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The UX of jQuery Plugins

jQuery just announced launched a new plugin area. This is an area that I have had particular interest in for some time. The jQuery plugins really are needed to do any advanced UX. Once you have a taste of great UX, you just can’t hold back from every detail. Anyway, I looked at the area with my UX hat on and give it a review.

Right away, I thought it was an improvement in several ways. The old plugin page is pretty chaotic.  It had grown so quickly that you couldn’t keep up.  Plus there was very little detail per plugin.  Many plugins pointed directly at JS files and others had information on custom blogs or third party sites.  Bringing the plugin infrastructure under one IA structure makes alot of sense.   I have some ideas about structure, but I’ll come back to that in a sec.

The detail pages are a huge leap forward.  You can rate plugins and see lots of good detail.  This is a step in the right direction for sure, but my UX hat won’t let me stop there.  I think this page could use a few more features, which I have been assured are in the works.  One is comments.  It’s important to have community feedback on a plugin.  Another is a list of sites that use the plugin.  This can serve two purposes.  One is to see that others are investing in the same plugin.  Using a plugin is more of a vote than clicking 5 stars.  it is putting money where your mouth is.

The other benefit to registering sites that use a plugin is the ability to email developers when new versions are released.  Right now, I can’t keep track of where I used what plugin.  I need to register the sites for my own sanity as much as the benefit of the community.  It would also yield important information about who is using what plugins together.  In other words, how many people use plugin A and plugin B on the same page?  It’s like Amazon’s 42% of people who look at this page end up buying that other product.

Back to the overall structure.  I think a lesson can be taken from YouTube and WordPress Themes or even BetaNews.  Although it’s important to categorize by type, I also think it’s incredibly important to give a sense of movement and timeliness.  It’s an advantage of jQuery to have such an active community.  I would suggest making the date view be more prominent and more news-ish.  Maybe even off the homepage.  The key is to give the sense of active development.  It’s not just a practical matter of finding the right plugin for the job.  It’s also a way to be involved in the community and see how vibrant it is.

One key to the improved usefulness of the new site will be to get all of the plugins registered and in the system.  It doesn’t work that well without the plugins in it.  But they just announced it today, so should have a little patience!

Overall, I give the new structure a A- as a huge step forward and I am excited to see more improvements in the coming months.

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