – that’s a review rate of 4.7%. How does that help anything? Well, you can track this overtime and make slight modifications to try to boost this number.
#3 Reply to EVERYONE
I don’t care if it’s a review or a silly question – you should reply to everyone that posts to your plugin. Imagine your plugin is a store and the people who post on the forum or leave a review are your customers. If a customer walks into your store, you don’t just ignore them – you say hello, please, and thank you. The same goes for your WordPress plugin. Be kind. I recommend replying to every single review, good or bad, and thank the user. If it’s a negative review, then ask what could have been better.
Not everyone will reply.
If it’s on the support forum, then simply let them know you are listening and if it’s urgent, then fix it. It’s your responsibility as a WordPress plugin developer to ensure you’re providing the best experience for your users.
#4 Tell Users How to Ask for Help
Support for WordPress plugins can sometimes be a pain, but you can easily reduce the number of requests by posting a sticky in the forums. You can see a quick example of mine below:
These 4 tips will help you during the growth phase of your plugin. They will help you keep the plugin growing while keeping the amount of time required for support down. I hope you enjoyed these and I’ll keep this up-to-date on any new tips I learn.