In early 2015, the WordPress.org Meta team redesigned the WordPress plugin directory and added a number of new features. In an effort to iterate on the page’s layout, the Meta Team has published prototypes of a new design for the plugin directory’s home and search results pages.
The prototypes are inspired by Get WordPress, a landing page that provides key information about the WordPress project at a glance.
There are a few things to keep in mind while looking at these prototypes. The first is that plugin information displayed on the page is inaccurate. Second, the Pro and Light classifications are for design purposes only. Third, links at the bottom will point to their corresponding pages.
Unlike the current design, the prototype displays far less information. Authors, Last Updated, Compatibility, and Active Installs are absent from the homepage view. Initial feedback highlights the concern that too much information has been stripped away.
In response to a comment on the announcement post, Samuel Sidler, Apollo Team Lead at Automattic and contributor to the Meta team, explains why he doesn’t think the information is useful to users.
Author, as you said, is only really useful for insiders. The latter two, meanwhile, are already taken into account in the search results. If a plugin doesn’t have a recent compatible version, it will move down the list. If it’s too old, it won’t get shown at all (which is the case today).
Active installs is more interesting, but we account for it weighting search results as-is. I actually find it refreshing to not show the active installs as it allows for less-popular plugins to get more downloads. Users will be less likely to click the popular plugins (outside of familiar names) and more likely to find the plugin they actually need.
Another commenter suggests creating a simple/advanced view. By default, the page could display a simplistic design while giving power users an option for more details.
“Just like WordPress core, we strive to design for the majority and build features for the 80%,” Sidler said in response to the comment. “An ‘advanced’ view doesn’t meet that requirement, in my eyes.”
The Meta team is iterating quickly and will soon publish a prototype of the plugin details page. If you have feedback on the plugin homepage and search result prototypes, please leave a comment on the announcement post.