WooCommerce Plugin Development: A Complete Guide

Aug 25, 2023
Alice Pham

Leveraging WooCommerce plugins empowers you to augment and refine your online store's functionality. While WooCommerce offers a comprehensive eCommerce solution for free, crafting an online store is inherently personal. This is where plugins step in significantly.

A plugin constitutes a package of software functions that seamlessly integrate into your WordPress ecosystem. As a result, you can effortlessly infuse desired features into your website.

Despite the multitude of existing free and premium plugins accessible online, there's ample room for contribution to the eCommerce community. By delving into custom WooCommerce plugin development, you not only tailor your store's capabilities but also offer your unique solutions to the ever-evolving landscape.

When & Why Should You Consider WooCommerce Plugin Development?

There are several compelling reasons to consider WooCommerce plugin development for your online store:

#1. Niche and unique features

If your WooCommerce store has specific requirements or serves a unique niche, you might not find all the necessary features in the core WooCommerce offering. Creating a custom plugin allows you to tailor the functionality to match your specific business needs.

#2. Personalization

WooCommerce plugins enable you to create a personalized and branded experience for your customers. You can customize the user interface, checkout process, product displays, and more, providing a seamless and engaging shopping journey.

#3. Ownership and control

Developing a WooCommerce plugin gives you complete ownership and control over your online store. You're not limited by the constraints of third-party solutions; instead, you can fine-tune every aspect of your store's behavior and appearance.

#4. Solving unique problems

Sometimes, you might encounter specific challenges or requirements, for example, payment, shipping, custom field, custom filter, unique product variations, etc. that aren't addressed by the core WooCommerce functionality or available extensions. Developing a custom plugin allows you to solve these unique problems in a way that perfectly fits your business model.

#5. Competitive advantage

A well-developed WooCommerce plugin can give you a competitive edge in the market. It allows you to differentiate your store, offer unique features, and provide an exceptional shopping experience that sets you apart from your competitors.

WooCommerce Plugin Development: 6 Key Steps

Follow the detailed process below to create a WooCommerce plugin by yourself.

Step 1: Define the requirements:

Clearly define the purpose and functionality of your plugin. Knowing what problem you're aiming to solve or what features you want to add is crucial before you start coding.

Step 2: Create a WordPress plugin directory structure

Organize your plugin files in a structured manner within the wp-content/plugins/ directory. Typically, this involves creating a single PHP file (e.g., /wp-content/plugins/my-plugin/my-plugin.php) that will contain your plugin's code.

Step 3: Configure your plugin

Add a file header with metadata to your plugin's PHP file. This metadata includes information like the plugin's name, description, version, author, and other relevant details. This header ensures that your plugin is recognized and displayed in the WordPress plugins list.

Step 4: Check if WooCommerce is active

To ensure your plugin only runs when WooCommerce is active, you can use the provided code snippet. This checks if the WooCommerce plugin is among the active plugins and then checks if your custom class for the plugin exists.

 if ( in_array( 'woocommerce/woocommerce.php', apply_filters( 'active_plugins', get_option( 'active_plugins' ) ) ) ) {
      // Put your plugin code here
      if ( ! class_exists('WC_Dynamic_Discounts')){
            class WC_Dynamic_Discounts{
                  public function __construct(){


Step 5: Add an action to capture discount

Here, you're registering two actions within your WC_Dynamic_Discounts class constructor: edit_user_profile and edit_user_profile_update. These actions are used to display and save a custom discount associated with each user's profile.

 public function __construct(){
      add_action('edit_user_profile', array( $this, 'show_discount'), 10, 1);
      add_action( 'edit_user_profile_update', array( $this, 'save_discount'), 10, 1 );

show_discount: Displays a discount input field for the user profile. If the user has permission to edit their profile, they can update their discount value.

save_discount: Handles saving the discount value to the user's metadata.

 public function show_discount($user) {
      <input type="number" id="show_discount" name="show_discount" min="0" max="100" value="<?php echo get_user_meta($user->ID, 'show_user_discount', true)  ?>">
    if ( ! current_user_can( 'edit_user') ) {
      <input type="submit" id="submit" name="submit">

public function save_discount($user) {

       if ( ! current_user_can( 'edit_user') ) {
           return false;

       if(isset($_POST['show_discount'])) {
           $show_user_discount = $_POST['show_discount'];
           update_user_meta($user, 'show_discount', $show_user_discount);


Step 6: Apply discount to products

You're adding a filter, woocommerce_product_get_price, to the woocommerce_product_get_price hook. This filter modifies the product price based on the user's discount.

 public function __construct(){
      add_filter( 'woocommerce_product_get_price', array( $this, 'show_dynamic_price' ), 10, 2);

show_dynamic_price: This function calculates and returns the dynamic price of a product for the current user, factoring in their discount. The discount is applied as a percentage reduction from the original price.

 //Add within the class body
 public function show_dynamic_price($price, $product) {

      $current_user_id = get_current_user_id();
      $discount = floatval(get_user_meta($current_user_id,'show_discount', true));

      if(!empty($discount)) {
            // Discount is a value between 0 to 100 in percentage
            $dynamic_price = $price - (($price * $discount)/100);
            return $dynamic_price;

This step-by-step breakdown covers the creation of a simple WooCommerce plugin that applies dynamic discounts to products based on the user's profile settings. It's a great example of how to leverage WordPress and WooCommerce hooks to extend and customize the functionality of your online store.

WooCommerce Plugin Development: Best Practices

Following these practices can ensure a smooth experience for both developers and users of your plugin. Let's delve into the best practices you've outlined:

#1. Namespace your plugin properly

Properly namespace your plugin's files, classes, functions, and variables to avoid conflicts with other plugins and themes. Use unique prefixes related to your plugin's name to clearly distinguish your code from others.

#2. Prevent direct access to plugin files

Prevent public users from directly accessing your plugin's PHP files, as it can lead to unexpected outcomes. Use code that ensures your files are executed only within the WordPress environment.

#3. Define user roles and capabilities

Define appropriate user roles and capabilities for your plugin. This ensures that users have the right permissions to access and modify plugin features, enhancing security and user experience.

#4. Immersive WooCommerce admin panel

Design an intuitive and user-friendly admin panel for your plugin. Keep buttons, labels, and design elements clean and responsive. Consider user experience when designing the admin interface.

#5. Create extensible plugins

Allow other developers to extend the functionality of your plugin by providing well-documented actions and filters. This enables customizations without modifying the core plugin code.

#6. Avoid custom database tables

Whenever possible, use existing WordPress database tables for your plugin's data storage needs. Avoid creating custom database tables to keep your plugin's data management consistent with WordPress's architecture.

#7. Declare WooCommerce versions

Ensure your plugin is compatible with the latest versions of both WordPress and WooCommerce. Declare the supported versions in your plugin's metadata to provide transparency to users and avoid potential compatibility issues.

Following these practices helps create a high-quality, maintainable, and user-friendly WooCommerce plugin that aligns with the WordPress ecosystem's standards. It also contributes to a better user experience and reduces the chances of conflicts with other plugins or themes. Remember that the WordPress Plugin Handbook and WooCommerce documentation are excellent resources for diving deeper into plugin development best practices and guidelines.

Bottom Lines

In this comprehensive walkthrough of WooCommerce plugin development, we've navigated the process of creating a plugin from the ground up.

As highlighted, crafting a custom WooCommerce plugin demands thoughtful planning, precise execution, and thorough testing. While the intricacies of WooCommerce plugin development might appear daunting, they can be mastered with a solid grasp of WordPress and the right skill set.

For smaller to mid-sized enterprises, the challenges posed by limited in-house expertise, budget constraints, and time limitations can be significant when embarking on a plugin creation journey. If, after careful deliberation, you find that tackling plugin development isn't ideal, there's an alternative. For example, you can use Ryviu plugin to add and showcase product reviews in your WooCommerce store without developing any ones.