Plugin and theme reviews are about more than complaining about features or singing praises to a company. It’s about helping other WordPress professionals finding the best possible solutions available on the platform. Why should you be the one to review a plugin or theme? Because your opinion matters! The more people like you review a plugin or theme, the more people can share their views. Every experience with a plugin is different, so your experience could bring to light new features (or bugs) that others might not have seen.
It’s pretty obvious why you should review a plugin or theme, but what is the most effective and helpful way to write a plugin or theme review?
How to Write a Plugin Review
The first step in writing a review is to identify the plugin or theme that you’d like to review.
Choose a Plugin or Theme
Free or Premium?
One thing to consider when picking a plugin or theme is whether the extension is free or premium (AKA – paid). There are some real gems in the WordPress.org repository, available for free or for a fee. If something is freely available, it has the advantage of appealing to a broader audience.
If you’d rather appeal to a more specific audience or a specific use, you may want to choose a premium plugin or theme which includes a robust or specific feature set.
Support is one of the most important things to consider when reviewing a plugin or theme. If the plugin or theme you’re reviewing is free, you can find help on the support forum at WordPress.org. If you’re using a premium theme instead, see if support is included with the license, and if so, for how long.
Go ahead and submit a support request and see how long it takes for them to respond, if at all. Support speed is an important thing to consider when reviewing a plugin or theme.
A well maintained plugin or theme is a secure plugin or theme. When looking for a plugin or theme to review, make sure its developers release regular updates to account for security vulnerabilities or new feature updates. Not only do updates help with security and features, there’s also a good chance that older plugins won’t be compatible with the latest versions of WordPress and related web technologies like PHP.
This one is a no brainer: if a plugin or theme is popular, it’s usually well supported, well maintained, and has a solid stream of documentation backing it up–much better than an obscure plugin that only has one or two downloads. Look for plugins or themes that have a large existing user base.
Become an Expert
While ensuring a plugin is regularly updated and has a solid support system in place is all well and good, that means nothing if you don’t know anything about the plugin or skill you’re writing for. Learn as much as you can by reading the documentation provided by the developer. Also, do some research to find any third-party documentation that might be available.
It’s a good idea to create a test site to use as a sandbox of sorts when you’re testing new plugins or themes. There are plenty of ways to go about this, but one of the easiest is to deploy a new site with a managed WordPress hosting company like Pressable.
When reviewing themes, you’ll want to know it inside and out. Look for specific menu items on the dashboard, custom templates inside the WordPress editor, look for specific appearance and customization options in the dashboard.
For plugins, you want to use it for as many purposes as you can. Use and apply every function you can before you start writing, and take notes on how the specific features work for different applications.
For both, you’ll want to take plenty of screenshots along the way. These should give readers a good idea of the features available, as well as point out specific things you’ve learned along the way.
Write an Outline
Next, like any good piece of writing, you should write an outline of how you’d like your plugin review to read. Start with an introduction about the plugin or theme, then move on to specific points, good or bad, and then a closing. Choose where you’d like your screenshots to be, and how you’d like the piece to flow.
Open Your Review
Now get to writing! Introduce your readers to the plugin or theme you’re reviewing. Link out to it in the plugin repository, and clearly state the purpose of your review. Are you reviewing a plugin that assists with SEO? One that will expand the capabilities of WordPress? Or a theme that offers a specific functionality?
Keep in mind that not all readers are going to be WordPress people. Some might have come across your review while trying to find out if WordPress is the right CMS for their new project. You might want to start with a short explanation of WordPress and its uses.
Write the Bulk of Your Review
Next, insert your screenshots, write your content, and refer back to your notes where applicable. This is going to be the meat of your review, so don’t skimp on the details.
Refer to the beginning of this piece to get some content ideas: is the plugin or theme free? How’s the support? Is it popular? Also think about any other questions or issues that might be pertinent for your specific audience.
Close Your Review
When writing your conclusion, think about the purpose of your review and reiterate it. Remember your initial goal when you set out to write the review. Were your expectations met? Let your readers know.
It’s easy to turn your familiarity with WordPress into valuable content for your blog’s readers by writing a plugin or theme review. By following a straightforward process, you can share your expertise with your blog’s audience in a format that’s easily digested. Choose a plugin or theme and start writing a review today!