WordPress Business News Roundup for the Week of October 3
This week Alex Denning (Ellipsis) draws on Iain Poulson‘s historical, high-level plugin data at WP Trends to offer some thoughtful, somewhat contrary, but practical and grounded perspectives on the value of Active Install Data. At the WP Watercooler and elsewhere, a realization seems to be setting in that the data is not open source and not the property of the WordPress community. Like last week’s episode of Post Status Draft with Katie Keith of Barn2 Plugins, Till Krüss (Object Cache Pro, Relay) offers a lot of lessons this week about less travelled paths to success in the plugin business even as a very small company or company of one. Performance, testing, and support are key, interrelated parts of Till’s success and probably the most important ones to borrow in your own life and work if they resonate.
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Alex Denning pointed out in the Ellipsis newsletter that in 2019-20, only four plugins entered the space and broke into the upper tiers. These were Site Kit for Google, Facebook for WooCommerce, Creative Mail for WordPress and WooCommerce, and Google Ads and Marketing by Kliken. Has the WordPress.org repository become a closed shop, a tapped-out ecosystem where the winners have taken all? Here are some suggestions about how to break in or changes that could be proposed to open and diversify the repository. Until that happens, do growth charts matter? (Expect an article from Alex on this soon.)
Today WP Watercooler sought Solutions to the Active Growth Problem. They got one new detail from Otto about the decision to remove the active install charts: it was made months ago. How should the data collected by WordPress.org be understood, as a basis for reaching a solution? A consensus understanding seems to be emerging that the data is not open-source and community-owned. Uncommunicated expectations, misunderstandings, distrust, and even suspicion of malfeasance have arisen from the lack of a shared understanding about who owns what.
This episode of Post Status Draft offers some fascinating lessons on winning in the WordPress space with a high performance, low support, well-tested, dual-market, mixed license, plugin+SaaS product. That’s a mouthful but a quick way to describe the many facets of Till Krüss‘s business built around Object Cache Pro, “a business class Redis object cache backend for WordPress.” OCP offers a unique and highly successful model for partnerships between a WordPress plugin product business and two valuable niche markets: hosting companies (B2B) for $1,950/month and anyone running WordPress sites at scale (D2C) for $95/month. Nexcess is the latest host to adopt OCP, which they announced earlier this week.
Till’s particular niche is not for everyone, but some of his ideas and achievements are very portable. For one thing, what plugin owner has not felt the pain of an extraordinarily busy support forum? Till is up to (wait for it…) 10 minutes a day on support — which he aims to decrease to five minutes. How? End-to-end unit testing to ensure the highest code quality. It’s an idea that needs to become a reality and a habit in the third-party WordPress product ecosystem, Till believes — and I think he’s right about that.
- Object Cache Pro is a (closed-source) commercial product that grew out of and is developed alongside Redis Object Cache. (100k+ installs on WordPress.org, numerous forks and stars on GitHub.) Redis Object Cache is a fork of an unmaintained precursor Erick Hitter and Eric Mann launched in 2014.
- Relay looks like it will be a successor to OCP as it’s capable of speeds up to 100 times faster than Redis. It’s a PHP extension developed in C that is both a Redis client and a shared in-memory cache.” There is a free Community version.
- Felipe Elia recently wrote a great explainer on WordPress, Object Cache, and Redis. Felipe is right that understanding key performance concepts and tools should matter in developer interviews — so if you’re hiring developers you might want to brush up with Felipe’s article.
- Do the_Woo recently recorded a very insightful open discussion on the Future of Hosting (and WordPress plugin business opportunities) where Till, Carl Alexander, and Zach Stepek trade insights and stories from their work with enterprise class WordPress and WooCommerce.
From the Post Status Archive: Scaling WordPress (Post Status Draft #51) remains one of our all-time most listened to podcast episodes, from 2016. Brian Krogsgard and Joe Hoyle took a pretty comprehensive look at WordPress performance and caching, including Redis.