WordPress Business Roundup for the Week of October 17
Building, Supporting, and Selling a Winning Product — With or Without WordPress.org • Are Active Install Counts Relevant to Your Business's Success? (Even if they are accurate? And they haven't been.) • Let's Fix What's Broken (The Plugin Repo) Not What Isn't (The Freemium Model) • Follow Leaders, Adopt Standards • Tools and expertise from rtCamp • Some great and “doable” ideas for the future of plugin business metrics on the .org repo. Could some of them help put an end to intrusive and manipulative dark patterns in the WordPress Admin dashboard and notifications?
Estimated reading time: 36 minutes
This week I sat down again with Eric Karkovack to record an episode of The Excerpt to talk about the three top WordPress stories on the top of our minds. The temporary loss of active install stats at WordPress.org has created an opportunity to rethink long-held assumptions and find new ways forward, so maybe it's not surprising that we made nearly the same selections. There's a single throughline in this episode — what works, what doesn't, and what will take WordPress businesses forward in the product, agency, and hosting spaces. A lot of people are thinking down this track and a lot of good ideas are coming forward. We've tried to pull together the ones we feel are best. LISTEN or READ →
Are Active Install Counts Relevant to Your Business's Success? (Even if they are accurate?)
In “WordPress.org is ineffective for plugin distribution in 2022,” Alex Denning argues the likely temporary loss of Active Install Growth data for plugin owners is not a bottom-line, business-relevant concern. Apart from the revelation that that data itself was not just obfuscated and inexact but “basically garbage,” Alex draws on Ellipsis‘ marketing experience and extensive data (as well as Iain Poulson‘s insights at WP Trends) to show 1-2% conversion rates are the norm for plugins in the WP.org repository. Only a couple of big players can crack the 100k+ install tiers today.
Let's Fix What's Broken (The Plugin Repo) Not What Isn't (The Freemium Model)
Matt Cromwell politely disagrees with Alex as he makes The Case for the WordPress Plugin Freemium Model. (There's a great Post Status Slack thread on it too.) In it, Matt describes ways plugin owners can make the plugin repository's search engine work better for them, but Matt also notes a few of its deficiencies as well.
As Justin Labadie and others point out, the search algorithm retrieves irrelevant results with more active installs than the plugin being searched for in many cases. It isn't possible to show all your plugins together anywhere on the repository apart from a buried profile tab under Contributor History. Even author searches do not retrieve every plugin from that source.
Matt's best point is that an average conversion rate is just that — an average. He's seen much better results due to marketing efforts he feels are accessible to many plugin vendors. Matt also points to examples of successful freemium plugin shops, like Paid Memberships Pro which recently did an A/B test with their pricing page. Jason Coleman reported the version with a freemium option converted better.
10up‘s newly released resource site for Gutenberg Best Practices is a signal WordPress has turned a corner. Here are expert tutorials, resources, references, and example code connected to 10up's GitHub discussion board for this evolving community resource. It's intended to go beyond the official WordPress documentation, according Fabian Kaegy‘s launch announcement. It's a “more client-services-centric approach tailored to engineering enterprise-level editorial experiences.” Enterprise agency adoption of Gutenberg is huge. As we see a growing body of accumulated knowledge, standards, and best practices emerging, it signals and amplifies a wave of change.
- Matt Cromwell, Natalie MacLees, Sybre Waaijer, and Amber Hinds have good ideas for future types of data disclosures that could help plugin owners. We've rounded them up from Mark Zahra‘s renamed Trac ticket #6511: Provide helpful plugin stats and insights. Mark recently added some really great ideas from Vito Peleg on Twitter that seemed to draw a nod from Matt Mullenweg. READ →
- Justin Labadie shared his experiences with the WordPress.org plugin repo and how he hopes it can change: 1) Ensure all search results are relevant. 2) Standardize a Premium product upsell interface in WP-Admin. 3) Make it possible to show other products by the same author/company. Could these steps help put an end to unpleasant sales gimmickry in the WordPress Admin dashboard and notifications? READ →
- Speaking of leaders and standards, rtCamp has a great monthly newsletter where they've been sharing expertise and tools like Elementary, a starter theme for block-based, full-site editing themes with developer-friendly features. It’s solid boilerplate following WordPress coding standards that’s fully FSE-ready with a baked-in testing framework. READ →