How NOT to monetize a free plugin: One Click Demo Import acquired by Awesome Motive
I was surprised to see an update notice for the free One Click Demo Import plugin. The plugin was updated from 2.6.1 to 3.0.0 on March 31st, 2021.
I got a bad feeling about this update the moment I saw the changelog. These are the changes:
* IMPORTANT: Support for PHP 5.5 or lower has been discontinued. If you are running one of those versions, you MUST upgrade PHP before installing or upgrading to One Click Demo Import v3.0. Failure to do that will disable One Click Demo Import functionality. * IMPORTANT: Support for WordPress core v4.9 or lower has been discontinued. If you are running one of those versions, you MUST upgrade WordPress core before installing or upgrading to One Click Demo Import v3.0. Failure to do that could cause issues with the One Click Demo Import functionality. * Added support for recommended theme plugins. * Added useful single page demo content imports. * Added recommended plugins installer. * Updated the UI/UX of the plugin. * Fixed PHP8 warning. * Fixed deprecated WP function `wp_slash_strings_only`.
After updating the plugin and running a quick test import process for one of my themes, I quickly learned that my intuition was correct. The plugin was acquired and is now being monetized in an aggressive manner.
Awesome Motive (Syed Balkhi) Acquires One Click Demo Import from ProteusThemes
To the best of my knowledge, at the time of writing this article, this acquisition has not been announced or mentioned publicly.
What’s the problem with the New in One Click Demo Import?
Here are some screenshots of what the import process looked like in the old 2.6.1 version, while it was still owned by ProteusThemes.
Before the Update (version 2.6.1):
After the Update (version 3.0.0):
The problem with this version is that the plugin recommends partner plugins during the import process. You will notice on the second screenshot that these plugins are automatically selected, so a user has to opt-out instead of opt-in.
Also the wording is problematic:
“To ensure the best experience, installing the following plugins is strongly recommended, and in some cases required.”
A big number of plugin users will believe that these plugin recommendations come from the theme developer and not from the plugin itself.
Besides “strongly recommending” these unrelated plugins, they are selected by default. This is bad user experience no matter how you look at it.
This is a big issue. At the moment of this writing, the plugin is active on over a million WordPress websites.
Complete list of partner plugins
So this post is an open call to Syed Balkhi to reconsider the way this plugin is monetized by his company.
Making users opt-out of these plugin recommendations is a nasty way of doing things.
UPDATE #1: April 1st, 2021
Several hours later after publishing my post, Awesome Motive have reacted with an update (3.0.1) to One Click Demo Import. According to the changelog:
* Add more details about recommended plugins. * Change recommended plugins to opt-in.
The second step of the import screen now looks like this:
Of course this is a lot better now. Not ideal, but significantly better.
Either way, this is probably a good time to at least look around for alternatives. Maybe someone can point me to a good one?