If you work with WordPress every day you may have learned to tune out the recommended plugins in the admin by now, but the “Add Plugins” screen is an important part of the new user experience. WordPress developers Joey Kudish and Nick Hamze have released a plugin that brings better recommendations to the admin.
Hamze contends that the first plugins that appear in the featured section have a smaller, niche audience, and are unlikely to be useful to the majority of new users.
The recommended plugins are slightly better, as they are based on plugins that the user and other users have installed. However, Hamze believes they could be tweaked even further to display plugins that specifically benefit new users. The Recommended tab was introduced two years ago to display results based on plugins that are commonly used together. It excludes plugins that users already have installed.
“I really want to help WordPress but I think what is most needed isn’t a new editor or more guidelines but rather someone to take all the stuff in this fractured ecosystem and bring it together,” Hamze said. “Get rid of all the crap and only show people the stuff worth using.”
Hamze said he doesn’t know if WordPress can solve this problem diplomatically with code. He believes manual curation is required to deliver the best new user experience. A ticket for re-thinking the default ‘Add Plugins’ tabs/filters was is open on WordPress trac, as the plugins that appear in these screens have remained unchanged for some time. The ticket hasn’t received much discussion yet.
The Better Plugin Recommendations plugin removes the default and featured recommendations tabs and includes a new recommendations tab curated by Hamze to appeal to new users. Below is an example of the first 10 recommendations the plugin includes:
Hamze uses the following criteria to select the recommended plugins:
- Price (Free)
- Numbers of users
- Average Rating
- Last Updated
- Support Given
When asked why the recommendations don’t include Jetpack, Hamze said it didn’t seem necessary, given its high position in the popular tab and the fact that it already comes pre-installed with many hosts.
“If the idea is well received in the community, I’d love to expand on it further and include some plugins from outside the WordPress.org plugin repository in our recommendations, as I think there’s some great third-party plugins that new users should definitely know about,” collaborator Joey Kudish said.
Hamze said he doesn’t expect there to be many regular users who will find and install the plugin but hopes that hosting companies will integrate it by default for their WordPress customers.
“What I’m hoping is that I can convince the hosting companies to preinstall this (maybe in the MU folder) for their customers,” Hamze said. “The app blends in seamlessly with WordPress. There are no ads or branding. The plugin is designed solely to help new users find great plugins to help them on their WordPress journey.”