5 Rules for a Better Plugin ReadMe File

You’ve written your plugin, added it to the repository, and maybe you’ve even done some promotion.  Don’t hold yourself back with a weak description page after all that.

WordPress users want to understand what your plugin does right away, see it, and install it.  To help assist potential users in this process, follow these 5 steps.

1) Include an attractive banner image

Now that you can add header images to your plugin, it’s a necessary step to be on par as a professional plugin.  For example, Yoast uses bright, branded images while others like Relevanssi use the image as an opportunity to include some more copywriting.

To add a banner image to your plugin, you’ll need to create an image that is exactly 772×250px in either png or jpg format.  Then simply add it to your assets folder with the exact filename “banner-772×250”.  Commit it to the repository and it should show up in ~15 minutes.

2) Include screenshots

Screenshots show your users exactly what they’re going to be downloading.  They’re also a quicker way to show people what your plugin is capable of.  Show visitors what your plugin can do with screenshots from the backend and the front-end.

To add screenshots, just include them in your plugin’s root directory and name them screenshot-1.png, screenshot-2.png, etc.  In your readme file, include captions under your ‘screenshots’ section.

You can make the screenshots any size you want, but their width will be limited to 530px on your plugin’s page on the repository.

3) Choose the right tags

Picking the right tags to describe your plugin will help more people find it.  Instead of taking guesses at what people will search for, look up the popular tags being searched for and then leverage them to gain visibility.

WordPress has an entire page with just a tag cloud of the the most popular tags.

wordpress plugin tags

Start at the top line and scan the page for any relevant keywords to use.  It may seem tedious, but it’ll only take a couple minutes and you only need to do it once.

4) Add a video

Many people would rather watch a video to learn about your plugin, or watch it for additional info before downloading.

You can easily create a short tutorial or overview of what your plugin does with a screen capture tool like screencast-o-matic.  Keep the video around 1-3 minutes and just cover the basic functionality if your plugin is really complex.  Adding a video will also help you get internal traffic from Youtube.

You can add a video to your readme file with markdown like this: [youtube http://www.youtube.com/blablabla]

5) Keep updating your FAQ

Before you release your plugin, you won’t know for sure how your users will use it or what questions they will have.  You should take some guesses at what might confuse users and preempt these questions with your FAQ.

As you start receiving support requests and questions, convert any commonly occurring questions into entries on your FAQ.

New visitors will come to your plugin’s page and have doubts about it. When you directly address those doubts on the FAQ page it will be like you read their mind, and they’ll download your plugin.

With the implementation of these extra steps to optimize your plugin’s description page you should see an increase in downloads due to better conversion.

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