Jetpack has been around for a long time. And everyone has an opinion. In this episode we asked Steve Seear from Jetpack to join us and chat about its value and perception. We make sure and ask him how Jetpack really benefits WooCommerce sites, but also we touch on the view that a lot of people still have, and that is the idea that Jetpack is bloated and slows down your site. Well, we learn that this is a misconception. With their breaking out of specific services, a lot of builders are going to benefit if lean into these powerful and stand-alone features.
Highlights of the chat with Steve
- WordPress for Steve didn’t start with a blog (1:50)
- Jetpack enhancing WooCommerce out of the box (3:40)
- A defined and powerful store search (4:20)
- Jetpack as a backup solution (10:15)
- Breaking up the Jetpack pieces and the perception that it is bloated (15:20)
- Will the Jetpack plugin survive the test of time (18:40)
- Jetpack users turning features off and on (24:15)
- Brad and Bob give thoughts on using mobile apps for WordPress (26:40)
- The weight of importance store admins and owners put on site performance and speed (30:20)
- What won’t Steve buy online (32:50)
- What Brad and Bob won’t buy online (36:20)
- Upsells get you every time (37:50)
Thanks to Our Pod Friends
Brad: And we're back with another fun episode of the Do the Woo Podcast, episode number 150. 150 Bob. 150 episodes. That is quite an achievement, honestly.
Bob: Yeah, that is. We had the big thing on the 100, and then we're 150 now and yeah, time flies.
Brad: Yeah. There are certain markers shows you hit that... Well, the first show is a marker show, right? The first one you get out the door is always the hardest 50, 100, 150, it's impressive. Most podcasts don't get past 10, let alone 100 and 150. Just speaks to your dedication, I think to the show, to the community, to the info.
Bob: Yeah. And hey, you've been here since almost episode three or four. I think.
Brad: Somewhere around there. But I haven't been on 150 of them.
Bob: No, you haven't.
Brad: Been on a few. Been on a hand full.
Bob: You probably thank God every day for that.
Brad: Well, we got a lot of additional co-hosts that bring really cool perspectives and interesting conversation to the show. So, I think it's really, really cool the way you've grown it and gotten a collaboration of interesting people to host this show, not just me and you. So I appreciate that. So, with 150, it's a big show, right? So we've got a big guests, that we're excited about, and let's bring him on Mr. Steve Seerer, welcome to the show.Steve: Hello. Hey Brad, hey Bob. Thanks for having me on. Congratulations on show number 150. Something went wrong. I don't think my cake turned up and it wasn't delivered.
Brad: Mine didn't either.
Bob: Oh, man.
Brad: What shipping extension were you using Bob?
Bob: Yeah. I blame it on the supply chain right now. Cakes are in short supply.
Brad: That's awesome. And officially you are an engineering lead at Automattic, right? You work on a number of different products, it seems like that's your focus with within the Automattic umbrella?
Steve: That's right. So, I work on Jetpack and I lead the Jetpack product team. So, as a customer, you'll use either Jetpack the plug-in or perhaps some of the smaller products like Jetpack Boost, or just standalone thing, some of the things. So the teams that develop those products, I lead all those teams.
Jetpack as a backup solution (10:15)
Steve: Yeah. And it's another great example of where working closely with WooCommerce really helps that backup solution. Because again, it's powered by Jetpack sync and we know which of the sync events are important, in terms of the WooCommerce store. So things like orders and products. When you do a restore, back to any point in time, we'll always replay the orders on top. So you never lose a WooCommerce order. And we can do that because we know how the product works. We work closely with it. So it's a good choice for WooCommerce users.
Brad: Yeah. And that's actually a really good example because you're right. If you were just to restore back from say last Friday, in a traditional, just restore, like restore your database back to what it was at that snapshot, you would lose every order from when that snapshot was taken until you did the restore, but Jetpack doesn't do just a snapshot, right? Like you said, it brings over the snapshot data, but then it has some spots where it brings over any additional orders that have been made. Is that roughly how it works?
Steve: Yeah. If you've got real time backups, we always replay. We don't even give you the choice. We always replay any orders on top of the snapshot that you backed up to. And we looked into this a little bit recently. We did some user research actually with quite a few WooCommerce users specifically, and we just ask them straight out, "What do you expect will happen if you restore to this point in time?" And I think they all just naturally assumed that any kind of restore would give them their important customer information and orders up to the recent time they didn't.
And if we push them a little bit more and they thought about it more, then they started to get worried that yeah, if you've restored back to a snapshot, with just a snapshot backup, you'll probably lose all the recent stuff. So, we were wondering whether to make it an option. It may be well in the future, but everyone we spoke to just was comfortable with that being the default, whereas restore all the orders up to the present time.
Bob: Yeah, because it seems like you can't really predict if you start trying to think like, "What would I need to restore?" Or whatever, then you probably, at some point, you're going to say, "Oh man. I should have really thought this way." So it seems like it's good you're thinking for them and just saying, "Here is everything," rather than pick and choose.
Brad: Yeah. I'm sure someone could come up with a scenario where they want the snapshot and they don't want the orders. Right? There's some kind of scenario where maybe they got hacked and someone was just submitting a bunch of fake orders or something that was just garbage,. So there's always a scenario to fit that. But the question is, what percentage of people would care about that? It's probably very small. It's probably a very edge case, right?
Steve: Yeah. Perhaps it's a power user case. And I think because of that, we will out the option in the future. But at the moment, the default is just what most people would expect and need.
Brad: So, if you're listening now and you're wondering, well, we're not using Jetpack, we use something else, spend a few minutes and make sure that what does the restore process look like with whatever backup system you're using? Is it an actual snapshot that happens once a day, once a week, once a month, or is it where you would restore and keep those all orders and it would just restore everything else? You really need to understand what that looks like.
And honestly, even do a dry run on a staging site someday or dev site, just to make sure you truly understand the process. If something were to happen, because you don't want to be trying to figure out how to do that the day your site goes down and the day you need that restore and fumbling through it, you want to have already done it, a dry run so you feel comfortable like, "Yep. It restored what I expected. It worked, everything's there. This is approximately how long it took us."
Brad: And now you have a really good plan if that rainy day ever comes and you'll sleep better because of it. So I definitely encourage everyone listening to just evaluate their backup strategy and make sure it's good. There's nothing worse than losing data. Professionally, personally, period. Losing data, important information is the worst feeling in the world because it's so preventable and cheap, honestly. It's not that expensive to backup stuff these days.
Steve: Yeah. It's funny, we're working in backups. I find you can only talk to people about backups, not in a time of crisis. So you just have to sort of bring it into conversation now, and then, if you got working, because if they have some drama or some crisis and you say, "Woah, you should have had backups." It's just like a conversation taker.
Brad: That's the last thing you want to hear?
Steve: Yeah. You just can't. You just can't go there.
Brad: They already know they should've had backups. Yeah. No, that's fair.
Steve: So yeah. It's good to take the opportunity now to remind people.
Brad: Yeah. So, the larger question, and this is one, I'm sure you get all the time and it comes up a lot, which is about Jetpack and just, there's a lot going on Jetpack. Right? There's a lot of products, a lot of features.
Will the larger Jetpack plugin survive the test of time (18:40)
Bob: So do you think there'll always be the Jetpack plugin. Well, I shouldn't say always, because that's a big word, but at least in the near future, you will have the option. And as you bring out some of these single pieces, of course, then you have that option to run those without having to use Jetpack as a bigger plugin.
Steve: Yeah. It's a good question. I think, certainly for the near future, we'll always have the full plugin, because as soon as you get to the point of needing one or two parts of Jetpack, you might as well just have one plugin that does it all to maintain, but I think we'll see that you'll certainly be able to build up just the parts you need in individual plugins. And there'll be a good a user flow for doing that. So, as soon as you have one part of Jetpack, it'd be very easy to add little bits in and there'll be a coherent hole. So, for most users, whether they're using some parts or the whole plugin, it probably won't make much difference to them as long as they have the bits that they need.
Brad: Yeah. I definitely like that approach. I think from my perspective, Jetpack has always been interesting into your point of, you can go in and turn things on and off. And I think most of us understand that. The challenge is without really going under the hood, nobody knows unless you're Steve, a dev that lives this stuff. We don't really know what happens when something's off versus on. So, the assumption would be, yeah, if it's off, things aren't loaded, it's more performance that way, but without truly going in under the hood, we're just kind of making assumptions or assuming that especially as more power users, certainly the audience of this show too, we'd like to know what's going on. We need to know if certain things are running or not, or if that's off as it truly running. Still, I don't even trust my phone.
Do I need to close all these apps? Are they burning... Are they're using my battery up. I don't think they are, but maybe they are, you know what I mean? It's just a perception thing sometimes. So, I liked that because I'm a big fan of keep things like the plugins, very focused on solving a problem. Obviously try to keep the total plugins down as much as possible and just try to keep sites as performance as possible. So we're very keen and keep a close eye on what we add to sites and make sure there's a very specific reason as there's a lot of other stuff going on. We have to be sure that it's not running and causing problems elsewhere because that could just be a big headache for us and our clients.
I like the dual pronged approach there of breaking some of these out, still having a larger one because ultimately if you're a beginner and you're just getting going, especially Jetpack is a massive value to you. Huge value, just to install and use some of those tools that are free. So I still think it's a good product, but I like the approach of some things breaking out.
Steve: Yeah. And it's been a good, fun challenge as well. Quite an engineering effort to split everything up. And think you find as you go through that process of carving things up into just individual pieces that do just as the thing you need, you can solve a lot of problems, solve a lot of complexity. When you have one monolithic whole, a lot of things are tied together. You start to lose track of how things work. So making things smaller, more focused parts is always a good exercise. And we're in the middle of it now, but it's a good challenge.
Brad: Yeah. Might even improve overall just efficiency around building out new features and releases. Once you've figured out how that flows and how you separate them out in the dust settles from that initial separation. But like you said, a big code base, it takes longer and is harder to ship stuff. Just like WordPress is a massive code base. So it takes a while for releases to come out and they got to be really well tested because they're used by so much, just like Jetpack is used, one of the top plugins, active plugins for all of WordPress. So yeah, when you're shipping a million lines of code versus 10,000, very different games. Very different testing rollout strategies.
Steve: That's right. If you're a team of engineers, you'd much rather be working on one focus thing that solves one problem well, and then you can really prioritize, think about it, release it when you want, design it how you like.
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And now back to the show
Steve: Yeah. I think that's the trouble. Just from the user perspective, it's not a great experience to have to turn individual modules on and off. I think people are comfortable with the plugin architecture. And if you want something working on your site, you get a plugin that does it and you go and you activate it. That's more natural, that's the way WordPress works. And it always has been a problem for us because, Jetpack does so many things. It's been hard to focus, what do our customers really want? What do they value in Jetpack? We know some things, we know that the backup is very popular and people will pay money for that. People really value backup and security scanning. But other than that, with so many things, so many little, very useful features, the publicized features and things like that, I think it's much better to let people search for that as an individual part, not some little module that's part of a huge Jetpack. And then we get real insight into what people are searching for and using.
Bob: Now we're going to let you take advantage and ask us, Brad works with clients all the time. He's out in the space a lot, and I've worked with a lot of users and listen to the lot of stuff. So I don't know if there's any burning questions that we can answer for you as far as from the other side of it.
The weight of importance store admins and owners put on site performance and speed (30:20)
Steve: So, there is something else on my mind. So, because Jetpack's focus is security and on-site performance, I'm interested in how perhaps store admins, how much weight they put on site performance and speed and how much that affects sales in competitive markets. And, is that something you hear about?
Brad: Yeah. Performance is a big one. And I think even more so this year with Google web vitals really being a part of rankings, so that gave non-technical clients and store owners a very easy way to gauge like, "Hey, is my site performing where it should be in Google's eyes?" And most sites weren't. So yeah, performance,
I think this year especially has been at the forefront of everything with our clients more so than years past, I think primarily at least for what we're seeing is from the web vitals, and making sure that they're still going to rank high and their sites performant and fast on mobile because, more people, most stores that we work with are mostly mobile traffic in orders. It's more than 50% for most of them, which is crazy, which is awesome. But yeah, performance is huge and a big challenge when you have big storage.
Bob: Yeah. I haven't had a store myself and I don't build sites, but just listening to the community, the people that do the site, the builders and stuff, performance, like Brad said, it's always being talked about. And how you said Brad, that it's even become more important lately. I think it's become more important to the store owners too, and they're starting to realize that how critical it is as more competition gets online, as people trying to get online now and selling.
Maybe before it was always important to them, but they didn't really think anything could be done or, they just like, "Okay, I have a site." It probably performing as well as it can. But now I think people on both sides are getting more aggressive with it and wanting it and making it a priority.
Bob: I think the key is if you find a product or clothing online, is that it has enough variations, because once I order, like if I were a pair of sweats and I think, "My God, these things are the most comfortable." I hit it right on. Then I'm going to go back and order that same exact size. So I hope at least there's at least a dozen or more colors of it because pretty soon I think it'll look like we're wearing the same clothes day after day because we get so comfortable with that particular one we bought that, "Well, why should I try something else now that I know that this is a perfect fit." So, that can make for interesting multi-day conferences. We're starting to wonder why everybody's wearing the same clothes day after day.
Brad: And it's all sweats because nobody ever leaves. We're all just wearing sweats.
Upsells get you every time (37:50)
Steve: There's, it's a good point about anything with significant variation or where you want to really be able to feel it and choose it. That's always a trouble, but I find the experience online can just be better and more pleasing. Yesterday I ordered a pizza oven, which is present for my wife's birthday. Hopefully she won't listen to this before, but the experience of buying it was great. So I chose what I wanted. And then I had in my head that there's a few little accessories that I was going to need and it was bothering me. I've got to choose the right bits. And the store just bundled in all the bits I had in mind and it knocked a bit of money off of them, something. "Okay, that's good. It's probably no point going elsewhere to get a better deal because they've knocked a bit off," all in one purchase. So I ended up spending more than I thought, but I can't quibble with that. That's exactly what I wanted. And it's, just don't feel like that. Yeah. It's very slick.
Brad: Smart. They know their product better than anybody and they know probably most customers don't have some of the items that you mentioned, like the add ons, you would only have those if you already had the oven. Right. So they're like "Upsell, come have this nice upsell all bundled up and we're so nice. We're even going to take a little bit of money off for you."
Steve: Yeah. That's awesome. They're killing it. You're right. That's awesome.
Brad: Yeah. You got to know your product and use that to sell to your customers. Right. So that's awesome.
Bob: Yeah. It's all about convenience. Yep.
Alrighty. Well, good conversation. Now we know what we shouldn't send each other or maybe we will send each other, but you wouldn't buy online. I'm going to go look for some bags of concrete to send a Brad right away. Well, Steve, excellent conversation really enjoyed having you on where's the best place for people to connect with you?
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