Matt Cromwell Avatar
In this round-up, I get reflective about the freemium model and how we generate reviews, and highlight some bad trends in some new plugins.

Hey there again, thanks for being here. This is my third edition of Shiny New Plugins and I wanted to kick this off with a quick intro.

Highlights from Previous New WordPress Plugins

Catch up on the previous Shiny New Plugin round-ups here:

  • Sad that PersonalizeWP is still at “Less than 10 Active Installs”. I really felt strongly we’d see them get rapid adoption in a short amount of time. But these things take a while, so I still have a lot of optimism for their future
  • Solo Blocks already got 30+ Active Installs. This maybe speaks to the general trend of building sites with WordPress now and how block libraries are in high demand. But there’s also a slew of other brand new block libary plugins that aren’t seeing the same adoption rate. So kudos to the Solo Blocks team.
  • Sad that PersonifyWP isn’t picking up steam more quickly.
  • Solo Blocks has already reached 30 active installs within just 2 weeks


I noticed a couple trends in these brand new plugins that I wanted to call out for their less-than-ideal approach.

Pre-seeding the Reviews

Two plugins came out of the gate with “Less than 10 Active Installs” but quite a lot of 5-star reviews. Don’t do this people, this is not the way.

  • Foxtool See my update and mea culpa below! looks to be a functionality plugin for a premium theme called FoxTheme. My guess is they had all their team members write reviews when it launched. Clearly, most or all of them don’t actually have live websites with the plugin installed yet.
  • Auto Post for Twitter – Only four 5-star review on this one, but clearly not earned by typical users. Also, I hate the move to “X” as much as anyone, but launching something brand new and still calling it “Twitter” just isn’t right.

Don’t do this folks. It’s not what the rating/reviews are made for, and the common user is smart and sees through your tactics.

UPDATE: I heard from Fox theme

Thanks to the authors of Fox Theme, they reached out with some clarifications. Plugin authors often aren’t easy to reach or contact, so I wanted to add their additional comments in full

I am the author of the Foxtool plugin, and I noticed that you mentioned my plugin in one of your articles. I truly appreciate your personal opinions. However, I would like to add a few points:

Foxtool is not related to the functionality of the Fox theme. I developed this plugin completely free for everyone to use.

The ratings of this plugin are indeed solicited by me, but they are not from users who have just installed the plugin and have no prior experience with it. The reviews are from users who have been using it, as I had it tested by over 1,000 users before releasing it to the repository.

Regardless, I want to express my gratitude for mentioning my plugin in your article. Whether you criticize or praise it, your opinion is respected.

Thank you.

To validate that it was tested by over 1,000 users, you can see that the Active Installs has already been updated and indeed it shows as 1000+ Active Installs now! Wow! They also already have 15 5-star reviews. So, rather than a negative example, I want to retract my whole critique and say that this might be a GREAT launch strategy. Getting a lot of beta users of your plugin before launching on the repo might be something more budding new users want to consider!

To the Foxtheme team – GREAT WORK, thank you for reaching out with kindness and candor, and I’ll be watching your rise with great interest.

Bad Custom UIs

I won’t list these here, but I’m seeing a lot of new plugins go to great lengths to provide custom settings screens with all kinds of “fancy” toggles or color schemes. And 9 out of 10 times, it’s not an improvement over the native WP settings screen.

I’d really highly suggest to anyone launching a new free plugin that you avoid custom setting screens as much as possible. Users expect the WP look and feel and unless you have really good reasons to change it, just don’t. You can always make a nice branded header in your settings screen, or try a tabbed interface or columns to tighten up the screen a bit, but wild color schemes and whatnot don’t improve the user experience of your product.

OK, now onto a cool, nice trend I’m seeing

YAY! Rise of Non-English Plugins

Did you know that the Plugin Directory is multi-lingual? If your Forum Profile is set to something other than “English (United States)” then you are most likely redirected to a sub-domain that sets your language as the default. So every plugin author that has a readme in your language will show their plugin listing in your language. The only plugin I’ve seen really leverage this really well is Yoast (see their listing in German, or Dutch, or Spanish, as examples).

But, if the plugin author hasn’t added a translated readme for your language, then you see it still in English.

But some authors are shipping their new plugins to the Plugin Directory with their native language as the default. Obviously, that’s not awesome for all those that don’t speak that language, but I think it speaks to greater and greater adoption of WordPress around the world. My recommendation to those authors though, would be to get your readme translated to English, and update your native language readme. That will be a better experience and increase adoption of your plugin.

You do that via the “Translate WordPress” are. For example, here is where the German translation of the Yoast plugin is managed and approved.

Here’s just a few quick examples of what I’m seeing:

This week Shiny New Free WordPress Plugins

Alrighty then! Here’s some of the newest, freest WordPress plugins on the Plugin Directory that caught my eye these past few weeks.

Scoby Analytics – Advanced, Privacy-Focused Web Analytics

I’ve said this before and I’ll keep saying it: Web analytics is RIPE for a serious competitor to dominate this space. Who can help websites have the perfect combination of views, visitors, sources, campaigns, funnels, flows, and all of that with just the right amount of visitor privacy as well? Since the debacle of the forced launch of GA4 people have wanted better alternatives with a privacy focus. And here’s another competitor.

What catches my eye in this space is anyone who is visualizing the data in a way that is meaningful for those making a livelihood with their website. Scoby Analytics has this “Flows” visualization that looks really powerful.

Scoby Analytics Navigation Patterns: Visualize how users move through your site.
Scoby Analytics Navigation Patterns: Visualize how users move through your site.

ParityPress – Parity Pricing with Discount Rules

Parity pricing is the idea that you can offer your product at different price points to different geographic audiences based on their relative income. For example, $49 in the USA is about 175% more expensive in India. A popular SaaS competitor to this plugin is ← That links is a calculator that will show that cost difference.

Clever monetization of websites and competitive international sales tactics is an area where WordPress and WooCommerce can truly dominate far above and beyond any of the other SaaS eCommerce competitors, so I always love seeing useful and creative new plugin solutions like this.

Contact Button – The All-in-One website widget

I almost passed this one up because the title and description are not particularly compelling or descriptive. But once I took a closer look I found it unique and useful.

There’s a lot of reasons why you might have a little popup bubble on your website. Maybe a generic contact form, or links to your social channels, or a WhatsApp live chat embed. This manages all of that in one central “contact button”. It’s a clever approach.

But lately, AI-powered live chat is all the rage and this doesn’t seem to cover that use-case currently, which I think is a missed opportunity.

Leadee – Leads Analytics and Message Storage Plugin

At first glance this looks like an analytics plugin. While it does have a strong focus on reporting and data visualization, it’s not for website traffic, but for how well you are converting leads on your website. In their own words:

It is a one-of-a-kind plugin that combines lead storage, analytical tools, and a pleasant design.

But what stood out to me the most was their monetization strategy. I honestly think it doesn’t work, but I LOVE it. They are leaning in on a “pay what you’d like” donation model for their 100% free plugin. I truly feel this model fits the WordPress ecosystem best in terms of principle and shared philosophy, but I’ve never seen it be “successful” from a product business perspective.

We all know how hard it is to get happy customers to leave us a positive review – amplify that by asking them to give you $5 because they like your product! Still, I would really love to see this be successful, so I’m rooting for them and will be watching their adoption and growth.

UiChemy –

WOW If this delivers on its promise then I REALLY want this plugin to be amazing. I haven’t tested it yet, but I certainly will.

Figma to WordPress!? This is essentially the ideal workflow if you want something that compares or competes with Webflow. Being able to design your site completely in Figma and then just import it into your WordPress website!? Yes please!

Not surprisingly though, they’ve focused first on Elementor and Bricks with Gutenberg “coming soon”. I’ll wait until I see Gutenberg adoption and give it a spin. If it’s amazing, I’ll do a dedicated write-up for sure.

Why do you like this Series?

That’s what I’ve got for this week folks. Help me out with a few encouraging comments. I also LOVE constructive criticism, so feel free to throw that in the comments too. This will help me focus on what matters most to you all in this series.

One Comment

  1. Fox Theme says:

    The reviews here, I believe, are very worthwhile for people to consider. Though they mention me, it seems quite accurate, and I completely agree with and respect you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *