As most of you know, we’ve been working on a completely new, built-from-scratch version of WP Ultimo: our version 2.0.
The development of this version hasn’t been the smoothest, to be honest. We’ve learned a lot from the feedback provided by our incredible community on Facebook, and aimed to solve most of the long-standing issues present on the current version of our plugin.
This post has two main goals: tell you all where we are along the launch timeline, and provide an overview of the features we’re packing inside the new version.
I’m super excited and this post is going to be huge (and I mean, huuuuge), so let’s dive right in!
First of all: we’re close
Most of the features you’ll read about before are being actively tested by a select group of customers on a private Alpha Testers group. As soon as we get them to a shippable state (where most of the features are working as intended), we’ll move the new version into public beta, available to every license holder.
The beta will be announced on our Facebook Group, so if you are not a member yet, be sure to join us there!
Signup Flexibility (or even better, signups)
Our customers are marketers by nature. A huge part of building a successful Website as a Service platform is marketing it effectively.
WP Ultimo, in its current iteration, can be extremely difficult to customize signup-wise. The existing ways of customizing the signup flow require at least some coding experience, and even with that, all signup flows end up looking more or less the same, following the same semi-rigid structure.
Some amazing and very clever solutions came up to fill the gap (Step Builder from WaaSHero being one of them), but making aesthetic changes to the signup process was still really hard to achieve. Adding existing solutions to track conversion rates and such was also a complicated task.
Addressing this issue is a complicated thing to do, but I think we managed to do a good job.
On 2.0, we’re moving the signup flow back into the front-end, and we’re adding a very powerful native signup form builder.
The options are pretty much limitless:
You can choose between one-step or multi-step signup forms.
You can also create as many signup forms as you want. That will allow you to A/B test form size, create separate forms for specific campaigns, etc.
You can also add meta fields to the signup, allowing your customers to pick things like colors, logos, and other parameters that can be later used to customize their sites during the original signup.
Single-payment products and no limits in terms of recurring periods!
Another limitation our current version has is the lack of flexibility when creating new plans. You could only add monthly, quarterly, and yearly pricing options. That limitation is now gone.
You can let your imagination run free with the kinds of recurring agreements you can create.
Do you want a plan that renews every 2 days? We got you covered. Do you want to charge every 6 months? Sure! What about every 3 weeks! You bet =)
Add-on products and sales, order bumps, and more!
A very common use case for WP Ultimo is selling additional services to customers. Up until this point, another billing solution was necessary to handle those. No more.
In the new version, you can create two new types of products: (1) Packages, (2), and Services!
Packages are products that unlock access to certain plugins, themes, or greater post type/user limits within your network. Services, on the other hand, are meant to be used to unlock access to any additional work you might offer to your customers, such as SEO consulting, content creation, etc.
Your customer can purchase these packages and services either during the signup flow or inside the Store WP Ultimo adds to their dashboard.
Domain Mapping, perfected
Your customers are no longer limited to having only a single mapped domain. They can add as many as they like and select which one should be used as the primary.
Domains are also automatically walked through a series of checks to make sure they are correctly setup before being set as active. This ensures that your customers’ site won’t go down due to misconfigured DNS settings.
Integrating with our supported hosting providers also got much easier. WP Ultimo detects which hosting provider you are using and guides you through the steps necessary to activate the domain mapping integration.
It couldn’t be easier.
Tax support built-in
European and Australian-based businesses have been asking for a long time for tax support to handle VAT and GST and comply with local regulations. We’re glad to announce that taxes are now natively supported in WP Ultimo, with EU-VAT extended support (VAT validation and more) available in an add-on.
Everything is a widget, a shortcode and a block
On 2.0, most of the UI elements added to your customers’ dashboard can be also added to the front-end. That can be done in multiple ways, including shotcodes, Elementor and Beaver Builder widgets, and Gutenberg (Block Editor) blocks.
An add-on adds this functionality and allows you to completely block the access to the back-end, forcing customers to manage their account using your custom-build admin panel on the front-end.
Built with scalability in mind
In the past few years, we had the pleasure of working with large corporations building various SaaS solutions using WP Ultimo as a foundation.
We learned a lot from those experiences, and were able to pin-point some of the bottlenecks of the current system.
WP Ultimo adds support to Action Scheduler to handle heavy tasks outside the main threads (the same system used by the likes of WooCommerce). We also moved most of WP Ultimo’s data to custom tables, giving us greater control over the schema and more avenues for optimization in the future.
Power tools for growing businesses
Our hope is to provide you with the tools you need to build a successful business. We want you to grow, and as you grow, you’ll need special tools.
One limitation of WordPress multisite is how powerful super-admins are. Giving super-admin access to a support agent you hired basically means giving access to everything on your network. That’s not desirable at all and can have catastrophic consequences.
One of the tools WP Ultimo adds is a new kind of WordPress network admin user: Support Agent. You can create as many support agents as you wish and have complete control over the permissions they have over your network, customers, and more.
Find everything, navigate everywhere
As your network grows, the number of sites, customers, and memberships start to grow as well. It might become hard to find things in a quick manner while during management work.
That’s why WP Ultimo adds two very interesting features: the Jumper, and the Toolbox.
The Jumper is a spotlight-like (for folks using MacOS) search bar that gives you direct access to everything on your network. Just type what you want and press enter to go.
The Toolbox is a floating bar added to every sub-site of your network to give you a shortcut to the management screens related to the site you are currently viewing as a super admin or support agent.
Keep track of everything that happens
Knowing when things change can be very important as your network scales. This is one of the reasons why WP Ultimo logs changes made to products, memberships, sites, and more, keeping the timestamp and authors of such events.
Guiding you every step of the way
Multisite is scary, and WP Ultimo used to be as well. That’s something we’re trying to actively fix with this new version.
As a result, everything that could be transformed into a step-by-step setup inside the plugin was converted. Initially setting up WP Ultimo, or configuring Stripe and PayPal, can now be done in this fashion.
Support is a single click away
Direct access to our support team is also baked-in your dashboard on version 2.0. Once you have your license activated, you’ll be able to send us a message right there.
Generating access credentials for our support team is also a click away at any moment.
Prettier than ever
Not really much to say here, but I think you’ll agree that this is one of the prettiest plugins you’ve ever installed!
Built to be extended
We learned a lot in the past three years developing WP Ultimo. Our interactions with customers provided a lot of clarity on what this product has to become to fulfill its vision. We took that knowledge to make sure we built 2.0 as a solid base for the next 3 years, at least.
This means that even though some commonly requested features might not be present at day-one, the inner-workings of WP Ultimo were developed in a way that adding them in the future won’t be a hassle.
A good example of this approach is multi-currency support: under-the-hood, everything was built to support multi-currencies already. This won’t be present at lunch with 2.0, but it’s planned and the foundational work to make it available is baked in already.
Compatibility, Feature-parity with 1.X, and more
When I say that we built this version from scratch, I really mean it. No code from 1.X was used as a starting point and the only elements we added back are there for backwards compatibility only.
We are trying our best to not break anything in terms of first and third-party add-ons with 2.0. The code is annotated with deprecated notices to make developers aware of functions and APIs that will no longer be available in future releases.
The version will also ship with a Migrator that will take your data from a format meant to be used with 1.X version and translate it into something 2.0 can deal with natively. Our goal is to have this process be as seamlessly as possible, with no down-time for you or your customers.
In terms of feature-parity, there are a couple of features that are present on 1.X that will no longer be available on 2.0. A complete list will be released when we have a final build ready to be launched, but some examples include:
- Domain registration at sign-up (to be re-added in the future)
We are trying our best to have the WooCommerce Integration at day one, but that might not happen.
Changes for current license holders
That’s a click-bait title, really. Nothing changes.
If you have a valid license the same terms still apply. You won’t have to pay anything extra to have access to the new version and the new features if they are available for your current license tier.
Do keep in mind that some of the features listed will be released as add-ons, so you might or might not gain access to them based on your license tier. Pro and Lifetime license holders will have access to all features, including those to be released as add-ons.
The new version does use a different activation process though, which means that some of you (those who purchased their license before December 15, 2018) will need to convert your license from an old format to a new one, issued by Freemius.
No need to worry about this yet, though. We’ll write a follow-up covering the steps to convert your license when we get closer to the public beta.
We’re still not sure if license prices will change. We do have very concrete plans to let go of the Lifetime pricing option though.
We’re not a 100% clear on a timeline for this change yet, but it is unlikely that we’ll have a Lifetime option from 2021 forward.
Feel free to leave comments and questions below
Have a great week ahead