The Benefits of a WPMU DEV Subscription – Not Just Plugins
Like a lot of people, I started out with WPMU DEV because of one plugin. But over the years I’ve come to appreciate much more about my membership – not only the wide range of plugins but other features too.
If you’ve been thinking about taking out a WPMU DEV subscription, you may be wondering exactly what you get for your hard-earned cash, and what the benefits are for you. In this post I hope to outline some of the features that I’ve found most useful, to help you decide whether a subscription would be right for you.
Note: I’m a freelance web developer and writer, not an employee of WPMU DEV. This post will be from the perspective of someone (me) who uses WPMU DEV plugins and services in their business, and will give some real world examples. I’m not intending to give you a hard sell!
The Starting Point – Plugins
I first came across WPMU DEV about four years ago when I was looking for a support forum plugin. I was launching a startup to provide websites to schools (the startup flopped, but I learnt a lot from it) which was based on a Multisite installation. I wanted a system my clients could use to raise questions and ask for help. I also had clients for whom I was content managing their site and I wanted somewhere for them to upload documents and images that I would then add to the site.
After a fair bit of googling, and some unsuccessful trial and error with bbPress, I came across the Support System plugin. It was a available on a free trial and so I installed it to see how it would work.
As I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn, I got on well with the plugin. I found it a great way to communicate with my clients without having to deal with a mounting inbox. So when the time came, I paid for the plugin. In those days, you could buy just one plugin on an annual basis – you had access to the code you’d bought forever, but if you wanted ongoing updates and support, you paid a subscription.
After a while, I realised that I needed some more plugins, and that WMPU DEV had ones that met my needs. Once I had a certain number of them, it made sense to get a WPMU DEV membership. At the time, that bought me access to a heap of plugins, a few themes (now discontinued), and the support forums.
For me, a WMPU DEV subscription is worth the mosey just for that. If you think what you can spend on an annual subscription to just one of the other commercial plugins, it represents great value. Over time, I’ve added plugins to my client sites including Defender, Hummingbird, Snapshot Pro (still my favourite backup plugin for Multisite), WP Smush Pro and Smartcrawl Pro. These are the plugins I install on every new client site, or on the Multisite network I host most of my client sites on. They work together without causing any conflicts, and over powerful capabilities. They keep my clients’ sites secure, fast, and drive traffic to them.
Over time, I’ve replaced other plugins on my client sites (including free and premium plugins) with WPMU DEV ones. This is because I know that when I update them, none will conflict with the others. They’re developed to work together and that makes the update process much smoother. I don’t just use the ones I’ve mentioned above; that’s my core.
But since the days when I started with WPMU DEV’s plugins, a subscription has become worth so much more…
Not Just Plugins – The Hub
I have to admit I didn’t get started with the Hub straightaway. I was busy working on client sites and writing articles, and didn’t have the time to spend getting everything set up.
But I’ve now got all of my sites working with the Hub, and it gives me a single place I can go to to check on the health of my sites and manage them. For someone like me with a bunch of sites both for myself and my clients, that means saving a lot of time.
Using the Hub means that at a glance I can check on my sites’ uptime, backups, security, performance and more. All in one place.
There’s not much more I can say about the Hub – you need to try it to get to grips with it, and it’s very simple to use. I particularly like the fact that it includes cloud-based backups using Snapshot Pro, as that gives me the peace of mind of having a second location where my backups are stored, in addition to the ones I enable in the plugin.
When Things Go Wrong – the Support Forums
The WPMU DEV support forums are another feature worth the subscription, especially if you’re new to WordPress and need some guidance.
Did you know that WPMU DEV’s support forums don’t just support our own plugins, but other plugins and WordPress itself too? I think a lot of people aren’t aware of that, but it makes a big difference to how useful the service is. You don’t have to go to one place for WordPress support and another for plugin support – you get it all here.
Sure, the support forums on the WordPress site are great, and they’re free. But because they’re free, and staffed largely by volunteers, you can wait a while to get an answer. And when you do, there’s sometimes an assumption that your level of understanding will be greater than what it might be. I’ve seen answers in the WordPress support forums that make no sense to me, and I’ve been working with WordPress for years. If you’re a rookie, you may be reluctant to ask someone to clarify an answer, and that person may not even come back to reply a second time.
With the WPMU DEV support forums, you get people who’ve been recruited and trained to help people at all levels of development with regard to WordPress, and if their answers don’t make sense to you, you can ask them to answer again in plainer English!
Learning with the Academy
Another more recent benefit of a WMPU DEV subscription is the Academy. I have to admit to some bias here, as I’ve created a few Academy courses myself, but the feedback I’ve seen for those courses has been overwhelmingly positive. The courses give you the opportunity to dive into a topic at a depth you might not be able to do here in the blog, and give you interactive quizzes at the end of each module to test your learning, as well as video content.
The WhiP – the Best Way to Keep up to Date with WordPress
And finally we move on to one of the most entertaining and informative aspects of a WMPU DEV membership – the WhiP. It’s a daily newsletter packed with news, snippets and links to posts, tutorials and videos that will help you develop your WordPress skills and keep on top of what’s going on in the community.
There are other newsletters out there, but some are very expensive, and others are basic. The WhiP is free as far as I’m concerned, as it comes bundled with my WPMU DEV membership. It provides links not only to content on this blog, but to other blogs around the internet (with no qualms about linking to competitors’s websites, which other newsletters don’t always have).
The WhiP also contains a daily link to something fun or quirky – how the writers manage to come up with these day after day I’m not sure, but they’re a great source of a giggle or a ‘wow’ moment during your working day. This week it gave me a link to a fake TED talk about nothing.
So That’s What a WPMU DEV Subscription Gets You
That covers all the benefits that my WPMU DEV subscription gives me. This will be different for other people – you might have different plugins you find useful, or you may have made extensive use of the Academy.
Either way, for me it’s great value. I’m not going to tell you whether to sign up or not – but I hope this post has helped you make a decision one way or the other.