It’s been a shifting turn for us to start a project that is mainly designed for WordPress users. And I must say, it feels good to be part of such a nice crowd! I’m also excited to finally say hello to everyone we’ve met so far along the way, and tell our story.
We’ve started to build ShortPixel over a year ago (just realized) and many things have happened since. Some of these moments should not go unnoticed, so I’ll recall some of them here below.
I̶m̶a̶g̶o̶o̶s̶e̶ ShortPixel was born. With a twist.
The original name we had in mind for our service was ‘Imagoose’—it sounded funky, but when written down, it became clear that it was a bad choice to address our users this way. Our logo was originally a constipated feverish robot. Meanwhile, we gave it a chill pill to change this frightened look.
After many compression tests and algorithm adjustments, our image optimization tool was ready and came with a completing API. We couldn’t ignore the market share WordPress is looking at—nearly 60% of all CMS websites are built using WordPress. It was decided: we would start building a plugin that would automate the image optimization process for WordPress websites.
We launched the ShortPixel plugin in public Beta and gave our first users 50,000 free image credits to optimize their websites. I dug out our first tweet ever, to discover this was back in November 2014— our 1 year anniversary is already approaching!
— ShortPixel (@ShortPixel) November 10, 2014
During this Beta trial, we had the chance to perfect the plugin, talk to our users and learn about some interesting new features they were asking for. This is how we introduced optimization for animated GIFs, the saving of original images into a separate backup folder, CMYK to RGB conversion, and optimization of PDF files. In 6 months we processed around 9,2 million images. Working with large numbers is no longer something scary for us—there seems to be a name for such a condition ‘Arithmophobia‘.
In April we launched the freemium version of the plugin, followed by a torrent of updates— perfecting the API, the plugin UX and small bug fixes. We’ve now settled for a period of two weeks between each new plugin release. The last iterations included important changes like the image resizing option and tell-a-friend referral program. And we’ve got lots of good stuff prepared on the way.
We’re kind of the new kids on the block, as Matt Cromwell noticed. I’d say caring for our users is what we do best.
ShortPixel is being run by a team of four people, working on this project single-handedly. Some of you know us from the direct support emails we’ve written, with many we have come in contact via the WordPress landscape.
Alex came up with the idea of building an image optimization service and got me and Sorin quickly involved. He convinced us to start our second venture together, after the unfortunate failure of an older project we created a couple of years back.
Dealing with image compression and a large scalable service, required for a new team member—Simon—who became our partner in this so far bootstrapped endeavor. Here’s Simon doing a remote meetup presentation on the 10 Commandments of WP optimization from our office in Bucharest, streamed live in Bordeaux, France:
The WordPress community
Our users have been a constant support in developing our plugin, and I hope we have been for them as well. I never knew how rewarding it is to receive reviews for something we created, fromma people who have actually used the plugin. This is how we got closer to the WP online community.
It was about time we came out and introduced ShortPixel to the local WordPress community. We were invited to take part in the monthly WordPress meetup in Bucharest and speak about our image optimization plugin. Instead, we talked about the importance of customer support and our long-term goals. Our strategy is having the user in mind, not the competition, or the revenue. We think the best way to secure a lasting business is to make our users happy.
It was at this meetup we met the ThemeIsle team, who (probably) build the most popular WP theme in 2015. The discussions we’ve had with Ionut Neagu helped us better understand the WordPress frame of mind. Thank you Ionut—looking forward to paying this forward!
There are others who have helped us, many of whom are doing great things in WordPress. I’ll make sure you read about them in our future posts, planned to be published here.
As I said—it was exciting to start something new—but the unexpected surprise came from what followed. The people from the WordPress community have proved to be extremely nice and open. From users who gladly worked with us to solve their issues, to replies written late at night, our users were by our side and helped us more than expected. Somehow, even if at the bottom line we are just a service provider and they are our clients, the feeling is that we’re in this together and the support is mutual.
I can’t say for sure if this is something WordPress related, but I sure hope it is, and we just happen to be on the right side of the Internet. Thanks for reading and don’t be a stranger—say hello in the comments below!
CEO & co-founder ShortPixel