Alex Shiels Proposal For Improving The WordPress Plugin Management Page

While WordPress 3.8 and 3.9 substantially improved the theme experience within WordPress, the plugins page hasn’t had the same treatment. In fact, the page hasn’t changed much since 2.7.

WordPress 2.7 Plugins Page
WordPress 2.7 Plugins Page

However, that may change as Alex Shiels has proposed a detailed outline explaining the improvements and changes he’d like to see. According to Shiels, the goal is to improve the experience for both new and experienced users.

One of the suggested improvements is to have the plugin-install.php be the default page when selecting the Plugins menu in the backend of WordPress. I generally use the plugins page to activate or deactivate plugins for troubleshooting purposes. By making plugin-install.php the default page, it would require an extra step to browse to the installed plugins page.

Instead, I’d rather the default page be left alone and enable the search box to find plugins within the directory. Other users have chimed in with similar feedback. As Shiels mentioned, “the Search Installed Plugins box on plugins.php is easily mistaken for a plugin directory search.”

Users Mistakenly Use The Search Box To Search The Plugin Directory
Users Mistakenly Use The Search Box To Search The Plugin Directory

I want the search engine for plugins to be improved. I’d also like to be able to organize search results by ratings, reviews, download count, etc. I’m happy to see the tag cloud may potentially be removed in favor of specific categories.

Something I’d love to see is the ability to rate and review plugins from the backend of WordPress. This way, I wouldn’t have to visit each plugin’s page on the directory to give feedback. I’d also like to be able to access that information somehow on the Installed Plugins page.

I think the Visit Plugin Site URL should link to the page listing for the plugin, not the author’s website. It would make it a lot easier to find the appropriate location to get support or view other data about the plugin on

User Submitted Ideas

There are a lot of great ideas in the comments of the post. For instance, Brad Tousnard suggested a Plugin installation that uses AJAX to install plugins in-place instead of having to go through a series of steps or have separate browser tabs open to install multiple plugins.

The plugin page doesn’t show whether or a not a plugin is dependent on another to work properly. Although there is a four-year old trac ticket that has a lengthy discussion about the topic, nothing concrete has been established. Once it’s out, the next step would be to create an easy way to see those dependencies when searching for plugins.

How to Get Involved

Since nearly everyone has experience managing plugins in WordPress, it’s no wonder the post is generating so much feedback. If you want to get involved with helping Shiels make improvements to the page, keep an eye on the Plugins Component on Trac. This is where tickets specifically for that part of WordPress will be located. You can also leave feedback on the post with suggestions you have.

What changes would you like to see that would improve searching, adding, and managing plugins in WordPress for new and advanced users?

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