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A Quick Word to WordPress Developers

Discussion in 'WordPress Theme & Plugin Development' started by Kevin Muldoon, Oct 13, 2015.

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  1. As someone who reviews a lot of WordPress products, I find myself hitting my head against the wall about this every week, so I need to say a quick word to all WordPress developers....

    Stop Restricting Use of Your Products!!!!!!!!!!!

    Only updates and support should be restricted. Nothing more. Nothing less.

    Why it is so difficult to comprehend that WordPress was released under the General Public License?

    You cannot, and should not, restrict use of your products. Restrict updates and support. Not your product.

    End of story.

    Raspal, Brian Jackson and Kris Hoja like this.
  2. (y)
    Kevin Muldoon likes this.
  3. How are they restricting use of their products?
  4. They add in a license key that stops the plugin from being used unless the license key is entered.

    Firstly, this is against the license that WordPress is released under and therefore should not be allowed. Many developers go one step further and restrict the product from being implemented on more than one website.

    Secondly, some problems can arise from using a license key. For example, the other month I was unable to even verify the license for a product because their server was down. Can you imagine paying $99 for a WordPress product and then not being able to use it because their server was down? You would be furious.

    It's also important to note that WordPress companies close every day. You could be very unlucky and activate a plugin on your website and when you try and activate it on your second website a few months later, the company has not renewed their domain so your plugin is unusable.

    The fact is that a license key should only be used to restrict updates and support. It should never restrict use of the plugin itself.
  5. Completely agree.

    I hate plugins that tempt you with premium features in the back end, but they're hidden or inactive, requiring a premium add on. Urgh.
  6. That's actually different to what I was thinking about :)

    I was referring to premium products i.e. products that cannot be downloaded until you pay $50 or $100. Despite paying for the plugin, the product is unusable until you enter your license key.

    I don't mind the freemium model. I look at the free version of a premium plugin as an opportunity to test the plugin and see whether the premium version is worth buying. I don't think there is anything wrong with that as you are not being restricted from using what was actually promised to you (though some free versions of premium plugins are so crippled that they are pointless).
  7. Okay.

    So (out of interest), what do you think for something like OptinMonster? Admittedly it's a free plugin, but it connects to a paid for SAAS?
  8. Cheapest plan for OptinMonster appears to be $49.

    Sorry, are you referring to another plugin?
  9. Ahhh ok. I didn't realise they offered a free version.

    Yeah I am not a big fan of plugins that add nothing but a sign in button. Many of those who do this also put themselves on the top level of the WordPress admin menu.

    The fact is that none of these plugins are actually helpful. They are a standalone service and do not interact with the user's website in any way.
  10. I have developed a plugin and I offer both free version and paid version. There might be some other plugins offering what I offer in the free version, but when I first built others were asking for $50-100 for a copy of a plugin that did what my plugin did for free.

    While I share your opinion that things on wordpress should be free, the part of the plugin that I ask for money can't be offered without a connection to my servers. This is not the main reason why I have a premium version. I tried to give the premium version for download but I encountered many compatibility problems. First I thought that my coding skills are not enough to be a wordpress developer, and tried to improve it and make it work for as many situations as I could. The more I tried the more problems I created.

    I also have developed free plugins where a connection to retrieve data from my servers was required. But if the plugin gets too many attention then I cannot provide that service anymore without incurring significant costs. And now I am thinking when that moment arrive, should I make it paid for all users, which mean that no one can really use the plugin without paying ? That's a tough question because I also think that wordpress plugins should be free and it might also break the wordpress plugin directory rules. I just hope that I can find a way to still provide the same service for free while developing some new/advanced features to ask money, to be a real freemium service.

    I had the first plugin 2 years with only the free version. Got thousands of downloads every week and I had donate buttons everywhere. In that time I got about $40 in donations from 3 users. One of them donated $35. Another one needed some modification and I did it for him and asked for my Paypal email address for a donation. He gave me $1. I think this is the problem for wordpress community. They expect everything to be free but rarely donate or help the developers in any way. If I am building a separate website and provide a service, there are many ways in which I can keep it for free: display advertising, affiliate links or other ways to make some money and still giving everything for free, but in the wordpress plugin ecosystem you get nothing for your time.

    That's when I decided to make the premium version of the plugin. Now I have users who asks for custom modifications and pay me for the help even if they already paid for the plugin licence. Now they understand the value of the plugin.
  11. Donations do not work. They simply do not work. Lots of developers over the years have did tests to see if a donation system would work and it didn't. It is much better to charge for a product than to rely on donations. The reality is that for 99% of people, when they see that a product is funded using a donation system, they believe the product is 100% free.

    I do appreciate the technical problems that developers face when it comes to developing their products. I also know that a connection to the developer's server is required frequently too.

    However, I do not like products that restrict use; particularly when I have paid for them.

    I have been reviewing WordPress products for many years and have seen support for many good products being dropped. When that happens, customers can be left in a difficult position because their website relied on that functionality. If a plugin relies on connections to a server for verification etc, overnight the plugin can be worthless if the developer decides to abandon the project.
  12. Yes. It is sad to pay $70 or $150 for a plugin and after two months to realise that you can't use it anymore.

    That's why I prefer subscription based products. Instead of paying $70 or $150 or $200 to see if it fits, out of it is working, you pay for the first month $10 or $20 and decide if you still want it. If the website go down you stop paying.

    Of course, you pay more in long term but here are yearly or lifetime offers comes in. If you know for sure that the plugin is great and seller serious you can get yearly subscription for discounted price.
  13. I agree. I support the subscription business model after support has been provided for an initial period of six or twelve months. It allows the product to be supported and developed further.
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