It's been more than 3 years since I wrote the first line of code for Slim SEO. At that time, all I wanted to do was create a lightweight and fast SEO plugin that does all the SEO work. Because at that time many SEO plugins were quite heavy and bloated. Someone even wrote a plugin just to remove their redundant parts. Therefore, Slim SEO got the attention and then was supported by the community. And that's what I'm happiest about throughout my career - being supported for what I've created.
As the product grew, and I became more involved in SEO, I realized that this is a huge field. Compared to the custom fields niche that I did with Meta Box, it's not smaller at all. So, I came up with ideas to develop more paid features and temporarily named it Pro which was expected to be released in the future.
The birth of Slim SEO Schema
Among many features that I kept thinking about, I noticed that Google had been promoting structured data to help search engines better understand the content on the website. This had been pushed by Google for many years. On WordPress, many plugins do this. At first, I thought what I did was superfluous. However, when I researched these products in-depth, I found that there are many points for improvement, such as:
- UI/UX is not good and not convenient. This is one thing that I deeply absorb when working with Meta Box. We spent half a year just rebuilding Meta Box Builder to make it more usable and easier to use.
- Does not fully support the schema that Google needs, as well as the properties of that schema. The number of properties is too small compared to schema.org, which means the plugins are missing a lot.
- And finally, the reason I created Slim SEO - are the compactness and performance. I found that existing plugins are cumbersome, poorly written, and quite heavy.
Once I understood that I wanted to fix them and create a product that I'm most satisfied with. And to solve the above problems, it took me and my fellow developers 1.5 years to complete the product.
The arduous development journey
We started with building good UI/UX. Inheriting the experience we had with Meta Box Builder, we decided to build on top of React, which is already built into WordPress, and leverage the components and libraries we wrote for Meta Box Builder.
And the second story is about schema data. I don't know how much time it will take to implement all the schemas on schema.org. Do you know how many schemas are there? More than 600! But Google doesn't use all of them (maybe it will support more in the future). That's why we decided to make sure that the schemas that Google supports are thorough. And we looked at each property of each schema, looking for the best implementation of them. Of course, there is a comparison with other plugins to ensure our data will be more complete than all of them.
The process of working with data is time-consuming if you want to do it well. Since there is a lot of data, checking their compatibility as well as checking their completeness takes a lot of effort from the whole team!
And for the product to be extended later, we designed an API for the connection between the schema data and the UI built on React. Now, if we need to fix or add any schema, we can do it in just 10 minutes!
Decision on the product version
When the product was complete, it would be the time to decide how it will be released. When I first started thinking about paid features, I had no idea how big the features would be, how they would interact with each other, and how to develop the fastest for users.
It wasn't until the Slim SEO Schema was completed that I realized that if I put all the features that I expected from the beginning into a single product (Pro), I probably won't be able to complete a product in the next 3 years. Because only Slim SEO Schema took 1.5 years of development already!
Although I initially had the media that there would be a Pro product and everyone understood that there would be a Pro with all the features, later on, I found it impossible to do so. And if the Pro release had only schema features, it would make me sound like a liar for not being able to deliver on my promises.
So, after much thought, I decided to release Slim SEO Schema as a separate plugin. And when doing this:
- I want that Slim SEO Schema can become a standalone product offering the best schema-related features on the market. And you can compare it with any schema plugin if you want.
- We had to change the way Slim SEO Schema works so that it can run independently of Slim SEO. This model is not quite an addon like Meta Box as all extensions depend on Meta Box. Here, plugins like Slim SEO Schema will work independently and can be integrated with any plugin.
Therefore, in our mind, we want people to understand that this is an independent product and the value it brings is completely worth the cost you spend.
Yesterday, Slim SEO Schema was officially launched. And I felt very happy about this. I felt so relieved in my heart that we've done a really hard job over the past 1.5 years. And I'm very proud of what we created.
We also received a lot of valuable feedback, which I consider myself lucky because many people believe in what we do and appreciate our products. They are all familiar with Meta Box, have been with us for a while, understand how we work, how we build products and trust us. Indeed, faith is what I have found the most valuable during this journey.
I always want good products for WordPress to have the success that they deserve. And the same goes for Slim SEO Schema. What I can do now is continue to develop it well and support our users.