WordPress is one of the most extensible web content management systems available on the market. Aside from being open source which allows for gradual extension and business process automation, there are tens of thousands of plugins available for your needs (at the moment of writing there are over 50K plugins in the WordPress.org plugins directory)
Existing vs. Custom WordPress Plugins
While off-the-shelf plugins are great for starting your small business venture, often building your Lego is not sustainable in the long run as your business grows together with your digital presence.
Plugins available for sale (or free for use) are generic and designed to solve various problems for multiple industries. This adds additional complexity that would backfire with multiple plugins hosted in an environment serving a lot of traffic. They are acceptable for starting blogs and small websites, but the added complexitiy and performance overhead is accummulating and leading to downtime, server outages, or simply poor user experience for customers browsing a website running several of these plugins.
A 50-millisecond delay is hardly noticeable for a small website, but when 10,000 users browse your website, that results in over 8 minutes of lost time, leading to lost opportunities and sales. The more generic plugins you use, the more that number adds up and causes a dramatic impact on your website’s performance.
At DevriX, we pay attention to every small detail and optimize every single component of your web platform. Whenever possible, we optimize existing plugins, exclude unnecessary components and features and make separate plugins play well together. Whenever the plugin architecture isn’t stable or easily detachable, we build custom tailored plugins that solve your problems in the best way possible, optimized both for speed and user experience.
We employ 6 WordPress Core Contributors who have submitted fixes and enhancements to the core WordPress platform in use by close to 100 000 000 websites out there.
We have built hundreds of WordPress plugins and frameworks for various industries, such as Automotive, Airline, Telecom, Educational, Media, Finance, Event Management among many others. We profile in building high-scale customizable plugins, adhering to the latest PHP and WordPress standards, which ensures backwards compatibility as your platform grows in time. Moreover, we optimize your business process efforts and improve your sales funnel, which saves you and your employees time and money and converts more visitors to customers.
For a recent media project we created a custom editor workflow, which saved 6 hours a week for each of the 30 content producers of a large entertainment company. That equates to 2 full-time business months saved for the business, now spent on new quality content for their readers, which drastically increases their traffic and user engagement and drastically increase their revenue from ads and partnerships.
WordPress Plugin Development Standards
Stability, performance, security and backward compatibility can only be ensured through following the standards. Our team of WordPress developers is deeply involved with the WordPress community and the development ecosystem and adheres to the recognized coding standards.
In order to ensure consistency in our WordPress development workflow, we have designed a plugin framework and released it to the public. Hundreds of plugins have been built on top of our infrastructure toolkit for building reliable plugins and this ensures the seamless integration with the WordPress core, existing themes, and other plugins integrated within the platform.
Our plugin framework has also been used in various WordPress training courses for developers and entry-level WordPress experts who are eager to get up to speed with the best industry practices and produce high-quality code when delivering solutions for themselves or clients.
WordPress Extensions and Add-Ons
Our team has also profiled in building extensions and add-ons for popular plugins in the WordPress ecosystem, such as:
- Easy Digital Downloads
- Gravity Forms
- Contact Form 7
- Paid Memberships Pro
Since a number of our ongoing projects are high-scale applications handling over 10 million page views a month, we put the time and effort in building compatible solutions and flexible integrations with 3rd party services and applications.
How to Assess a WordPress Plugin Development Company?
A good percentage of our hiring process revolves around hiring WordPress developers who have practical expertise in plugin development. We have conducted more than 800 developer interviews over the past 3 years and discarded 98% of all applications due to the lack of sufficient skills.
There aren’t any tests available for plugin development out there.
- The leading and obvious choices for formal training would need to spend a ton of resources and gain some bad rap among millions of service providers who build sites by bundling themes and plugins together.
- Commercializing the effort would affect the freedom and accessibility for countries with lower economical standards.
Probably half of the developers that we’ve hired had no WordPress expertise but spent 2–4 years in PHP development from scratch and with established frameworks that require real programming on a day-to-day.
At DevriX, we have also trained several courses on WordPress plugin development ourselves. Even a year later, I had a hard time picking a candidate simply because they hadn’t spent enough time improving their skills and applying them in a real-world environment. That said, those plugin development courses are quite handy for onboarding new candidates that are talented and fast learners.
There are several things that we look for and test before hiring a WordPress plugin developer in-house.
1. WordPress.org portfolio. Everyone can contribute to the global and official WordPress repository. There is a contribution form that requires a plugin name, a brief description, and a link to the plugin. The plugin review team conducts a code review and approves the plugin within days if everything works smoothly.
Some candidates may also be involved in WordPress Core development. Right now there are probably less than 2,000 people worldwide who have ever contributed to the WordPress Core (the core platform available to everyone) and more than 60% of them have submitted translations, small string adjustments or altering notices within the code, with less than 1K folks contributing actual programming code. At DevriX, we have 6 WordPress Core contributors who have successfully received their commit props while working with us.
2. Other proof of plugin development work. Usually GitHub, Bitbucket, GitLab or another open repository where we can review sample plugins and their development over time. All VCS allow for browsing iterative commits and analyze how someone thinks and applies changes over time (which many people forget).
3. Knowledge of WordPress APIs. There is a fairly detailed list of WordPress APIs available and most developers have utilized at least a dozen of these. Asking for code snippets and practical projects utilizing them as well as details about how they work or what options do they provide, where is data stored, what sort of sanitization is required or included out of the box helps out.
4. PHP expertise outside of WordPress. Given that a WordPress website may be built and launch without coding experience at all, programming experience with PHP outside of WordPress is also important to us. WordPress developers often don’t need to deal with database management and creating their own schemas, create admin panels and deal with user sessions, build templating engines with routing and rewrite components, or even implement basic features that are mandatory for custom projects.
6. Understanding the surrounding ecosystem. WordPress plugin development is usually a part of building an ongoing application that depends on other aspects. Aside from other programming languages interacting within and with the website, there are hosting specifics and server configuration arguments that developers should know about, viable tools like WP-CLI, and a rough understanding of how the WordPress project grows and develops over time.
Staying in touch with the WordPress community and the make/org websites means that the developer is keeping up with the latest trends and is aware of what changes would be required for the project over time. We’ve declined project offers for components that were scheduled for the next 2 versions of the WordPress Core itself as it makes no sense to build a replica of something that would be available to tens of millions of site owners in 6 months from now.
7. Computer Science background. We don’t care about graduates. Most of our technical staff has graduated successfully (although some of us tried). But there’s a lot going on beneath the surface.
The CMS works on top of a web server (Apache or nginx) through mod_php or php-fpm. Understanding how web servers work and process request and all stability and data management strategies is important.
All of that runs on an operating system coordinating and interacting with the computer hardware. Understanding the impact of CPU spikes, maxing out RAM storage, hitting the server with heavy I/O and best practices for optimization, caching, offloading resources, denormalizing databases are certainly beneficial.
Then there’s the networking aspect and sending resources over, the TCP/IP protocol and all. In-depth knowledge isn’t required but simply writing code without any clue what’s going on down there is simply unprofessional.
8. Technical interview. During the interview, we go over all of the steps above. On top of that, we discuss accomplishments and complex problems that have been solved both from a business and technical standpoint. If an applicant says that they’ve created a page template with 2 input fields as the biggest accomplishment, that’s definitely a blocker (it happened last week here for a PHP development gig).
We may also touch on some of the WordPress APIs and discuss what experience do candidates have or what do they think those components actually do. Good examples are the Options API, Settings API or Transients API in terms of data management and processing. Adding custom post types or taxonomies is doable within 20 lines of code or so, but it does so much more underneath that matters for data governance and ongoing maintenance.
We ask them to build a fairly simple project that could be developed within 2–3 hours from a plugin developer with a year of programming experience. That’s usually a simple plugin that registers a post type (say, Events), a corresponding category (Event Types), register a metabox with a couple fields (such as Start Date and End Date) and do a couple more minor things. If it takes them 3 days to build it, there’s obviously a mismatch and we need to consider whether a junior position is feasible, or not.
We even provide our Plugin Development Framework with 6 pages of detailed documentation for each common API and how it actually works that some candidates can use as a starting ground. Right now I have two candidates who have been working on the test assignment for 5 days full-time and still can’t manage to wrap up the basic plugin.
Since professional plugin developers are somewhat rare to find in the large pool of candidates, some compromises are probably in order. Based on the different test strategies above, you can decide how acquainted a developer is with plugin development and how long would it take them to join your team or work on your project – and whether it’s worth offloading that to a larger team of industry experts profiling in actual development.
Hire a Team of WordPress Plugin Developers
If you are looking for a team of WordPress plugin developers and professional software engineers who can handle your existing platform or extend the portfolio of plugins for your organization, get in touch.