Layman Lab is a digital tools and mobile app development company focused on creating innovative products for those everyday situations where you wish you had a better, more effective solution. We had the chance to chat about their company, their products, and their plans for the future.
How long have you been developing Plugins for WordPress?
We’ve been building WordPress sites for over 5 years, but we’re relatively new to creating and developing our own plugins. We’ve been doing this for a little over a year at this point.
How did you get started with developing WordPress Plugins?
For us, it really came down to developing tools and plugins that we thought could be useful in our own work. There were a few issues that we would keep running into, and we kept talking about how there had to be a good solution out there. When we couldn’t find the right solution, we built it! You could call it innovation by necessity.
Tell us more about that – what’s an example of one of these recurring issues?
As we were making CSS tweaks and edits to our sites, we ran into a lot of instances where we knew what code we were looking to change, but we did not know where that code was hiding. One example might be changing the color of a border around a button – you can easily find the color code and CSS code through your browsers inspector, but it’s not always easy to find which file that code is located in. In another example, if you want to edit page text or button copy that is hard coded or hidden within a .js file somewhere, it can be challenging to find the source snippet.
There can be so many files within the Plugin and Theme Editor, and it takes a lot of time to open each file and individually search for the code you’re looking for. We wanted to be able to search all those files at once, so we could quickly find the code we were looking to edit. That’s the premise behind our WP Backend File Search plugin – it’s a huge time saver.
In our opinion, that’s one of the best ways to come up with a solution – when you already have a use case and you know you’d be helping people out if you can create a solve.
How many plugins do you currently have in the WordPress Plugin Repository?
As of today, we have one plugin – our WP Backend File Search that lets you search all PHP, JS, and CSS files in the Theme and Plugin Editor at once, so you don’t have to open each backend file individually to find the line of code or snippet you’re looking for.
We’re working on testing some additional plugins at the moment, but they’re all still in the early stages of development.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve experienced with launching and maintaining your WordPress Plugin(s)?
Aside from testing and killing bugs, one of the biggest challenges that we think most WordPress developers run into is getting exposure and awareness around their plugin. There are tens of thousands of WordPress plugins out there, with more coming out each and every day. It’s tough to stand out and get your customers to notice your plugin. These days you really need to get creative and proactive with your marketing and outreach, if you want to build an audience.
What Plugins do you consider your go-to plugins – the ones you install on every new site you build?
There are definitely a bunch of plugins we install on each new WP install. Here are just a few: Yoast SEO (optimized sitemaps and meta info), WP-Optimize (keep your database clean), UpdraftPlus (easy backups), WP Security Audit Log (track what your freelance developer and editors do on your site), Duplicate Post (clone pages and posts for easy templating), Widget Importer & Exporter (backup and transport your widgets and widget data), WP Rocket (very easily speed up your site) and Custom Twitter Feeds (simple but powerful Twitter integration). It’s a growing list as we discover new and better tools and solutions.
Side note, we used to install these plugins one-by-one on each new site until we discovered WPCore – it’s a genius tool that lets you bulk install your favorite WP Plugins. You can create a collection and then very easily install a bunch of plugins at once (and you can save reuse this collection for next time). You can even browse other users’ plugin collections to get ideas on what kind of plugins other power users are using. It’s an awesome plugin to check out.
We love a good origin story – where did the name “Layman Lab” come from?
We’re focused on experimentation – we like to get our hands dirty by testing and tinkering with things until we can figure them out. But above all, we’re just a group of people trying to problem-solve and come up with better and easier ways to get things done. So with “Layman Lab” you get this notion of science mixed with chaos, which describes us quite well!
What’s next for Layman Lab?
We plan to keep testing and tinkering new digital tools and we hope to introduce more interesting and helpful WordPress plugins in the future. More to come!
Many thanks to Layman Lab for answering our questions and giving us some insight and advice! If you’re a WordPress developer and would like to have your interview featured on our site, contact us to learn more!