tl;dr version: WP Ultimo aims to achieve the same goal as Pro Sites – allow you to create a network of premium sites – and can serve as a replacement. However, it does things a bit differently from what you might be used to, so it’s important to check that out and this post might help you. Also, we are working on a migration tool and there’s a form below where you can signup to be notified when it’s out.

Introduction

Hey there,
My name is Arindo and I’m the creator of WP Ultimo.

If you clicked the link at the top of our main page, it probably means that you ended up in our site because of the recent announcement WPMUDEV made about setting 90% of their plugins free, including Pro Sites.

We are getting a lot of questions from Pro Sites users and I think it is a good idea to have a centralized place (this post) with the answers.

Let’s get started:

First of all, what is WP Ultimo?

WP Ultimo is a WordPress multisite plugin that allows you to create a network of Premium Sites. Its value proposition is the same as Pro Sites: you can create different subscription tiers and have customers pay you a recurring fee to have a site hosted in your Multisite network.

In fact, WP Ultimo was created after I needed a solution for a premium network I was building and found that Pro Sites didn’t quite work for the specific requirements of my project. Instead of trying to adapt Pro Sites, I decided to build my own solution from scratch.

This was 2.5 years ago and that codebase is now WP Ultimo.

How do WP Ultimo and Pro Sites compare?

There is quite the feature overlap between Pro Sites and WP Ultimo, despite the difference in approach.

The folks at WPMUDEV kept Pro Sites fairly slim, delegating additional features to separate plugins. Although this made sense for them at the time, it increases the overhead immensely since maintaning a lot of tiny plugins can be very, very time-consuming.

We are a small team of four people, so we have opted to reduce overhead as much as possible. As a result, many of the features that needed additional plugins to be installed are available inside WP Ultimo’s core plugin. We delegate to add-ons just the features that only a minor share of our user base will ever need.

Quick Feature comparison (with links for documentation, when available):

  • Blog Templates: Available in WP Ultimo core with a different name, Site Templates – documentation
  • Domain Mapping: Available in WP Ultimo core – documentation
  • Coupons – Available in WP Ultimo core.
  • Setup Fees – Available in WP Ultimo core, you can also set up different setup fees for each plan.
  • Subscription Management – Available in WP Ultimo core – documentation
  • Payment Gateways: WP Ultimo supports PayPal, Stripe and Manual by default, with an add-on to add WooCommerce and WooCommerce Subscriptions as a payment method as well (which basically makes all the WooCommerce gateways available for WP Ultimo use). – documentation.
  • Add Ads to free plans: Available on WP Ultimo via a free add-on called WP Ultimo: Ad Injector – documentation.
  • White-labeling Plugins and Themes: Available on WP Ultimo via our premium add-on called WP Ultimo: Plugin and Theme Manager – documentation.

In which aspects do WP Ultimo and Pro Sites differ?

As I said in a previous topic, WP Ultimo was born out of a specific set of requirements I had for a project of mine. As a result, I made some decisions that make WP Ultimo and Pro Sites extremely different in some points and this might be a deal-breaker for you.

Signing up

Pro Sites keeps most of its signing-up/upgrading/paying stuff on the front-end. This was something I wanted to avoid as much as possible since my customers would have access to the wp-admin panel and I wanted my registration pages to be independent of the theme I was using on the main site.

As a result, WP Ultimo registration page is located outside the front-end, but not really on the back-end. Our sign-up process is also divided into separate steps. Here’s a screenshot of what it looks like, and you can check it live on our demo network.

WP Ultimo using the default Pricing Table layout

Customer Account Management

Our customer account management screens are not located on the front-end, but rather on the back-end. We add a new admin page called Account where the customer can see its Billing History, update credit card info, etc.

Contact Point of a Subscription

Pro Sites attaches the subscription to a site, rather than to the user. This means that each pro site = one subscription, even if they belong to the same user.

WP Ultimo does things differently, attaching the subscription to the user instead.

This means that a user can’t have more than one subscription at the moment (this is something we are planning to add on our 2.X releases). That being said, you can allow multiple sites to be created under a single subscription, varying the number of allowed sites in each plan. Something like the following:

  • Plan A: Free – Allows for 1 site to be created;
  • Plan B: $9,99 – Allows for 3 sites to be created;
  • and so on up to unlimited sites.

Are there things WP Ultimo can do that Pro Sites wasn’t able to do?

In the past two and a half years we added a bunch of cool features to WP Ultimo that makes it really unique. Some of these include:

  • Domain Mapping integration with Managed WordPress hosting providers: WP Ultimo automatically adds mapped domains to the admin panels of WP Engine, Cloudways, cPanel, RunCloud, Closte and more when a new domain is mapped, so you don’t have to do it manually. In some cases, we’ll even trigger SSL certificate fetching for you – documentation.
  • Webhooks: WP Ultimo has a powerful Webhook system that allows you to integrate your network with a number of different services. We even offer direct integration with Zapier, which opens your network to some 1000+ apps and services available in their platform. documentation (webhooks) and documentation (integrating with Zapier).
  • The ability to allow your customers to register custom domains on signup – documentation – Only available via OpenSRS now, but we’ll be adding more resellers in the future.
  • Support for WooCommerce and WooCommerce Subscriptions as payment gateway options – documentation.
  • Create powerful Admin Pages to help your customers using your favorite page builder: WP Ultimo has a handy add-on called Admin Pages Creator, which basically allows you to add fully customized Admin Pages to your customers’ dashboard using Elementor, Beaver Builder, and Brizy templates – documentation.
  • Two different Admin Themes to customize the dashboard experience of your customers: Check Material WP and PRO.

More advanced Stuff:

  • Support to Template Overrides: With WP Ultimo, you can replace the default HTML templates for the signup flow with your own versions without needing to worry about changing core plugin files – documentation.
  • Search and Replace API: You can also annotate site templates with placeholders like {{site_name}} and use the Search and Replace API to auto-populate those placeholders with information provided by your customer right after sign-up, automatically – documentation.

Do you have plans to build a Migrator?

Yes, we are already working on it and WPMUDev offered to help us in this endeavor. Be sure to leave your email on the form below and we’ll let you know as soon as we finish it =)

UPDATE: Our Migrator is ready! Click here to read more about it!

Additional Resources

Here are some links that might help you get your head around WP Ultimo and make an informed decision about wether our not WP Ultimo is the right tool for your project.

If you still have questions and want to chat with us directly, click here and say hi!

Comments are also open, so feel free to leave your question down below, if you prefer.

We’re here to help =)

  1. Thanks for this article. I am especially looking forward to have an integration with the WPMUDEV hosting and my domain name registar GoDaddy. As would it be a smooth process if during checkout a client can choose to transfer a domain or buy a domain name from my white labeled online store at GoDaddy, and have it all sync with the multisite hosting at WPMUDEV thru WP Ultimo.
    I see similar functions ready in wp ultimo: “Domain Mapping integration with Managed WordPress hosting providers: WP Ultimo automatically adds mapped domains to the admin panels of WP Engine, Cloudways, cPanel, RunCloud, Closte and more when a new domain is mapped, so you don’t have to do it manually. In some cases, we’ll even trigger SSL certificate fetching for you”

  2. Hello Arindo! Thanks for writing this! It was very helpful for me/us. I run a small business and we’ve depended on Pro-Sites for quite a while. I really like the look and sound of what you’ve got going on here. It’s very likely we’ll be moving to you once you finish the migrator.

    Also, I saw on your Community Forum that you were asking users what features they might like to see adopted from some of the thrown out wpmudev plugins for Ultimo. Since I don’t have a license yet, I can’t comment there, so I wanted to toss out my thoughts here. I second the Support System adoption. That’d be great! I also would suggest the admin notifications and admin ads plugins being merged in. It’s very helpful to be able to post a small message across the network for all the site admins to see, letting them know of updates and changes like new plugins, themes, or promotions (that can be dismissed once read). It’s also nice to have a simple ad you can inject rather than only a plain text message as well (that can’t be dismissed until we remove it) Also, maybe not in core, but perhaps as a nice little add on, the ability to selectively index and aggregate the feeds of chosen sites was really nice. With that, a global search for content across the network. These were some really nice functions of at least two older plugins of theirs that are now abandoned, but directly relate to running and really nice network of sites for many of us.

    Thanks for being so quick to help out! Gives me a lot of confidence in working with you in the near future!

    1. Hey Riley. Thanks for the interest and WP Ultimo and engaging in this discussion!

      For the messaging system, we already have something pretty similar in WP Ultimo core (with support to emails as well). We call it Broadcasts, here’s more on that: https://help.wpultimo.com/tutorials/sending-messages-and-emails-to-your-clients-right-from-your-network-admin-panel. The same is valid for ads: https://help.wpultimo.com/add-ons/placing-ads-on-your-network-with-wp-ultimo-ad-injector

      I do agree that one area we have not really paid much attention is content aggregation/searching, so that’s something we can explore in the near future =)

      Cheers,

  3. Hey,

    WPMUDEV customer here. Just a few questions while we weigh your plugin. Does your plugin supports creating plugin packages? Where we can make certain plugins available to certain levels and others have a notice to upgrade or not shown at all. Like the plugin manager and premium plugins modules in pro-sites?

    Does it work on multi network?

    1. Hey Bryant, how are you?

      At the moment you can select which plugins and themes will be available on each of the plugins.
      We are also working on a feature that will allow you to charge additional values for plugin/theme bundles for version 2.0, but this is still a WIP.

      On multi-network environments we don’t really do anything fancy, just making sure that settings, plans, coupons, and subscriptions are network-bound. This means that you can have a network using USD and no trial periods and another using GBP and trials without one interfering with the other.

      Let me know if I can help with anything else =)

  4. I made the switch from Pro Sites to WP Ultimo over 2 years ago and couldn’t be happier. The WP Ultimo Support Team is fantastic and the value you get from the product is unmatched. You can literally setup a subscription based multisite in 5 minutes using the built in setup wizard. I’m currently running a couple of subscription based multisites and was able to use WP Ultimo to automate plan selection, domain mapping, auto generating free Let’s Encrypt SSL certs, force SSL on subsites, search and replace form fields, and more all using the 1 WP Ultimo plugin. Couldn’t have been happier making the switch! – Matt

  5. I pre-ordered WP-Ultimo and haven’t regretted it for nearly the three-years I’ve owned it. Arindo has been really receptive to development input, feature suggestions, and has been very quick to fix bugs.

  6. Can WP Ultimo create a payment plan that has two parts: 1) One-time Setup Fee, and 2) an ongoing monthly fee? For example, a customer might pay a one-time setup fee of $750, and an ongoing hosting of $9.99 per month.

    Thanks!
    Chris


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