Tidy Repo has been pumping out WordPress plugin reviews since 2013. Today co-owners Jay Hoffman and and Jack McConnell are branching out to launch a new service that helps customers find a plugin for a $35 fee.
The Tidy Repo plugin recommendation service is the first of its kind. With more than 36,000 plugins listed in the WordPress.org directory, and thousands more hosted elsewhere, WordPress users can get overwhelmed when trying to pinpoint the right plugin to solve a problem. Without experience or WordPress development knowledge, the process boils down to trial and error.
Tidy Repo is aiming to eliminate the need for exhaustive research. After testing thousands of plugins, with 250+ published reviews, Hoffman and McConnell believe they can save customers quite a bit of time in selecting the perfect plugin. Both are developers who have written plugins and worked with WordPress for years.
“I have a good sense of where conflicts can come up and what is potentially harmful,” Hoffman said. “It does become a lot of intuition too. Anyone on the WP Plugin Review team, or the great plugin developers I know, can kind of feel through things and you start being able to spot the weak points very quickly- be that with a conflict in the code, or just a problem with its general user experience.”
Hoffman has a range of criteria that he measures a plugin’s code against before recommending it to a customer:
The most important thing to me is that a plugin makes proper use of the WordPress API. If a plugin sticks to WordPress functions and hooks, that can get us a lot of the way there. It at least goes a long way in ensuring that a plugin won’t bump up against other plugins or themes.
I’m also looking to make sure that if a plugin is adding something to the front-end, it is doing so in a performant way. Is it minifying CSS / JS files? Taking steps to only include external files on pages where they are necessary? You sometimes hear people complain that WordPress is slow, and I think poor front-end performance in a plugin is often the culprit.
Code structure also comes into play a bit, but only as it relates to actual function. What I mean is that I don’t necessarily have a preference for structure, as long as it remains consistent. That’s just a sign of a good developer.
The basic plugin recommendation package comes with a full report, including the environment it was tested in, and a few secondary recommendations (if warranted). Additional services, such as multiple recommendations, installation, and video walkthroughs can be added to the basic package.
Hoffman and McConnell hope to grow the database of Tidy Repo reviews alongside the new plugin recommendation service, but neither constitute a full-time endeavor at the moment.
“It’s been a labor of love from the beginning, and this is the first time that we’re offering a premium service to our readers,” Hoffman said. “Jack and I have a ton of ideas for making the plugin discovery process a lot easier, like more elegant faceted search, in-depth guides, and a ton more, but it’s incredibly difficult to do on top of everything else that life demands.
“To be frank, this is a total experiment for me. There are times when it is incredibly difficult to keep Tidy Repo going, but enough people appear to find it useful that I want to keep it around. Maybe that’s just a long way of saying Tidy Repo would be a dream full-time gig for me, if I ever had the opportunity to do so,” he said.
It’s not uncommon for those who have created a helpful tool or community resource, such as Tidy Repo or GenerateWP, to try to find a way to monetize their efforts. Is there a market for the Tidy Repo co-owners’ experiment? Or will WordPress users continue to stumble on the best plugins through trial and error?