This past week, ManageWP launched a brand new version of its WordPress management suite. Named Orion, the project was originally announced on January 26, 2015. That first post came with a lot of optimism and the caveat that things would look very different. Here we are just over 18 months later and at Valet we now endorse ManageWP as the only solution for effective WordPress site management.
In this article I’ll share our reasons for making this decision, but first a bit of history. You may not know that ManageWP was the original player in this space. Well, they are. I first came across the company by doing a support documentation review with the ridiculously talented Siobhan McKeown at Words for WP. This was December of 2011. I’m sure there’s an ancient proverb saying, something like, “If you really want to know a person, read their support docs” or something. The reason is that support docs are the last area to get attention and frequently consist of just enough to allow users to get by.
Reviewing someone’s support documentation forces you to think through their product, how it works, and understand the goals a user is trying to achieve. Keep in mind, this was exactly around the time I was putting together plans to launch WP Valet (we formed in April 2012 officially). I was totally convinced that the combination of incredible managed hosting and a tool such as ManageWP would eliminate enough
frustrations variables that a single entity could effectively manage many WordPress sites.
So I found myself on Skype with Vladimir (founder of ManageWP) a few times chatting about the services they offered and the vision for the future. We ended up using ManageWP right from the start and, of course,
quickly ran into challenges. This leads to the first reason we rely on ManageWP:
1. ManageWP values support
Now that makes a ton of sense, but it’s still surprisingly rare. There are precious few companies who hold the supporting of their clients near and dear to their hearts. ManageWP stands out among the rest. I could go through and share ticketing threads from 2012 through today (4 yrs of tickets!?) but the reality is we are still with ManageWP because in every response they show they are equally committed to us.
Ticketing support is great, but we look for folks that approach support the same way we do at Valet. That means “owning” your client’s issue and taking it as your own to resolve. There’s been countless times where our team has seen this in action – and knowing how tech works, we understand that some things are outside of your control. Nonetheless, ManageWP reps take on the biggest obstacles and continue to push to see a working solution – regardless of roadblocks along the way. This is stellar and something I can’t rate highly enough as a quality trait in a tech partner.
2. ManageWP listens and takes action
From the initial meetings in 2012 to the past year as Valet participated in the Orion beta I’ve been floored and humbled by the genuine interest in understanding our real day-to-day needs. Every interaction I’ve had with ManageWP shows their concern for our user experience. Just listening wouldn’t be enough though. If you’ve read through their development diaries you know they have been incredibly active. Even ramping up in the past few months to blow away expectations about what could be done inside Orion.
You also see this in how they approached the delicate conversation around pricing. This is an area where we’ve seen many companies stumble and need to recover. ManageWP listened to feedback and then responded in the most thoughtful way I’ve seen – they adjusted and catered to their customers. The new pricing may not be the most obvious on first glance, and I’ve heard of edge cases where some customers may face a higher fee (they’ve allowed folks to lock in their current pricing for the rest of the year though – and if this is a tricky problem for you I’d recommend you reach out to them). Neither of these things are trivial, and I expect ManageWP will continue to hone their pricing strategy – rest assured though, this is 100% based on the active listening of the staff at ManageWP. They have an authentic desire to see agencies succeed. This is why we trust them and you should too.
3. OMG the things Orion can do
At Valet, we are always testing and changing our process. With less than 20 folks on the team, we’re able to adjust quickly and always curious about what else is out there. We have a spreadsheet with our accounts with every WordPress management tool out there and we do a complete review of the services and tools once or twice a year. We don’t rest on what is ‘good enough’ for today nor do we abide by the status quo of “maintaining” WordPresses. We want things to work better, to spend more time on improving client sites – and that means having a reliable tool to manage updates, uptime monitoring, security, performance, traffic analytics, backups, and client reports. Well guess what? ManageWP does all of the above and then some.
I’m not going to focus a lot of time on the individual features because I know other articles will go through these in detail. Suffice it to say they’ve got all your needs covered in a convenient bundle – and their roadmap for future enhancements is fantastic and impressive.
4. Orion lets you focus on what matters
If there is one overarching truth we could state about servicing WordPress sites it is that ‘One size does NOT fit all’. With the myriad of themes, plugins, options, page builders, extensions, and beyond we’ve never seen two sites that are made alike. When using an update management system you often get stuck with all or nothing options. Either you push the big red button to update all the things on all the sites or you march through those potentially problematic sites updating plugins.
What’s that Orion? You’ve found two plugins with reported security breaches on my clients’ sites? You also went ahead and recorded what Automatic updates were done so I don’t waste time trying to update them again? You’ll also let me choose to test this plugin update on my staging server too? Good Boy Orion, Good Boy.
5. Orion will actually increase your bottom line
If I was in charge of marketing on the pricing page for ManageWP. I’d provide an ROI Calculator. Seriously. If you track the time it would take to manually run the individual features provided by ManageWP, looked at the hourly rate, and then compared that to ManageWP pricing – it doesn’t even come close. Our company (which prides itself on procedures and creating efficiencies) watched closely as we switched from using Classic ManageWP on a few sites, to using Orion across all sites. Here’s what we’ve seen so far:
- Single Click Updates is a massive time saver
- Exclusions are easy to setup
- Tags for a better management run updates in batches
- Supports multisite
- Awesome client reports
- Integrated backups
- There is more to come (and I’m ridiculously excited by their roadmap)
Now we spend our time working on revenue generating tasks and creative projects, instead of plugin updates!
Bottom line is Orion is freaking Smart. It works smart, it was built smart, and it’s getting smarter everyday. It’s one thing to have a great tool – a great team behind it is priceless. These folks get what it means to create tools that propel us forward as patrons of WordPress. They are giving folks who use Managed Update services an edge by crafting something that truly respects the individuality of WordPress sites and their extensibility.
What we love the MOST about Orion and ManageWP is that they really embody so many of our own core values. We spend a lot of time talking about what we want to represent and how we want our services to resonate with folks, and they seem to be doing the same. With a powerful tool like Orion we can certainly get behind a team that is so deeply invested in doing it right.