One Million Smushies and Our Commitment to WordPress.org Plugins
2018 got off to a very exciting start with WP Smush passing the 1 million active users mark, but for us here at WPMU DEV that’s just the start of where we want to go in terms of our commitment to high quality, free, WordPress.org hosted plugins.
We adopted WP Smush, then called WP Smush.it, back in 2013 with an aim to save the struggling plugin from a mountain of support queries and fairly unsatisfied users (I think, from memory, it had around a 3.2/5 star rating which was getting worse), and, naturally add in a pro version for power users.
Updated: 12/20/2018 – Smush Pro now includes WebP compression, automatic image scaling and 10GB of CDN storage on our 40 Tbps servers with 45 share points around the world.
But it wasn’t until the buggy Yahoo! hosting service catering for the free plugin was discontinued in 2015 and we had to develop our own, better, free solution that we really learned the difference a really quality (and, of course, free) WordPress.org plugin can make to the community and to a business.
First up, providing an excellent free (and very, very easy) solution for optimizing images led to us being able to push the rating of the plugin up to 5/5 stars (4.8 to be exact, and climbing, with 3,096 five star reviews!!!) and since then to join the million active installs club, which we couldn’t be happier to be part of.
And how do you get there… well, it’s really simple, provide a super well designed, super high quality, free service that will suit 99.9% of WordPress users. Because that then gives you the opportunity to provide power tools (and, in this case better, more resource intensive smushing) to power users who will happily pay for it. And 0.1% of 1,000,000 is… a lot.
Which is why we’re deciding to double down on our plugins available at WordPress.org and aim to provide 99.9% of WP users the best possible designed and core functionality they can possibly want (and welcome the 0.1% with open arms), wanna know more? Read on :)
In addition to the super popular Custom Sidebars (which seems to satisfy 99.999% of users lol) in 2017 we released three absolutely stonking and absolutely free core WP plugins.
Defender – All your WordPress Security Needs in One Place
Hummingbird – Taking Performance Optimization to the Next Level
Hustle – All your Pop Up, Slide In and Marketing Needs
And in 2018 you can look forward to a whole lot more, including:
SmartCrawl – A completely revamped SEO plugin
This is coming very, very soon and we’re super excited. Essentially we’re aiming to cover pretty much all (there’s that 99.9% again) of any regular WP users SEO needs in the one handy plugin. So there won’t be any need to pay for expensive add-ons unless you are a power developer.
CoursePress – Our LMS and course management plugin, vastly improved
Forminator – All your forms needs in one beautifully designed bundle
And a whole heap more too, which we hope you’ll enjoy :)
And yes, I’m sure that you’re thinking (or perhaps about to ask me), “Well, why would I need a WPMU DEV membership then?” or maybe even “Why am I paying for a membership to support you to do this?” And they are both good questions.
To the first question I’d say simply that if you don’t need a membership with us, that’s completely fine. In a strange way if we can offer the free tools on WordPress.org that actually persuade a bunch of our members to cancel and just use them, then we’re winning, because that means we have made the free product so good that they are bound to get many many more active users than our pro version have now, and as a result… we should get more business!
And in terms of the second question, well, you could ask the same of any of the people behind WordPress or any other GPL project – one of the benefits that comes from being part of this community and ecosystem as long as I have is that you begin to clearly see how the more effort you put in, the better you support those who want to use GPL products and the more you care about and tend to the vast majority of users, the more you and your business will prosper.
And so we are delighted to pin our colours to the WordPress.org mast, and in fact we don’t think there’s another way, and we’d encourage anyone else who’s looking for a plugin or thinking of releasing one that they should start right there. Who knows where the next million active users are going to come from!