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It’s with joy and excitement as we celebrate the first year of WP Rocket. This adventure has officially started July 15th, 2013 and we are proud of the progress.
Through this post, we wish to share with you the origin of the project and our feedback on this first year.
A tutorial that change a life
WP Rocket was born after the enthusiasm around the tutorial “Create a cache system on WordPress“, published on April 10, 2013 on GeekPress. This script was developed to provide a simple alternative to existing caching plugins like WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache which are in our eyes, far too complicated to set up.
With more than 30 scripts downloaded in a few days and hundreds of comments on the post, Jean-Baptiste and Jonathan decide to go further.
For several months, the two former colleagues wanted to develop a product in the field of web performance. The craze around the cache script has only confirmed their feelings and their desire to offer an inclusive tool to improve the loading time of a site. Thus the idea of WP Rocket was born as a premium WordPress plugin.
To have a quality product, Julio (a WordPress expert) joined the team at the beginning of the development of WP Rocket.
WP Rocket and Our Company DNA
When we started to work on the plugin, we had a clear technical base and the “philosophy” to respect.
Competitors plugins are racing options at the expense of the user experience. From our side, simplicity was our first priority.
We wanted an efficient plugin and quick to configure whatever the user level. We’re inspired by the philosophy of WordPress: “Decisions, not options.”
Whenever you give a user the choice, you ask him to take a decision. When a user doesn’t understand an option or doesn’t use it, this inevitably leads to frustration. Thus, 80% of web performance best practices are in place without activating any option in WP Rocket.
The performance is the heart of our plugin, we have made technical choices in this sense, either at the code level itself, but also with various new features.
To benefit from the advanced use, flexibility of the plugin is an important point. Thus, developers can use many hooks to accommodate the maximum possible situations.
For us, customer satisfaction is essential. Also, we make a point of honour to offer the broadest possible outstanding customer service both at our support and in pre-sales thanks to a live chat.
Moreover, this strategy has paid off as many customers now act as “Ambassador”
"Hand by hand" guidance from Jonathan (WP Rocket guy) – he guided me from the beginning of the process… @wp_rocket https://t.co/y0vOxcKXQW
— Ivica Delic (@Free_LanceTools) July 13, 2014
Our website is super fast after installing @wp_rocket! Great plugin – and the best customer service ever!
— EarBeater (@earbeater) July 2, 2014
The beginning of a great adventure
End of April 2013, we decided to set up a site and appeal to beta tester. For this, we only spent a 50 euros to purchase the domain name, hosting, website template and logo.
A month later, we received more than 300 requests for participation. Among them, we selected 20 random people and 10 guests for a first test version of WP Rocket.
Feedbacks were very encouraging and allowed us to address several bugs and improve the plugin. Once again we would like to thank Rodrigue (Creer1Site), Alexandre (WP pot), Fabrice (WP training), Jérôme (Lije Creativ) and all the beta testers for their availability.
On July, 15th 2013, after two and a half months of development, WP Rocket is accessible to the public.
For the first day of launch, we conducted 42 sales. This successful launch is confirmed throughout the month of July which ended in 196 sales.
In October, we decided to give up with the status of freelance in gain of a society. “SAS WP Media” is born January 1st, 2014 with 3 partners: Jonathan Buttigieg, Julio Potier and Jean-Baptiste Marchand-Arvier.
We were very pleased with our launch in France since 2013 ended with 765 sales in 14 countries.
From the outset, we decided to throw ourselves only on the French market. It was necessary to evaluate the market potential to test the responsiveness, but also to improve the plugin before proposing it to the international.
Until January 2014 we spent all of our time on improving the plugin. Not less than 26 versions were released between July, 14th 2013 and December, 24th 2013.
The basic features remained broadly the same. All the work has been done on the compatibility servers, process improvement (caching, minification), optimization of code and adding new features (CDN, white label, DNS prefetching).
The big league
Six months after the launch, it was time to evolve our site. The original template of a few dollars began to be exceeded. We needed a strong and professional identity. It’s Christelle Mozzati who was responsible of the makeover (logo, illustrations and graphic designs)
Then, after 9 months of existence, we have decided to launch to the international. The site and the plugin have been translated into several languages: English, German and Italian. The translation of the plugin is available on Transifex.
Before launching on May, 1st 2014, we contacted several U.S. blogs to write a review on WP Rocket. This is how WP Tavern has known us and Sarah has published a post the same day of the launch: “WP Rocket Launches Commercial Caching Plugin for WordPress.” This allowed us to gain some international visibility.
Despite this interesting relay, we were disappointed with sales abroad. Our market forecasts were less good than expected.
The promotion of the plugin in France was relatively easy, thanks to our presence in the WordPress community.
Abroad, the reputation of our team is still to be done. We have also reported on this challenge on the blog of ManageWP: “Promoting a Young Premium Plugin: The Challenges and Decisions Facing WP Rocket.”
To support the international promotion, we sponsored several WordCamp (New York & Chicago) and conducted a campaign on WP App Store.
Thanks to our perseverance, our objectives for the international is approaching gradually.
In recent months, we focus our work on communication and customer relationship. What we neglected since the launch including: pre-sales, customer feedback and our policy of deployment.
Pre-sales, we set up a live chat system (Zopim) in order to respond to the questions of our visitors.
Faithful to the lean startup, we are looking for customer reviews to respond quickly to these returns. Thus, 35 days after the first order from a customer, we send an email asking suggestions for improvements.
We also change our policy of deployment of new versions. Rather than deploying large versions, we will instead deploy small batches. This, with the aim of having more returns and be more agile.
We are currently working on switching our support towards a real ticket management system (HelpScout).
Finally, all our mails are now routed with Mailjet. This allows to have returns on opening rates and implement AB testing.
We are currently finalizing WP Rocket v2.2 that is in development for several months. It brings a lot of new features including an easier system to manage API keys for customers.
We have already planned the new “important” features in versions 2.3 and 2.4.
Finally, a documentation with all the hooks and functions will be available in a few months.
A first positive report
We left the working model “agency” like posted websites from Friday evening to a whole different world.
The development and promotion of a product is a breakthrough for the entire team. This is an existing challenge where we see grow his “baby”. We can develop until 4 o’clock in the morning without realizing it.
To date, management and maintenance of WP Rocket mobilizes two full-time people. We hope, if necessary, to have new members in our team here in several months.
In terms of sales, the year ends on a total of 1788 sales in 58 countries and 4230 sites using WP Rocket.
We conclude this post by thanking heartfelt our customers, but also all those who have participated in the development of WP Rocket (beta testers, translators and many others …).