Customer Success: WP Engine

Piklist Saves Us At Least 35% of Development Time on Every WordPress Project

In the past few years, WordPress has become for many websites what an engine is to a car. It’s now the world’s most ­used content management system.

But configuring any WordPress website for optimized speed, scalability and security can be daunting, even for professionals.

No wonder so many companies trust their WordPress installations to WP Engine, a managed platform specializing in WordPress. Founded in 2010, the company prides itself on delivering always onuptime and highly responsive customer support that create peace of mind.

As WP Engine grows its customer base to more than 50,000 in 133 countries around the world, how will it maintain its high service standards? A critical answer lies in building better customer support tools by using a software like CRM. What is CRM? Visit this website and find out.

Challenge: Quickly Build Effective, Reliable and Flexible Customer Support Tools

To support these global customers, WP Engine’s team has grown to nearly 300 employees.

As a result, many customer support tools that used to suffice have not been able to scale, while the growth has created opportunities for new tools to drive more effective support.

One of the people in charge of building those tools is Eric Hoanshelt, Operations Engineer at WP Engine. “WP Engine’s customers expect the best support in the industry. And my customers are the support staff who serve them,” Hoanshelt said.

The Quest for the Best WordPress Development Approach

Hoanshelt didn’t want to create these customer support tools from scratch, which would simply take too long. Instead, he went looking for the right WordPress rapid development framework.

The most popular frameworks are user-­interface-­based, which limits them in a few key ways:

  1. Version control is tough, if not impossible. Since data is only entered into the user interface and then saved directly to the database, it can’t be version­ controlled effectively.
  2. Anything you need to do is limited to the choices in the user interface. Developers don’t like to be limited.
  3. A finished application can’t be packaged into a plugin for easy distribution.
  4. Deleting a configuration is all too easy. With one mistaken mouse click, a user can easily delete hours of work.

That’s why, when a renowned WordPress consultant who Hoanshelt knew pointed him to a recorded presentation about Piklist, he liked how it did things the “WordPress way,” while doing much more than just creating custom post types and fields.

“User-­interface-­based frameworks always felt limiting,” Hoanshelt said. “With the rapid growth that WP Engine has been going through, my biggest criteria for a framework were that it be secure, code-­based and easy to use so we could pull in less experienced developers to help prototype powerful new tools faster.”

A Flatter Learning Curve, Quicker User Feedback and Easy Changes

Hoanshelt first used Piklist to build a project management tool that tracked all the steps for onboarding Enterprise and Premium clients. The goal was to log and report data to the business intelligence team, so they could monitor the process for bottlenecks. “It only took five or six hours to build out the screens with Piklist and get them working,” Hoanshelt said. “Huge time savings.”

The next project was a help ticket feedback tool. Again, Piklist helped him get it working in hours.

Then, one of Hoanshelt’s colleagues at WP Engine got curious. He built a launch readiness assessment tool in only two hours, mostly relying on the Piklist documentation and built­ in Demos to learn. That tool let the team make sure all the required checks were completed before deploying a new customer’s website, they also made sure to apply the product roadmap strategy, in order to оutlіnе thе vіѕіоn, dіrесtіоn, рrіоrіtіеѕ, and рrоgrеѕѕ of a рrоduсt over time

“Piklist really got us to prototyping our internal tools in hours instead of days to get feedback right away,” Hoanshelt said. “Features like Piklist Workflows and simple Admin Notices make the dev process much easier. Conservatively, Piklist saves us at least 35% of dev time on every WordPress project.”

And when users inevitably ask for changes, Hoanshelt is also able to implement those changes in hours, instead of days, keeping morale high and users excited about the project. “One of the biggest benefits is being able to change things fast without having to rethink the whole system,” he said. “Piklist just makes it easy.”

One reason for that is Piklist’s standardized folder structure. Code that affects user­meta is in the “users” folder; code that affects term­meta is in the “terms” folder, and so on. Not only does this structure make creating fields easy, it makes finding code easy for any team member.

“Even when we have 100 Piklist projects, the standardized folder structure will make it easy to find and edit whatever we need to,” Hoanshelt said. “And the Piklist support team has been fantastic whenever we’ve needed help. I’ve rarely waited over 24 hours for an answer.”

As icing on the rapid development cake, the tools WP Engine creates with Piklist are easy to deploy as plugins. They’re also simple to version control, since Piklist is a code-­based framework.

Looking Ahead

As WP Engine continues its torrid growth amidst strong customer demand, it has to keep finding ways to deliver world­-class support to every customer every day. That means continually improving existing tools and building new ones – quickly.

“I have a laundry list of about 40 WordPress dev projects just for this quarter,” Hoanshelt said. “So whenever my team is gearing up for the next one, my Project Manager jokes, ‘Just Piklist it.’


Ready to start saving time on your WordPress projects? Download Piklist for free here.


This case study was written by Piklist user Sunni Sukumar.