Podcast Episode

026 – Custom Plugins for WordPress

This week Sean and Randy on from beAutomated.com joined me on the podcast. Their company focuses on building custom WordPress plugins for clients. We had a great discussion about why you would have a custom plugin developed.

Differences between plugins and themes
1. Themes are the design, CSS code, images, minor PHP “loop”, and minor layout based functionality (such as drop down menus)
2. Plugins are best for ALL non layout based functionality
– Widgets – custom boxes for sidebars, footers, etc
– Shortcodes- put content with pages and posts
– Postmeta – special content particular to a page or post
– Usermeta – special settings particular to a user
– Alter built-in functionality
3. Theme independent – wider distribution
4. Controllable separately
5. Updated separately

1. Typical web app development cost on freelancer sites is~$4,000
– This is even if they claim $10/hr overseas developers!
2. Our typical custom plugin costs ranges $500 to $10,000
3. Factors that affect cost
– Cost is a function of time
– Quantity of:
– Front end and back end form fields
– From field validation feedback
– Integrations with external webservices (newsletter, social media, etc.)
– Interactions and forms requiring a user to be logged-in
– Views of particular data
– Automated emails to be sent
– Use of specialized WYSIWYG or file upload form fields
– Use of AJAX asynchronous field lookups
– Logical computations such as calculations, tiers, shipping information

Why Custom Plugins
1. Functionaility / Fit with a business or organization
– Out of the box fits many needs, not usually all needs
– Automation
– Computerize routine communications and task processing
– Prevent redundancy or repetitions preventing errors
– Simplify information requirements and require validations
– Gather information proactively and avoid delays
– Address bottlenecks
– Reduce customer inquiry costs by providing pertinent information
– Internationalization
2. Performance
– Page load, consolidated JS and CSS, indexed custom database tables
3. Security
– Best practices, sanitizing user inputs, verifying roles, properly escaping SQL and utilizing built-in DB object
4. Interoperability
– Working with different versions of the core, forward compatible
– Working well with different themes, flexible
– Getting along well with other plugins, best practices

What would you like to learn about custom plugins? Leave a comment below and we will answer them the next time Sean and Randy are on the call.

    • Randy Sandberg Reply

      Hey Dustin, thanks a ton for letting us be on your awesome podcast again. We throughly enjoyed sharing our knowledge about why one would want to keep certain features out of themes and into plugins as well as when it’s a good time to go for custom rather than off-the-shelf WordPress plugins.

      Sep 30, 2011

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