When I built my turnkey website network a few years ago, there were very few plugins available that provided a complete site subscription experience on WordPress Multisite. The few offerings on the market weren’t ideal, so I ended up hacking together a few different solutions along with some custom code.
Then along came WP Ultimo, and all that changed.
I’ll be reviewing the plugin in detail at a later time, but the members of our Turnkey Websites Facebook community have been discussing the plugin and there have been questions around the developers commitment to the project. After all, our members are building a business off of this plugin, and it will play a crucial role in their turnkey platform.
Luckily, Arindo Duque, the creator of the WP Ultimo, is extremely active in addressing these concerns and he was kind enough to spend some time answering some questions for the TWB community. Many of these questions come directly from community members.
Without further ado, here’s my interview with Arindo:
Tell us a little about your background.
My name is Arindo Duque, I’m 22 years old and I’m a web developer based in Juiz de Fora, Brazil. I was your average computer geek growing up and when I was around 14 years old I realized that it was relatively easy to make some quick bucks building websites for people. I discovered WordPress a few months later and fell in love with the simplicity of it. I’ve been working with WordPress-related projects ever since.
Why did you create WP Ultimo?
WP Ultimo was born out of necessity. About four years ago I teamed up with a good friend of mine to build a portfolio platform for professional photographers. I had recently discovered WordPress multisite by that time and I was certain that having an automated multisite install was the way to go with this project, as it would save us a lot of development time.
We began to search plugins that would handle the subscription and access restriction part of the platform. We wanted to get the boilerplate out of the way with ready-to-use solutions so we could focus our very limited development time on the key functionality of the platform itself.
There was only one solution in the market at the time and it was terrible. The code was unreadable and impossible to extend/modify. Things would break randomly and there was no consistency at all: some process redirected the user to the front-end, others to the back-end, etc. The final result was a very truncated, unprofessional looking flow for the final user. Not on par with the level of professionalism we were striving to achieve.
I started to develop the subscription management part of the project and soon realized there was a place in the market for it. When this particular project died for a myriad of different reasons, I decided to shift the focus towards developing a modern solution for premium networks built over WordPress Multisite, WP Ultimo was born.
How long have you been running WP Ultimo?
The first line of code was written on Jan 17, 2016, but the first beta release (version 0.0.1) was only made available for pre-sale buyers on Nov 21 of that same year. I’ve been working on the codebase ever since.
How big is your team?
It’s just me for now, but we are in the process of getting another dev to help with product dev. A support agent will most likely join the team later this semester as well. (Editor’s note: this interview was conducted in March of 2018)
What do you think makes WP Ultimo the right choice for people building a turnkey website network on WP Multisite?
I think WP Ultimo is simply the most powerful option out there right now. The code base is organized and clean, and the UI for both the end user and the network admin is very straightforward. Other than that, we have an open roadmap for the future development of the plugin.
What is on the roadmap this year for the plugin?
Our roadmap is public and can be visited at Trello. If you have a feature to suggest, you can just comment on our Trello board. If there’s enough community support behind it, we will add it eventually. Right now our top priorities are WooCommerce Subscription integration, Plugin and Theme sales, Tax support (including VAT), and dynamically billing based on user/site count.
Why did you decide to charge a one-time fee and not an annual subscription as most plugins?
To be completely honest, I only did that to have that extra selling point in our favor. I do realize now that business-wise, this might not be a viable solution in the long term. So I’m considering switching to an annual subscription model. I actually get a lot of support enquirers asking if a subscription model is coming or not. People are building businesses on top of WP Ultimo, so it is very important for them to feel like the developer behind it will continue to improve the code. Making sure I have a steady source of income seems to give them that peace of mind.
What is your Ultimate goal for WPUltimo?
My goal is to build the ultimate tool for running a subscription-based network of sites with WordPress multisite. That’s our core product and the thing we will continue to focus in the future. We won’t be branching out our development efforts to build optimization tools, page builders and so on. There’s a huge ecosystem around WordPress and most of the problems have been addressed by at least one really good plugin, free or premium. WP Ultimo aims to be that really good solution to this specific problem.
Do you have examples of businesses using WPUltimo “in the wild”?
Do you plan to create an add-on to integrate WP Ultimo with Restrict Content Pro (which is our group’s other favorite plugin to use for selling Multisite)?
I’m familiar with RCP but I don’t have much experience with their Site Creation add-on. I’m not really sure how a integration would work here since the main functionality is basically the same. I’m open to hearing the possibilities, though. We can discuss it either on our forums (Forums – WP Ultimo – Documentation) or on the roadmap suggestions card.
Are there plans to tie into Zapier?
Yes. I’ll be adding this to the roadmap soon. I don’t have an ETA on it yet, though. It does make a lot more sense to implement a Zapier integration than to have to create add-ons to integrate with every CRM or mailing list manager out there, so it is very likely that this will get done really soon.
Any plans to offer video tutorials?
Yes. I’m working on the “scripts” right now. =)
I know you’ve been looking into automating the domain mapping with WPEngine like the WPMUDev domain Mapping plugin does. Any new progress or things to report on this?
Unfortunately, no. I had to shift my attention back to other parts of the code that required some re-thinking of. I’ll re-add that to the roadmap as well so we can try to make it work automatically.
Thanks again to Arindo for taking the time to answer our questions. We look forward to seeing where he takes the plugin in the future!
If you’d like to try it while it’s still super affordable, purchase WP Ultimo here(aff link).