Tidy Repo Launches WordPress Plugin Recommendation Service

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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?

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6 responses to “Tidy Repo Launches WordPress Plugin Recommendation Service”

  1. I always thought Marcus was going to be the first one to launch a service like that ;)

  2. Looks like a natural extension of TidyRepo to me, that makes sense, but my feeling is most people would rather continue the endless trial and error to Google for “best xxx wordpress plugin”, than to spend $35 on such a solution. An additional $50 to “install” the plugin, on top of the $35, if I understood it correct on checkout, has to be adjusted, though. Or what exactly does the plugin installation include? Best of luck to Jay&Jack to get this service off the ground.

    • The plugin installation would include us actually going into your site and installing / configuring the plugin for you. And yes, that is an additional $50.

      Ultimately you may be right, but we will have to see. Sometimes I think our community undervalues services like these, but the amount of time we can save people is well worth the $35 (or at least that’s our belief). Only time will tell I suppose.

  3. No doubt, jus’ playin’ with plugins is very big. Free advice often covers what folks want to know. The many small, limited-function plugins may be a hard/impossible fit for support-services.

    But for websites that are on some kind of fiscal footing, put together for a purpose and have business-like goals, the nature of the plugin scene (the issues & challenges) could support a knowledgeable guide-service & implementer.

    Way-most sites will never go for this, but there’s a way-lot of sites out there. Price-points both below as well as above the range mentioned here, could be sweet. Especially the cheapie-deal … where a savvy provider has a form-driven semi-automatic front that can be run by keyboard labor.

    Big problem is, it’s not clear where plugins are really going…

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