Back in February, we published a guide containing tips for promoting newly released plugins. Since the article was published, we’ve received a lot of plugin review submissions through our contact form. Some of the submissions have left me frustrated as I can’t figure out what the plugin does or how it works. Here are a few suggestions to help users understand what your plugin does.
Use Video To Explain How It Works
The plugin’s description should be as descriptive as possible. Not every plugin needs three paragraphs of explanation but it doesn’t help if it’s only a few words. Explain what the plugin does, what problem it solves, and how I’d get the most use out of it.
In 2010, the ability to include videos within a plugin’s readme file was added. In my opinion, this has been one of the best improvements to the plugin repository in recent years. Videos hosted on YouTube, Vimeo, and VideoPress are supported. Plugin authors, please use this invaluable tool to walk new users through your plugin and explain what it does. One example of using video in an effective way is the Meta Slider plugin. The video is clear, to the point, and I’m able to determine how to use it.
Videos are not limited to just the description page. The FAQ section also supports videos.
Use Screenshots As Visual Explanations
While screenshots on the plugin repository are limited in size, sharp images give a good representation of what the plugin is capable of. I suggest showing screenshots of the options page, examples of the plugin in action, and any administration panel related to the plugin. I recommend using both screenshots and video to cover all of your bases.
What Does The WPTavern Community Think?
I asked the WP Tavern community on Twitter what tip would they give to a plugin author hosting a plugin on the WordPress plugin repository in order for users to immediately understand what it does. The most popular response was to create a video. Here are a few of the replies I received:
@jeffr0 a) explain outcomes, b) use visuals, and c) demonstrate by example
— Gregg Banse (@greggbanse) April 4, 2014
@jeffr0 Screenshots really help in many cases.
— Sarah Gooding (@pollyplummer) April 4, 2014
@jeffr0 a quick read me file? Directions on the page where you download it from?
— Jonathan Atkinson (@twsjonathan) April 4, 2014
@jeffr0 Simplicity and focus. Don't throw in the kitchen sink. And have screenshots.
— Samuel Wood (Otto) (@Otto42) April 4, 2014
By providing a clear explanation using text, images, and video, users are less likely to skip over the plugin due to not understanding what it does. I’m also more likely to review it because I understand how it solves a problem.
What other tips and suggestions can you give to plugin developers so users immediately understand what it does and how it works?
I’ve been thinking about doing this for a long time now. I think most of us just suck at video/audio work which stops us from doing this type of thing. I’ll make sure I get onto this at some point though :)