I have a hard time with plugin reviews.
It isn’t that I don’t use plugins regularly.
It isn’t that I don’t like the plugins that I do use.
It isn’t even that I don’t have something to say about those plugins.
I simply don’t enjoy writing about them.
Writing has been something that I’ve always been decent doing, but never really enjoyed. I’ve attempted the NaNoWriMo and similar projects, but never finished.
My wife is an awesome copywriter. She also teaches Language Arts to middle schoolers. But I do not enjoy the process. So when I take the time to review a plugin, it comes with some weight that I would choose to do so. Enter Velocity Page.
If you haven’t had any experience with this plugin, Velocity Page is marketed as a “New Way to Effortlessly Add Stunning Pages to Your WordPress Website in Minutes” by its sales page. While there is some effort involved, it is a great plugin.
A Need For Simple Client Content Editing
If you’ve been following the WordPress scene recently you may have noticed that an offshoot project called Ghost happened a while back. One of Ghost’s main draws was that its editor would allow you to instantly and simultaneously write and see your content as it appeared on the front end of your site. This is something that I have wished for WordPress for years. We’ve made great strides in that direction, but have yet to get there in the core software.
I work with large and medium size business clients who seek out my company’s help in developing website that are beautiful, easy-to-use, and carry their brand well. The problem with many of these websites is that the admin side of things is tedious and often times confusing even for those at our office. Part of my responsibility as our technical product manager for WordPress is to oversee the creation or installation of code that helps not only give our clients beautiful sites, but sites that are easy to maintain.
A Match Made In Heaven
So after much market research, I chose Velocity Page as the choice that fit our clients’ needs the best. Right out of the gate things were easy. We purchased the license directly from Velocity Page’s website and downloaded the files. Then we installed and activated the plugin and we were off!
Velocity Page claims to be compatible with 94% of WordPress themes and we had no problems installing and using it on our internal frameworks or themes. We were able to start editing pages right away and found the user interface enjoyable and intuitive. I did notice that I would overshoot the “Add _____” hover buttons occasionally, but soon learned the exact amount of hover time needed before clicking.
The inputs allowed were fairly standard for WordPress including headings, text, lists, images, media (think embeds, videos, audio), and more. There were even places for me to stick my shortcodes and straight html.
The PM Test
One of the ways that I like to try out new plugins and user interfaces is to run them by our project managers. This allows for a user who is relatively familiar with websites, without having intimate knowledge of either WordPress or development. Our PM’s took to Velocity Page quite rapidly and after a few questions about what certain things were (remember, not developers), they were off! They created pages of various columns and types of media and even a carousel that was input through a shortcode. From a UX perspective, the plugin definitely passed our test.
A Few Desires
While Velocity Page has some great features, there were also several things that we absolutely needed that were not currently in the plugin (although we spoke with support and they said that these were slated for future releases). This included image captions, image alt text, and image titles.
We strive to provide each client with base ADA Section 508 compliance and no alt text was a huge problem for us that we couldn’t necessarily see before we purchased. Thankfully, however, I were able to relatively easily add this into the plugin myself (with some help from a front end developer on our team. Thanks Tim). The code is well written and clean although there was something left to be desired in terms of commenting. But well written code is something that we don’t see all the time in commercial plugins, so I was extremely grateful.
While not on the “must-have” list, it would also have been nice to be able to natively support galleries and some sort of carousel functionality. Perhaps a future version could incorporate these as well.
Overall, Velocity Page is a solid plugin built by some talented folks that accomplishes exactly what we expected (with a few added lines of code). It’s well-written and easy to use for both developers and users. I’m very happy with our purchase and will be watching the updates to this plugin and any future products from this group very closely.
Here’s the promo video for Velocity Page that can be found on Youtube and their website.