Muhammad Adnan runs a company, WPBrigade, that offers a handful of WordPress related services and products. One of those products, Analytify, is the subject of this interview.
Analytify is a Google Analytics integration plugin for WordPress that offers incredibly beautiful reports and charts about your website’s traffic. It differs from many completing plugins through its attractive interface and easy to understand data displays.
I had questions for Adnan about how he set Analytify apart through design, the background on the plugin’s development and how its success has impacted his business and other WordPress products.
How did the development of Analytify begin?
Almost 4 years ago I built a ‘post analytics’ plugin for my client. He wanted to have general Google Analytics stats show under each post/page on the front-end only, like an SEOMoz feature, for their clients. After a few months, with permission from the client, and a few tweaks I published it on Codecanyon.
In 2014, I decided to get into product development and while using GA for my sites I recalled that I have a plugin on Codecanyon which I rarely updated. So I decided to take that plugin seriously with new GA APIs and rich set of features. I thought to only give an update to ‘post analytics’ but with the range of ideas coming I started Analytify which has been a real hit and successful.
I uploaded it to Codecanyon and never thought about selling it on my own site. Just a few days after Analytify’s launch, people started discussing and appreciating this new idea on Twitter. Analytify received 135 sales with 10 five star ratings within a month.
Next, Analytify was picked up by Envato for their upcoming birthday bundle and reached 9,600 users.
Why have you moved away from Envato?
I wanted to sell Analytify with different levels of licenses, like for 3, 10 or unlimited domains and have my own affiliates sales feature. I wanted more control over my customer experience. So, the Analytify business model did not match with Envato’s platform and that is the reason to move away.
Some people say plugin developers should move away because of their commission level. But I think it’s ok to give them 50%. If you focus on your product well, they bring you a lot of customers. Work hard, make a nice product and get more sales to get to 70% commission. But I wanted to learn and I am getting tons of experience before and after moving away.
There are some very popular competitors in Analytify’s niche. How do you approach dealing with that and what can you do to stand out above the rest?
When I started there were NOT any BETTER premium plugins for Google Analytics. Most of the plugins had tracking only and there were some good free plugins but their UX/UI was UGLY.
We targeted tracking and reporting with a focus on providing meaningful and beautiful stats in a separate dashboard and the stats for each Post and Page in the backend as well as the front-end.
To stand out from others, we revamped our UI dashboard with more add-ons like email notifications, Campaigns, WooCommerce and Easy Digital Download eCommerce tracking.
Our goal is to make Google Analytics simple enough that even non-technical users can understand stats in their WordPress sites and for experts to be able to track everything in Google analytics.
One of the things that impress me the most about Analytify is the interface design. It’s just much more attractive than some of the Google Analytics plugin alternatives out there. Can you talk a bit about how important the UI was to you and any parts of the interface you are especially proud of?
Our current interface is the second iteration and we are highly focused on UX/UI (i.e, simplifying Google Analytics and making it very easy to understand). Irfan, our partner and my younger brother, is a front-end designer and developer who designed each and every pixel of it. His focus was to make it as easy as possible for a user to get a glimpse of their website analytics.
You, like many other WordPress plugin developers, are using an add-on/extension based pricing model for Analytify. Have you seen a lot of success with that format and what goes into researching and developing new add-ons?
Yes, I recommend building add-ons on top of a free version.
We at Analytify went from premium to free version. We first launched a premium version on Envato and then on our own site. Later on, in 2015, Asif Rahman joined us as partner and we launched a free version on WordPress.org and the Pro version on our site. Asif’s participation was a key factor in our growth. I learned a lot from him. Check out his amazing story at HeroPress.
With time you get to see requests from your users that they need particular functionality. If one request becomes more demanding this can lead to more ideas with add-ons. We are developing more add-ons in the same way like Goals and Event tracking in Google Analytics.
How has Analytify influenced your other projects at WPBrigade? Do you see a lot of cross buy between your other products or your WordPress services?
I have seen from many people that their first product was a failure but I was lucky enough that my first product was a hit. I have worked on some cool products during my freelance career and got more sense of solving problems through code.
Taking Analytify out from Envato was the best decision of my life. It gave me more direction to build products and that’s how LoginPress was born. LoginPress has a similar kind of story. We were solving the problem of a client with a customized login requirement. Customizing login pages through actions and filters can be a bit time consuming and with LoginPress it saves time for fellow developers.
When Customers trust on your one product leads to buying other services/products, definitely.
What is one thing you wish someone would have told you before you started building Analytify?
I would say two things:
You should blog even if you are a programmer, doing a 9 to 5 job and then spend time with family or friends. You shouldn’t miss blogging. This single thing will help you build an audience and then later on you can introduce your product to them. Take their feedback and beta test your users. You can validate your idea with those potential users.
Content Marketing. I wish I knew it but being a developer I was not aware of how powerful content marketing is. My friends told me I should do content marketing but I never worked on it. Building a smart product is not enough. Your half of the sales and brand positioning will come from content marketing.
What’s coming next for Analytify and WPBrigade?
I participated this year in the YCombinator Startup School and It was a massive learning experience. Being a developer founder, you have to think like entrepreneurs and automate your business as much as possible.
We have few interesting add-ons for Analytify in the pipeline with the focus of content marketing. Analytify has reached 100,000 downloads and our goal is to take it 500,000 installs.
Though there are super big players in our space, if you honestly use and compare them with our solution you will realize we were always far ahead and able to really help bloggers to businesses of any size. Our next phase is to take it to the next level. We have a reason for moving from wp-analytify.com to the analytify.io domain so stay alert and you will be amazed.
During YC class I focused on our LoginPress and launched the Pro version in February. We recently reached 10,000 active installs with add-ons expected to launch before the end of the year.
At WPBrigade, we are making Pro versions of two more products: Simple Social Share Buttons and Related Posts Thumbnails. We also launched our first Bloggerz theme on WordPress.org.
I believe next year is going to be even more awesome than this year. More themes and plugins with a streamline in the services business. Oh, I forgot to mention that we have been providing services at WPBrigade like PSD to HTML/CSS and PSD to WordPress since 2007.