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WP User Avatar Plugin Ruined by ProfilePress

WP User Avatar Plugin Ruined by ProfilePress

The core of WordPress links user profiles to a “gravatar” for their image. In some ways this does simplify things as my email is linked to any WordPress site where I have a user account. If I changed the picture stored at gravatar.com, it automatically changes on all sites. This meets my needs and those of my clients in the majority of sites I build.

There are other sites where I need more. Typically I need a higher-resolution avatar on blog sites so that it looks good on author pages and in the bio of authors. Many years ago I found the perfect solution in a plugin named WP User Avatar. It had one basic function in using locally-stored files for a user’s avatar. If you didn’t load one, it used the Gravatar version. It did the job well until a new company bought the plugin and completely destroyed it on May 16, 2021 when an update gave it a new name with vastly different functionality.

A notice appeared telling me the name had been changed from WP User Avatar to ProfilePress. The name change isn’t that important to me but the other message telling me I have to create at least five more pages on each site for the plugin to work properly was very concerning. As I looked closer, it was now a full-blown membership system. If I had wanted a membership system, I would have installed that in the first place.

Prior to the change, the WP User Avatar plugin was rated very highly. As of this writing, it has 158 five star reviews. It also has 135 one star reviews, most of which were added after the plugin was so drastically changed. Many of the reviews talk of the plugin being hijacked or users feeling it was a bait and switch. That’s definitely understandable. Others say this action is a blatant violation of the WordPress Terms of Service. I don’t know the TOS rules well enough to say if it is truly in violation. But it is definitely not the actions of an ethical company.

For some users, this broke their sites due to conflicts with other plugins and required many hours of work to undo the damage. Luckily I was able to reinstall the previous version of the plugin as a quick fix that only wasted a few minutes of my time for each site. It is still wasted time, just not as much as others have reported.

I will look at alternative plugins to use going forward and WP User Avatars looks promising. At least two people have taken the previous version (legally) of WP User Avatar plugin and developed it without all the extra bloat. So I’ll wait for at least a couple of weeks before I determine how I’ll move forward.

Why Was This Done?

There is no way to truly know the developers intentions. ProfilePress has been listed as a separate plugin with 4000 active installs. That plugin was removed and then ProfilePress took over the WP User Avatar plugin with more than 400,000 installs. So a guess would be the developer thought that having that many installs would help to sell premium versions of the plugin. I would also guess they felt the damage inflicted on users was worth the profits they might reap from this stunt.

If nothing else, they have gotten a lot of attention as I’m writing this post about the plugin. The folks at WordPress Tavern also wrote a detailed post entitled ProfilePress Rebrands and Repurposes WP User Avatar, Now a Membership Plugin, Users Revolt via the WordPress Review System.

One thing is certain. I won’t ever do business with ProfilePress and I’m guessing this stunt will completely destroy their business much as they did with a great plugin.

Unleashed Productions: Showcasing Businesses & Exceeding Goals

Unleashed Productions: Showcasing Businesses & Exceeding Goals

A few months ago I was interviewed virtually by Art Martori at GoDaddy. We covered how I got to this point in life which might provide some interesting tidbits for you. Then we talked about our current focus of creating WordPress sites for clients.

You’ll learn about my ideal client, the types of projects I really like (and don’t like), common problems, the work process, advice on business and some of the projects that bring me a smile. Check out the full interview at Unleashed Productions: Showcasing businesses & exceeding goals. If you are interested in working with me on a project, please tell me about it.

Four Seasons Total Landscaping Builds Quick Following and Sells Merchandise

Four Seasons Total Landscaping Builds Quick Following and Sells Merchandise

One thing I want to make clear up front is this post has nothing to do with politics even though politics was involved in the story. My focus is on how a family-owned small business turned a circus-like press conference in their parking lot into online success. For those who want the full backstory on the press conference and everything that followed, please read Philly’s Four Seasons Total Landscaping dishes the dirt on the news conference heard ’round the world: ‘It was nothing we anticipated’ in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Prior to the infamous press conference on November 7, 2020; Four Seasons Total Landscaping had a Web site with a small following and a very basic Web page describing their services. It was around 11pm that night that the owner decided they needed to do something because of all the press coverage (both very positive and very negative) the company was receiving. They next morning (Sunday, November 8) they posted a message on their Facebook page and by that afternoon they were making plans to sell t-shirts. Twitter and Instagram accounts were also created.

Here we are less than a month later and they have more than 33,000 fans on Facebook, 27,000 followers on Instagram and 18,000 followers on Twitter. Their Web site did not have e-commerce and it was quickly added. They’ve already received more than 35,000 orders for t-shirts, ugly Christmas sweaters and face masks. In total, it brought it more than $1.3 million in sales!

Four Seasons Total Landscaping Online Store

The demand for merchandise and the social media followings will undoubtedly wane in the coming months as the time since the press conference is longer. In the long term, their focus will be back on landscaping and there is no doubt the extra exposure will allow them to build their business.

What would you do if your business had such an opportunity? Is your Web site ready for the world to visit? I have to admit the Four Seasons Total Landscaping site could use a lot of improvements. Yet I will give them kudos for adding e-commerce almost overnight.

Should your company need a Web site updated or if you want to add e-commerce to your existing WordPress site, please reach out and allow us to help you!

Web Design Solutions Unleashed Voted Arizona’s Local Favorite

Web Design Solutions Unleashed Voted Arizona’s Local Favorite

Back in July, Web Design Solutions Unleashed was nominated to be considered one of Arizona’s Local Favorites in the Business Services category. When nominations were closed, there were about 20 companies listed in the Business Services category.

At that point visitors to the site could vote for their choice in each of the categories. Yes, we were encouraged to ask our fans to vote for us. After two months of voting, Web Design Solutions Unleashed was the winner for Business Services. If you were one of the hundreds who voted for us, thank you for your support. We are thrilled to have all of our fans.

Should you have a need for a new Web site or your current Web site is in need of a makeover, please reach out and let us give you an estimate. We’d love to add your project to our portfolio!