This post was written as part of the How to Write a WordPress Plugin series.
After you have finished writing your awesome WordPress plugin, there are a few things to consider before releasing and promoting your WordPress plugin.
Prior to Release
Try to Follow the Standards
While it isn’t required to follow the WordPress coding standards, there are some things in there that will make your life easier. One of the more valuable tips in there is to never use shorthand PHP. The reason? Not everybody has shorthand PHP enabled.
So instead of:
/*your php code*/ ?>
You would have:
Make Sure You Have Tested Your Plugin Thoroughly
Find some guinea pigs (er, testers) who would be willing to test your plugin. Technically competent testers are good, but you also want some testers who will represent the average user who knows nothing about programming languages.
It’ll be impossible to find every bug, but at least make an effort to put out a stable release.
Make Sure You Have a Readme File
Before you release a plugin into the wild, make sure you at the very least have a Readme file. This file should contain at the very minimum installation instructions for your plugin. For a stricter version of a readme file, check out the WordPress recommendations regarding a Readme file. There’s even a groovy Readme file validator.
Set Up a Dedicated WordPress Plugin Page
Make sure you set up a dedicated WordPress Plugin page for your plugin. This page will be the URL that people will go to to find out everything about your plugin. This plugin page should contain the following at a minimum:
- A brief description of your plugin.
- The download location.
- A list of features.
- Install instructions.
- Version history (Changelog).
- Known bugs and/or conflicts.
- Screenshots or a demo (or both).
- Contact or support information (or comments enabled).
The above information will assist you in promoting your plugin, especially the description and feature portion.
Have a Good Folder Structure
I would argue to always include your plugin in a folder. Any files other than the main plugin file should be included in sub-directories. Make sure you zip, gzip, or rar your plugin folder that way it is as easy as possible for people to install your plugin.
Does Your Plugin Require Theme or File Manipulation?
If your plugin requires users to tweak theme settings and/or files, prepare for the onslaught of bug reports and users wanting assistance. I would argue that a good plugin requires absolutely no theme manipulation or file manipulation. An exception to this would be the plugins that add template tags to the WordPress core.
If your plugin does require theme or file manipulation, include detailed examples on your download page and possibly include some examples in your release.
Promoting Your Plugin
After you have your dedicated download page, it is time to start making plugin announcements so people will download your work. The time you spent on your description and features is crucial since you’ll be using these for your plugin promotion. Others who link to your plugin will be doing the same.
Promote at Weblog Tools Collection
Promote at the WordPress Plugin Database
Promote at the Official WordPress Plugin Repository
WordPress itself has offered to host your plugin. You have to meet several requirements before you will be allowed to add your plugin, however. Remember that any publicity is good publicity.
Promote Using Social Networking
Promote On Your Own Blog
If your plugin is something that people will notice, use it on your blog. People may start asking what plugin you are using. Word of mouth is a powerful ally, especially in the blogosphere.
You can have the best plugin in the world, but if it isn’t released and promoted correctly, very few people will download it. Once you start the promotion process, it is important to listen to feature and bug requests, especially if your plugin is very young. If your plugin doesn’t work, or too many people have problems with it, people will be wary of downloading your plugin. It’s important to get those bugs fixed and the crucial features added in early. Most of these problems can be solved during testing, but some bugs just don’t seem to crop up until after the official release.
The End of the ‘How to Write a WordPress Plugin’ Series
Thank you for reading the final post in the plugin series. Hopefully this series proved beneficial to you and helped establish a foundation for you to write your own plugins. Thank you very much for reading.