I’ve been using WordPress for over a decade.
For both client sites & personal sites, there’s no getting around the power of the WordPress platform. I’ve used most of the popular WordPress plugins and a services enough to know which ones are good and which are rubbish right off. Some, however are a little tricky to decide upon. Premium plugins are surely an interesting landscape. As the old saying goes, you (often) get what you pay for. The internet landscape has been a wonder of open-source, free to use products since it’s inception, but it’s seem that “Freemium” has become more of a reality these days. When it comes to WordPress, we are enticed by free plugins with a premium upgrade available. This was how I discovered WP Smush, which introduced me to WPMU. WP Smush is an image optimizing plugin that you can install for free to get better website performance, which is useful for SEO. It offers basic image compression for free, but highly recommends moving up to the “PRO” tier for even better performance. This is one (of the many) paid services that has been on my mind for quite a while. Is WPMU dev worth the cost of its service? Disclaimer: this is not a review, just an opinion piece.
For the uninitiated, WMPUdev is a service that offers WordPress management and premium plugins at a monthly fee. The “Standard” fee is $50/mo. Of these plugins, WP Hummingbird & WP Smush are of particular interest. Hummingbird is a plugin that offers to speed up your WordPress site and WP Smush compresses and optimizes images. both of these are important and vital services that are very useful on any WP install. Along with these are many other well written plugins with various functionalities for WP users.
So you actually get quite a lot of functionality for the $50 buy in. But is it worth it? I’ve been a fan of the WMPU blog for a while. It gives a lot of really good info, even though it inevitably drives the reader back to its own set of plugins. There’s no doubt that the people behind WPMU have tons of knowledge, expertise and experience when it comes to WordPress. I read every email they send out and learn something with each.
But are the plugins worth the cost?
On that I’d just have to say… Maybe. If you are a website owner that wants a one stop shop for everything to do with your WordPress, WMPU isn’t a bad choice. $50/month isn’t that bad for all that you get. the problem is that once you stop your subscription, all of your plugins are basically useless. They will still continue to function, but they are updated quite often, and if there were a security vulnerability, you would be at risk unless you paid to renew. This isn’t just a WMPU issue, all premium plugins suffer the same Achilles heel, but with WPMU you might have 5 to 10 plugins that you can’t renew.
Also, WPMU’s plugins are quite polished, but they aren’t necessarily any better than the top free plugins out there. As is always the case, there are plenty of other options to resolve any issue. WPMU’s are conveniently all in one place and easy to manage. But given just a little research, I think you could find 2-3 readily acceptable alternatives. They might not be as slick as the WPMU options, but they get the job done. And, you can get them à la carte. With WPMU, you by one, you buy them all.
If you own a website and don’t have time to dig into the details of everything, this might be totally worth it for you. And I think you will be perfectly happy. As a developer, and manager of multiple WordPress sites, I have to say WPMU dev isn’t worth it for me. I don’t like being held hostage for plugins, even thought they might be excellent. Also, qas a personal note… I feel like there’s something very wrong with making it difficult to uninstall something from your website. I decided to take the WPMU plugins off one of my sites and I found that they didn’t make it terribly easy. Could be just an over site, but this wreaks of overcapitalization, in my opinion. It took 10 minutes to uninstall 5 plugins. This is a small amount of time, I understand, but in this environment its and eternity, and I shouldn’t have to figure it out. And this was the final part of the experience that prompted me to write about it.
So what is WPMU dev Worth?
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with WPMU, in general. I think it’s a good service, with slick marketing and resources that are very informative and well-done. They follow the formula as well as anyone. Maybe too well. I can’t see myself using it in the future, and I think most people who manage multiple websites will agree. But if you want to get a quick suite of plugins to build your website, it’s definitely a solid option. Just be aware that the minute you stop paying, the plugins will become obsolete. And they will never stop trying to sell you. Good or bad, that remains to be seen, but I think that society is getting tired of being oversold.
And that brings me to the problem that I have
And not just with WPMU dev, but the way that the industry is starting to develop and capitalize on things that were once considered “necessary”. I just don’t like the current model that soooo many companies are using to lock you into monthly contracts, that you can never let lapse or you’ll lose updates and support. When a plugin stops getting updated, it becomes vulnerable to hacking, through vulnerabilities that get identified and patched in the updates, which you aren’t getting if you aren’t subscribed. It seems that the internet is becoming a completely subscription based model and, if you cancel the subscription, you become liable. Services that you use and cancel when you no longer need them, are fine. Software like Adobe’s Creative Cloud, the purveyors of the ubiquitous PhotoShop & much more, are fine (my issues with them lie elsewhere). Creative Cloud is way to pay monthly for software that you would normally have to pay a large fee up front, and in exchange you get constant updates and various other benefits. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good. The plugin problem is that it leaves your website exposed. These subscription based plugins are softly holding you hostage, since you really need to uninstall it if you aren’t using it to prevent it opening any security holes. I, personally, think that security updates should be free. Rant over.