We Discuss WEDEVS A Leading WordPress Plugin Shop
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Intro: Welcome to the WP-Tonic podcast where each week Jonathan and his co-host interview, the leading experts in WordPress, e-learning, and online marketing. Jonathan, take it away.
Jonathan Denwood: Welcome back, folks to the WP-Tonic Show, it’s episode 575. I’ve been really looking forward to this interview, we have Ahmed Chaion with us, he’s part of the weDevs plugin company. As you know listeners and viewers I’m a big Elementor user and they do an add-on called Happy Add-ons, they do about four or five great WordPress plugins, and it’s going to be a great discussion. So, Ahmed, can you quickly give us a 20-second intro about yourself and weDevs?
Ahmed Chaion: Absolutely. Sure. My name is Ahmed Kabir Chaion, and I work as a business development manager here at weDevs. In the WordPress ecosystem, I’m also the official team representative for the global design team, and weDevs is basically a company that develops plugins and SAS products. At the moment few of the plugins that Jonathan mentioned are spot-on, they would be Dokan, WP ERP, Happy Add-on, and weMail, we’ll discuss all of them in a brief, later on, thank you.
Jonathan Denwood: That’s great. And it would be great if I would remember to say it’s weDevs and not webDevs, that’d be great. I’ve got Steven as well, Steven, would you like to quickly introduce yourself to the new listeners and viewers?
Steven Sauder: Yeah, my name’s Steven Sauder, I’m from zipfish.io where we make WordPress fast by optimizing servers and the code that runs on them.
Jonathan Denwood: That’s great. And before we go into the main part of the discussion, I just want to mention one of our great major sponsors. That’s Kinsta hosting; Kinsta hosting is only a WordPress hosting provider. If you have a customer website or website yourself that needs real performance, if you have a WooCommerce website, a learning management system, a large membership site, you need really good and powerful hosting, and that’s what you get with Kinsta.
They use Google Cloud plus a great user interface, great support, all the bells and whistles that you are looking for, for yourself or for your clients. I can hardly praise them more they’ve been hosting the WP-Tonic site for a number of years, I’ve been delighted with their service. So, I suggest that you go over and look at one of their plans, buy it for yourself or for your clients. And if you do that, and I strongly advise you that you should do that, please tell them that you heard about them on the WP-Tonic website, it helps Kinsta and it really does support the show.
So, Ahmed let’s get into it, so can you give us a quick rundown, the history of weDevs? How long has it been running? How many people work for it and what are the specialties that weDevs specializes in?
Ahmed Chaion: Absolutely. We started back in 2008, 2010, 2000 era around that mark and 2010 as just a blog. It was run by two friends who were computer science students in the universities, and it was their hobby to disrupt the traditional way of learning about IT and the system. So, these two friends came to the big city for they used to be outside of Dhaka in Bangladesh, absolutely. So, they thought sharing knowledge with other like-minded people in the community would help benefit not only themselves but also the people in general.
So, they started that blog and that blog was very popular, and in a few years down the line, they decided, okay, we could come up with something better. That actually is where weDevs began in 2013, 14-ish. And the company was very small in the beginning they started with this plugin based on e-commerce, which we know as Dokan, which is an online multi-vendor marketplace.
And currently, it’s powering 60,000 individual marketplaces, and each of the marketplaces can have from a hundred to 200,000 different stores, online shops, whichever way we say it, it’s actually helping small, medium businesses all over the globe. Helping them power their own business and making money at the same time, so this is a very popular plugin in the WordPress ecosystem. That’s basically led the foundation of weDevs from where we are today, currently, there are about almost one hundred employees, right before the pandemic we had about 40 to 45.
So, the pandemic itself has been a blessing for the business in disguise for what I have experienced because I joined the company right before 2020. So, I noticed that as we moved across the quarantine days, the businesses which were struggling, they needed their online presence, which is where Dokan came in, and the cool thing about Dokan as we all know wordpress.org gives you plugins that you can use for free. So, those were actually key takeaways for people who were looking for online shops, setting up WooCommerce marketplaces, and Dokan lets you do that with just one click.
If you have a WordPress site you just activate the plugin, one-click a few details and you are up and running with your stores, it’s a small store and you have limited features but that’s how a lot of our customers are using the product.
Jonathan Denwood: Oh, that’s great. Over to you, Steven.
Steven Sauder: That’s awesome. I would love to hear a little bit more about the Elementor plugin that you guys have been working on. Especially what it’s like to build a plugin for Elementor and for another page builder and just how that’s been built out and developed.
Ahmed Chaion: So, we have about 17 different plugins that we work on a daily basis, but among them, five or six are very popular ones. The Happy Elementor Add-ons, or in short, we say Happy Add-ons is one of those popular ones. We reached a hundred thousand active installs just a few weeks ago and that plugin is built off Elementor, and the cool thing about that is the team that works specifically for the plugin, they always try to find something that the community is looking for, which is premium and what the team does is.
And again, we all know that having more installs, having more people using it gives us more ways to revenue with paid customers and whatnot because once the user has confidence in the plugin, it’s easier for them to go from the activation acquisition, those funnels. So, they are always releasing free templates and we call them Happy Designs, so Happy Design Templates, it’s like with every release, there’re about 10 to 15 new templates, which you would usually find as premium, so you would have to pay.
So, the users they’re designing their websites, empowering it with Happy Add-ons, actually get something for free of value with every release, which is actually helping grow the plugin a lot.
Steven Sauder: That’s really cool. How is it managing all of these plugins? And then with the updates, Elementary has had some issues when they would upgrade the 3.0 and every plugin that was on Elementor had a hard time, adapting to that. Because there was so much code change that had to happen, it was kind of this whole trickle-down effect. What were your guys’ experience with your plugin and the 3.0 update?
Ahmed Chaion: Oh, there are different stories that we share at the office, you’re absolutely correct with that. I can tell you a few, right before Christmas, around November, our team was going through a big release and there was a big obstacle, we faced some kind of a roadblock and the team had to get together, even during the weekends.
There weren’t any weekends anymore because we had a release schedule that was right around November, late November, everyone’s gearing up for the Black Friday, Cyber Monday deals and suddenly Elementor had one of their releases previously, which caused us to go through with these roadblocks. And the cool thing about the Happy Elementor Add-on thing is that we have a few people who are actually dedicated developers, we have a few people who are designers and we have someone who’s preparing the mock-ups, the wireframes, and all of those things, architecture wise.
Which isn’t much, but still the person is making sure whenever there’s a new update, what kind of impact it’s putting on the current product, to the current version. Technically speaking, which might sound a lot for a lot of listeners today, but I just want to keep it simple. So, what they have done so far is that they are making sure that before the release is pushed through, we do enough testing, we do a lot of different testing and we try to see what the other Elementor based plugins are doing. And we try to learn from that in a good way.
So, the team has faced a lot of roadblocks, but they have been able to manage it, let me tell you a little bit more. WeDevs actually acquired this plugin around 2019, Happy Add-ons was actually a different company, so since we acquired it, we did not just break the team, it’s still done by the original team. So, with the acquisition, they employed the existing employees, but they added our expertise into the mix that has been the success.
But the person who deserves a lot of credit is someone named Gobvinder, he is the marketing coordinator, even though his job restricts him to do marketing stuff; strategies, sales, distribution, but he is involved in the development directly, even though he isn’t a hardcore programmer. So, what I’m really trying to say is it’s a team, which is unique in the way they work which has a lot of experience, which has the people who originally developed the plugin.
And with weDev’s experience of building plugins with different types of plugins, from different platforms, helping the Elementor team succeed with whatever obstacle that’s coming through. And we’re anticipating something similar to what Steven mentioned about perhaps the next few updates from Elementor.
Jonathan Denwood: Let’s hope that they’re a bit better launched. One of the things that I love about Happy Add-ons and I wanted to see is that the free version is really fantastic; it’s not crippled like some other plugins. The amount of functionality you get with the free plugin is quite amazing and then there’s real value in buying the pro version, but that must take a lot of work. Did that take a lot of internal discussions?
What’s going to be in the free version and how do we make it sensible for people to buy the pro version without feeling that the free version is crippled? Does that take a lot of internal discussions and work?
Ahmed Chaion: Yes, Jonathan. I can refer to the time when we were actually fixing the prices at launch and there was more discussion on the pricing than there were technical obstacles that we faced. So, we had to pinpoint a price point, which wasn’t more premium like, but it was convenient, but we didn’t want to feel as cheap as they come. So, that was the thing, so the discussion that they take is more like towards what features we’ll keep giving for free to the customers, what features we will restrict for only paid customers, and how are we going to strategize them.
That is the discussion that takes place on a daily basis each week with the Happy Elementor Add-ons team at weDevs. But then again, I have to give shout out to Govinder, I wish he was here. He has his own YouTube channel and all of that stuff he does talk about, he’s a big Elementor fan, I’m sure you are too. I’m as well, but I’m not much into designing websites these days, but still, Jonathan, you are definitely right on the point that you are making, there are more discussions because once you actually announce something that you’re going to be giving away for free, it needs to keep the promise.
And that’s how you build customer trust, that’s how you build confidence, that’s how you build a reputation as a provider, as an organization, all of those things. So, the team is doing very well, they are making sure decisions are being taken on teams with a win, win perspective so that the customers can also win.
Jonathan Denwood: So, how do you it’s as I said, I think you’ve really dealt well with what’s in the free version of Happy Add-ons and what’s in the paid. And I see a lot of other companies not handle that very well, but on the other hand, it’s not easy, but what about the support side? How do you deal with the support for such a large free plugin without it basically bankrupting the company?
Ahmed Chaion: Oh, that’s a whole different can of worms but let’s just be realistic about it. Managing different plugins for the same company that is built off the WordPress ecosystem is a lot of work. You need to work more to support the customers to meet their queries, to answer all the tickets that we get on a daily basis. Then you do lines of boarding and that’s true, I’m sure you guys can agree with me on that point. So, we have a diverse team of support engineers led by one of my colleagues, his name is Nasmol and he’s he started off as a support executive, he gradually went up the ranks and he’s now leading the team.
About 24 engineers work in three different shifts, so they all have an eight-hour work window, some of them come into work and some of them are always working remotely. So, for Happy Elementor Add-ons, we have dedicated support engineers who are making sure that all of these requests, all of these support tickets are being built in a timely manner. The key to success for Happy Elementor Add-ons is that they manage on a particular subscription level, so if you are a paid customer it comes with the subscription that you pay.
So, if you are a paid customer, you will definitely get support first-hand, if you are not a paid customer, you’d get support, but on a proprietary basis, if that makes sense. So, the support they’re coming and they’re in the ticket as we use Help Scout all the time, we have a ticketing system of our own, so those are being built in a proper manner as we speak. So, the team is making sure that we don’t have many people waiting for support.
Jonathan Denwood: You’ve given a good picture of the level of support that you have to provide and the infrastructure, I thought that was insightful. We’re going to go for our break, folks and when we come back we’re going to be delving into weDevs a bit more and some of their new plugin. We’ll be back in a few moments, folks.
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Jonathan Denwood: We’re coming back. Well, Ahmed’s been really, he’s given some great insights into weDevs. So, a new plugin that’s come on and I think it’s really interesting, weMail, so I see that as your entry as maybe a competitor to MailPoet that recently got bought out by WooCommerce. So, would you see it as your kind of competitor to MailPoet in a way?
Ahmed Chaion: Well, weMail has been a very learning experience for the team since its launch, because as we were discussing about Happy Add-ons, the pricing point, we had to come up with some sort of similar strategies for weMail as well. It turns out that are our biggest competitors aren’t there, we don’t find MailChimp, MailPoet, Mailgun, we don’t find them as competitors simply because the key here is that the more number of emails that you need to send by campaign, or the number of email subscribers of your customer base, the more you have the cheaper you’d get from weMail.
And that’s something we all feel like is the winning strategy for our customers, again, if you go through the pricing at first instance, it might seem a bit confusing, but I assure you the moment you go through the filter options that we have. If you go through the filter, it will pinpoint the difference in the amount of investment you have to do as a business to using MailChimp to using other providers.
And as I was referring to the ERP plugin that we have WP ERP, the weMail plugin is integrated with WP ERP, so the WP ERP has a CRM module, which also comes for free the HR module, CRM module, and the accounting module. These are the three core modules you’ll get for free, so imagine you have a small office with 10 to 15 employees, you have the ERP plugin installed, which is taking care of their leave and all of that stuff.
But importantly, you have a customer base and you want to send emails, as we have weMail integrated, you don’t have to literally invest any money into it with the free version you can send emails to people without spending any money, which you won’t be able to do with the other names that we’ve mentioned today. So, that’s where I think weDevs success relies on many of the plugins, supposedly as we have Happy Add-ons we have weMail itself.
And again, if you go through the fine line the picture becomes clearer for you, and I would also have to give shout out to Mr. Ashit, who is the product marketing manager. Who’s dealing with all of these magical figures, what price point we should be focusing on, what are the features to be added. So, for each of the products that we are discussing today, we have a product champion and that’s the title within the office, so there’s someone who is a product champion for each plugin, and there are different stories that I can say. And I’m proud to be presenting my colleagues today on your renowned podcast.
Jonathan Denwood: Renowned, notorious, maybe. I’m sorry, over to you [Cross-Talking 00:22:55].
Ahmed Chaion: No, we love it at our office. We love this and we were discussing it, you’re welcome.
Jonathan Denwood: Thank you so much, I really appreciate that. Over to you, Steven.
Steven Sauder: Of all your plugins, which one would you say is the most popular? Which one is used the most across the most sites?
Ahmed Chaion: It’s, Dokan. Simply because again, that’s not because of the number of active installs or the number of downloads is seen in the wordpress.org site, it’s because of the sheer volume of it. The number of websites, the number of marketplaces because one marketplace can encounter a lot of traffic, and that’s just one site. But as Jonathan mentioned, Happy Add-ons is keeping up, Dokan has been on the pipeline for us for almost four years now, it’s experienced a lot of work whereas Happy Add-ons, the focus has only been there for a year.
So, the more time we invest in Happy Add-ons, I believe that product, that plugin has the potential to surpass what Dokan has achieved over the years. But personally, I want to see WP ERP shine because that’s something, I feel like a lot of people aren’t aware that there is an actual full ERP solution available within the WordPress ecosystem that you can use for absolutely no cost whatsoever.
Steven Sauder: Well, what are the benefits of having your ERP system inside of WordPress? Why would I want to bring that into my WordPress site?
Ahmed Chaion: Very good question, Steven. So, imagine you have a site which is running off WordPress, so you can download the plugins that are available for free on wordpress.org, and you come across WB ERP. So, the moment you activate this onto your site, you have three plugins, HR, CRM, and accounting, as a small business. I won’t go into like betting worse, but it’s difficult to find plugins that would give you features for managing your HR requirements, managing your accounting records, CRM for example, and dealing with them in a proper way, communicating with them with weMail.
So, with ERP installed on your site, it essentially opens up the door for you to run your business as a small-medium enterprise, as a startup, as someone or a business, which is struggling. I hope you are not, I hope everyone’s doing well, but let’s just imagine someone’s struggling with their business and these adoptions you have, these are the tools you have to give you that push that boost you need to just come to your feet. So, the most benefits you can get is take advantage of the free features that are there and why wouldn’t you try it out?
Steven Sauder: Yeah, that’s cool. Do any of your different plug-ins work together or are they pretty much all kind of their own silo? Do you treat them as very independent or do you try to cross integrate different plugins together?
Ahmed Chaion: Right. We do get that question a lot because with that number of employees in the organization it might not be as crystal clear for everyone to understand, okay, you have 17 plugins, how are you managing that with that many people in the organization? So, the answer is that we have certain focuses on plugins, as I said, at the moment major focuses are on Dokan, Happy Add-ons, WPA ERP, weMail, WP Project Manager, we also have WP User Front-end, so six or seven plugins, which has individual teams, individual development team, individual marketing team, individual coordinator in between.
There’s a separate quality assurance team who make sure that quality is delivered and also we have a project manager an actual dedicated person who makes sure that everything’s running as per our schedule. So, these six plugins, even though it might sound that we’re giving someone a bit more focus on the other 11 plug-ins, they are on-demand basis. So, we have teams of junior programmers, we have a team of mid-level engineers, and we have team professionals who have been in the industry for 10 plus years.
So, that’s actually the key to success, and it’s easy for the team to juggle members in-between like a few months back, I was working on a big project for Dokan and suddenly my focus has been shifted to a different product. It’s pretty easy because a lot of the plugins are integrated with one another and they work seamlessly, if I am trying to build prospects for Dokan today, and the next day I go to weMail, it can easily work for me. They’re all in the WordPress ecosystem, so the silo that there is a bit of site, but still based on like we have certain campaigns coming up and the focus is shifted.
And then in the roadmap for the plugin for the product that we’re trying to achieve in a six months period or yearly period that is also there, which is given focus when absolutely it’s needed or when we are done with our priorities. So, we’re still learning as an organization, I won’t deny that the founders of the company went to Singapore before, right before COVID started. We had our first offshore, or I should say, outside of the country office, it was a very exciting time in the month of January 2021, and in just less than two months’ time, we faced the global pandemic and everything came at a halt.
Just a few months back, the founders came back to the country and they are also hands-on involved, we have our CEO, Mr. Nizam Uddin, and CTO Mr. Tareq Hasan. Tareq is a very popular figure, he’s been in the industry for 17, 18 years and he’s actually the main pillar when it comes to the technical aspect of it of all of these amazing plugin and he’s involved on a daily basis.
So, I think just to sum up what I’m saying, they’re making sure on a monthly, weekly basis that things are going according to schedule, they’re meeting their deadlines, they’re reaching their potential expectations, and all of that stuff. And the other members of the team, they’re just doing their part, like right now, it’s 11:30 my time at night, I will be crossing over to Friday, I’m not yet Friday on my time zone, but I’m still here. I’m doing my part as the business development manager, so that’s how we’re making sure that we’re doing our part.
Jonathan Denwood: I’m very impressed with your dedication, that’s what I expect from my employees. No, I don’t mean that, well, we’ve come to the end of the podcast, hopefully, you can stay on for some bonus content, Ahmed. Because I might ask you about the startup community in Pakistan and the city where you’re based and delve into that because I think that would be fascinating for the listeners and viewers. So, Ahmed, how can people find out more about you and weDevs as well, what’s the best way they can find more information?
Ahmed Chaion: Yeah. So, we have our website, it’s wedevs.com, W E D E V S.com, you can just simply type in weDevs and you will find all the social channels in the Google search result as well. We have our Twitter page, a Facebook page, we have our YouTube channel, and we also have dedicated YouTube channels for every single plugin with tutorials and no house bill being published. As I mentioned, that I’m also part of the WordPress.org ecosystem, you can find me in the design channel for WordPress Slack, if you are both part of it or anyone who’s there.
Also, we’re doing a podcast, it’s called weDevs Show, which I host alongside my co-host. We have webinars running monthly, we have the Dokan webinar, we have the WP ERP webinar, I’m also hosting that. We also have a new initiative called Month in WordPress powered by weDevs. So, what we discuss in that particular video is what milestone has WordPress achieved? And at the same time, what milestone has weDevs achieved? It’s a fun video that we try to post every month, we started it in the month of January, so yeah, and you can definitely find me.
Apart from that, you can write to us, the viewers and listeners can definitely write to us at [email protected], which’s basically for marketing inquiries if anyone has any questions. And if anyone wants to contact me directly, it’s [email protected], that’s my email address. I pretty much tried to cover everything.
Jonathan Denwood: I think you covered quite a bit because but over to, Steven but first before I let Steven, I just want to say that Zipfish has really helped the WP-Tonic website become a speed machine. You can go over there and look at the speed and you’ll be impressed, so over to you, Steven. How can people find out more about you and Zipfish?
Steven Sauder: Yeah, head over to zipfish.io and run a speed test to see how much faster we can make your WordPress site.
Jonathan Denwood: That’s great. Before we close, I just want to remind you listeners and viewers that I have a free webinar with Uncle Spencer from the WP-Tonic Round Table show. And that’s on the 12th of March, Friday, the 12th, and it’s going to be at 10:30 Pacific standard time and we’re going to be discussing all things Click Funnels, checkouts, how to use WooCommerce with uncle Spencer’s project LaunchFlows, and how you can build modern funnels and checkouts that are basically a lot better than Click Funnels.
If that sounds interesting, and it should go over to the WP-Tonic website, there’s a button right in the main navigation, you click it, it says webinar, and you can sign up for the free webinar. There you’ll be able to ask Spencer and I any questions that you have about using the power of WordPress, LaunchFlows, WooCommerce to build modern funnels in 2021. We’re going to wrap up the podcast part of the show; you can watch the rest of the bonus content on the WP-Tonic YouTube channel, where I’m going to be discussing the WordPress startup community in Pakistan. It should be a fantastic discussion. We’ll see you next week, folks, bye.
Outro: Thanks for listening to the WP-Tonic podcast, the podcast that gives you a dose of WordPress medicine twice a week.