6 Critical WordPress Plugin Development Concepts
By Ken Schnetz | September 12, 2017 | 0 Comments
There are many important WordPress plugin development concepts that you need to know.
Preferably, you should know the most critical WordPress plugin development concepts BEFORE you begin development. However, it’s better late than never right? We think so. It’s never too late to improve and integrate winning methods into your strategy. Or maybe you haven’t started development yet and are still in the research phase. Either way, here are a few of the most important concepts you need to know.
6 Critical WordPress Plugin Development Concepts
1. Knowing your audience
Knowing your audience is a critical concept because it shapes the development process. This concept is all about understanding not only WHO your audience is, but WHAT they need. Knowing this need enables you to address a real problem. By addressing a genuine problem in your targeted audience, you build trust and develop a reputation within your niche! Also, you are more likely to convert members of your audience when your plugin makes their lives easier.
Furthermore, this knowledge shapes your marketing efforts. By knowing who your audience is and what their needs are, you will also know HOW to market to them. Is your audience primarily younger or older? Are they technologically savvy? General hours the audience is online? These details are crucial to ensuring you directly address your audience needs. By marketing this way, you build a solid customer base that trusts your brand.
2. It’s all about the team
The team will be the core of your WordPress plugin development. How you build your team will ultimately determine the success or failure of your plugin. There are several key positions you need to fill. Consider the following team makeup that has worked well for us:
Project Leader (Owner/Manager)
The Project Leader works closely with the Lead Developer and the Lead Digital Marketing Specialist to make sure these two critical areas are conducive to each other. For example, does the plugin allow a free trial? The developers may not consider this a priority, whereas the marketing specialists may be basing their strategies on such a feature. The Project Leader also needs to ensure the team is on track and that the project stays within the defined parameters.
The Lead Developer is primarily concerned with ensuring the project meets the outlined requirements. In other words, the Lead Developer ensures the creation of sound documentation, development within industry standards, and that the plugin will be easy to update and support. Finally, the Lead Developer organizes the pieces of the development process and delegates them as needed to the other developers.
Backend developers create the utility of the plugin. For example, Backend Developers could create and maintain an API for your plugin. Or perhaps your plugin requires a database or cloud computing solution. Backend Developers find these tasks right in-line with their skill sets!
Front End Developer(s)
Front End developers create the design and visual representation of the plugin. This includes the manipulation of the plugins content into a visually appealing state. This goes hand in hand with marketing and definitely requires an aesthetic sense.
Lead Digital Marketing Specialist
The Lead Digital Marketing Specialist considers marketing from a big picture perspective. In other words, this team member looks at the overall marketing strategy and how it coexists with the development process. The Lead Digital Marketing Specialist is also responsible for directing the Digital Marketing specialists.
Digital Marketing Specialist(s)
Digital Marketing specialists execute the high-level strategies outlined by the lead Digital Marketing Specialist. Generally highly skilled in their respective areas of expertise, these team members look for ways to get the plugin into the hands of those who need it.
3. Doing design right
This concept goes back to the idea of knowing your audience. For example, thinking in terms of design while researching your audience really contributes to solid plugin design. In particular, asking the question, how will this plugin solve my audience’s problem is important. WordPress Plugin Development is all about solving a problem! Therefore design is a critical component.
Another part of this concept of doing design right is incorporating the mechanics of the plugin with the front end design. Doing this early on in the plugin development is particularly helpful and will ensure the plugin is functional to use.
Finally, a good design process will seek to understand the audience, define their needs, and convert these definitions into a plugin design. The fact of the matter is, when you design a plugin that will help people accomplish something, you will be successful. With this in mind, design your plugin around a problem that a specific niche finds particularly difficult.
4. Storyboard your idea
Storyboarding is the process of simplifying each step of the plugin workflow. While this concept is part of the design process, it is specific enough to consider separately. The process of outlining your plugin will help you gain clarity on the issues that may arise in development. This process can even help shape the marketing strategies very early in the project. Overall, storyboarding is essential to designing a world-class plugin.
Storyboarding is great, but how is it done? Fortunately, it’s a pretty simple process. Of course, you can go as in-depth as you like as long as the process isn’t’ overly complicated. The basic storyboard is a visual representation of the plugin. This would include a drawing of how the interface looks, with visual connections to backend processes. The processes would be sequential outlines, including any connected or sub-processes. Finally, the storyboard should be a collaboration of the entire team. This ensures a true representation of the plugin as a whole. This storyboard should be a part of the entire project life and should be accessible to everyone. It is important to note that the storyboard can change as the project unfolds.
5. Be efficient with funding
There are many ways to financially support your plugin development. The size of the project and the required resources are the main factors to consider. These factors determine the size of the team, the amount of office space, length of the project, etc. Before you commit to any high dollar expenses, here are a few things every startup should consider.
You are not Google… YET
Many startups like to think they are the next Google, Apple, or Facebook. The good news is, you might be! The bad news? You aren’t… YET. This means you do not have the funding for an ultra-modern, awesome office. Remember that the aforementioned technological titans all come from humble beginnings. Your garage or dorm room will work just as well for you as it did for them. If you need more space as you grow, find an inexpensive local building that you can use. Remember, rent is one of the quickest ways to burn through your working capital.
The fastest way to overspend is on the payroll. Start with a small team, it’s always easier to add members than to subtract! The best way to ensure you are efficient with your payroll is to make sure you hire quality people. This means spending the time to ensure the potential hire will more than fit your needs. A good hire will be a high-performing member of the team.
While venture capital can be a great way to get a lot of money quickly, you sacrifice a lot of freedom to get it. Now you have a heavily involved stakeholder that will be scrutinizing your every move. For many projects, VC is the best way to get funding. For WordPress plugin development, we strongly recommend you avoid it! The beauty of developing a WordPress plugin is that it requires very little infrastructure. In fact, a single developer could potentially develop, market and support a very simple plugin. With all of this in mind, try and find a way to fund your plugin without using venture capital.
Budgeting is a fairly straightforward topic. Make a budget, and stick to it! As mentioned before, you can burn through your money quickly.One way to avoid this is to know exactly what expenses you are incurring, what income you are earning, and how these offset each other. Budgeting often means waiting on something until you have the funding for it. This can be frustrating but in the long run, you will be more financially stable.
6. Support your plugin
Once you have developed and released your plugin, you should have a plan on how you will support it. This includes maintenance, updates, future features, and a support or ticketing system. This is important because it will cost you money. Consequently, your plugin will develop a positive reputation. This reputation will be accompanied by increased SEO, referrals, testimonials, and other important marketing returns. All of this contributes to an overall positive ROI. Furthermore, there are security risks to plugins that are not updated.
On the other hand, if you do not support your plugin, there are inherent security risks. In fact, if your plugin is responsible for a security breach, you will suffer a loss of trust. When people cannot trust your plugin, they will not download it. Keep in mind that trust is difficult to gain but easy to lose! It is especially hard to earn back, so take appropriate steps to ensure you support your released plugin.
WordPress Plugin Development can be very rewarding. It can also be challenging, which means the more that you prepare the more successful you will be. Of course, that’s not to say you cannot be successful if you’ve already started, better late than never. However, the earlier you plan and integrate winning strategies, the better your plugin will be! Start by getting to know your audience and a problem they desperately need to be solved. Build a powerhouse team that will work together efficiently to develop and market a solution. Don’t skimp on the design process! Take your time and make sure the solution adequately addresses the issue. Use storyboards to visualize the main concepts. Execute on these concepts in such a way as to fully leverage your limited resources! This means being efficient with your funding. Finally, support your plugin to maintain momentum and prevent loss of trust with your audience.