2017 was the year we doubled down on Progressive Web Applications and we did that by concentrating our efforts on building more PWA themes for our WordPress Mobile Pack plugin and also launching 3 new related WordPress plugins: Progressive Web Apps, PWACommerce and WP AMP Themes.
6 major releases: January, March, April, May, August and September.
v2.0 has 35,3% active installs, v3.0+ has 9,7% active installs; there’s also a legacy of 31,8% active installs still on v1.0+
Approximately 2,500 support conversation over e-mail, Intercom.io (the customer support system we use), via GitHub or WordPress public repositories
A total of 23 posts on our blog
Our tweets earned 180,000 impressions last year
We’re also proud that we had the opportunity to give talks at WordCamp Bucharest and Athens, evangelizing Progressive Web Apps in the WordPress community. You can watch below the “Building an E-commerce Progressive Web App with React and WooCommerce” presentation, delivered by our CTO, Alexandra Anghel:
In terms of technology advancements, a big question mark last year gravitated around Apple and the support of service workers on Safari. With the introduction of Safari Technology Preview 46 for macOS Sierra and macOS High Sierra that seems to be heading in the right direction.
Service workers could find their way onto iOS devices in 2018, opening up the web for a whole new range of possibilities. Already available on Android, some sites have begun to take advantage of service workers to provide browser-based push notifications.
As far as we’re concerned, we’re dedicated to helping developers out there built awesome Progressive Web Applications, whether that’s on top of a popular CMS (WordPress, Drupal or Joomla), eCommerce platforms (WooCommerce, Magento or Shopify) or any other 3rd party API and with that in mind we’ve already planned some interesting partnership throughout 2018. More to come soon.
A few months back we announced that we’re building our first e-commerce Progressive Web Application by integrating with WordPress & WooCommerce REST API. Our CTO and main contributor for WordPress Mobile Pack, Alexandra Anghel, presented our progress at Bucharest WordCamp last week in front of an audience of 250 WordPress enthusiasts and we’re now excited to release the alpha version of our first PWA-Commerce theme.
Why did we build it?
Building a high-quality Progressive Web App has incredible benefits, making it easy to delight your users, grow engagement and increase conversions. There are several examples of companies that have successfully used PWAs to improve their metrics, you can find some of them on the Google Developers website. Here are just 2 examples:
Alibaba.com built a PWA that led to a fast, effective, and reliable mobile web experience. The new strategy delivered a 76% increase in total conversions across browsers and 4 times higher interaction rate from Add to Homescreen.
In another use case, OLX wanted to re-engage mobile web users by using Add to Homescreen and Push Notifications. They increased engagement by 250% and improved other metrics too: the time until the page became interactive fell by 23%, with a corresponding 80% drop in bounce rates. Monetization also improved, with clickthrough rate (CTR) rising 146%.
Since eCommerce is one of the main areas where a PWA can bring immediate benefits, the WooCommerce Progressive Web App theme that we’re releasing is set to bring a new level of excitement for your users and increase your business bottom line.
Here are some of the capabilities that we’ve implemented for you:
First of all, being progressive is a score, not a Yes or No, and there’s a Chrome plugin called Lighthouse that you can use to measure this score. Lighthouse generates a report with all the PWA capabilities, basically, it lets us know what we need to change for a web app to become progressive. For our alpha version of the WooCommerce PWA, we managed to hit a 91 score on Lighthouse.
The Angular / Ionic combination is pretty popular nowadays. Ionic is a great framework that was originally built for mobile apps, but has expanded to PWAs and even desktop applications.
ReactJs is really intuitive and easy to understand. It benefits from a great boilerplate, create-react-app, which comes with PWA support by default.
Besides these 2, VueJS is also gaining in popularity.
Since all of our PWA themes we’ve prepared for bloggers, newspapers & magazines have been built using Angular/Ionic, it was time to give ReactJS a try. Hence, the WooCommerce PWA is built with ReactJS and you can check out the video below if you want to go deeper into the technical aspects of building a ReactJS application.
This is just the alpha release and we’re already working on the beta version. Here’s just a part of our roadmap:
Add offline mode capabilities
Add push notifications
Finalizing the checkout process
You can still order the WooCommerce PWA for just $49 for a few more weeks and benefit from frequent updates whenever we have a new release. Getting to a stable version is hard work and requires many development hours, that’s why by pre-ordering the $49 version you’ll not only get a discounted deal (from the $99 regular price) but you’ll also support us in implementing new features & capabilities.
ReactJS took the WordPress community by surprise when it was introduced in November 2015 by Matt Mullenweg announcing Calypso as the culmination of more than 20 months of work by dozens of engineers and designers. Calypso was described as being:
Starting this month we’re going to publish a series of interviews with WordPress plugin developers sharing their stories, their growth plans and their vision of the WordPress ecosystem as a whole. That being said, it’s my great pleasure to introduce the first interview with Davor Altman, Happiness Engineer at Automattic.
He lives in Belgrade and he’s currently one of the people behind WP Job Manager – one of the most popular job board plugins for WordPress, created by Mike Jolley back in 2013. The plugin was then acquired by Automattic in 2015 with the acquisition of WooCommerce.
He started using WordPress back in 2013 and it’s been a huge part of his life ever since. Being a Customer Happiness enthusiast he loves combining his two passions – WordPress and Customer Happiness 🙂 He enjoys playing table-tennis and chess! And he loves blogging in his spare time.
He’s been with Automattic for over a year and worked on various products like Jetpack, VaultPress, Akismet, and WordPress.com. However, in the last couple of months, they decided to have a group of people fully dedicated to supporting WP Job Manager and taking it to the next level. He was fortunate enough to be among these people and they’re devoting a great chunk of their time on a daily basis to make WP Job Manager a better plugin for everyone.
How big is your team?
There are currently 556 people working at Automattic and making the web a better place every day. I work in a small team with 5 of my colleagues. They are all incredible workers and people and I consider myself super lucky to have the opportunity to work with them every day.
How did you start with WordPress? Why WordPress?
In my past life, I was studying Italian language and literature. I had a job at an Italian call center and I thought that’s where I’m gonna stay for quite some time. However, a friend of mine introduced me to WordPress and I wanted to learn more about it. I quickly got caught in its web and I quit my job and started learning more about WordPress. I did a couple of projects in the next few months and then I got my first job as a WordPress support representative.
Why WordPress? It has an incredibly large community of supporters. It’s also easy to use and at the same time, super complex. You have to love it! 🙂
Can you please describe who’s your user/customer? Who’s using your plugin(s)?
WP Job Manager’s customer base ranges from small entrepreneurs looking to offer job boards to their visitors to large companies looking for best ways to hire people, developers building their own custom solutions on top of WP Job Manager, schools offering project listings, and hospitality enthusiasts. They all have one thing in common – WP Job Manager!
How do you monetize?
We created paid add-ons which enhance the core WP Job Manager’s functions. With the purchase of a license of one of our paid add-ons (or our core add-on bundle), the users receive a variety of features, one year of free updates for the add-on(s), and the priority support.
Can you share a few numbers in terms of active users/downloads or website monthly traffic? How do you acquire visitors/users/customers?
Sure! Our core WP Job Manager plugin currently has over 90 000 active installations. Also, we have around 3 500 daily visits on https://wpjobmanager.com.
In the past, we didn’t have any active sales and marketing campaigns. People just visited our website, used our core plugin, and bought the add-ons if they needed them. I have to admit that we invested 0 effort and time into advertising our WP Job Manager plugin in the last year and more. The word of mouth mouse drove people to our website! However, we plan to maintain our reputation for one of the best job board plugins out there but also, we’re gonna devote a good chunk of our time to advertise WP Job Manager and all the cool things it can do.
The quality of what Mike Jolley created as a side project back in 2013 was enough to sustain itself and bring us loyal customers. However, we are currently looking into using content marketing to increase our current customer base. I’ll let you know the results soon!
What are your current struggles? How are you planning on overcoming them? Can you share a tough moment in the course of your business? What were the takeaways from it?
I’d say our biggest struggle at the moment is finding the right balance between patching, enhancing, support, and project work. Apart from our core plugin, we have 12 add-on plugins that also need our attention. Allocating the right amount of time to all the things that need attention is something we are constantly experimenting with. We try to divide the work amongst ourselves and we have regular weekly (and sometimes daily) meetings to catch up on things.
What would you say are your biggest strengths?
All of us working on WP Job Manager want to see it become the top listings plugin and the number one choice of every WordPress user who ever thought of publishing listings on their site. I think that our determination and devotion are our biggest strengths.
After Automattic acquired WP Job Manager, the plugin didn’t have a set course. We neglected it and didn’t work actively on it at all. The people working on it were constantly rotating and there wasn’t a team accountable for it. This produced support response times of more than 5 days and plugins that couldn’t keep up with how fast WordPress is growing and changing.
The takeaway – never neglect a product which has so much time, sweat, and keystrokes woven in it.
What are your plans for 2017?
We will have lots of releases of our core and add-on plugins. We’ll be adding patches and enhancements on a regular basis and we’ll try to have a release per week. Support is also one of our top priorities. Our users deserve quick replies which answer their questions and resolve their problems. We’ll also see to increase our user base and revenue with content marketing and special promotions.
What do you think about the WP ecosystem in general? Where do you think the opportunity lies for the next years?
WP ecosystem is still expanding incredibly quickly which is amazing. Picking any part of it and building on top of it, or inventing something new, the chances are great that you’ll receive a warm welcome. I believe that there’s a bright future for everyone, especially for the WP users involved with the security, backup, and optimization. These are the areas that are evolving the fastest and they need the most attention.
Nevertheless, the listing business is still very active and there are lots of opportunities here for both old and new players in the market. And it’s the one we are very much looking forward to investing in!
What would you recommend anybody that is looking to start their own WP business?
There is a whole community behind you that will support you and you are never alone. Take chances, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, ask for assistance, help others, and never stop learning.
Monday marked an important milestone: after 36 releases, approximatively 700 commits, over 150,000 lines of code and dozens of mobile app themes implemented (10,000 lines of code each), WordPress Mobile Pack has surpassed 1,000,000 downloads.
WP Mobile Pack has come a long way since its early days when it was just a simple mobile theme switcher, to version 2.0 (June 03, 2014) which represented the relaunch of the plugin to include support for rich mobile web applications and now, the 3.0 version that encompasses the latest advances in web technologies by adopting Progressive Web Application standards:
Progressive – Work for every user, regardless of browser choice because they’re built with progressive enhancement as a core tenet.
Responsive – Fit any form factor: desktop, mobile, tablet, or forms yet to emerge.
Connectivity independent – Service workers allow work offline, or on low-quality networks.
App-like – Feel like an app to the user with app-style interactions and navigation.
Fresh – Always up-to-date thanks to the service worker update process.
Safe – Served via HTTPS to prevent snooping and ensure content hasn’t been tampered with.
Discoverable – Are identifiable as “applications” thanks to W3C manifests and service worker registration scope allowing search engines to find them.
Re-engageable – Make re-engagement easy through features like push notifications.
Installable – Allow users to “keep” apps they find most useful on their home screen without the hassle of an app store.
Linkable – Easily shared via a URL and do not require complex installation.
To celebrate the 1M downloads milestone we are running a flash promotion (20% OFF). That’s a significant saving that for some might mean a new app theme to help cater for your customers better, for others that might be that little push you need to try out one of our products for the first time. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed.
Overall improved mobile user interface and experience
Plenty of reasons to celebrate! 🎉 🙌 🎂
Thank you to all of our users, customers, and contributors for growing and shaping WP Mobile Pack. We’ve paved the road for future innovation and exploration to produce robust progressive web applications. If you want to further extend it, a great way to start is by going through our technical Documentation and GitHub public repository. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or you want to contribute to extending WP Mobile Pack.