Gelform builds Web Applications

A roadmap for simplification

As intentional as I try to be in making big decisions, I’ve written before (a long time ago) about overthinking things and eventually needing to make a gut decision. Often this happens in an instant at 2AM. Sometimes, it happens over months.

A conclusion that slowly dawned on me over the last few months was Kanban Pro. Most of my paying customers buy the All Add-ons Bundle, which includes the suite of six add-ons, with more in development. Of the few customers that cherrypicked their purchases, a few have specifically said they wanted all of the add-ons but couldn’t afford the suite.

This aligned with internal issues maintaining a code base for each add-on, testing how they work with and without each other, updating multiple documentation, and doing support. For the customer, they currently deal with many add-ons, a license for each one, and more in the future.

This also corresponded with another early choice that’s lead to over-complication.

When starting Kanban for WordPress, the deal with my wife was to only spend what I made. I’ve enjoyed the challenge. I’ve been frugal, I’ve had to budget, and I’ve watched every dime. But now the business has made enough money that I have some options.

But before it made money, in order to make money, I rolled my own shopping cart on top of Stripe. This has worked well enough, but there were two major drawbacks. Many customers have asked for Paypal, which is a nightmare to implement, especially compared to Stripe. And then the occasional charge from non-US countries would fail and I have no idea why. Each time I lost hours trying to debug it with no success. And since I couldn’t offer an alternative, I lost the sale.

After some research, I found Easy Digital Downloads and have been wanting to switch for a few months. For $500/year, someone else can deal with complicated billing, updating APIs and issues I don’t even know about. At a conservative $50/hour, that’s 10 hours of my time updating my own cart, debugging issues, etc. Even better, I can offer Paypal without writing a line of code.

So the beginning of 2017 has been busy. We released Kanban Pro a week ago after a few months of development and testing. We’ve implemented EDD alongside our custom shopping cart, and are in the process of migrating everyone over.

Less code to maintain, problems solved by experts (and not me), one code base to maintain, one add-on, and one license. Simplification across the board.

I feel good about arriving at this conclusion organically, over time. I might’ve considered a single Pro version a year ago, but I’m sure I chose to go with multiple add-ons because everyone else does. I’m glad I tried the proven path before shifting away from it.

I’m glad I rose to the challenge of only spending what I made, but I do wish I’d broken the rule with the shopping cart. Aside from the time spent building it, I’ve also spent a lot of time maintaining it. While the developer in me loves that I invented my own wheel, the manager/business owner in me sees it as wasted time.

This was the first year that I successfully sat down in January, thought about goals for the year and saw a roadmap. Next year, I’m going to include simplification in the exercise.

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