Previously I documented the origin story for ValetMetrix.  That was fun if a bit cathartic.  Today I want to share why we are releasing this software to the more general public and especially our fellow community members within WordPress.

Keep in mind as we go through these, there are 5 key health metrics for any website: Security, Speed, Traffic & Conversion.  The more we leverage these throughout our conversations, the easier it is for clients to understand the context of any support task, recommendation, or new project.

Quick & Easy Site Assessments

Because we have a scan tool built into ValetMetrix, it's fantastically simple to get a snapshot report.  All we need is a URL and an email address so you can login and take a look.  This allows anyone to get a baseline report showing the technical debt of a new customer. However, I absolutely recommend a (paid) assessment before any ongoing engagement.  This does three incredibly important things:

  1. Sets up an initial project with a defined scope and deliverable that allows you to get comfortable with the code on the site and for the client to get comfortable with you
  2. Helps you spot major red flags and areas that will be painful in the upcoming project or as part of monthly support
  3. Allows more time for things like getting credentials and anything else that is needed during normal development and workflow. Essentially an assessment can have a paid onboarding experience built-in so that the transition to the ongoing work or project is entirely seamless.

Proving Ongoing Value for Clients is Hard

As I've said on this blog and in WordCamps, "Maintenance" is not OK. Not for your business and not for your business website.  You can read my previous article to backup that claim. For those of you getting into website support, absolutely go for recurring revenue, your business needs to be sustained.  Folks are much more likely to be open to a monthly/annual subscription open then they were 5 or 10 years ago and they definitely need intelligent help - so DO sell your services.

Calling it maintenance puts you at a real disadvantage though.  What any business wants to see is a healthy ROI.  That is, they want to see how they are making more money than they were previously. To succeed, they need to do two incredibly simple sounding things:

  1. Be better than their competition
  2. Be better than they were yesterday

Super easy right? Well, no. It's actually incredibly difficult to create a comparison between two companies.  There's never the perfect 1:1 relationship. Even identifying a direct competitor for a specific type of client can be very challenging!

When we step away from providing 'maintenance' and step up to showing the clients why secure, stable, speedy software makes them better than they were before and better than the competition, we're winning and helping our clients win as well.  As they see increased engagement because their site is now more accessible to all users and responsive to all devices, they are getting another win on the board.

ValetMetrix is an awesome tool because it allows you to scan multiple websites and measure them to the same standard.  Showing a client that he has a score of 48 is a little interesting. Maybe.  Showing him that same 48 as compared to his competitor who is a 65 and his site's history which was previously a 56 gives invaluable context that provides the rationale for why now is a good time to focus in on this metric and see some improvement.

Open Source Must Be Measurably Better than Facebook, Medium, and SquareSpace

This last one keeps me up at night.  The open web is in a tough spot. While WordPress is the dominant leader of sites using an open source CMS the appeal of using other proprietary software such as Medium, SquareSpace or even Facebook cannot be overstated.  In fact, there are many massive benefits to using one of these solutions:

  • No need to update any of your own software, hosting, or deal with any technical debt at all
  • No need to focus on accessibility and responsiveness across all websites
  • Scaling is done for you
  • Just about the entire internet is on Facebook at this point so you're guaranteed a good audience
  • Easy to get started and focus on the content/messaging of your site

Looking at just the few benefits I can think of off the top of my head, it's clear we have some work to do. How do we become better than these huge companies with intelligent, well-paid developers backing them up?

You can't change what you don't measure.

We have to start by measuring.  Let's go back to our 5 key health metrics.

If we can show that our WordPress site is more secure, faster, more accessible, opens the site up to more traffic, and does a better job at conversion than someone using Medium or Facebook, we'll have a competitive open source solution.  Failing to do that, will result in a shortened life for the entire open web.  This is not only possible, but plausible unless we work together as a community, begin measuring our website performance and holding each other accountable to being the best on the internet.

That's an incredibly lofty goal, of course, but with ValetMetrix we are doing our part to share what we've learned so far and are offering everyone free beta access to take a look for yourselves and tell us what you think: