What People Say About Your WordPress Plugin

WordPress

If only I had a calendar where I could schedule all my upcoming posts… Hold on a sec, I do have one! And it even helps me to promote it on social networks! Discover our new plugin!

When you release a new plugin for WordPress, you have to be ready for the reactions it might generate among your users—criticism, joy, requests… Communication with your users may take place from several channels. The most common ones are social networks, email, and the WordPress plugin directory. And you’d better be aware of them all so that you can find out what’s going on and provide an answer as soon as possible. Being a small team, as in our case, it’s not always easy to be aware of everything, but believe me, we try.

Tracking feedback from your users is essential to understand the problems they have with your plugin, what they like, and what they need. Turning this feedback into improvements in your products is the key to making your business grow. If you ignore what your users say about your plugin, you’re dead. With our premium plug-ins, Nelio A/B Testing and Nelio Content, we have been lucky enough to get a lot of feedback. Sometimes positive feedback, and sometimes negative. And that’s normal, it’s not always easy to please everyone.

Receiving positive feedback is always satisfying—your users love your product! There’s no higher buzz as a developer than this. Look at some of the tweets we’ve received about Nelio Content. Every time we get one of this kind, maximum happiness floods the office. 😁

We’ve said this many times, but taking care of your users is very important. The support you provide is synonymous with the type of company you are. And at Nelio we put a lot of effort into providing the best possible support. If at a time of need you are able to give the right answer to your user, this will be rewarded in the future. Sometimes they’ll even surprise you with tweets like this:

All this positive noise in social networks can lead other people to end up discovering you and give your plugins a chance. This is not an easy thing to achieve, but with patience you will be able to expand your audience. And then, some day, you can find this kind of messages where a user meets us by chance and also compares us positively with our direct competition:

But It’s not all a bed of roses. You should be prepared to receive negative reviews as well. And this is the hardest thing to digest. After all, your plugins are like your children. You have seen them being born and you have been making them grow with all your love in the form of PHP, JavaScript, and CSS. Seeing someone showing rejection toward them can bring out the worst in you, so you’d better breathe before responding.

Don’t take negative criticism personally. Try to understand the problem behind each criticism and transform negative feedback into something constructive. If life gives you lemons, make lemonade, as the saying goes. But there are times when a few criticisms get on your nerves. Look at this example, which we received in the WordPress plugin directory, for Nelio Content:

A bad review of Nelio Content. You can see it here in the WordPress plugin directory.
A bad review of Nelio Content. You can see it here in the WordPress plugin directory.

This user directly accuses us of lying. When you get something like that, it hurts—there’s no other way to put it. In addition to the 1-star rating, which ends up affecting the plugin‘s final rating (luckily, in our case we have enough 5-star reviews to compensate for the final score), the use of capital letters and the overall tone of the message isn’t very friendly. If you want to get help from a developer, being nice and friendly is probably a better approach, don’t you think?

Anyway, all we can do in cases like this is to reply the user right there and hope they’ll see our response at some point (even though I doubt it). Here you can see David’s answer:

David's reply to a negative review, trying to help and always with education and good manners.
David’s reply to a negative review, trying to help with education and good manners.

Remember, stay calm and don’t get carried away by your warm blood. Always respond with politeness and patience. No matter how harsh the criticism, be friendly. Otherwise, you’ll just fan the flames and, believe me, you don’t want to do this. The image you give as a developer is very important, both for your current users and for the possible ones that may come in the future.

If you do things right, positive opinions will always end up counterbalancing the haters’ messages. You’ll even get pleasant surprises like the next tweet:

In this case we were delighted to see the time Jeannie spent writing an article to explain her first impressions of Nelio Content in detail just after installing the plugin. Step by step, Jeannie’s article explains what’s she likes, what she doesn’t like, the problems she faces, and so on. Having this kind of feedback is pure gold for a developer!

Thanks to this comment and other users, we have evolved our plugins. In the case of Nelio Content, we recently added the possibility of being able to view unscheduled posts in a calendar sidebar, a functionality we didn’t think of until several users asked for it. The result of listening to them is wonderful:

And the same when we added additional features to export your calendar in different formats:

In short, remember that, as a plugin developer, your audience is people, not WordPress installations. Keep in mind that sometimes it’s not easy for them to understand how your plugin should work and it’s possible that, after getting frustrated, they’ll send you a negative review. Take the opportunity to turn the tables and improve your product. Transform criticism into opportunity. And when you get a positive review from your WordPress plugins, celebrate it. Seriously, do it. You never know when the next one will come. 🤣

Featured image by Nicholas Green via Unsplash.

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Antonio obtained his PhD in Computer Science at UPC. He has several publications in the field of data mining and information retrieval applied to conceptual modeling and health informatics. He specialized in the design, development, and integration of web services and cloud applications. He's an active contributor to the WordPress community and participates in meetups, seminars and WordCamps.

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