New WPstats.me Site Displays WordPress.org Plugin Download Stats

WordPress.org relaunched the plugin directory this week with a new design and improvements to the search algorithm. The redesign spent more than six months in beta for feedback and testing, but many contributors on the project said they felt their feedback was not taken into account. The result is that the new design shipped but has not been well received by the community. Most users and developers welcome the changes to the search algorithm, but the new UI for the plugin pages has received quite a bit of negative feedback.

One of the unpopular changes made during this refresh was the removal of individual plugin stats, which can now only be viewed by plugin admins. The decision may be temporary but depends on feedback from users.

In the meantime, if you’re missing plugin stats after the redesign, check out the new wpstats.me site. WordPress plugin developer Edward Dakin created it in just a few hours using the WordPress.org API’s. Visitors can enter a plugin’s slug and see recent and all-time download stats.

“I like checking out plugin stats, seeing which are popular, how others are doing, etc, so I put together a quick something to do that and thought others might find it useful,” Dakin said. WPstats.me is essentially a one-page app so Dakin opted to host it on GitHub pages.

“The CSS is done with Tachyons (I’m super into function CSS at the moment), the JS is Backbone for the routing, jQuery for the ajax stuff, and Underscore for the templating,” Dakin said. He said the hardest part of putting the site together was finding the WordPress.org APIs, as the documentation is sparse and out of date.

If the Meta team decides to bring stats back into the plugin page design, Dakin said he will consider leaving WPstats.me up anyway if people are finding it useful. Some users like to see how stats have changed over time and developers appreciate being able to check up on their competition.

As a WordPress.org plugin developer, Dakin is directly affected by the changes to the directory. He is considering changing how he markets his plugins and is hoping for improvements to the UI that was shipped this week.

“I like the improvements to the search a lot,” Dakin said. “In terms of the page redesign I like that they’re trying, but I don’t think it’s quite there yet. Like many others, I feel that the collapsing sections is a bit of a poor use of space. And yes, I haven’t done anything yet but I will be experimenting with restructuring plugin readme’s so the important points are immediately visible and not hidden on page load.”

13 Comments


  1. Nice to see a return of the bar chart, rather than the visually jarring squiggle we have now on plugin download stats! :)

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    1. Great tool Vova. But I am unable to compare my plugin 404 to 301 there. For example try adding 404 to 301 using +Add Plugin option on this comparison page.

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  2. Hi Sarah,

    Good account of the struggle behind the scenes. Some people in the WordPress universe, in particular the CEO of Automattic and owner of Audrey Capital, think that WordPress plugin directory should resemble the app store for Android users.

    This is of course absolute nonsense. The technical requirements of plugins and WordPress are much higher. Attempting to put self-hosted WordPress into the hands of people neither prepared nor inclined to use technology is just silliness. WordPress.com serves the low maintenance/low skills niche very well (as does Squarespace, or even Tumblr, better not to mention Wix who serves no one well).

    Instead, Automattic’s Apollo hit team has crippled the plugin directory for those of us who use it every day, agencies, developers, freelancers, plugin developers. Samuel Sidler describes himself as Apollo Team Lead at Automattic and he was the guy leading the very unpopular plugin directory changes.

    Watch Apollo Team ignore and suppress feedback on screenshots. Watch Apollo Team ignore and suppress feedback on tabs.

    The end result of this comedy will be a backlash from both the pro users and the people being pushed off diving boards which are too high for them.

    Thank you Edward Dakin for trying to give us useful stats back! I don’t know how we’ll ever get our useful plugin directory back.

    Search is better but I don’t understand why along with simple search which works we can’t enjoy an advanced search which allows us to search for different criteria like number of active users, plugin rating, age, last update field or at least some of them.

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      1. Thanks for digging that out Gary. Matt’s exact words (to save people creating Slack logins if they don’t have them):

        FWIW, I feel like my feedback was ignored as well. I hope we can do another major iteration on the directory, because I’m not really a fan of the new one.

        Perhaps the WP backend will make it easier to make incremental improvements in the future, as being on bbPress before was often cited as the reason things were slow to iterate previously.

        It’s a pity no one called off the dogs as the new no tabs design is a real step backwards in terms of usability. If the goal was to upgrade the infrastructure, that’s what should have been done, not pushing half thought out simplification design principles on what is a complex tool which was doing a very good job.

        Also missing in action now are older versions of plugins. You have to install SVN if you want to be able to access past versions!

        Normally enhancements are to improve software and not to cripple it. Apple appears to be leading the way with worse and worse versions of iMovie (which was great software at one point) and killing Aperture in favour of Photos. While this may work for a mobile phone company (Apple), it’s probably not the right solution for the main software repository of a large open source developer driven project.

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      2. In my opinion, Apple is mainly the one who started this trend of dumbing down software to the lowest common denominator and it seems almost everyone is following suit, WordPress included.

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  3. WPstats is a great tool for checking the competitors plugin stats but I think it was not a brilliant idea to remove the individual plugin stats from WordPress.org as many developers want to see how others plugins doing. I hope this feature will be back soon. Anyway until that we can use WPstats. Thanks for sharing this great information!

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  4. The lack of tabbed navigation is already proving pretty frustrating for me. Lots of scrolling and hunting for “Read more…” links, and trying to commit to memory the order that the sections come in.

    The highlighting of the most recent two reviews is bad too. I suspect the average user will think that some very-clever algorithm picked them out as the two most representative reviews. But really the plugin author is just at the mercy of who turned up last.

    I also see no reason for why stats should have become less visible. I used the “spikes” to see how often updates are made, and the general shape to ascertain whether the plugin is on the up or fading.

    I think the reduced visibility of the “translate” link is a step backwards too.

    There’s a lot less info on the screen now too. I wonder if the developers of this have much larger displays than mine – for me, on my not-particularly-large one, it feels somewhat cramped; lots of scrolling needed.

    Positives? The new search seems to be much better. I’m struggling to think of others.

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    1. You’ve pretty much described the situation to a tee David. WordPress used to be about improving the developers and users lives but it seems we’ve left that long behind. WordPress.org seems to worry more now about increasing marketshare and increasing the revenue of WordCamp gold sponsors (Yoast, Jetpack, Akismet, Automattic). Sad to think that ten thousand open source developers sacrificed their personal time for at least five years to create this situation (in the first five years of WordPress, most people worked for free on the project). The last five years most of the developers are “sponsored”. The corporate developers have driven off many of the real pioneers. There’s still lots of sacrificing our time as well as small agency owners giving up otherwise billable hours to contribute.

      Could we please have back our much better tabbed plugin directory with stats and past versions and a proper review section with short summaries of the comments and not just star ratings? Sure, improve the typography if you want. Make the tabs prettier. Manage the white space better. But don’t destroy the utility against the wish of the developers who build your product for free.

      I don’t think it’s too much to ask. Alex Shiels, Konstantin Obenland, Samuel Sidler: despite repeated feedback, you’ve managed to ignore everything we told you. Outside of search (which is a win but missing advanced parameters for those who need them, Google manages to be simple yet deep at the same time, perhaps you could take some lessons from them) the new plugin directory is a huge step backwards.

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  5. Great work Edward. From the screenshot above, I think it looks even better than the old WP.org stats page. :) But while it looks the same in Chrome, when I try it in FireFox, it dosn’t show the text details above the chart.

    Other than that, there is only one thing missing for now and it’s the versions distribution.

    Anyway, I wish they didn’t remove it from WP.org since it would have been more convenient if we didn’t have to open a new browser tab, type in an other site’s URL, and then once it’s loaded, the plugin’s slug.

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  6. Have we reached this point of nonsense that we now need third party utilities/plugins/websites in order to get basic information (stats, previous versions, etc…) the main plugin repository is supposed to provide?

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