MonsterInsights Addresses User Criticism With Immediate Changes

When Google Analytics by Yoast suddenly turned into MonsterInsights yesterday, many users were taken by surprise. Users voiced their frustration and concerns on the plugin’s support forum. Some users thought their sites were hacked after noticing the menu label changed and seeing a bright green menu icon.

Syed Balkhi, founder of WPBeginner.com, along with Chris Christoff, lead developer of the MonsterInsights plugin, immediately responded to criticism in the forums. One of the biggest complaints from users was the lack of communication that the plugin changed hands.

Christoff admits that the plugin’s changelog should have included information about the switch.

I thought I had included information about the acquisition in the changelog, but I apparently didn’t. That’s totally on me, and I can certainly understand why people might be a bit upset over that.

Complaints about the bright menu icon were addressed with a recent update that lowers its opacity to be more in line with other icons. Even though the bright green is gone, the icon is still noticeable. Here’s what it looks like.

New MonsterInsights Menu Icon
New MonsterInsights Menu Icon

The menu label was also renamed from MonsterInsights to Insights. Not only is it shorter, it’s more in line with the plugin’s functionality. Its placement within the admin menu was also fixed as it no longer shows up near the top of the list.

Another concern brought up by users are the four display ads on the plugin’s dashboard page. While some users thought these were new, they’ve always existed in the free plugin. Instead of advertising Joost de Valk’s products, they now advertise four complimentary products affiliated with Balkhi.

Display Advertising in MonsterInsights
Display Advertising in MonsterInsights

Within the last 24 hours, the plugin has received a number of enhancements based on user feedback. Although the lack of communication put some people off, the company’s quick response has satisfied at least a few users. Balkhi says the team continues to listen to feedback and that if you have a feature request or bug report, to file it on the project’s GitHub page.

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35 Comments


  1. Always good to keep folks in the loop.

    When QuickCache was renamed CometCache I had an email warning me about the change and instructions on how to manage the change.

    Communicate, communicate, communicate…

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    1. Keith,

      not picking on any specific plugin but communication seems to be an issue with so many plugin/theme authors. I don’t just mean with language barriers. This is why I like changelogs.

      I can’t remember right now, only plugins has changelogs and themes don’t. or is it the other way around?

      I think there should be a changelog for core, themes, plugins and everything else in the WordPress Universe (it is partially there).

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  2. We are the minorirty of people who are connected and up to date on all that happens in the WordPress world. Just remember there’s a lot more people out there who don’t stay connected and aren’t participating in the conversation on forums or Twitter or WordPress news websites.

    Having this information only change logs is the last place people are going to look. Developers read change logs. The mass user base doesn’t.

    This was said at a WordCamp somewhere by someone, it doesn’t hurt to over communicate.

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    1. Good point Jonathan! Unfortunately communicating plugin changes before updating the plugin is only possible in the readme.txt changelog | description (as long as the user is not connected with the plugins author in any way – mail, twitter etc) Imho if a user is not reading changelogs he has no right to complain. Thats what it should be, the reality looks different! We need to find a way to make the mass user basis more sensitive about plugin updates and about the importance of reading changelogs. However in that MonsterInsights case it hadn’t changed anything beecause a important changes have not been mentioned in the changelogs. As a developer we primary have to be responsible for good and accurate changelogs at secondary we can only hope that the user reads the logs.

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    2. There is also an admin notice that appears when you update to MonsterInsights, and if someone had paid for either the premium or eCommerce addon, they also got an email about the change (so we could explain it + give them their user credentials for MonsterInsights.com).

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  3. I’m glad they addressed that stuff, especially it’s position in the list of options. Plugins should, IMO, be down the list under stuff like pages, post, comments, etc.

    I don’t get the thing over the green icon though. Maybe I’m old-fashioned (you know, when UI/UX folks still had some common sense!), but colour for buttons and icons allows a user to much more quickly identify and use a UI. A lot of this ‘flat’ and ‘gray’ baloney breaks all kinds of good UX/UI practices. (One of my favorite examples is all the tool bars that changed the ‘delete’ buttons from red to gray so they blend in and are hard to quickly find and/or too easy to accidentally hit.)

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  4. I knew it was a new owner when I updated the plugin. I didn’t panic but in a matter of minutes I found 2 blog posts about the new ownership.

    Number 1 in the message bar after the update it was Syd linking to his blog post about the new ownership and number 2. I visited the original author of the plugin which found the reason why.

    How hard is it for people to do a tiny bit of thinking to get there own answers. Over-reacting by a lot of people for sure.

    Anyways, the minute I knew who the new owner was I knew that this plugin has a bright future because of his reputation in the blogging world.

    End of story. Now I’m going to open a can of beer up and light up a cig..

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  5. I was quite shocked. Especially for a plugin that is so important. Besides, I hadn’t heard anything from Yoast, which I would have expected to. Very strange and I suspect that the free part of this will go away or be almost non existent within a short time.

    Mike
    http://www.brainchamber.com

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  6. I’m still confused how they got my email address to send the announcement to, since I don’t recall providing it in the plugin settings at any stage.

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    1. The email could have been triggered by the plugin itself using wp_mail on the WordPress site the plugin is installed on and sent to the admin email address for the WordPress site. The plugin could automatically notify the site admin email this way. Or at least that is one way it could have been done.

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      1. If that’s the case, I suggest it’d be a good idea for plugin devs to get up to speed with the CASL legislation in Canada.

        While it allows for transactional emails, it doesn’t allow for marketing components in that email. I didn’t see the email that went out, as I don’t use Yoast (or their GA plugin) but, given how forceful Syed is with the rest of his stuff, it wouldn’t surprise me if there was marketing messaging in there.

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      2. I don’t think many people outside Canada are very familiar with it. I get a *lot* of email that wouldn’t comply, and a large percentage of ‘marketing’ advice in the entrepreneurial world wouldn’t comply either. (IMO, it’s a bit overly aggressive, but it’s what we have to deal with.)

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    2. Only users who purchased the premium version or the eCommerce add-on received an email.

      We got premium user’s email because:

      1. We needed it to migrate the license key.

      2. So those who previously purchased have access to their key and upgrades in the future.

      As always I appreciate everyone who support us as well as those who don’t (helps me stay motivated).

      We will do our best to improve this plugin and add new features for years to come.

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  7. Did the premium users get emails? If you all did then that’s how they got your email address. I’m prolly wrong on this but I’m a free user and was thinking about upgrading awhile ago when I had 3 active blogs going but I sold them and trying to revive a poorly ranked one. lol

    When I upgraded the first time, there was an admin message in my header about the new ownership and when I clicked the X to close it, it actually closed. Not used to that happening.

    I’ll give my 2cents about this plugin in a year because by then, the plugin will be in the right direction of what the new owner’s vision initially was before purchasing.

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  8. In these times we live in, its generally held to be easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to ask for permission. And its pervasive, because if you get away with it once, you start to believe that’s the way its done. Or at least that YOU can do it, and get away with it.

    The problem with that attitude, in this connection, is that it disrespects the customer. And when you’re disrespected you are unlikely to come back for more.

    Stupid is as stupid does.
    — Forest Gump, July 6, 1994, Greenbow, Alabama.

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    1. For sure, you really have to think-through the typical ‘marketing wisdom’ and entrepreneurial advice out there. A lot of it is, unfortunately, aimed at quick results in exchange for a poor user-experience and a very short-term vision in business-business, or business to customer relationship. (One of my favorite example of this is the pop-up email list collection methods many sites employ… tick off users and provide a bad UX in trade for a bit higher sign-up rate?)

      That said, I’m not quite getting all the fuss around this particular case. Aside from it being a sloppy transition, was any harm done? I few people freaked out, I guess (I’m not sure why). Certainly, there should have been better communication with users. But, all in all, doesn’t seem like too big a deal to me.

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      1. Personally, if I have gone to a site to read something I have searched for, and I am trying to ready it when one of those stupid things pops off in my face, I don’t dutifully fill it in and carry on reading. No, I instantly leave the site and I never return.

        If you only look at numbers and you measure your success in the number of email address you collect, then there may be some point to it.

        But if anyone thinks that’s the intelligent way to impress any visitor interested in the content on your site, then they are very much mistaken.

        And the exit pop is still not a 100% safe way to avoid that scenario since its far too easy to set them off accidentally.

        I think eventually all interrupt driven advertising will either die of its own accord or be banned. Either way I look forward to the day.

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      2. Same here, unless I know what’s there is good enough to outweigh the nuisance of finding that ‘x’ and clicking away, I usually just click the browser window close. (Of course, the site owner won’t know they just lost me as a potential reader, because the bounce-stats can’t measure ‘why’ I left.)

        But, the data is there… it works. The question is more around what is really being accomplished. Are you driving away your best potential clients, and gathering a lower-level potential client list? Or, maybe you’re actually getting just what you want? I’m just not sure most people following these tactics (and that’s what they are!) really understand what’s going on.

        What I always find a bit ironic, is that some of the top people in, for example, blogging and podcasting – a crowd who brag about how they are a ‘new media’ that isn’t disruptive, and instead attracts a voluntary audience of interest – don’t seem to recognize that pop-up email collection is a form of disruptive marketing…. right in the way of every page of their content marketing!

        I probably err on the other side, and haven’t optimized my mail-list *visibility*. But, I’m pretty sure if I deliver great content that people are really interested in, I’m not going to miss too many email signups because I didn’t throw the signup in their faces. *EVERY* great content producer I’ve ever run across who I’m interested in following, I’ve found their email signup (and signed up!) if they had one.

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      3. …and I am trying to ready it when one of those stupid things pops off in my face, I don’t dutifully fill it in and carry on reading. No, I instantly leave the site and I never return.

        You mean instead just closing the popup and continue reading the article you are interested in you close the entire site and than start over searching for similar content which? That seems to be very ineffectual or you have very strong principals;)

        As long as a popup can be permanently closed and content is great i don’t have a problem with popups. I even subscribe to them from time to time although i am aware that they are trying to upsell something sooner or later to me.

        … is that it disrespects the customer. And when you’re disrespected you are unlikely to come back for more.

        I only feel disrespected when there is no way to unsubscribe from a mail that is landing on my computer.
        If i am using a (free) product i am not shocked or scared much when the author is trying to get in contact with me as long as my wish of not getting these mails is respected afterwards.

        I can not remember when i received my last private mail from a friend. These days the medium mail is mainly used by companies and my mail inbox is 99% full of marketing and transactional mails by companies i am connected to.

        So i do not care about one marketing mail more or less but i do care about the power of unsubscribing.

        jm2c

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      4. Exactly, Rene. Though, as someone who uses Exit Intent, I’m glad people close the browser and never come back. Clearly not my audience anyhoo, so thanks for saving me on email delivery costs… ;)

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      5. @ Rene – I know you were responding to Terence, but I thought I’d toss my $0.02 in anyway. :)

        re: “… very ineffectual or you have very strong principals …”

        A combination of both. :) I don’t always do it, but I’m just saying there is a threshold where I’ve maybe followed an interesting Twitter link, etc. and get hit with that and just go away (where I might have read it, or skimmed it, etc.) if it weren’t for the pop-up.

        And, sometimes I do subscribe through them too. I’m talking more of a UX principal. Do you prioritize UX or marketing tactics?

        re: “disrespect” – It’s disrespecting my time and intent. If I want to join an email list, unless they’ve hidden it well, I will. I don’t need a pop-up blocking my way every time I try to read an article. Unsubscribe is down the UX road, and not having one is illegal in some cases (like Canada).

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      6. I see what you mean @Terence and Steve

        > I think you will understand why this kind of interrupt marketing is not a good idea.
        Thanks for the link, it is worth reading.

        > Do you prioritize UX or marketing tactics?

        I prefer user experience and i am not working with popups either.
        Not because of any principle aspects but rather the risk of leading away of my audience I am selling software products and not informations so a popup would “interrupt” my customer and possible prevent him from checking out so i agree with you here.

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      7. @ Danny – Don’t you think if they are your audience (and worth having on the email list), they’ll figure out how to subscribe without throwing it totally in their way?

        Since I almost always immediately close such dialogs (if I don’t leave), I may have *never* entered my info into one of them, yet I’ve signed up for many email lists.

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      1. Thanks. Great post, and Seth is absolutely right! Combine that with something like Michael Port’s “Book Yourself Solid” to decide who those ideal clients are before making such marketing decisions. IMO, if you want the high-quality clients, then the tactics like pop-up email collection aren’t necessarily helping (quite possibly hurting).

        My main point is that I don’t think enough people using those tactics have actually thought them through. They’ve become kind of standard practices.

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      2. I just can’t understand why site owners don’t or won’t ‘get’ it.

        Supposing a friend invited us round for a barbeque and introduced us to some of her friends, something like this…

        Our host ~ Fred, meet Charlie.

        Charlie to Fred ~ “Hello Fred. Nice to meet you”.

        Fred to Charlie ~ “BUY MY SHIT!”

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  9. Thanks for this update Jeff, and everyone else commenting here. When I saw the change, and particularly the little green “monster” in my dashboard, I immediately disabled the plugin. It sounds silly, but I don’t need any little monsters on my dashboard. Looks like some concessions were made, so I guess I should rethink it and re-activate.

    Thanks again everyone.
    Brian

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    1. That’s an excellent piece by Tom, every dev should look at that as a starting point.

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