287 – When to use 3rd party addons

‘WordPress Business Bootcamp’ with Nathan Wrigley and David Waumsley


Welcome to another in the Business Bootcamp series where we relearn everything we know about building WordPress sites and running a web design business from start to finish. 

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We are on the fourth episode of Season 3, where we are looking at The technical Build. 

And today we are discussing ‘When to use 3rd party addons’. 

We are taking contrasting approaches to getting our new businesses running and our first client’s site built. She is a new lawyer with no previous site called Ms A.

Going Traditional with fixed pricing. He has presented a proposal and contract. Set some expectation on the plan with has a deadline.

Want to get your product or service on our 'viewed quite a lot' Black Friday Page? Fill out the form...

Going agile. Minimal viable website with ongoing improvements that are in collaboration with the client. Strategic and data driven .

Episode 04. When to use 3rd party addons

The Problem

We are building our lawyer site with WordPress of course, but that doesn’t mean we have to use it for everything.

Maybe our simple site will need addons for chat, pop-ups, newsletters or  even a bookings system?

All are achievable with WordPress plugins, but there’s also plenty of 3rd party applications to choose from.

How do we decide? Case by case. Should we have a preference for one over the other?

There is no answer to this, but things have changed much since we started and this series is about rethinking and relearning.

I go back to 2007. Just after “pages” were introduced and before WordPress was a proper CMS.

There is not much choice then (not  expectations).  Addon developers in WP were mostly scratching their own itch as they attempted to find new ways to extend WP beyond being a simple blogging platform.

I started with the attitude of looking at WordPress first and using 3rd parties as a last resort. No AppSumo back then.More recently I have almost flipped the other way to  separate complex functionality from what I do in terms of managing WordPress.

I had this with a bookings system recently on a website. The client wanted it but I suspected there was not enough evidence to see it would be used.. I suggested an AppSumo offer.

They had an issue which could have been the app, but for all I know it could have been their set up. Either way I felt I had made the right call as it was not used much and they know the issue was not with me.


How do we decide what to do?

Much has to be about how we set up our business and charge for support.

Some of it has been related to what developer / problem solving skills we have.

Trusting in our application is key, but there’s issues with both 3rd parties and WordPress ones. We are more wary of LTDs these days.

Changes in WordPress.

Many independent devs in WordPress have sold to hosting companies. Understandable as WordPress appears to be a place for DIY building.

We have a new wave of theme and plugin authors who come with investors and a marketing plan. The devs are hired in. Often they are going to be keeping up the competition to be always adding new innovation for sales.

This could be problematic to clients who may have thought they commissioned someone to build a custom solution.

(If we asked someone to build our house we might be dismayed to come home and find a bedroom had been changed to a 2nd bathroom).

Also if devs are not leading the decisions, there is great chance of reliability and security issues. Less long term thinking.

Devs are more likely to want to keep it simple to be able to evolve without breaking backward compatibility. Sales, marketing and investors will want more in now to compete and profit.

Are some additions better suited to WordPress and visa versa?

Many booking systems connects to WooCommerce (but it’s one of the most resource heavy plugins and requires maintenance).

That said, if you need a full cart / checkout system this is hard to integrate via 3rd parties.

I tried a different premium forms plugin just because it had integration with my email marketing / newsletter software. Madness – embedding worked just as well.


Google Analytic plugins.
Perhaps better to have learned to set up reports than make WP do the work.

Chat widget.
There were some WP only option, but most favour 3rd party services.

Mailpoet (sold) and Mailster.  Most folks use third parties.

Amelia being the main WordPress option, but most going for 3rd parties as there are niche options out there.

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Transcript (if available)

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[00:00:00] Nathan Wrigley: Welcome to the WP Builds podcast, bringing you the latest news from the worth rest community. Now welcome your hosts.

David warms a nap Wrigley.

Hello there. And welcome once again to the WP Builds podcast, you have reached episode number 287 entitled when to use third party add-ons it was published on Thursday, the 14th of July, 2022. My name's Nathan Wrigley, and I'll be joined in a few short minutes by my good friend, David Waumsley, so that we can have our chats on the podcast.

But before then a few small bits of housekeeping, if you're enjoying WP Builds, I'd very much appreciate it. If you could go over to your podcast player of choice and give us some kind of review, perhaps that might be apple podcasts or wherever you consume, your podcast would be most grateful. If you could do that, it's a very good way of spreading the word about the podcast.

the other thing that you could do is go to WP Builds.com/subscribe. And over there, you're gonna find all of the ways that you can stay in touch with us. For example, there's our Twitter feed, which is at WP Builds. There's our YouTube channel. And of course there's some mailing lists over there as well.

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The WP Builds podcast is brought to you today by GoDaddy Pro. GoDaddy Pro the home of managed WordPress hosting, that includes free domain SSL and 24 7 support. Bundle that with The Hub by GoDaddy Pro to unlock more free benefits to manage multiple sites in one place, invoice clients and get 30% off new purchases. You can find out more by going to go.me/WP Builds. Once more, go dot me orward slash WP Builds. And we do thank GoDaddy Pro for their continued support of the WP Builds podcast.

Okay. What have we got on the show for you today? As I said, right at the top, this episode is called when to use third party.

Add-ons the fact of the matter is in WordPress, there's a plugin for more or less everything. Bookings, Don commerce, Don lineage management, it's all Don and Don. In fact, in many cases, there's multiple plugins for the exact same job. So we're a bit spoiled for choice. But are there times when it's better to find a third party solution, perhaps a SAS, are there scenarios where it's better for you or for your clients?

And that's the topic that David and I are chatting about today? I hope that you enjoy it.

[00:03:11] David Waumsley: Welcome to another indie business bootcamp series, where we relearn everything we know about building WordPress sites and running a web design business from start to finish. We're on the fourth episode of season three, where we're looking at the technical build, and today we are discussing when to use third party add-ons.

So I should just briefly explain the series we're taking, contrasting approaches on getting our new businesses running and our first client's site. Built she's a lawyer with no previous site called miss a and Nathan as usuals. Shall we just go through the routine? Yeah, let's do it quickly. Let's get it

[00:03:48] Nathan Wrigley: outta the way.

I'm doing the traditional waterfall based approach. So give a contract, give a proposal, get it all signed off. Go away, build and then come back. Present. The website is finished. Everybody's happy. Crack open the champagne. It's brilliant. . Yeah, the

[00:04:05] David Waumsley: project based ongoing agile, where we get out a minimal viable product, see how it's improving as we go along.

And I collaborate with the client on an ongoing strategic basis. That's how we're doing it. Okay. So I don't think this will come into this episode though.

[00:04:18] Nathan Wrigley: Talking about, no, not so much. I could deliberately try and contradict you, but maybe there's just consensus throughout this whole thing.

[00:04:25] David Waumsley: I think you'll yeah, I think you'll need to actually, cuz there's no balance in this as we were discussing before.

Cuz we, I guess we've headed in one direction, but yeah. Let's describe the problem. So as we're building our lawyer site, it's gonna be with WordPress of course. And It's gonna be a fairly simple thing, but it doesn't necessarily mean that we have to use WordPress for everything. So our client simple site could still need some add-ons like chat, pop ups, newsletters, even a booking system.

So we have to make these decisions. Do we go the WordPress route or whether we decide to go with third parties on this one and how do we decide case by case? Or do we have a preference for one or the other? And I wanted to talk about this Nathan, because for me so much has changed since when I started.

have you changed your think in what your preferences do you go to WordPress

[00:05:14] Nathan Wrigley: first or, yeah, when I began using CMSs. So dril and so on. Yeah. I always tried to find the solution. That was a module in Dr. And then when I moved over to WordPress, it was a. A plug in for WordPress. And I always had this kind of impression that the WordPress way was gonna be the best way.

And then I realized actually in, in many cases the sort of SAS way, let's just call it SAS for third party. , was often superior in certain given situations. So a good example might is just something which is heavy on resources. Or something where you really need that data.

It's absolutely mission critical. But yet you've got a website, a WordPress website on incredibly cheap posting. There's definitely compromises. And there's lots of things now where I will only use SAS because I just believe. The different tools out there are so good. And they've configured the UI and they've got the flow perfected.

I just use those because that's now muscle memory and I'm familiar with them. There probably are equivalents in WordPress, but I'm no longer on the prowl trying to find the perfect for example, booking system in WordPress. What about you?

[00:06:30] David Waumsley: Yeah my history going back to 2007 when I started, but it, this was just after pages were introduced and before WordPress was a proper CMS, I was really carried away with the excitement of what were the developers there in what was really a.

Simple blogging platform system, trying to turn it into something where you could create other types of sites. And I was really always looking to what was happening there. But now I've changed, we've moved on so much the type of authors that we have out there are providing. DIY solutions for everybody.

And there's so many where there was hardly anything back then. I flipped the other way, but it's partly because I've learned as you alluded to the downside of. The performance by adding too much into WordPress against whatever hosting you might have, it's gonna cost in our case, the client, something, if it's going to use up server resources.

So yeah, wherever there's a system now, and I guess, moving on our next thing, how do we decide with this? And for me, it's. What I want my clients to know about my business, what I'm prepared to take responsibility for. So if I can offload something, they see me as the WordPress person and I manage their sites for them.

So if it's a complex WordPress solution, that's going in there, they're not going to know whether it's me or the thing that we've added in. Whereas if I use a third party or SAS solution, then it's very clear. I can say that nothing to do with our website, you'll have to chat to these.

[00:08:05] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, I guess it's really that there's a lot going on here.

Isn't that most notably the cost of all of these things. So as an example, it may be that there's let's just take the example a simple one, just a contact form. And I think in our case, miss a is definitely gonna want a contact form on her web page. Now you, our webpage . Now you could definitely go and find all sorts of form solutions as.

And I guess you would just have to weigh up whether or not the complexity of what they're gonna need is gonna require you to go the SAS route. Now, in my case, if it's just the simple contact form, a hundred percent of the time, I'm gonna use a, probably a free WordPress form solution, because if it's literally name, email comment, There's just so many good options out there that are free in WordPress, but I guess the more complex it becomes, the more mission critical.

It becomes. The more it's obvious that it's gonna, have to do a lot of crunching of data in the background. The more like likely I am to swing to to a SAS model, to be honest. But if I do that two or three, four times, am I gonna run the risk of alienating the client? Because suddenly they've got this monthly bill.

I don't know, let's say 80, a hundred dollars for things that they'd come to you thinking I, I was coming to you cuz you did WordPress and I thought WordPress could do everything. That's I'm not sure cuz we had a discussion before we click record and I was working under the impression that most clients, these days probably know a bit about WordPress, but don't really think that it can do everything.

Whereas you tended to think that they came to you more and more with WordPress can just do everything. Let's just do WordPress, all the.

[00:09:50] David Waumsley: Yeah, I think this, I've got a beaver builder beginners group, which I watch, and that has quite a few people who pop in, who are just building their first site and they, preference it with, by saying I know nothing about this, but often questions that they will ask later will just be based on the assumption that there is always a plugin for everything in WordPress.

And I've found clients as. Some of those have come with that. So I think it's changing a lot, but they don't know the consequences of that. They don't know the impact on performance. They don't know that as the, I think the ecosystems change it's accommodating more DIYs and it has to compete on offering new people who might be interested new features.

So this is always gonna have this ongoing maintenance which non-technical people might not be prepared for. I guess what's changed with me is just that awareness that the whole setup has changed. It's not these independent developers who might adopter, I guess the. W three C organization, keep it simple, stupid.

Don't put in anything more into your system than you need to have there. That's gone out the window. If you get into a lot of solutions with WordPress, it you're gonna end up with a system that's got more in it, then you need it at the type of build.

[00:11:08] Nathan Wrigley: So here's an interesting thought.

If we were to chart the rise of SAS, let's say over the last 20 years, Even 20 years ago, there was probably nothing. There really was very little, I'm imagining that there were things like Hotmail and maybe a few other things, but very little, the web was a bunch of static pages and along comes CMSs and the fabulous intent of individual citizens to put stuff on the internet.

And so I feel that like CMS has got the jump on functionality. So WordPress plugins, for example, I feel. If you go back like 10 years, they were doing things which SAS wasn't doing, but then comes things like the mobile phone and the iPhone. And everybody's suddenly, always connected and suddenly this opportunity to create a business around one particular thing.

So it might be a booking system. It might be a calendar system. It might be whatever. Imagine any sort of SAS product. I think the subscription economy, which feels like it's a decade. Old, but in coming, becoming increasingly normal, look at things like Spotify, for music and so on. And Netflix those businesses have just started to swell and swell.

Now there, there probably is more or less a WordPress plugin for everything. I would imagine pretty much maybe some better than others but there's also now a SAS and probably a half a dozen SAS for everything. Yeah. So I think the March of history. We're now at the point where sass is really in every aspect of our lives.

And, we're totally comfortable with paying 10, 20, 1500, whatever it is, dollars a month for this thing, which does one thing or several things. Because we just know that it's built only to do that thing really super.

[00:13:09] David Waumsley: Yeah, and I, individual business businesses will, depending on their relationship with their clients will probably decide differently.

But for me, I'm trying to do a local service. And I guess I've realized which I didn't do in the early days. Just. What my limits are if you like as a developer. So if it's a complex tool, which I rely on a third party for, which might change, and I won't know how to fix it without going to perhaps multiple authors to work out, which who has the problem, this is beyond kind of what I feel comfortable with.

So I've pulled back on concentrating what. I can do, basic sites where I can use it. The look of it I can control with CSS is probably where I feel most comfortable when it gets into the really technical stuff, then I avoid it. Yeah. And it's just that distinction. I had a case recently where, and this happens a lot and I think this is why I believe.

people do expect stuff. Two of two of the last clients I've had. And in fact, perhaps the third one just asked about something recently, but they came saying we would like to have this functionality, but in two of the cases, it was a booking system. They wanted it. and could I do it? And my first thought, and this is back to Mel Davis said, oh yeah, we got this for WordPress.

We can do this. And duh, and then I thought about it. And I said, when we really teased it out, there was just no justification spending any real money on it because they had no idea whether anyone would ever use it. And instead it just thought actually, you know what, there's this app Sumo. For one off payment on this $19.

Just stick this in, see if it actually gets used. Cuz it'll probably work. Even if it falls, apart later maybe it's not dodgy, at least you'll know you've got something to test it out and that's where it's gone and it's good. Cuz when they did have an issue, then I go, yeah, it's not mine. It's obviously nothing to do with my site.

[00:15:05] Nathan Wrigley: That's an interesting case though. Isn't it? The idea that you would try a SAS app just to see if it's worth developing inside of the WordPress solution? Yeah, I think the promise with WordPress all like all those years ago was like everything in one place. And so these plugins meant all these things could be in one place, but.

Curiously because WordPress, we've all realized that if you throw in a billion plugins, things are not gonna work well for you. There's gonna be conflicts that everything's gonna be slowed down. So maybe we're moving more to specialized platforms, but these SAS platforms, they're so good, but here's the sort of dichotomy.

If everything was in WordPress, at least it would all be in WordPress. Whereas now we. Paid for services. Like Zappia just so that this disparate disjointed collection of SAS apps that we're using can be interoperable because we've got our, we've got our CMS over here. And we've got our CRM over here and yet we need it to take form data from over there.

And then we need everything to go in a Google sheet, which then migrates stuff into an air table, which then updates the, You see what I'm saying? So we're in this real mess at the minute where a business may have 12 or 13 of these things going on at once. I can still see the promise of doing it in WordPress, but I am more and more reluctant for any of the heavy lifting to be done inside a WordPress.

Just cuz like you said, the headaches are far less. If it's on a SaaS platform, you can just go to their support and get it fixed because that's all they do. If you go to the support of a WordPress plugin, that may be all that they do, but they're also having to deal with the fact that you've got 12 other plugins that might be conflicting.

And so it gets more, more difficult. We're really talking WordPress down here, Aren.

[00:16:52] David Waumsley: Yeah, but I think, trust in what we're going to use is gonna be key. But I think the issues are on both sides here, whether you use SAS or whether you use WordPress, because you're gonna get, good and bad plugins out there.

And more or less, we see new lots of new plugins coming in, perhaps more with the marketing plan, but also we see the way. SAS is going with lifetime deals. And, often they're jumping in because they're very popular to create a product to make the money now with no definite intention of keeping that product running.

And we have trust issues, whichever route we go. Do you know, one interesting thing and what, why I'm a little bit fearful on why I like to push stuff out to SAS is because something, a client said only yesterday when they got an issue, when they came back saying. Surely WordPress has a way of being able to do this.

And I just thought, wow, you don't really know that we're talking about this particular plugin that is in WordPress. They can't, it's just all WordPress. Ah, and I thought interesting. Yeah. And I thought, that's my problem. When it becomes a WordPress solution within it, The client sees me as responsible for it, yes. I can't wrangle WordPress very well. How

[00:18:06] Nathan Wrigley: did the conversation end up though? Did you, were you able to

[00:18:08] David Waumsley: No, it's fine. I explained it. The problem that they're seeing is actually not a genuine problem. It's display problem, but yeah it's just that, I just thought those words were very interesting, I thought.

Yeah. And the expectations and this kind of idea of grouping everything as WordPress, even though it's just third parties. Could be really bad people.

[00:18:30] Nathan Wrigley: yeah. To be honest with you, this is not, this is, this particular topic is not something that I've really thought about in isolation before, but now that we are thinking about it, it is pretty obvious to me that over time, these SAS products are becoming more and more than normal for me.

So a perfect example is a booking system, and I know that you could absolutely chalk that into WordPress there's. Probably dozens of them. And I imagine they all do everything well, but I've just settled on one particular booking system. It's a SAS product. I've used it for years. I'm totally happy with it.

And so I'll probably just continue to use that. And if anybody says to me we'd like a booking system, I'm probably gonna say, do you know what? I've come to the conclusion for me that it was good to have this as. As a SAS where you just pay them, $10 a month or whatever it might be. And I really like that because then we don't have to worry all of the data's held by them.

They become the controller of the data and so on and so forth. And and you don't have to worry so much about it. What do you think? And I think increasingly people are more and more predisposed to understand that there's a $10 fee here and there's a $10 fee here and there's a $10 fee here, not a, okay, we're gonna spend $2,500 on the website and we are.

[00:19:48] David Waumsley: Yeah. And it's fairly low risk. If I was to what put me off, trying to put these booking systems in for these two clients, is that two factors really with it. One was the fact that for me to integrate that into their site with a plugin nicely and maybe in one case I would need to have woo commerce, which is very heavy.

And then the bookings plug in on I'd have to style all that. There would be quite. Upfront cost, which would be as almost zero cost, apart from a monthly charge to embed that within a page, and. Pretty much the default styling or anything that this application gave me to do that just to test it out.

So that's what held me back. But on top of it was the fact that with both of these clients they they're not that they don't have the time to be learning how to use the system. So one of them asked me really to create a sort of whole calendar set up. Oh. But since I, I said, I don't think that's right for, we need it yet.

Maybe later, duh dah, I think best will just embed Google. Calendar, but that is too much for her to spend some time on, to learn, to set it up. So I just think even if I built these solutions for them, the training as well, that would have to go and it would all be on my shoulders, yeah.

[00:21:02] Nathan Wrigley: Whereas if it was the training for the SaaS platform, presumably they've got their own. Tutorial videos. And what have you of how to use it. It's interesting what you said just now, because it made me think of several times where I've done the same thing. You install a word, press plugin, and immediately it looks out of place.

So you spend quite a long time rounding off the buttons and making all the buttons the same. Background, color and all of that and make it just so that it looks completely seamless and then, but that's totally expected. But then if you install a SAS app, you just Chuck in the bit of the snippet of code, it's yeah, that's fine.

Yeah, you do, even though in no way he looks like the site, you're just like, yeah, it's fine. I'm just totally reconciled to the fact that I can't change that apart from maybe some modest styling, if you're lucky, but it's fine. I don't care. Do you know, I, nobody does particularly care. I honestly can't remember a time where a client said, but that calendar doesn't look like the calendar that I would like it to look like.

Just okay, there's the calendar. That's. Yeah,

[00:22:03] David Waumsley: it, it's our own hang up, but I realized that, and I think this is where there is a distinction between my kind of moving to the agile approach away from the project base. So when people ask me that stuff, I think, how can I create this solution for the thing that the client wants for this product project?

When I move to agile and I think, okay, we're getting just something out there and to test how it works. I start to think very differently. I start to think do you need this yet? There isn't a deadline to a project, right? We'll invest more money. When it proves itself to be worthwhile. And then, and it's the, that's just that actually change of approach, I think has made me change how well, what tools I might use, in WordPress.

[00:22:44] Nathan Wrigley: It's interesting because I guess your model, the agile approach, there's a minimum amount of money upfront and the back end the, the sort of the long tail. Of the relationship with the client is where the money's coming in. You're gonna, you're gonna tweak things over the days, weeks, months come.

So putting those. Hours in at the beginning, tweaking the booking form or whatever it might be. They're not really gonna fit in. Are they, whereas look, just pay $10 to this company every month and it'll just work and it'll work, ad nauseum is absolutely fine. Whereas for me, if I'm going for the sort of slightly bigger ticket, not pricing I feel.

I probably would have a slightly different conversation, would you want your booking system to look like this or are you happy to pay? Yeah. For the SAS app going forwards each month and we'd probably get into a conversation and wrangle that one and I dunno which way that would go so much.


[00:23:42] David Waumsley: would just get into styl. If you added in your own solution and felt the responsibility for it, you had a deadline for it. You would almost just instinctively want to just style it and create it and make it look great because you are ending with a finished product you had over that's at a certain point.

That's where you think. No, actually, we'll just stick it up and see how it goes. Cuz no one really cares about your website. Really it's whether it suits them or not. And then that approach makes you, I wouldn't say slack necessarily, but it just means you don't invest more money than you need to too


[00:24:13] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. It's a really good point. And obviously if there was some sort of like giant blue chip company, I think you really would have to sweat the detail and you would have to make sure that that everything looked exactly as it ought to look E even if that was, some sort of enterprise level SAS with all of the styling that might come with that.

But yeah, it's interesting, depending on the different kind of client and what their expectations are, you might have to spend a little bit more time, but should we just break it down though for miss a, so miss a is she's a lawyer. Yeah, she's just beginning. She's never had a website. She's coming to us for advice we're supposed to be helping her through the initial hurdles.

What kind of add-ons plugin, let's go. Both plug-ins and SAS, what kind of things are we gonna be telling her that she may need bearing in mind that she's a complete ludite let's just assume that, and she doesn't know what a website can do. Other than that it's browsable on the.

[00:25:09] David Waumsley: Oh, that's a really good question.

Cause we're gonna have to have a conversation about link it as best as we can to our business aim. Aren't we, I mean our booking system for start probably the most complex thing I can imagine that you would have.

[00:25:21] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. And honestly, I think clients actually get quite excited when you start talk to talk about this things, cuz then suddenly the website's starting to do.

For them. Yes. And it's beginning to save them time and it's beginning to bring them money and bring them clients and the amount of conversations that I had. I like this. Oh, had you thought that you could do this? Oh, no, I didn't know. That was part, oh, that sounds good. Let's get into that conversation.

Sorry. I interrupted a booking system.

[00:25:50] David Waumsley: Yeah. I think, if that would save them to, there's, we don't know about our setup there, but she's got an office she's got staff and somebody has to work as a receptionist. There're taking her bookings and organizing their planning. Maybe a booking system will save a lot of time for their company that they, the person who wants the book time can just do it online.

They, the notification it's,

[00:26:11] Nathan Wrigley: it's interesting actually, because I dunno how that conversation would go. Cause I know that time and money and the availability for lawyers is quite a thing. Isn't it? So it'd be interesting to see how that conversation goes. Cause I can imagine 50% of the time it would be no way do I want to be booked arbitrarily by something that's on a calendar online because I just wanna.

Have specific hours or what have you, but equally I could see it, if they're keen to generate new business and they're starting out, yep. Please make me as available as possible. Cuz I, I wanna meet new people that I've never come into contact with before.

[00:26:50] David Waumsley: yeah, I think the newsletter option there, or the email list is obviously a marketing tool, which, everyone could use, but not many businesses won't be able to invest the time in it.

So you'd need to have some discussion on whether that would be practical, whether would be able to put out that content or would be prepared for somebody to put that content out. Yeah. And, I don't think you can necessarily tell, like I've got, a client who's an electrician who makes really good use out of his newsletters, keeping in contact with anybody.

Who's basically contacted him one off or one off job, because he's got their email, usually in the form, they'll say, yes, I want this. Or they want is downloadable. How to choose an electrician book. And clearly that is working for him. So I think almost most businesses you have to say, this can really work for you.


[00:27:41] Nathan Wrigley: yeah, it's a bit like blog post writing, isn't it? It's yeah. There's no actual downside, but there are the, there is the reality that it's probably gonna be a bit of drudgery and you may not get the, in the return of the investment that you imagined and so on. But I think offering that is a really good idea.

The idea. Newsletter sounds a bit cheesy, doesn't it in this sense, but it might be just, keeping informed, letting people know about some update to some practical bit of the law, or what have you, things that may be of interest to their clients. Certainly I've got solicitor clients in the past who who've made great use of their newsletter, others who had all these services, but never used it even.

[00:28:27] David Waumsley: And I think this is the problem. We've talked about this before as well, when it comes to, do we put in a blog because we've got this in WordPress, straight away for the clients we can tell 'em all the merits of it. And then we put it in and then of course they don't use it. So I do think now if I have this conversation, I feel like I have to support that with, you need some help with copyright how you might build up something which will just auto generate content out for you to do this and add that on.

And in that way, in some ways I. Again, it takes me bit further out of dealing with just the WordPress stuff. I'm probably likely to go for a third party solution and spend the time that I'm given them on helping them to set this thing up that might work for them than I might do spending time trying to set up the technical aspect of it in WordPress.

[00:29:13] Nathan Wrigley: So for the newsletter piece, we are gonna recommend a SAS though. Aren't we in terms of deliverability, at least anyway, we're not gonna be, we're not gonna be sending this out. The server this is gonna be maybe a connection to some of the, maybe it'll create the post insider WordPress and send them off to a third party service to handle the delivery and the bounce and all of that.

But the, but

[00:29:36] David Waumsley: there is the op mail poet. Isn't an example of a plugin that kind of does it all from WordPress. So it's got its own mail out.

[00:29:44] Nathan Wrigley: How does that work? Do you know, is that connecting through some sort of API, it wraps, you create the email press send and does it send it to any mail poet service or does it just send it off your infrastructure somehow?

[00:29:58] David Waumsley: It's off there. The, I bought the premium of this. Never used it because of the, and even if you use the free version of theirs, they give you. Free effectively transactional emails. So any of your WordPress emails can be sent to you through the same system that will also send out newsletters.

So you don't need the third parties that you've got. You could do it all from mail poets. I could be wrong on this. I hope I'm right. yeah, but I think that is a whole baked in system, which you can just use there.

[00:30:29] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, with that, I've used several. I haven't used mail poet, but I've used several solutions in the past.

I've used a self-hosted thing called Cindy, which is, ah, yes, fun. And you can connect that with I'll come onto that. But I did for a time use a WordPress plugin called mail stuff. which handles everything, but then the GDPR came along and I thought at that point, actually, do you know what?

This doesn't seem like the most sensible thing. And when I say it handles everything, I connected it to Amazon SES for deliverability, but you could keep your list inside of. WordPress, it would be in the database. And so I decided to stop using that. And then now I'm using for the newsletters that go out.

It'll go out with this post. I use newsletter glue, which is a block based plugin. So I create the post for this website. So it's containing the short code for the podcast player. It's got all the text, but it's also got some conditional blocks. So put this text in the newsletter. But don't put this text, put this in the post.

And then when the post is published, it goes to a third party service. It could be anything that they've got, there's active campaign and mail Chimp and all sorts of other ones. It goes off to there. It just wraps it up as a, all the HTML sends it over to there. And then that takes care of it.

[00:31:51] David Waumsley: It's really nice. I was show,

I was sharing with you it's related to this, how it's still in, in me, the idea of going to WordPress first. The service that I have to be able to send out my emails was isn't supported. Isn't so popular. Isn't supported by many and including the forms plugin that I used.

So I used another one which did include that as one of it integrations and I set. All of that up. So it's another premium plugin that I put in just so I could use WordPress to add this connection to it. And of course, quickly I realized it, it didn't work the way I wanted it. It was unnecessary.

All I needed to do was to use the actual services option, to be able to create your own forms and embed them in your site works just as well. So it just shows that even this was quite recent. So yeah, there is that. You can make it much more complicated than it needs to

[00:32:47] Nathan Wrigley: be. Yeah. Okay. So you had a form solution in WordPress that connected when an email address field was filled out, it would then push that to the mail sending service, but the mail sending service all the time had a form builder of their own that you could just embed.

exactly both, but

[00:33:06] David Waumsley: this was just for subscription only. So I only needed that. So it was the email only. Yeah. Yeah. I know. So I abandoned my regular forms, plugin to get another premium, regular form, just so I could connect this when all I needed to do was to go to the service I'd already paid for and embed cuz they had a form builder, ah, embed it.

It just shows you, I think how ingrained and I would think for anybody. New coming into WordPress. That's the thing. That's the place you go to you're in WordPress. You go to look to WordPress for all your solutions. Yeah.

[00:33:36] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. Anyway I think, okay, so we've done two so far bookings. Maybe they'll be willing.

Maybe they won't. This is miss a newsletters. Maybe I feel there's less chance. I feel the bookings are gonna be an easier pitch than the newsletter, but one thing is forms. We've just mentioned it. Yeah. You could get really complicated. I can imagine going to a lawyer's website where they specialize on, I don't know, conveying which in the UK is the term for anything to do with like houses, basically buying and selling houses, mortgages, and all of that.

And you could really get into that. Couldn't see how sliders to, how much is the value of your property and all of this kind of stuff. And you really could go into the weeds with that. And there's. Bunch of WordPress plugins that do that, but you could also just go for something like contact form seven with, here's your name, your email address and the subject.

And I feel at the beginning in your system, just that's the way to go. Just get a quick, simple contact form and see if anybody uses it and go from there.

[00:34:38] David Waumsley: Yeah. If oddly enough, I did buy a lifetime deal on a contact form and stuff that you could just embed into any of your sites there. I bought it.

I've not used it. What was quite nice about it was the statistics that it could provide to you across multiple places where you put your form. And so that was the only advantage I could see. But for the rest of the time, of course, I'm just gonna use WordPress for that. Chat, widgets. That's a thing that a lot of clients ask.

Somebody's told them, that this could really improve stuff. And if you are available to talk to anybody who's interested on your site my experience is that most clients that don't have the time and that the chat widget definitely needs to disappear when they're not online.


[00:35:26] Nathan Wrigley: I feel that I feel. It's, it can actually, I can get quite excited about forms. Sadly. It's a very, oh, good, sad admission to make if I cut you off on your form too. No, I think there's quite a nice conversation to be had there about the complexity that you can have because in the rare case where that complexity is really gonna be useful, you could really drill down on what that form looks like, some sort of intake form, or just imagine.

So all of these complicated word. Solutions, Ws form fluent form gravity form. The list goes on. They could all be a really integral part of the business. And I think those conversations are really good to have because it may be that, what is inside the form builder. That they would never in a million years think is possible.

So you could really do them a service by saying hang on a minute, let's really go into this and figure out what these forms could do for you. But yes, I feel in this exact case with this exact client, that conversation, it's maybe a, would you like to explore this or do you just want a normal contact form?


[00:36:35] David Waumsley: And you made a vague point when we were talking earlier. H how this can. So in the legal situation, there may be circumstances where she needs signatures or stuff. She needs stuff being uploaded to her that might be legal. So she might want all those requirements. But then again, you'd probably with her profession then still want to avoid WordPress because yep.

Because of the, illegal implications of taking in that data and being responsible for it. Yeah.

[00:37:05] Nathan Wrigley: And one would hope being a lawyer. That miss a would really get that. Just as an aside, for example, my accountant. You're doing nothing on their website. They've obviously got this solution and it's in a way it's comical because you can so see that they've uploaded their logo and their logo sort of clumsily appears in the sort of top left and it doesn't quite fit.

So you know that this is a SAS app. Because the, it just doesn't fit. The logo is the wrong dimensions, whatever guidelines there were to upload the logo of the certain size. They ignored them completely but they've got that tool and it does all the things that the accountants want. And it, there would be no way I would be able to do that in WordPress because it's getting, it's them pushing.

Content to me, I get an email with a unique link on it. If that link expires, I can no longer see that content. I've got to go in. I've got to read it. I've gotta tick a box to say that I've read it and then I've gotta sign. And that signature has to be passed back to them. If I miss something, the software automatically reminds me and eventually we go through the process and my accounts get signed off and it's brilliant, but it's really complicated and really specific to their niche and their industry.

And I bet there's a ton of lawyer CMSs, just like that, that do all of that stuff that lawyers need. That's nothing to do with word.

[00:38:34] David Waumsley: Have you needed to do a complex form for a business

[00:38:38] Nathan Wrigley: like this before? No. The only really complex form that I ever did was for myself. Like an intake form for clients, but guess what?

Nobody really filled it out, cuz it was really complicated.

[00:38:52] David Waumsley: I that's my thing. And often it's a kind of onboarding, or it's rather a way of excluding people, tick, if you are smelly tick here, if you are poor that's right. But

[00:39:02] Nathan Wrigley: also I get rid of it really is the build it and they will come thing and actually it's build it.

They will take one look and run for the Hills because they can see that there's oh, this is the first of seven pages, is it? It, but you know exactly.

[00:39:18] David Waumsley: Sorry. I was gonna go in with that. I think this is where agile, this started to make me think a little bit like that, rather than, early on deciding that we want our form to do this and we don't want these people.

We won't exclude this. So let's just stick up the most basic form to get people in. And then when there's a problem, let's add, according to that problem, let's be perform more complex

[00:39:38] Nathan Wrigley: that way. But imagine the lawyer had a repeatable process, let's say. Upon taking on a new client they have to get X, Y, Z, Don.

You could build a form that they could just link to. And run through that process because it, they're not on, they're not they're not trying to gain a client. They've already got a client, but they're trying to get the client to go through the hoops that they need to go through. That could be really useful.

So it's not discovering new clients. It's about saying, look, you've. Thanks for joining. We now need seven things from you. This is the quickest way to do it. You could come into the office and dump it all on our desk and that's fine. But if you just upload all the bits and pieces through here, then you'll save yourself time.

And yeah. So those kind of scenarios I think would really work well. And I can imagine the lawyer making use of that. Obviously it's not gonna have that interactivity. It's probably just gonna be one way. And then it's, then we're back to email, which may not be perfect but at least you could consume things through a form that.

[00:40:39] David Waumsley: yeah, so form. Yeah, they think, you need a good forms, plugin, don't you, if you're in a business, cause you do need to provide that. And that's where it wins over SaaS solutions I think on the

[00:40:51] Nathan Wrigley: hold. Yep. Yep. So there's loads of that. So we've done newsletters, booking systems contact forms.

What's next.

[00:41:01] David Waumsley: I was talking about chat widgets, cuz they used to be some of the early ones I got introduced to and I put it on some sites where WordPress ones only, but now I think almost nobody would use one that's WordPress only, cuz there's so many competitive free third party services to hook you

[00:41:17] Nathan Wrigley: in. Yeah. Yeah.

And they do all sorts of things like knowledge bases and they connect you and it can connect to different agents and you can. I don't know. Yeah. You, they can throw stuff. Yeah. I feel that the time for WordPress and chat widgets has gone, really. I think it's sass all the way. Isn't it? Yeah.

Do you use them much? Do you like, if you are stumbling around the web, a website of some company that you've never come into contact with, do you often find yourself getting in the chat? Cuz I rarely do. I'm only really using chat, widgets for support on services. I'm already involved in.

[00:41:50] David Waumsley: Yes. That's exactly it for me.

And honestly I don't, I really don't like them. They do the opposite for me. If I go to a site and up pops this some with the, animated, maybe waving at me, I'm here to help you. It's go away. Just I've just arrived. Yeah, it's too pushy. What, honestly, I. Don't know how to judge this.

And I think, it's one of these testable things because I, my old colleague, I used to say that she was quite keen, that clients asked her for them and she was quite keen with it and I was going really do. And she was, I use them all the time. She

[00:42:25] Nathan Wrigley: says, yeah, I do think she's where unique. I think a lot of people do use them and the fact that they are ubiquitous across the internet.

Yeah. Especially Intercom that, that. Seems to be Intercom crisp and a few others that have just dominated that market. They everybody's just familiar with them now, that sound, that B sound that you get whenever a reply comes through, you kinda know how that all works. I think it's, I think it's totally worth mentioning it, but you've gotta, you've gotta man.

It on the other end, haven't you, there's no point in putting up a chat with you if you're not gonna commit to responding in a timely manner, cuz to me if this chat. But nobody's replying to the chat and it just says, leave your email to me. Just send me to a form suggest whereas if it's chat and then I can see within five minutes, somebody's replying.

That seems to be the best purpose. I dunno, maybe I'm just an old commo, but I definitely think worth, mention. But not. Yeah, I think it's worth mentioned.

[00:43:27] David Waumsley: Would you ever mention these kind of hybrid between a form and a chat widget, which is the auto bot chats, where you've already, pre-organized certain things that they might want, so it's a kind of system, you tick something, are you interested in this? And it gives you a whole bunch of options like that, and it seems to talk to you. Yeah,

[00:43:46] Nathan Wrigley: I don't know. My personal proclivity there is that I don't really, I never get farther than the first question. As soon as I realize it. But I'm closing it down and moving on, but that's just me.

If it's just using it to filter you, to get you to the right person. That's great. I can make use of that, but if it's just trying to act as a shepherd to get me to, I don't know the page on the website then no, I'm really mixed about that. The whole AI pretending to be real human thing there.

Yeah. I don't know. I think it's a bit strange.

[00:44:22] David Waumsley: Yeah. And actually I'm please. I just asked that because it just made me actually think again, back to the kind of agile side of it's, the fact that you would put a lot of work into pre guessing. How people behave and what they want. So I think it probably wouldn't be the thing that were put on the site.

If I knew that all the questions came down to a particular bunch of roots through the site being live. Yeah. Then it might be the time to think about it. So I guess I've come up with my own answer to that.


[00:44:49] Nathan Wrigley: That's good. Yeah. But also imagine the, like this particular business it's miss a. MIS a is trying to demonstrate her credentials as a lawyer, but also as a human being that she's got this like public face and she's there to help you through your troublesome legal problem.

It doesn't feel that's the right message. If you go to the website and you get a robot. Yeah, it's sort selling the wrong thing. It's miss a what? You're a robot. Are you what's going on there? So I dunno. So good. Definitely. There's purpose to it. And millions of businesses are using it and probably it's very effective.

But I think in this particular case, yeah, no, maybe a chat widget, but be there for the chat, but I've got a feeling miss a is gonna be way more busy than to cor corresponding chat. So contact form.

[00:45:38] David Waumsley: Okay we've all gone crazy. I, yeah. Sorry. I was just gonna say we've gone crazy on automation. So I think, Those who are gonna lead from now on are the ones who take that time out to personalize and be there and be less, online, if you like, feel like you're really connected with a real person.

Yeah. So I think we probably need to be the other side of where that curve is going. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I haven't gotten X really, other than one I threw in here, which is the kind of. Google analytics. Plugins is another plugin that you could a add in, but you're actually effectively rearranging an third party solution.

So I have installed these kind of plugins for clients, and they've really loved it. They go in the dashboard and they can see basic summary of, the stats on their site. But. I've thought now that it's probably a bit of a mistake I should have just spent a bit more time just working out how to set them up.

Nice reports using Google analytics.

[00:46:36] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. Yeah. I can understand that. And again, I'm gonna imagine specifically, in this case that miss a. It is probably not gonna be too bold about the statistics coming through Google analytics. My, my experience has been that every time I've set up Google analytics and gone through the process of explaining how it all works, as soon as the explanations are over, that's the last time they ever look at it.

And then I get the email a few months or years later saying, how do we log into Google analytics again? Okay. Off we go. And then they look at it once and then it's forgotten again for ages. And they just probably have got some board meeting where they've got justify how many visitors they've had to the website and explain whether the return on the investment for building the website is worthwhile.

And so they gather that figure up, move on and never look at it again. That's me being cynical.

[00:47:31] David Waumsley: No, but that's part of the traditional model and that's where I've gone. But now the pressure is on me. If I'm going more agile is to, that's what, that's really how we're getting that information about how this site is going to progress through this stuff.

So I have to start getting this in a presentable form and talking about it on an ongoing basis. So I'm definitely lacking in those skills at the

[00:47:53] Nathan Wrigley: moment. Okay. So that's interesting. So the reports in this case are more pertinent for you. The visibility of the information, the surfacing, the information that's important for you to keep the relationship going with the client, as opposed to maybe the stuff that the client wants to see.

You're looking for areas that are succeeding, areas that are not working out so well so that you can then interpret that for them. So do you do that, is that part of your system, if you like, as you will browse through the Google analytics data and draw up conclusions from that for your clients?

[00:48:25] David Waumsley: I'm getting there.

Yeah. And interesting. And only a few days ago, I talked to one of clients. Now, when we set it up, we did some keyword research and it I've mentioned this before, what they thought would be their most popular service. Didn't turn out to be in terms of what people were searching for. So I arranged the site in order to do it in a different way.

So I've been looking at the statistics and just before I had a chat with her about something else, And I was right. It worked out more. People are going to that page than any other on nice that's and and so what it's done is that I said, look, it seems to be, what I thought was right from the statistics seems to be appearing on your site.

Shall we do some content in the future, which focuses on that and that's changed our approach, which of course she's agreed to, which will take some time to get round to, but, so in some ways I have moved that way, but up to now, no, I.

[00:49:15] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, like you, you said yeah, my experience was dropping Google analytics.

They deal with it, but I do what you've just said is really good because you've gone back. You've gone back with information, not only that's of interest to them, but proving that your credible, that your previous suggestion was worth looking at, but also, flip that around. You could have gone back and said, yeah, if you know what I was wrong.

We need. Turn the boat around and change and tweak and so on. I think that's really interesting. And, but that was just a never an area I had time for, because for me it was all about build the project, ship it, get the next one, build it, ship it, get the next one. Whereas you are gonna be much more in touch with them in the days, weeks and months to come, I guess at some point you're gonna, yeah.

Reach a point where you've got too much of that stuff going on, but that's a happy problem to. And,

[00:50:06] David Waumsley: and, the appeal of my approach is the fact that let's not waste all your money straight away. Let's see what we can get for your money and we'll go on that way. And that's the, how I get the buy in, it's that basic, I'm not gonna take all your money on this one build.

Let's just do it bit by bit. Yeah,

[00:50:24] Nathan Wrigley: I think we're done. Yeah. I think

[00:50:26] David Waumsley: we are done. Yeah.

[00:50:27] Nathan Wrigley: Next time. Next time. Oh dear.

[00:50:31] David Waumsley: Oh dear. Legal stuff. You say . Yeah, legal stuff we're gonna get into, oh gosh, this is gonna be quite a conversation. Accessibility and GDPR. So both of these are really hot topics at the moment.

[00:50:44] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. You'll be doing these episodes by yourself, David. I won't have anything to, I'll be ranting. That's right? Yeah. It's all in the news at the moment. Isn't it. Anyway. All right. We'll be back in a couple of weeks. That was lovely. Thanks for that, David. Thank you. All right, bye. I hope that you enjoyed that.

Always a pleasure chatting to my good friend, David Wamsley about all of these things. If you are interested in that and you want to leave as a comment by all means, go over to WP Builds.com. Search for episode number 287. And leave us a comment there. Remember, we always welcome your support in terms of reviews on places like apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcast. That is always most welcome.

The WP Builds podcast is brought to you today by goDaddy Pro the home of managed WordPress hosting, that includes free domain SSL and 24 7 support. Bundle that with The Hub by GoDaddy Pro to unlock more features and to manage multiple sites in one place, invoice clients and get 30% off new purchases. Find out more at go.me/WP Builds. And we thank GoDaddy Pro for their continued support of the WP Builds podcast.

Okay. We will be back next week. We will be back on Monday for the live this week in WordPress show. Join me and two or three WordPress guests as we go live. WP Builds.com/live 2:00 PM UK time.

And if you subscribe to get our emails, then you'll get that as a podcast episode. Of course, you'll also get that. If you have us in your podcast, player of choice. But that's it for this week. I hope that you enjoyed it. All that it remains for me to do today is to say cheesy music fading in, stay safe.

Bye bye for now.

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Nathan Wrigley
Nathan Wrigley

Nathan writes posts and creates audio about WordPress on WP Builds and WP Tavern. He can also be found in the WP Builds Facebook group, and on Mastodon at wpbuilds.social. Feel free to donate to WP Builds to keep the lights on as well!

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