I’ve spent the last couple of years helping government clients implement WordPress. Often, it’s a great fit. There’s usually some amount of custom development required to extend WordPress’s core functionality. And in many cases, premium plugins fill any remaining voids.
But using commercial WordPress plugins in these type of projects is not always easy. Here are some things I noticed, and some tips to make your product an easier sell.
Make sure it works behind a firewall
If your plugin or theme requires an internet connection to activate, chances are that will cause issues. Development servers are often heavily firewalled. And if (a big if!) the production server can connect to the outside freely, that’s not where/when the development team is going to find out whether your product works for them.
Make sure there’s an option to activate the product on a number of development and test servers without hassle. I’ve seen clients not use (and thus not renew) purchased plugins, because of activation issues.
But even if it activates, often there’s still limited connectivity. Security policies can hamper your plugin’s ability to use the network. If at all feasible, don’t require a connection for the product’s core functionality. I’d recommend testing on a connectionless server to see if anything breaks.
Money isn’t a problem, payment is
Paying a hundred euro for a theme, or say $249 for a useful plugin is not usually a problem for government clients. But getting the money to you can be. “Company” credit cards are not common, and things like PayPal are even more problematic.
If you’d like to sell to this type of customer, I’d recommend setting up an “Enterprise” option (essentially an unlimited version of your product with corporate payment options), and be ready to deal with specialized Purchasing departments, supplier contracts, invoices, etc.
Supply a ‘formal’ translation if you can
Informal language is perfectly fine on the majority of websites, and probably preferable. But on official state websites, it looks completely out of place. If your plugin has “Dutch (formal)” translation, it’s a much easier fit for, let’s say, a Dutch ministry.
Don’t update every two weeks
Security is a big concern for my clients, and WordPress’s reputation is not great in this respect. There’s considerable skepticism about WordPress’s ability to power a secure website. It’s an uphill battle for us as a community. That’s why it’s important to actively patch any vulnerabilities.
But at the same time, network security departments and penetration testers I work with usually require all software to be the latest available version. In my projects that means we have to test updated plugins against the rest of our codebase, and then deploy the update. Every time. This can be problematic if a plugin updates very often.
So please bundle new features with security fixes, and push new versions only when there’s a good reason.
If you have additional tips or experiences, please feel free to comment below.