WordPress Plugin Worst Practices?

Usually on WP Mayor we review quite a number of free and premium plugins that provide amazing additional functionality to WordPress. We do our best to promote these plugins, and we are very happy that there are thousands of great plugins for WordPress.

However this week I had quite a negative experience with a particular pair of plugins hosted on the WordPress.org plugin repository.

Before anyone comments about the plugins themselves, I must say that I have not checked whether they do the job they claim to do, and they might do it fantastically well. My main issue is with the absurd UI they employ, as well as the in-your-face advertising inserted into the admin pages.

The two plugins are the following:

Let’s start by the promo banner they use on the plugin’s download page on WordPress.org. My first impression is that this seems like a promotional banner for the company and its services, rather than for this particular plugin:

Things get worse however. Upon installing and activating these two plugins, I was shocked to see their entries in the dashboard menu, with a bright green background, as if they’re screaming ‘Hey you, we’re the most important item in your menu!!!!!!’. And that is not even the hover state….

At this point, I am already making my way to the plugins page to uninstall these plugins, but the fun doesn’t stop here. Here are their entries in the plugins list, compare it to the ‘innocent’ and standards-compliant plugin above it:

Again they use a different background colour, insert their logo and also a green banner advertising their services. My impression when I see such things is that they are an unprofessional company that is not worth working with.

Another bad practice I am noticing is that the plugins display a red warning box at the top of every page in the dashboard, saying that the plugin is not configured. This is all well and good, but please provider a button to close and disable this warning, maybe I’m not ready to configure the plugin just yet, and I don’t need any reminders to do so.

At this point, I dare myself to take a look at the plugin’s configuration page, given that the red action box is imploring me to do so with no option to disable it. What do we find here? Lots of advertising, that’s what:

Both of these plugins operate on the freemium model, whereby you can upgrade to a paid version which has more features and better performance, as they claim. So they do their best to provide as many call to actions as possible, to encourage people to upgrade. Apart from that they again use big banners to promote their company services, as well as put a big red box imploring you to enable a credit link.

At this point, I’ve had enough with this kind of promotion inside a plugin, and I am dead sure I won’t be using this plugin for myself or for any of my clients. Hence I just navigate back to the plugins page and delete them from my site.

Now I’m sorry that I had to mention these plugins specifically, but it was a perfect case of things done badly. Let this be an eye-opener for plugin developers to do things the right way. I hope Acurax will realise their mistake and come in line with WordPress plugin standards, and I will gladly do another review about the functionality of their plugins. I want to stress that I have nothing against Acurax themselves, nor can I judge the quality of their work, this is purely an article criticising the way they have built their plugin’s interfaces. To their credit, I have looked at the support forums of their plugins and found that they respond in a very timely fashion to each support request. In that area they are surely being exemplary to other plugin developers, so I hope they do the same in the user interface area and remove the intrusive advertising they are currently using.

What do you think? Should such plugins be allowed in the WordPress plugin repository, or are they a detriment to the value of WordPress, especially when installed by first time users?

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About Jean Galea

Jean Galea is a WordPress developer, entrepreneur and padel player. He is the founder of WP Mayor, the plugins WP RSS Aggregator and EDD Bookings, as well as the Mastermind.fm podcast. His personal blog can be found at jeangalea.com.

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8 Responses

  1. luglio7
    luglio7 October 9, 2012 at 14:58 | | Reply

    Hilarious but wordpress.org is full of these pathetic plugins. Why there’s no rules to limit them.

  2. Bill
    Bill October 9, 2012 at 20:08 | | Reply

    I’ve seen others that are just as bad. I will not use any of them.

  3. Jordi Cabot
    Jordi Cabot October 9, 2012 at 22:34 | | Reply

    I´d to the list all the plug-ins that mess up with the core wordpress tables ( http://migratetowp.com/dear-plug-in-developer-don%E2%80%99t-mess-with-my-wp-tables-thanks/ )

  4. Mike Schinkel
    Mike Schinkel October 10, 2012 at 18:30 | | Reply

    Absolutely. I had someone install tht plugin on a site I was helping her with and it caused tons of problems, not to mention how annoying it was. I’m actually surprised they haven’t banned that one.

  5. Kimberly Castleberry
    Kimberly Castleberry October 10, 2012 at 09:53 | | Reply

    Sadly there is that and worst in the repository. Things have gotten kinda yucky in there in some areas. This is an area where rules need set so that development teams know what is and is not acceptable. There also needs to be a mechanism for getting those out of the database.

    Kim

    PS: Tried to tweet the post and the twitter button simply opened the same post in a new tab/popup. Didn’t work as planned LOL

  6. Abel
    Abel August 18, 2013 at 15:09 | | Reply

    Hi, I have written a post about something similar, a very short note only, this is one of the biggest problems of the WordPress community development.

  7. Abel
    Abel August 18, 2013 at 15:13 | | Reply

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