We write these annual reviews for at least three reasons:
- These reviews are for our customers. Thank you for all your investment in our work. I hope the reviews help you get a better understanding of our vision for these plugins.
- The reviews are for business owners. We try to be honest about the ups-and-downs in the hope that you can avoid some of the mistakes we've made!
- And finally, the reviews are for us. We pour many hours of our lives into building these plugins. It's easy to forget key incidents as you do the daily work. And as the years go by, it's great to look back on these reviews and remember the rollercoaster ride.
Here's our recap of key events for PublishPress in 2022.
We Added More Staff and No More Plugins!
PublishPress was our first real WordPress project and there was a steep learning curve. Especially in the early years, we built out a lot of ideas to see which ones worked. We also acquired a lot of plugins.
This method had a good number of hits, but the product line-up became inconsistent with different names, interfaces, and coding styles. We also took on quite a lot of technical debt with the older plugins.
In 2022, we stopped building new projects and didn't acquire any more plugins. Instead of continuing to grow our product line-up, we spent time improving our processes and catching up on that technical debt.
This image shows our current product line-up with nine plugins. All of them have both a Free and Pro version, with the exception of Future. Look for the release of Future Pro in the next few weeks.
New plugin features in 2022
All nine plugins had new features in 2022, but rather than highlight them all, I'll focus on three plugins that had the most significant changes.
The most popular PublishPress plugin is still Capabilities. Developers Ola and Kevin made some major improvements to this plugin. Here are three of the biggest additions:
Probably the plugin with the most changes was PublishPress Authors. Paul worked hard on Authors all year and transformed the plugin. Previously, its main feature was allowing you to add multiple authors to one post. Now, PublishPress Authors is now a complete platform for managing and displaying authors. There were seven major release for authors.
- Personal profile editing (March)
- Improved shortcodes (June)
- Customizable author pages (June)
- Display all your authors on one screen (July)
- Better support for the WordPress REST API (September)
- More design and layout options for profiles (October)
- Version 4.0 of Authors (November)
Another third plugin that underwent a major transformation was PublishPress Blocks. As with Authors, this plugin started with one simple feature: it provided more blocks. During 2023, our developer Valentin added many more features that work across all the blocks on your site.
- Support for Full-Site Editing (April)
- Scheduling for blocks (July)
- A new interface to match the other PublishPress plugins (October)
- User role controls for blocks (October)
Meeting our goals for 2022
In our 2021 review, I mentioned three areas that need improvement. Let's recap how we did:
- Security: In early December 2021, there was a security issue found in PublishPress Capabilities. This was the first serious issue we've had, and it revealed some weaknesses in our processes. For the next four months, we focused almost exclusively on security improvements. Our developers went through all our codebases, running scans, and looking for errors. The WordPress VIP Coding Standards and tools were very helpful in this process. I can't promise we won't have security issues in the future, but our team are now more likely to catch them before release.
- Tutorials: I failed to increase our content output, and was too distracted by other business tasks. As a result, our revenue grew 50% last year, but our traffic remained flat again.
- More staff: We were lucky enough to welcome Paul, Riza, and Rochelle to our team.
Our goal for 2023
Our overall aim for this year is to unify the PublishPress experience inside WordPress.
We want to build a “PublishPress” dashboard, which will be a central hub for publishers to manage content. One thing we've heard frequently from users is that they would like our plugins to be more integrated into a single solution. This single solution should be one place for writers and editors to plan and schedule content.
This is going to be a difficult challenge.
- We could leave the plugins in separate locations inside WordPress, but just integrate their features. But this probably wouldn't go far enough to solving the initial problem reported by users.
- We could create a new “PublishPress” admin template for WordPress. However, we've always stuck close to the default WordPress UI.
- We could build a SaaS platform, but that would require our users to install more software and we'd probably spend a lot of time re-writing the features already in our plugins.
So our goal for 2023 is clear, but the path to that goal is still murky. That's one of the joys of being a business owner! We're looking forward to tackling this problem, and we'll do it in full consultation with you, the PublishPress user. We've already had some great feedback on this in our Facebook group.
Thanks so much for using the PublishPress plugins.