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Plugin Review: Referrer Detector

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January 11th, 2009
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Weekly Plugin Review, WordPress Plugins

The second plugin in our weekly plugin review series is not a one that helps you win over a few visitors who arrive from search engines and other sites.

What is Referrer Detector?

Referrer Detector is a WordPress Plugin that displays a greeting message to visitors that come from different urls (known as referrers).

For example, you may want to welcome Diggers with a message that reminds them to digg your story, or you may want to ask Del.icio.us users to bookmark your post, and so on.

Features

  • A pure AJAXed admin interface with elements tidily divided into tabs. Entries can be added/modified/(de)activated/deleted without the need to reload the entire page, or even with just one click.
  • The greet box position can be set to before or after the post. A [custom tag] can also be used in case you don’t want to show greetings on every post.
  • Users can also put a tag (<?php if (function_exists('referrer_detector')) referrer_detector(); ?>) into the template to show the greet box anywhere of choice.
  • Excluded URLs can be specified in order to hide the greet box from specific users (like ones from Google Reader).
  • Ability to include WordPress attributes like url, title, author, category etc. into the greetings.
  • A STAT panel to get data reporting about the visitor statistic.
  • Compatible with caching plugins, since the core is written and run in JavaScript which is normally not cached.
  • Many installed-by-default entries (which can be restored anytime with one click). Upon installing, you will have these entries available:
    • 9 rules
    • Del.icio.us and Delicious.com
    • Digg
    • Gizmodo
    • Google Search
    • Lifehacker
    • Live Search
    • Reddit
    • StumbleUpon
    • TechCrunch
    • Technograti
    • TechRadar
    • Twitter
    • Yahoo Search

Demo

The real way to test this plugin is to go to Google or Yahoo and then search for “phoenixheart.net” [Yahoo! Search Results] Click on the link to the site and check out the cool greeting image.

I performed a Yahoo! Search and got this cool greeting box.

referrerdetector

Google Search worked only when the referrer was Google.com and not Google.co.in which is default since I am from India.

Our Review

The plugin is easy to use and install. It comes with out-of-the-box support for 14 sites which should cover a good portion of the traffic that you would receive.

This makes it a install and forget plugin unless you really want to bother about customizing it.

The plugin release post is well detailed, complete with examples on how to go about configuring / editing the welcome messages.

Adding a new entry is extremely easy. You need to enter details of the site where you are entering traffic from. The site has to be entered without the http or www e.g. digg.com or google.com.

The AJAX interface makes it easy to add / edit referrers. I was able to Edit and Add at the same time without visiting a new page. My detailed testing did raise a few points, which I have listed under improvements below.

Each tab has a small help section, so you’re not left clueless if you get stuck somewhere. The option for Excluded URLs is good since you can exclude those who are subscribed to online feed readers.

Suggested Improvements

Now, this is the important part, or I hope to think so! Some improvements I felt this plugin could use:

  1. Making any modification i.e. adding / editing referrers requires write permissions for a JavaScript file. It also requires the user to know how to chmod and also increases one step in the installation process. I’d be happier if everything was stored in the database.
  2. You can choose to deactivate certain referrers. Would be good if there was a checkbox for bulk actions, something like we now have in WordPress 2.7 management of posts, pages, comments, plugins etc.
  3. Like I mentioned above Google.com worked but not Google.co.in. Google Search is such that it automatically changes the default search engine domain based on your location. The plugin should take care of this automatically. It’s a humongous task to add all the individual domains. One possible solution could be a wildcard entry i.e. google.* or *.yahoo.com
  4. Default Message for domains not in the list of referrers. I believe the author plans on updating this in a future version.
  5. Lastly, not an important point but it would be great to see the plugin have its own page instead of post. I’m not a big fan of posts being the default location for a plugin or theme since your plugin/theme is permanent and so needs a permanent location on your site. It also helps in standardization when you release more than one plugin. E.g. in my case I have all plugins on separate pages on my blog. Again, this is a matter of preference.

And, now it’s your turn. Have you been using this plugin? What has been your experience with it? Do you have any feature requests?

The plugin author is reading…

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14
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Comments

  1. Kia Niskavaara says:

    I wish that someone could make a WP plugin of the Referer.org site. They have lots of options and are providing spam free lists of your referrers.

    I’m not a plugin writer. But I guess that all that needs to be done is to add the Referer.org code on all your WP-pages. And an admin option page where you can change all the options (block sites, etc).

  2. Nehemoth (21 comments.) says:

    Ohh you see, I didn’t know that this feature came ftom a plugin, I seen it a lot of times in some sites.

    I hope to use it soon, so I will keep track on it.

    As my main origin of visitora are from others google domain, I will wait and update as you sugest.

    Thank you

  3. Skidka (1 comments.) says:

    Any localization options available?

  4. Massimo (aka maxp76) (7 comments.) says:

    Hi, this plugin is similar to the wp-greet-box.
    Does anybody know the difference between them?
    Massimo

  5. Matthew (5 comments.) says:

    I use WP Greet Box, which functions similarly but I like better. It has some additional features that make it a winner.

    Also, I’m not sure what you use on this site, but it’s really annoying to see the “Subscribe to RSS!” text every time I visit, especially since it’s styled to be identical to the body text. You should consider changing this styling, or use WP Greet Box, which records visitors and stops nagging them after a certain number of visits.

  6. Matthew (5 comments.) says:

    Re: Massimo

    I haven’t tried Referrer Detector, and therefore recommend that you try them both to really find out, but from looking at their feature list, WP Greet Box has the following features that Referrer Detector does not:

    * Deactivating Referrers (as mentioned above)
    * IP/visitor checking so repeat visitors aren’t bugged every time they visit your site.
    * Turning off greetings for pages and/or posts, if you want.
    * Displays Related Posts based on incoming search terms.
    * The ability to add referrers easily through the interface.

    Pretty much, WP Greet Box is just much more complete and polished. I can’t see any reason to use Referrer Detector instead of WP Greet Box.

    • Nehemoth (21 comments.) says:

      I was thinking about those things.
      Also as Green Box support wildcard referrers (*.fr, *.uk). should be easier for me which my main visitors are from *.do , so I will use this instead.

  7. redwall_hp (40 comments.) says:

    Nice thorough review. Also, it’s worth mentioning that Referrer Detector is a fork of the WP Greet Box plugin, which tends to get less publicity for some reason. http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-greet-box/



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