The first prototypes for the redesigned plugin repo for WordPress.org have been released. I think it’s pretty neat that they are on CodePen, as it makes for an environment where more people can engage with their ideas for adjusting the prototypes.
The designs themselves fit pretty well into the general path that WordPress.org has taken over the last couple of years: more padding, vertical space, and attempting to filter information displayed to being what users need. However, there are a couple of things that I wish were included.
Primarily, active installs, author, last updated dates, and compatibility versions have all been removed. In my opinion, author and active installs especially are highly useful pieces of information, that are now much harder to come by.
The justification from Sam Sidler, who is on team working on this, is that the search results themselves take compatibility version and last updated dates into account, and he thinks that active installs encourage a rich-get-richer scenario where folks don’t try other stuff out.
I would buy into that argument, except, sometimes you can easily see results for 10 plugins that all do the same or similar functionality, and in such cases I think active installs can be extremely helpful, as can seeing who authored a plugin.
The author component can of course be gamed back in: through naming tricks and imagery to identify authors. But I think it’d be easier to just list them. I don’t think adding a little extra data really takes away from the experience for an average user trying to find plugins.
Anyway, overall I don’t mind the changes, but I hope they put some of this information back in. You can comment on the changes and see them in full on the post.