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How To Define The MVP For Your WordPress Plugin

Now, this is the toughest part of the process. How do you work out what to include inside a WordPress Plugin?

Well, for me it is anyway.

There are a million and one things you can add to a SaaS startup. The same goes for a WordPress plugin. But defining what ‘version 1’ should look like is very difficult.

It’s like walking a tightrope.

One slip and the project falls to its death.

It’s all about balance.

Balancing enough features that make the software attractive, solves a problem. But you aren’t spending weeks and months building something no one wants.

I hate the word pivot.

But the goal is to get feedback as soon as you can. To help you decide what to focus on next.

Two-Pronged Attack

So, what did I do?

What was my initial thought process for SuperSub.

With a WordPress plugin. More so with my idea of helping people get more subscribers to their newsletter. I had to think about it from both the front end. Visitors to the website. And the back end. What does the owner of the website want too?

What The Visitor Sees

I already had an idea of how I wanted the plugin to work to get more people to subscribe to my newsletter.

This is something I’m trying to solve for myself.

What I wanted from SuperSub was a way to display a little popup. Which worked on desktop and mobile. That prompts them to open the subscribe popup and give their email address.

Now, this is where I wanted to be careful.

It had to work well. To be “slick”.

But I didn’t want to add too much functionality to it. I focused on making sure it was “pretty”. That it had animation, wasn’t intrusive and that it worked.

This is where it gets difficult.

I started thinking. “Well, I need to put a dismiss button on the popups”. Need to add in analytics and tracking data.

No, stop.

Get the basics done and nail down the functionality for those few core features.

You never know. Users may like the fact visitors can’t dismiss the popup. Unless someone requests a feature, leave it alone for now.

What The User Sees

Showing constraints to what visitors see is bad enough.

Now, building the admin area of the WordPress plugin for this user.

This is where it gets tricky.

I could have added so many things. Like being able to change the text on the subscribe form. Or changing the colours on the same form. Be able to set the delay before the popup appears. Analytics!

The list started going on and on.

Remember the goal of the MVP, the minimum viable product. Is to build something people can use. That works and works well. That you build on from user feedback.

So I dropped all customizations to the popup and form. Leaving them for later versions.

As was any advanced analytics.

What I decided on was a basic dashboard that told you how many people subscribed for the last 7, 14, 30 and 90 days. Also listed are the last 10 subscribers.

A second screen to be able to view all subscribers. With some paging and browsing. I tried to make this look as good as possible but only using the inbuilt WordPress styling.

I also added a “log screen”. The plugin was going to pass subscriber details to third-party email providers. So I wanted a way to show what it had and what the results were.

Finally, a settings page so people can select which provider to pass emails to.

There Can Be Only One!

Forgive the Highlander reference.

Provide the bare minimum in the first version of your WordPress Plugin

My idea for SuperSub was to not only show the subscriber information in the WordPress admin area.

But to be able to pass the details on to an email marketing tool if needed. Your newsletter system.

For me. I use MailerLite. I love it. So much so that I’ve created a Udemy course called MailerLite Masterclass.

Anyway.

This helped me refine the MVP further.

Say What You’re Going To Do.

I came up with a list of six email service providers that I wanted to link with.

But I didn’t need to link with all six to launch.

I was trying to solve my headache. I will be my first “customer”. So I only needed to launch with a link to MailerLite. Which is the service I use.

So, on the marketing site. And in the setting page, it listed the six providers but said somewhere ‘coming soon’.

I was hoping I’d get feedback and people would ask for a certain service to be integrated. Which would help me develop my product roadmap.

But launch with one. MailerLite.

Give The User ‘Options’

Don’t try and reinvent the wheel.

I have.

On another project, I tried to structure and price the product that would make it ‘stand out’.

What I did was offer a full-blown product, at a flat rate. A low one at that.

I won’t go into full details. What happened was the idea crashed and burned. People didn’t see the value in the product. One person even thought I was lying. I couldn’t offer that much value at such a cheap price.

She was right because I was undervaluing myself.

I’m not going into details about pricing psychology. All I’ll say is there is a common way of doing it. And that might be the best way forward.

The Rule of Three

Learning from my other project.

And the fact I wanted to charge for the plugin.

I decided I wanted to try and offer 3 different price plans

I wanted to try offering the plugin without a free version. To ask for money no matter what plan you are after. It may not work. But again, for the MVP it’s about getting it out there and seeing what people do.

How could I structure it?

Here’s what I came up with.

All 3 price plans will work the same on the front end. How the pop-ups work to get people to subscribe.

But the backend would be “tiered”

The low plan wouldn’t allow you to pass emails to third-party services. And you will be only able to install it on a single WordPress site.

The next two plans would allow you to link to an email service. You can have many links enabled at the same time.

The only difference would be the middle tier would allow you to use the plugin on 3 sites. The top tier gives you an unlimited site license.

I went with $39, $99 and $299. All lifetime deals to launch with.

Again, will I be right with these amounts?

Who knows.

‘Live’ Better Than ‘Ready’

The key for me in this process. In defining an MVP for the WordPress plugin idea.

Was to think “Will this delay me putting it live?”

More often than not, the answer was “Yes”.

OK, the next question.

“Is the feature or functionality needed right now?”

Ah, now this is a great question.

More often than not the answer was no.

For example. If you look at being able to change the text and headlines on the subscribe form. It would be great to have. But that isn’t going to stop me from launching.

And it won’t stop users from getting subscribers using the plugin.

Doing this process is a skill in itself.

It can be difficult to do this, it takes discipline. But the focus is to get it launched, to put it live, to get it out to the world.

If anything delays that. Something that can go in a later version. It needs ignoring for now.

Conclusion: Define an MVP For A WordPress Plugin

Coming up with an MVP is tough.

Even more so for a WordPress Plugin. Because you may have to consider the benefits for the visitor of the website. Along with value for the person who owns or runs the website. You have to think about the admin area too.

And this can make it even more difficult to launch, it doubles the amount of things that you “could” build.

The key is to work out what you “should” build. The few things that will bring the most value. That you can’t launch without.

Everything else can be pushed out as updates.

And that’s the amazing thing with software and WordPress Plugins

You will have a product roadmap. Getting people to tell you what to do next is far more important to the success of a project.

Just get it live!

Oh, before you go. If you’re interested in finding out how I got started building the MVP. Check out How To Start Building a WordPress Plugin.

Oh yeah! Don’t forget to check out SuperSub either!

Wait, want more tips & tricks? Yes, please!

Who Is Phil Hughes

I am a coder, content creator & software consultant for start-ups and FTSE 100 companies. I am obsessed with productivity, self-improvement, and building a lifestyle business.
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