Initial Thoughts on the WP Plugin: “Article Read Time Lite”

Don’t you love it when you can glance at an article and know immediately if you have enough time to read it right now, or whether you should instead file it away for later browsing?

When I came across this plugin I thought immediately of Higher Education and Historic Preservation websites. I’m sure there are other websites that could benefit from having a “read time estimate” automatically calculated and displayed.

What other kinds of websites could you see as being a no-brainer for this feature?

Know this

Article Read Time Lite (ARTL) is a very new plugin with < 10 active installs as of the time of writing this. Use the entire search term “Article Read Time Lite” to find it in the WordPress.org plugin repository.

According to the changelog this software version was only just released 6 days ago on March 19th, 2022. It is version 1.0.0, and the user interface has a couple of minor quirks.

For example, they use the word “Status” to indicate if you want a feature to be turned on or off. Not descriptive text like “Active/Inactive” or “On/Off”.

These are little things causing me to think twice and experiment a bit. They are nothing terribly difficult to figure out.

After installing ARTL and spending a few minutes configuring it, I decided to add the following custom CSS:

/* Article Read Time */
.artl-heading span
{
	display:none;
	}

.artl-heading
{
	margin-left:-1em;
	font-size:smaller;
	margin-bottom:2rem;
}

/* END- Article Read Time */

I set the “Word/Character Count Message” to this:

Estimated [time] minute read time.

Good First Impression of the Software

I’m pretty happy with what it does and how it does it. The results are as I would expect, the software is easy enough to figure out and customize.

I see very little risk of this software causing me problems. Granted, I’ve not looked at the code, so take that with a grain of salt. Yet, if it ever does malfunction I can easily remove it without losing any sort of mission critical features.

A surprising side-effect is that I’ve learned just how short many of my posts are. 🙂 You might find out the opposite is true for you. No matter which side of the fence your articles fall on, I think it is valuable to know how long it may take your viewers to read your content.

It’s Not All Sunshine and Rainbows

Before you add software to your website, IMHO, you need to evaluate the developer behind the software and assess their commitment and ability to support the product.

In this case I’m less than thrilled with the results of my research. 🙁

Assessing their online presence

After taking a quick view of their online presence I became a little concerned.

Their Website

Good – The website (WPShuffle.com) is promoting a group of 5 “lite” and “pro” versions of software plugins. Normally this is a good sign. It implies a healthy ecosystem of products related to each other and adding value to each other.

Good – Their website looks nice and works well. So, points scored for professional presentation.

Bad – They stopped posting to their company blog in July of 2021. This is a warning sign. I prefer a developer have a more active blog, maybe posting once a month at the minimum. Especially if they are trying to promote a group of products.

If you are presenting a dedicated “Blog” menu item, then you need to be blogging semi-regularly. Otherwise, don’t list “Blog” on your navigation menu at all.

Bad – Documentation on the website is non-existent for “Article Read Time Lite”. It literally says “Coming soon…”.

I can almost forgive this, the product is less than a week old. Yet an experienced professional software dev shop would have this ready before releasing the software.

Their Social Media

Facebook and Twitter are what they promote on every page of their website via their social media icon bar.

Bad – Their Facebook page has December 2020 as their most recent post, with several months in between posts. Heck, even I’m posting more than they are! Twitter is much worse, with only 2 tweets from 2019.

Online Presence Does Not Give A Good First Impression

This quick look at their overall online presence, IMHO, is an example of how not to do it.

Promoting a blog and social media accounts when they appear stale and inactive can actually cause more harm than good.

If you promote a social media platform, then you need to be active on it. Otherwise, it gives the impression that you may have abandoned the business, or have poor online customer relations.

In Conclusion

I like having the feature that it provides. I am going to keep the plugin on my website and hope that they update it regularly.

I will be quick to deactivate and remove it if I suspect it to be causing me any issues. Additionally, I will look for alternatives and test them out because of the red flags listed above.

Would I recommend this plugin to a friend? Conditionally, yes. I’d want to be sure that they understand all of the concerns described above. I’d also want to know that they would appropriately monitor it going forward.

What do you think?

Having read this very quick review, is this a feature that you would like to try on your WordPress website?

Get in touch if you have any questions or if you would like to have help improving your website.

Below is a link to Article Read Time Lite’s listing in the WordPress.org plugin repository.

NOTE:
If you do install this on your website. please comment about your experience with the plugin. Maybe share what type of website you have, so we can all learn from each other.



Market Street Can Help

We will improve your online marketing and outreach to get you noticeably better results. We can teach you how to properly make new content and perform routine maintenance on your various Internet properties.

We are also happy to manage your online presence for you, maintain social media, do website updates and maintenance.

Who We Help

We focus on small to mid-size organizations.  Past examples have been small towns, school districts, churches, non-profit organizations, a 1 person entrepreneur, or a nationwide organization with up to 100 people on staff. If you want help with your online presence Market Street is here for you.

What We Do

Market Street makes easy-to-use and highly effective websites that help you get the word out and engage with your audience. Your content can be text, photos, graphics, audio recordings, and even videos.

Our online marketing management services, in-depth training, coaching and comprehensive real-world consulting will help you grow, adapt online, work smarter and more efficiently and effectively.

Experienced Advice

Market Street has 25+ years of experience consulting in the tech world and online marketing.  We know how to manage the numerous behind the scenes details to get you better results.

Contact Us if you want to grow faster, work smarter and have a more effective online presence.

Photo of author

Author:  Scott Cannon

I know I can help get your message out more efficiently and effectively using solid online marketing strategies.

Let me help you!

Contact me

Leave a Comment