There’s no doubt that writing (as in code) a plugin can be a time-consuming process but, in reality, it’s only one-half of the equation when it comes to building the next big thing. Crafting powerful plugin descriptions and documentation can take a cut-rate plugin and turn it into the next big thing.

Think about it, the description of your plugin and app is the first time users will have the opportunity to buy into your product, this might be the only opportunity you have to offer your methodology and messaging.  Use this opportunity wisely and draw in more users with the following tips below:

6 Simple Ways to build great plugin descriptions and documentation: 

1. It’s all about the user.   

What will this plugin or app do to help them?

Your plugin or app description is the first and sometimes only opportunity to both show and tell your prospective users on how your product, service or methodology will help them – for the better.  When possible, avoid jargon heavy copy and use real-world examples that a prospect can relate with.

Users must also be able to find your plugin and this can be an area where search engine optimization can help users find you.  But don’t make SEO your sole intention.  When crafting technical copy for users, I would error on the site of creating content that makes sense in plain English.  Although, the more high-quality content you have, the more search engines have to crawl.  More isn’t always better, only add what makes sense and delete the extras.

2. Craft different versions for different users.  

More advanced users might just want a quick overview while other novice users are looking for  more detailed instructions. Prepare content and copy for both but make the summary copy easy to find with topic headings and use the inverted pyramid of importance. A trick from the old newspaper industry and something I learned in my college journalism classes is to add the “need to know” information towards the top of the page “above the fold” and leave the not-so-necessary information at the bottom.

[See Also:  Infographic: Dissecting the WordPress Plugin Profile]

If you need to remove copy because your description is too long, then you always know the bottom copy is less important and probably ok to chop.

3. Ask for feedback from others in your network.

Recruiting feedback from others is one of the simplest way to write stronger, more effective copy and technical documentation but it is the most often overlooked.   If you’re a more experienced developer and have an existing following, recruit members of your base to help with feedback.

Instead of “Just another” style plugin name, source for ideas for what someone might call your new creation and go with the name that best describes the end product.

If you don’t have a network to source for ideas like suggested in the above, then ask a friend or a colleague where you might be able to at least bounce some ideas off of them.   You can also crowd source by hitting the social networks and forums if you are willing to publicly announce what you’re working on.

It’s helpful to provide the feedback team with some set of instructions on how to use the plugin or app – if they don’t know every aspect of what it can do then they can’t provide a solid source of feedback.

4. Ask for a paid review:

Find someone your plugin or app would target and ask them to use the plugin in exchange for something of value.  Maybe free access to the project, a simple barter of services or a payment of cash always works. (A beer almost always works too).

Provide clear objectives to the project and make sure they are prepared to report back with feedback – either verbal or written – when they are complete.

5. Visuals are worth 1,000 words.

Eye-catching graphics and screenshots can be a pain to create when you’re nearing launch but the value they provide can make a good plugin great.   Be sure to have a mix of “marketing images” as well as images that show exactly how the plugin works. Arrange the images in a flow, one that represents how a user might start using the plugin.

If more resources are available, then look into creating infographics that are both visually appealing and informative on how the plugin works and what is in it for the user if they buy into using your plugin.

6. Video Previews and Screeners.

If done correctly, short video screeners can provide a ton of visuals and information needed for prospective users to make up their mind.  If you’re selling your app or plugin, this is almost essential for users to help drive them to their decision on whether or not they are going to purchase your product.

Think about it, video is a great way to hit on multiple senses and almost literally put someone into the driver seat for just a few minutes. During this time, you have the opportunity to visually and emotionally sell them on how this app or plugin will work to make their lives better.

With a well-constructed video, most prospects will convert into users and walk away wanting to buy your app or plugin and/or refer it to a friend.  Just avoid screeners that don’t feature any type of audio.  This, in my opinion, is a huge missed opportunity.