Within the last few weeks, a number of readers have contacted us to look into the recent upgrade woes experienced by WordPress SEO users. Since 3.0’s release on November 18th, the development team has released six point releases.
Joost de Valk, founder of Yoast.com, and lead developer of WordPress SEO, explains the mistakes made with the release and apologizes for the lack of communication, “We’ve made mistakes, obviously. Of course, there were bugs, which we have worked hard on and are still working on right now. We’ve made mistakes in communication too. We’re sorry about that,” he said.
WordPress SEO is active on more than a million sites and the fallout from issues experienced by users upgrading to the 3.0 branch has resulted in many negative reviews. Over time, the plugin has gained a reputation of breaking with each upgrade.
More Beta Testers Needed
de Valk admits that when 3.0 was pushed out to the public, users would encounter bugs, but says it’s part of having a large variety of configurations across their install base, “There were a few bugs that I think we should’ve caught in our testing period which was extensive and we’re taking precautions to make sure we do next time,” he said.
Despite the roadmap to Yoast SEO 3.0 published in November, the amount of people who tested the releases was small compared to every day users. The team is asking for ideas on how to encourage more people to participate in the beta testing process.
de Valk and his team of five actively responded to users on Twitter and email but didn’t immediately address users on Facebook which led to harsh criticism. Paying customers were prioritized while free users were told that they wouldn’t be supported over email.
de Valk admits it was probably the wrong course of action, “This was probably, in hindsight, not what we should’ve done. For future major releases we will try to actively support everybody for a period of time,” he said.
It’s Difficult to Change a Reputation
He also addresses the usability issues caused by changes to the user interface of the snippet editor, “We thought the interface was intuitive, we also thought people would watch that (30 second) video, but we were obviously wrong. We’re now thinking about how to improve the snippet editor so it’s more obvious how you are able to edit,” he said.
The issues experienced by people upgrading WordPress SEO is a good example as to why automatically updating plugins is a bad idea. While the team continues to work hard to fix issues in the 3.0 branch, it’s going to take a number of excellent releases to erode the negative reputation that WordPress SEO upgrades will either break functionality or the site that’s using it.