Shiny New Toys: A Weekly Report of New WordPress PluginsEach week we review the latest, shiniest new plugins on the WordPress Plugin Directory and discuss whether any of them are worth paying attention to or not. We call this weekly report: Shiny New Toys.

The Plugin Directory added 136 new plugins this week — par for the course for the Plugin Review Team. Among the new “toys” though are some pretty heavy lifters. Before we jump into those, let’s chat about the some developments from plugins we reviewed in the past few weeks.

  • Last week I highlighted how Pagelines’ Platform 5 had jumped to 1000+ Active Installs in just one week. Well they’re still hovering around that mark. Daily downloads have dropped rapidly but averaging around 160/day means they should be hitting 2000+ any day now. Very rapid growth with that product.
  • Last week I covered three SaaS products that are performing abysmally. GhostMonitor, Sparemin, and Real User Monitoring are lucky to get even ONE download a day right now. Considering their target audiences and low price-points I’m surprised. Someone light a fire under that marketing team! Just goes to show that just creating a SaaS doesn’t ensure success — it’s no different from other products, it’s still got to be heavily marketed and supported, and you’ve got to earn the loyalty of your audience.
  • Overall, if you scan the past few weeks of Shiny New Toys there’s only 2 or 3 plugins that are really crushing it right now. All others have 100 or less total downloads. If your plugin is monetized somehow, and you ask most freemium authors about their downloads-to-sales ratio it’s usually around 2%. So a plugin that only has 100 or less downloads over 2-3 weeks most likely has only made one or two sales so far. Not really sustainable at all.

OK, let’s jump into this week’s toys.

WPForms

The big news of the week is a new plugin from a preeminent plugin developer team: Syed Balkhi, Thomas Griffin, and Jared Atchison. Syed is the young genius behind WPBeginner, List25, Optin Monster, Awesome Motive, and a slew of other grand projects.

The forms space is already extremely crowded, let alone the free/pro forms space. But Syed never does things half-way. He had a vision for a form creation process that puts the beginner first. That attention to the form creation process is evident in every detail of this plugin. That is what really sets WPForms apart from all the other form plugins. Syed is really good at naming a niche or an angle within a niche and hitting it hard.

Brian Krogsgard of PostStatus gave a presentation on the “State of WordPress Business” at Pressnomics. In that presentation he mentioned that we would continue to see more and more competition among plugins for products that don’t have nearly enough competition yet. While form plugins themselves are abundant, one that hits the beginner market square on the head is rare. Brian had this to say in a recent membership email:

I mentioned in my PressNomics talk that “competition is coming” for historically low-competition markets. Forms is one of those. The form market is massive; nearly every WordPress website needs some kind of form. But if you start listing off the well known forms plugins in your head, it’s easy to run out of well known brands after one hand of counting.

I agree wholeheartedly. Every WordPress site on the planet needs a form of some sort. But forms can do an infinite amount of things, so being a plugin that can do all the things for all the sites is a major challenge. Doing that while keeping the focus on the user-experience is a double-challenge. Make sure to also read the backstory of why they built WPForms, it’s a great read.

I predict that just like with Optin Monster, we’ll be hearing A LOT more from WPForms this year.

LoftBuilder

This is another big entry in the realm of drag and drop front-end page builders. LoftBuilder takes a unique approach in putting all its editing controls at the bottom of the screen, which maximizes the available space on a large screen, making the layout much cleaner than many other vertical control page builders.

Like virtually every other page builder you’ll have to orient yourself to its unique nomenclature for content types, modules, and whatnot. My first impression is that this isn’t the most intuitive page builder you’ll come across. It sure is nice to look at, and it builds in some interesting color controls for its elements that make it unique as well.

At the end of the day, I’d be more enthusiastic if I was the kind of guy that likes page builders. But if you rely on them for your development then definitely take a look, compare it to Platform 5 and Beaver Builder and make your own verdict.

Webagency Widget Website Builder

I’ll say right up front that I didn’t test this plugin at all. But just the whole idea kind of freaks me out. It basically give you some front-end tools that allow your visitors to click a few buttons to spin up a new website on your multi-site network. There’s options for charging for that of course as well. The Repo readme for this plugin is bare bones and I almost skipped it completely. Fortunately, the website has a lot more screenshots and goes into more depth on what the user flow is and what the real features of this plugin are.

There is a broader trend in WordPress right now for “hosting as a service” agencies, RainMaker and Pressed being some of the more well-known types. Small WordPress shops are creating hosting products, giving users the ability to create a niche website with just a few clicks. It’s a fascinating trend that we haven’t talked about in Shiny New Toys because it’s hosting, not plugins. But this plugin bridges that gap and shows just how prevalent this trend is becoming.

Pound

This is another very interesting plugin. It’s basically a system for displaying how your plugin/theme unit tests perform. It’s really well documented and would probably have a bit of a learning curve to integrate it into your workflow, but I love the whole idea behind this. Plugins need more and more unit testing to really be reliable and stable products and anything that can encourage that is most certainly welcome.

Other Notables:

  • This is not on the Plugin Directory, but it’s worth noting that Shopify has released their own WordPress connector plugin for free on Github. I assume they’ll be submitting it to the Plugin Directory as well, particularly since they have a perfectly formatted readme.txt already. It will be interesting to see how rapidly that plugin gets installs on the Repo!
  • WP Email Users looks like a really handy way to email your users from inside your site, either by user or by role. A neat scenario would be to send a quick email to all your “authors” about traffic to your site, or a quick status update to all your subscribers. Might be pretty powerful if combined with Better WP Emails.
  • Are you kidding me!? Another Push Notification plugin! PushAssist presents itself as a little more developer-centric than others I’ve seen crop up this year. It emphasizes its API and cross-platform compatibility. Would someone write a big comparison post already!
  • Can’t get enough of Wapuu? Make Wapuu’s rain on your website with Wapuu Fall
  • I’ll also add that I got pinged several times this past week to include a certain audacious new plugin by several folks. I’m not highlighting it because this is a family-friendly blog and I don’t enjoy writing about things that rhyme with “corn.” 🙂

Matt is Head of Support and Community Outreach at WordImpress.com. He's the author of many free WordPress plugins, a popular blogger at his website, an admin of the Advanced WordPress Facebook group, co-organizer of the San Diego WordPress Meetup, and a frequent WordCamp speaker and attender.

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4 Responses to “Shiny New Toys: WP Forms, LoftBuilder, Unit Testing, and more”

  1. Soma Arnold Toth

    Hi Matt,

    Great article! I love your approach on WP plugins so far.

    Yes, our GhostMonitor WP eCommerce plugin received just a few downloads, however it’s not promoted yet. We have plugin for WooCommerce as well, that one is much popular now. (https://wordpress.org/plugins/ghostmonitor/)

    You’ve checked the WP eCommerce plugin which is just launched, the EasyDigitalDownloads launch is scheduled this week, and after that we’ll start scaling them! 🙂

    Reply
    • Matt Cromwell

      That’s great to hear Soma! Contact me through our contact form and I’d love to do some QA on your EDD plugin and give you my feedback in advance, particularly in contrast to Cart Hook which I have experience with.

      Reply
  2. Scott Wyden Kivowitz

    I definitely agree with your point about hosting becoming a bigger trends. We just launched our own for our photographer customers. We think the key to it being successful is really knowing your market and tailoring your offer to them. That should be obvious, but it isn’t always to everyone.

    Reply

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