We launched our new website, with a new look and new features
At the beginning of October 2021, we went live with a new website, completely redesigned. The work took significantly longer than we expected, but the important thing is that we finally made it. The new website has a more modern look, a colour scheme that’s easier on the eyes, and it’s also significantly faster. Our tests indicate that it’s up to 30% faster than the previous one, but we will still work to optimise it, to offer you the best experience.
In addition to the look, we made an important change to how we distribute our products. We partnered with our friends at Freemius, and moved all our solutions to their platform. From now on, the Freemius service will take care of handling sales, licensing and distribution for all the Aelia plugins, giving us more time to focus on improving the solution that our customers grew up to know and trust over the years.
The advantages for our visitors and customers
The series of improvements we applied to our site will bring significant advantages. It would take time to list every single change, therefore we prepared a short summary, for your convenience.
We improved the look of the website, using softer colours. This will make it easier to navigate the content and find the information you need. The new layout also includes better support for mobile devices. Mobile browsing is a key aspect of the Internet and, although most of our visitors and customers reach our site via a desktop, we wanted to cater to our “mobile friends” as well. As a further cosmetic touch, we replaced the old, ugly icons with much better ones.
We moved all our products to an external service, called Freemius, to offer you a better user experience, right from the moment you choose to purchase one of our solutions. To explain the reason behind this decision, we would like to share a bit of “background story”.
As soon as we launched our first premium product, the Aelia Currency Switcher for WooCommerce, we faced a challenge that turned out to be harder than we thought. It was 2013, and neither WordPress, nor WooCommerce offered a reliable, scalable solution to manage software licences and distribute updates for our products. We tested some of the available plugins, but none of them worked too well for us. In some cases, we even received a disgruntled response from the author of a plugin, when we asked about the feature set, so that was a clear roadblock.
Our first solution – The Aelia Licensing System
Due to the lack of a suitable solution, we opted to implement our own licensing system, starting from scratch. For the last couple of years, our Aelia Licensing System has been handling licences and serving automatic updates to thousands of our customers. This worked fine for us, until we had to face some important challenges:
- When we first designed our licensing system, we deliberately left renewals as a manual operation, because that was what our customers asked. That request changed fairly quickly, and nowadays most of our customers would like to have licences that renew automatically.
- Our customer base grew faster than we expected. Our in-house licensing system, which was still working fine, risked not to be able to handle all the traffic it received.
- An increasing number of our customers asked us to provide trial versions of our products. We are not fans of the idea of offering limited versions of plugins, that don’t reflect the true capabilities of the paid product, therefore we had to find a way to implement some sort of “time limited trial”.
- In 2021, Brexit finally became effective, introducing new rules to sell to UK consumers (i.e. customers who are not registered for VAT). Merchants are required to charge VAT to all UK customers who don’t have a valid UK VAT number. At the same time, the same merchants can’t charge VAT unless they have a UK VAT number, which we don’t have. Registering for VAT in the UK would have introduced a significant amount administrative costs, that we could not sustain. Due to that, the only viable option left to us was to block sales to UK consumers. Needless to say, this caused us to be unable to offer our products to such customers.
Our new choice – Freemius
With so many different aspects to handle, we realised that we could not longer rely on our own resources. Due to that, we tested the Freemius platform, and found that it allowed us to address all the above, automatically. Their service handles automatic renewals, is fast, and it can serve customers from the EU, the UK and abroad. This allows us to reach a broader audience, remain fully compliant with VAT regulations and save a significant amount of paperwork.
The Freemius platform offers our customers a modern, responsive and performing user interface. Thanks to that, our clients can find what they need, quickly and easily. On top of that, the work we did for the integration can also benefit our fellow developers!
If you’re a plugin developer interested in Freemius, we have something for you
The Freemius platform offers a simple integration guide. We could have just followed the instructions anded add a purchase link on our website, manually, on each product page. However, as Engineers, we like to automate these aspects, so we came up with a solution. We prepared a Freemius Integration plugin , which allows to link a WooCommerce shop to the Freemius service. Some of the key features:
- Manage product prices, from WooCommerce, and update them in Freemius automatically. This feature also works with WooCommerce’s variations to allow you to configure as many prices as you like, in any combination. For example, you can create monthly, annual, lifetime payment options, for one site, or multiple sites, and link each one to a variation.
- Manage and synchronise product prices in multiple currencies. The Freemius Integration is also fully compatible with our Aelia Currency Switcher. This feature allows you to synchronise, and keep up to date, the product prices all the currencies supported by Freemius. You can enter the prices manually, directly in WooCommerce. or let them be updated automatically whenever exchange rates change.
- Display a smart widget to allow your customers to purchase your products. You can use the shortcode provided by the Freemius Integration and let it take care of showing the available options, with each price, to your prospective customers. Simp
- ly drop the shortcode anywhere you like, and it will display a user friendly purchase interface to your customers.
If you wish to see the Freemius Integration in action, you can simply visit one of our product pages. You can find the purchase widget towards the bottom of the page, or simply click on the “buy plugin” button to scroll right down to it.
Interested in the Freemius Integration for WooCommerce?
If you would like to know more about the Freemius Integration for WooCommerce, please feel free to contact us. We will be happy to share more details about it, and collect your feedback and feature requests, in preparation for its release to the public.