Learning and Pulling Together

This week was all about revisiting and continuing conversations that have special value and maybe for that reason tend to continue on with a life of their own. Tom Willmot dropped a fine Twitter thread about the challenge all enterprise WordPress agencies face. This came in response to Magne Ilsas‘ featured post here last week, The WordPress Enterprise Paradox. In a similar theme of industry peer cooperation, Eric Karkovack asks if WordPress product owners and developers can see a common interest in “voluntary standards.” James Farmer thinks the WordPress business community can do more for itself by sharing data. In Post Status Slack we’re learning the tricks and trials of ranking in the WordPress.org plugin repository. How about plugin telemetry? Learn from the voices of experience.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Tom Willmot (Human Made) dropped a fine Twitter thread in response to Magne Ilsaas‘ (Dekode) featured post here last week, The WordPress Enterprise Paradox. Tom emphasized Magne’s main points but thinks the biggest challenge is how the lack of a clear “definition of ‘Enterprise WordPress’ as a space and a brand” leads agencies “to a lot of duplication of effort and .. [a] struggle to communicate what we are as an enterprise platform.” This also poses “the biggest opportunity.”

“If WordPress.org won’t do it, why don’t we?”

That’s what James Farmer had to say about the WordPress.org plugin repository debacle over Matt Mullenweg‘s sudden removal of the active install growth charts. Kicking off a series of Product and Agency Founder episodes of Post Status Draft, Cory chatted with James about everything from his launch of the first hosted WordPress multisite blogging platform — just a few days ahead of WordPress.com — to his views on Gutenberg, how he stays competitive with Squarespace, and how he thinks the WordPress business community should pull together to do more for themselves, collectively.

In a similar vein Eric Karkovack put out a call for greater scrutiny of the WordPress ecosystem by those with the power to influence it for the better. We got in an extended discussion of the possibilities in Post Status Slack. Eric would like to see “voluntary standards” developed and promoted by WordPress product owners and developers who see the stake they have in a healthy WordPress ecosystem. Spreading “best practices in code and business” would make it a lot healthier. Zach Stepek, Lesley Sim, Carl Alexander, and Patrick Leblanc rounded out the conversation with the possibilities, including the barriers and frustrations, for such a project. If you share an interest, please join in.

How do you rank in the plugin repository?

Jack McConnell (Made With Fuel) noticed his plugin’s tag position slipping “quite a bit” in search results on WordPress.org/plugins recently and wanted to compare notes with other plugin owners in Post Status #business. Despite handling support tickets quickly, PluginRank and personal testing showed a steep drop on key search tags. The resulting discussion was instructive and surfaced frustrations we’ve heard a lot with the Plugin Team‘s typical response. Marius Jensen and Greg Brown chimed in to show the search algorithm is “fully transparent” and hasn’t changed. The general conclusion was that competition from other plugins is likely driving the changes, which can be dramatic but don’t necessarily correspond to any dips in revenue for the plugin owner.

It’s unfortunate but typical that basic guidelines for success on the plugin repository are scattered and part of the vast realm of WordPress “lore” that never spreads very far from WordPress insiders. (Freemius has a handy, free guide, however.) Surfacing more of this knowledge would likely remove some barriers to entry for newcomers and maybe help reduce the pressure to turn to novel, aggressive, and perhaps “mercenary” tactics. At the same time, it also seems clear that competing only or even primarily on the repo is an unnecessary and limiting misstep. The competition between 60k+ plugins all in one place is high, and as Igor Ligay (StyleMix) noted, there are no categories or tags to filter them, so your plugin’s fate is in the hands of the site’s ElasticSearch engine — and Google.

How do you get plugin telemetry?

This week Rohit Singhal (Xtendify) asked how others are tracking how customers use new features in plugins or themes. Amplitude, Mixpanel, Jitsu, and Google Analytics are his tools of choice. That led Nathalie Lussier to surface a rich thread from last November when Adrian Tobey (Groundhogg) wanted to know how plugin owners and developers get telemetry.

Jason Adams said GiveWP has a custom solution built on Laravel using Microsoft‘s Power BI for analytics and charts. Jack Kitterhing (LearnDash) recommended Mixpanel and says it has been integrated successfully with some plugins, but users have to opt in. Nathalie said she has been using Chameleon for AccessAlly. Collins Agbonghama recommended Wisdom. Victor Ramirez uses Segment to send data to Mixpanel, Google Analytics, and then Snowflake as a data warehouse. Victor also recommended Snowplow as an open-source option and RudderStack which has a PHP-based SDK as well as resources for data privacy.

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This article was published at Post Status — the community for WordPress professionals.

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