WordPress Plugin Directory Restores Tabbed Interface

photo credit: Jeffrey Betts

Last month the WordPress Plugin Directory relaunched with a new design and improvements to the search algorithm. The new design replaced the plugin pages’ previous tabbed interface with a wall of text, truncated by numerous “read more” links.

The outpouring of negative community feedback on the new design overshadowed many of the helpful improvements. Removal of the tabs was by far the most unpopular design choice in this iteration, as many found it to be confusing and inferior in terms of navigating the information efficiently. Users, developers, and contributors on the redesign felt their feedback was roundly ignored throughout all phases of the design’s beta and testing period.

Four months ago, contributor Jon Ang (@kenshino) opened a ticket regarding the “read more” links, which he described as “a usability nightmare.” The ticket was closed as a duplicate of another ticket which received very little discussion. Today, Otto marked the ticket as fixed, announcing the return of tabs in the commit message:

Change single-plugin view to have tabbed design. Eliminates read-more on all sections except developers and changelog, adds tabs back to interface using CSS to switch between them. Tabs control both main display as well as widgets.

Known issues: Changelog read-more not working (js issue), developers section is currently split using CSS, future change will split this section into two separate sections.

Members of the Advanced WordPress Facebook (AWP) community, who were among the most critical of the new design, are pleased with the change. The new tabs are subtle, tasteful, and in line with the overall design. They eliminate the clutter that the expanded “read more” links created.

The Reviews tab now displays six of the most recent reviews, as opposed the the previous two most recent. This makes it not as easy to destroy a plugin’s reputation with poor reviews timed to always be visible on the main plugin page. Otto replied to comments on the AWP community, saying that these numbers are not set in stone and that there are good arguments for displaying different sets of reviews, as opposed to simply the most recent ones.

Two weeks ago the meta team brought back stats and older versions of plugins, a couple of features that were removed in the first iteration of the new directory. Screenshot display is still somewhat clunky, requiring users to click on their browsers’ back button in order to return to the plugin details. Future iterations of the design are expected to address the remaining quirks and issues that users and contributors have raised since the relaunch.

30 Comments


  1. I prefer totally tabs, I find it more understandable and prettier.

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  2. I really really hope they also bring back /updated/ as entry point. I haven’t visited the new Plugin Directory since it was nixed and honestly losing interest in WordPress plugin development as a result. Browsing /updated/ was my favourite leisure many times per week (further explanation) (meta ticket)

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  3. Awesome work ! Even the Installation tab is back. ? It wasn’t important for most of the plugins but it was critical for some of them.
    One suggestion though, under the Developement tab, the contributors list is on the right sidebar, but on the main Description/Details tab, it’s at the bottom of the main section, so why not move it to the right sidebar as well since there is some free page estate there ?

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    1. We felt it was important to have authors/contributors on the main view/page, but to have the truncated list of them. Some plugins have large lists of contributors. Those extreme cases have to be accounted for as well.

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  4. A huge step in the right direction. The whole change seemed like a “new coke” issue. I for one am quite happy that progress toward restoring the “classic” formula is being made. It might be beneficial to do a retrospective on why the changes were made, why they’ve failed and what lessons were learned.

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  5. Now Plugin Directory has better design as well as great UX.

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  6. Glad someone is listening at WordPress.org for a change.

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  7. Well decision. Hope the support forum page also gets the tab navigation so that it fits seamless into the current layout.

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    1. Tabs don’t load any content at all. It’s still a single page design.

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    2. With screenshots on the first tab, the majority of page weight would be accounted for in the initial tab load anyways. If screenshots were moved back to their own tab, I agree that content should be loaded via AJAX so as not to require several images to be downloaded that may never be seen.

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  8. I’m so happy to have tabs back. I knew the read more mock ups were going to be a problem, and vocally complained endlessly about them, but I sincerely did try to get acustomed to them… they were however really awful.

    Also delighted to have more reviews show (thanks Brian Hogg for raising and pushing for that).

    It’s looking and working great again

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  9. Now I can go to my grave, in peace. Thank you.

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    1. R.I.P. you and the Read More links.

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  10. well thank you for listening…

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  11. Soooooo much better! Thanks to all concerned for bringing back the tabs. ?

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  12. Very good news. The interface is way more easier to understnad now.

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  13. It’s better than it was, but this is a very poor implementation of tabs. All that happens here is that the reader is taken down the page. This then makes it impossible to use the tabs at all until the user either scrolls back up or uses the browser’s back button. That’s just bizarre.

    Tabs should work as the userscript browser extension had them working.

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  14. Good news. Finally. Much more usable.

    I couldn’t find the Changelog. You have to go to the Development tab to find it. This is awkward.

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