PressTrends integration – helping us help you

Written by Mark Forrester on November 23, 2011 Product news.

The observant, who have downloaded and installed yesterday’s release, would have possibly seen a new tab under the WooThemes “Framework Settings” panel. If you haven’t don’t be alarmed, all is explained below.

The PressTrends "Framework Settings" options panel.

We were recently approached by George Ortiz, a member of the Storefront Themes team, about his new project called “PressTrends“.

In short, PressTrends is a new service for tracking how and where your WordPress themes are being used, ideally to improve your themes in the future. (Source: WPCandy)

George asked if we were keen to test out his service in finding out some more detailed stats on our theme usage by our community. Matty gave their code a thorough test drive, and recommended some tweaks to their scripts, before implementing it in Wikeasi. All of which George was more than willing to implement.

As you can see above you can quite easily opt out of this tracking, and as can be seen below, we assure you that we are not storing any of your personal details. Here’s a quick screenshot of our dashboard reports:

Statistics we are gathering on Wikeasi to help improve it further.

The stats are obviously still very raw, and should be refined over the next few weeks, but as you can see it’s very basic stats that we are drawing, that you shouldn’t be worried about at all, but that provide some great insight for us to make strategic and development decisions.

We’ll soon be implementing PressTrends into all our themes. This is just a heads up and us trying to be as transparent as possible – as we are sure that’s what you’ve come to expect from us.

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33 Responses

  1. Calzo
    November 23, 2011 at 4:33 pm #

    Great idea and tool!

  2. Fred
    November 23, 2011 at 4:56 pm #

    I love you guys… BUT I think this is an invasion of our privacy. I don’t see the reason you need to track our usage of the theme. Once we pay for it, it’s ours to use freely, without a “homing” signal attached. This is a bad move in my opinion.

    • Jon
      November 23, 2011 at 5:01 pm #

      What would you think if they made it optional? Kind of like how Google Analytics is “opt-in” to give Google your anonymous data to help better the Google-ecosystem.

      Would that kind of “opt-in” choice be more acceptable? As an effort to allow people to opt-into helping better the WooThemes offerings.

    • Adii Rockstar
      November 23, 2011 at 5:07 pm #

      We respect that opinion, which is why we’ve made it super easy for you to disable immediately. 🙂

      Our rationale is quite simple in that this data could help us to further improve WooThemes for all of our users. We would love for all of our users to contribute to that, by allowing us to track that data, because in that way they’re contributing to a better WooThemes (for them, for others and for us). We do however also understand and respect that some users wouldn’t want to to participate and contribute in this way.

      • Lee
        November 23, 2011 at 6:19 pm #

        I recommend this feature be disabled by default. Add an option to share this data with everyone that subscribes as another layer of transparency.

      • Silencer
        November 28, 2011 at 11:53 pm #

        This should be disabled by default; otherwise it wouldn’t be legal in some countries, e.g. Germany.

        • Magnus
          November 29, 2011 at 8:26 am #

          Hi,

          I don’t think it would be illegal, as WordPress also sends this type of information to Automattic every time you update WP or install a plugin.

      • david
        November 30, 2011 at 9:44 pm #

        Agreed with others that it should be turned off by default. Just adding up the comments alone shows an overwhelming opposition to having this activated by default. So, are you actually going to listen to your customers on this one?

        I appreciate the advanced warning though I can assure it will be the first code that I rip out of the theme prior to installing it on any of my sites.

        May even be worth releasing a WordPress plugin to automatically disable this functionality in all Woo themes so I don’t have to remember to strip the code every time I update.

        • Magnus
          December 1, 2011 at 10:30 am #

          You can disable it in your Framework Settings though, so why would you need a plugin or why would you need to strip the code?

    • Fred
      November 23, 2011 at 5:13 pm #

      OK but based on the image above, I can not see how this information would help you to “improve” your themes. Maybe you can explain how this will help because I can not see it?

      • kshengelia
        November 23, 2011 at 5:51 pm #

        Hello Fred,

        I don’t know how it will help them exactly, but I have my opinion about that:

        I think, presstrends provides some great statistics for theme providers, for example “Average number of plugins used with specific theme”. If 7 out of 10 theme users use 1 specific plugin to make theme more functional, theme provider will add that function in theme core, because majority of theme users would like it.

        That’s how I understand it, maybe I am wrong, I don’t know..

        • Fred
          November 23, 2011 at 5:56 pm #

          I dont see that happening, sorry. I think they just want to see how many websites use their theme. It’s just not right to add a “tracking device” to the theme.

          • kshengelia
            November 23, 2011 at 5:57 pm #

            Well, I agree with you.

            I think if WooThemes likes to have this function in WooFramework, it should be provided as Add-On (additional plugin) which users can install or NOT install.

          • Duane
            November 23, 2011 at 6:49 pm #

            I agree – there is no real benefit, in my opinion, to track this data outside of WooThemes own goal of having numbers to market with.

            If WT is looking for stats to know which themes to focus on, they already have that through sales and download numbers.

            This is the kind of move that will have subscribers jumping ship, and if WT takes such a hit to their bottom line, that will certainly impact their ability to support the people who stay behind.

            WT needs to rethink this.

          • Adii Rockstar
            November 23, 2011 at 10:42 pm #

            Here’s two example usages of the data for us:

            * We can see our themes in action on more websites and don’t have to rely on users to manually submit them to the Showcase. Seeing real-life application of our themes is *the* best way for us to figure out how our users are using them, benefiting from them and how we can improve them.

            * Being able to use the usage numbers in use cases / case studies / marketing or PR campaigns, means that we are able to further grow the company. Judging by our journey thus far, we’ve always reinvested that growth for the benefit of our users.

    • Chris
      November 23, 2011 at 8:06 pm #

      frankly though, there is more personal data collected on you by every site you visit, every transaction you initiate on ecommerce, etc. This seems pretty banal by comparison.

      • Duane
        November 23, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

        That may be the case, but this is shipping our statistical information to an outside resource. That’s a no-go for me.

        Again, I see no merit for WT needing to analyze the usage of my data unless they are a) wanting to market the theme success or b) attempt to charge based on volume (ie – larger implementations pay more for theme subscriptions, etc)

        • John
          December 2, 2011 at 6:39 pm #

          “Again, I see no merit for WT needing to analyze the usage of my data”

          Automattic doesn’t offer you an opt-out of the phone home capabilities in WordPress. At least WT is giving you the option of opting out.

  3. George Ortiz
    November 23, 2011 at 5:41 pm #

    This looks great guys! Great job on the opt-on setting too.

  4. Matthew Jones
    November 23, 2011 at 10:01 pm #

    I’d like to say first that I understand the initial concern by users as I too buy and use themes all the time and I want to know exactly what they’re doing. That said, I work with George and ton at http://storefrontthemes.com and we’re planning on rolling this out as an option for our customers as well…why would we do this? There seems to be some question as to how this type of data might help us…

    It can actually help us a great deal…here’s just one example: If you are a theme developer and have 5 themes and you track how people use them, you may find that one theme has twice as many average posts or comments. You would then glean that for some reason, sites using that theme are more interactive for some reason. This allows you as a developer to try and figure out what is the secret ingredient for this type of interaction and it may influence your design decision the next time you design a theme.

    I can tell you that at this point, the only thing we have to go on is sales. That type of data certainly helps as we can get a sense of what features to include to make a theme sell more. However, that doesn’t mean that the theme is actually more useful…and in the end, it mostly benefits us as it leads to more revenue. PressTrends would give us more valuable information that could help us make our themes actually perform better, which benefits our customers as their sites will actually be more effective 🙂

  5. Dale Wright
    November 23, 2011 at 10:14 pm #

    Like most commenters, I am concerned about the way this ‘feature’ was ‘quietly’ introduced. That being said, Woo has earned our trust over the years and I hope we can all forgive this honest mistake.

    Might I make a suggestion Woo?…

    Could users be given the option to opt out before activating their theme. That way no data is shared unless the user has consented. ( That is, assuming your themes pings your server upon activation today)

    • Adii Rockstar
      November 23, 2011 at 10:36 pm #

      It was hardly quietly introduced… 🙂 We included for the first time in Wikeasi, which was released yesterday and published these details today.

      We’re using Wikeasi as a trial.

      • Dale Wright
        November 27, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

        Apologies, “Quietly” was the wrong choice of phrase. Woo have always been very open and that’s why I follow your success as an entrepreneur and as a customer

        I simply meant that I would have preferred to have known about it, before or at the same time as the trial theme was released.

        It’s funny, my previous comment campaigned for the ability to opt-out before activating the theme but then I get frustrated to see your themes illegally shared online. Perhaps having it on my default would allow you to find thieves?

  6. Muzza
    November 24, 2011 at 12:03 am #

    Like your thoughts Mathew. Watched Moneyball with Brad Pitt last night, seems to explain well how trends work.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1210166/

  7. Anthony
    November 24, 2011 at 4:57 am #

    This doesn’t bother me. I’d keep it on. But I agree it should be something you turn on, rather then being on by default. That being said, you know most people won’t turn it on. Maybe some little incentive? I don’t know.

  8. Lee
    November 24, 2011 at 9:40 am #

    I don’t see a problem, personally.

  9. Alex
    November 24, 2011 at 11:53 pm #

    I don’t see the big resistance to this at all. It’s just stats gathering.
    Why are people opposed to WooThemes seeing how their themes are used in the wild?

    We will all benefit from this in the long run…jeeze..lighten up people.

  10. Japh
    November 25, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

    I think this is a fantastic thing for theme developers, as long as it’s implemented right. Personally, I think opt-in is the way to go.

    Speaking of opt-in… I’m finding the screenshot at the start of this article confusing!

    The option “Disable sending of usage data to PressTrends” is checked, so sending usage data to PressTrends is disabled? And if that’s the default setting, then does that mean that PressTrends isn’t sent any data until you uncheck that option?

    There’s some kind of weird double-negative thing going on here for me. Other people seem to assume it’s opt-out, but I read it as opt-in… maybe it could be made a little clearer? 😉

  11. John
    December 2, 2011 at 6:44 pm #

    This is no more or less invasive than the statistics Automattic already gathers for each install of WordPress, and WP doesn’t as plainly tell you about it as WT is. Kudos to Mark and the rest of the Woo team for being transparent and giving people an opt-out option. Hopefully some of these statistics will be shared with the community.

  12. Madina
    December 3, 2011 at 7:49 pm #

    I understand people being somewhat concerned as increasingly ‘Opt Out’ rather than ‘Opt In’ is implemented. I trust WOO will use the data accordingly and it will benefit both customers and users. I also imagine they need the numbers to establish credible data. I’m going to take the Trustworthy stance on this. Just to add WOO will have not taken the decision likely as I’m sure they are well aware that there are other sites offering Themes.

  13. Ayda
    December 11, 2011 at 9:44 pm #

    As someone who is using the most expensive theme you have, I do not appreciate this new service at all! There are tons of different ways that you are already receiving feedback from us. Also, since it’s a “new service” I don’t see why you guys are jumping on it right away not knowing if this is good or more BS content added to our crowded settings pannel. Stop the madness!

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