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How we created the best growing WordPress sports plugin: fuckup story.

Fact: As of the current moment, we have managed to create the most stable growing Sports plugin on the WordPress market - JoomSport. It is growing steadily, and since its first release in 2016, there was no single week when active installs growth went below 0%. No other WordPress sports plugins can say the same about their product!

Active installs growth (the latest 9 months):
 


Downloads number (since the beginning):
 
This was our failure. So were did we fuckup? You might ask…

The story began in 2009 when my partner Andrew decided to develop the solution for managing soccer stats for his own private league. The Joomla extension market was so hungry for sports solutions so once we pulled the first release we got a huge number of free downloads during the first day. It became extremely popular within a short period. We monetized the idea by offering a paid version of the product and started selling it through our site.

The first profit allowed us to hire a small team who would care about product development, testing, and support. Owners still had their primary job outside of the JoomSport at that time. Being in such state for almost 5 years JoomSport software grew without the proper attention to features implemented, code quality and overall strategy.

By the end of 2015, we had a disaster like situation: The Joomla market slowed down significantly, the software became unwieldy with a huge number of clunky features. It was the time to change something…

On November 2015, my partner and I decided to be involved on a full-time basis for JoomSport and change the software we loved.

We developed a strategy that consisted of three points:

  • Rebuild the product to create the best sports stats solution worldwide
  • Port our product to WordPress. So we wouldn’t lose this market point.
  • Create a Mobile App builder integrated with our core solution, allowing us to deal with professional clubs and leagues.


Rebuilding the product (Nov 2015 - Jul 2016):

By the end of 2015, our JoomSport became a product with a huge number of unused and hard to learn features. The UI was poor; naming was terrible so as a result, we started having more and more customers complaining about our solution. “Hard to learn, hard to use, complicated” and “bad looking.”

We wanted to change all of this to create the solution that customers really love.

We started a full product review process at the beginning of 2016. The idea was very simple: "Let's create a product that will be powerful yet VERY simple to learn. Customers will love the simplicity." We then followed the number of directions to achieve the goal.

Here are they:

  • Cut as many features as possible. Remove anything that was not used by many customers.
  • Items naming review. We checked every item to see if it really reflects the value it delivers. As a result, ~80%! of our product strings were replaced.
  • Pages UI. Fully reviewed every single page and implemented many standards for UI as well as coding. Some features were redeveloped from scratch. Bootstrap framework was used to get all pages to the same flat looking and modern view.
  • We started gathering feedback for product ideas on our new feedback portal and were trying to answer "NO" as many times as possible for the new feature requests.
  • Evaluating the new features using a complicated process, so we knew we are adding only critical elements.

By the mid of 2016 we released the new version of JoomSport that was significantly different from what we had till that moment.

Porting our solution to WordPress (Jul 2016 - Jul 2017).

For some reason, the team decided not to port the solution to WordPress in 2014 even we understood the Joomla CMS market had started weakening. There was already a well-known plugin named League Manager on WordPress catalogue and the team thought it would be hard to tackle it.

We did a mistake. At the same time, the first version of SportsPress (current active installs leader) was released. They quickly picked up the empty niche and grew to ~15000 installs by the moment when we brought the first JoomSport release to the public. So, we entered the sport WordPress solutions market a year and a half later than we could! This late market entrance turned into very slow growth in the initial stages. I understand this better now: what if a customer sees the solution with 100 active users and the solution with 100-x time's bigger audience? Of course - many leads don't even install it; don't want to spend their time comparing the leader and others..."   This is what happens when you do not pay proper attention to your product and the markets in time.

The second big mistake we did was actually entering this market after we missed that chance to enter early. After so many efforts spent on solution development, we started the market evaluation. We suddenly realized that the market niche is not that big, and it would be hard to feed our current team and future development even if we were the first and the biggest here.

Asa conclusion, it was fact that we entered the market late – instead of exploring blue oceans we had to fight sharks in red water. A cherry on top, the market was not that big as we expected to be.
If it were there now, I would put my investments into a stand-alone product in a different niche rather than porting our solution to WordPress.  


Creating the Mobile App (July 2017 - Feb 2018)

Another difficult decision we took was building the Mobile App. Extremely expensive development (iOS and Android developers cost a fortune!) took us ages to create and soaked all our investments. We have it now and have the first customers using it successfully. The problem is that such an expensive feature requires quite a lot of efforts to sell it. It is a pity we realized this fact after we’d built this.


Changing our sales method and pricing (April 2018 - May 2018)

One of the best decisions taken was changing our pricing strategy. Starting from 2010 and until May 2018 we were oriented to very low budget customers and were selling onetime fee licenses. This resulted in many small level sales to people that were using our software for ages but never paid us a penny for expensive product development. Our support manager was overloaded with many tech requests that never paid off neither. On the other hand, because of that load, we couldn’t pay proper attention to better customers.

We did two changes: switched to subscription model sales and increased our pricing 2-3 times on different positions. That allowed us to remove extremely low budget customers and free some supporter time for the clients who deserved our attention. The upside of this was that we found a segment of customers who are ready to work with us on a long-term basis that could support us constantly. So now, we don’t try to compete on price, but focus on quality and proper delivery for someone who is ready to start working with our products and rely on our support.

Finally, the subscription model allowed us to count our main business parameters. We counted such critical SAAS financial indicators like Live Time Value (LTV), Average Revenue Per Account (ARPA), Monthly Recurrent Revenue (MRR). We are no longer financially blind! – We know who our customer is, we know how much we can invest in marketing, we can evaluate better the changes and the new product that we implement.


Creating API data connector (July 2018 – December 2018)

This was not part of our strategy. One of our customers paid for this feature and agreed to share the source code with us. We built the soccer data feed integration. Therefore, that allowed our customers to import data into the product for major public soccer leagues. We did not expect much from this feature but in fact, it turned that many customers were interested.

Nowadays not many clubs or leagues (well except some private leagues) want to fill the game results for public leagues their selves manually. Almost every pro level club is looking for the two tools: Automatic data feed for the leagues were they participate + import tool to add their own game results using CSV.

Retrospective

So let do a retrospective of the mistakes we did and the things we learned.

  1. We missed the moment when we should enter the WordPress market in 2014.
  2. We entered the WordPress market when it was full of sports solutions and one big leader.
  3. We entered the niche without the proper market evaluation.
  4. We paid a lot of attention to product quality and building features instead of paying attention to sales processes and active customer relation management.
  5. We built an expensive Mobile solution without proper attention to how we should sell it.

What we do different now:

  • We are now paying a lot of attention to our internal customer relationships and sales processes. CRM, Customer relation processes - are the things we are improving much now.
  • We are always trying to evaluate the market before we start building any features or tools.
  • We are interviewing potential customers. Ideas list and voting are insufficient! We are visiting our customers offline, discussing potential(s) with them and pay a lot of attention to the features they need and use already. So we know what market requires before we build the new solution.
  • Another thing is that we are paying attention to niches that are popular with tech investors. Not because of the money but mostly because they reflect the potential interest in modern software.

What is next on our roadmap?

Based on that customer interest, DATA become our key focus now and we are planning two new ventures in that area. The first one will be creating big soccer database to become a reliable soccer data feeds provider. We started creating Statorium football API service already and plan to release to the public shortly. The second one will be dedicated to scouting and will use Machine Learning technologies to improve player selection process for professional soccer clubs and intermediate agents.

Keep tuned for our updates, we are creating something cool!

Thanks for reading!
Dmitry,
the BearDev team co-founder.

 

p.s. Many thanks to Kraftblik marketing agency and Bruce Ogilvie for helping me with this post prep!

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What it takes to create the Best Sport Mobile App for your sport site

 

After checking major sport league and team customers` traffic statistics we have found out that from 30% to 60% of site visitors are using mobile devices. What is more, the number of such visitors is only growing day by day. That was a good reason for our team to start thinking of how JoomSport data is delivered to end users phones. Is access from mobile easy? Would it be enough to use responsive design or we need to improve and do something else?

After many discussions, we have come to agreement that the best solution would be Sport Mobile Application.

 

What it takes to develop Sport Mobile application

Have you ever dreamt of having Sport Mobile App for your league or sport club? Up-to-date functional mobile application that will include full sport statistic and even news feed about your major events? Nowadays many sport leagues and teams are ordering Mobile Application development from different software development companies. Unfortunately, very often final result is far from perfect in terms of functionality, structure, design and (most important!) quality.  The price for developing sport Mobile App with very basic functionality and statistic delivery might start from $10'000 and can go as high as $30’000 – 50’000! Impressive, right?

But don`t lose your hope on getting your own Sport Mobile App! We have something to offer.

 

Pre-made Sport mobile application solution

As a result of our eight years` experience in sport software development we have worked out our own exceptional way to create sport mobile applications at a very competitive price and with low development risk.

We are happy to present http://app.joomsport.com service that allows you to get a Sport Mobile App with ready-made blocks right now!

 

Two big benefits of JoomSport Mobile App

Convenient access to your sport league or team data

Imagine that you need to quickly check the information about your team or a game using any mobile device. It is not very convenient to use Web browser on mobile device as you have to always remember the site address. Mobile application solves this problem for sure. You can simply install your favorite league App once and always have easy and up-to-date access to all the information you need.

Games Score notification

Another advantage of JoomSport App is customizable notifications. Your users will be able to select only teams they would like to follow. Once any of these teams plays a match, all details about this will be immediately shown in App notifications! Updates about game results will be coming throughout the whole league season.

JoomSport Mobile sport App has both Android and iOS versions, so all users can enjoy personalized approach.  

 

Cons and Pros of JoomSport Mobile App

What are the main advantages and disadvantages of ordering JoomSport Mobile App instead of developing App from scratch?

Quick delivery!

For us preparing a complete sport league statistic solution for both Android and iOS versions will take from one to two weeks! You won`t need to waste your time on creating new design, app development and delivery stages. We have already done that for you.

No development risks

Your Application has already been created. Basically all we need to do is to deliver it! The process is very simple and we are going to help you at every stage. Our team will gladly walk you through the process of ordering Apple and Google marketplace accounts, choosing App icons and finally connecting your App code to your JoomSport database. Yes, you got it right - as simple as that!

Big savings on delivery cost

Ordering App from us will save you a huge amount of investments you would need to spend on the traditional full cycle development.  Proper sport app from any trustworthy development company will cost you around 10 000 - 20 000 dollars depending on functionality. The price of our App is 10-20 times lower!

Sounds like a good deal, huh?

Our solution has only one disadvantage: your App will have a pre-defined structure following our JoomSport core solution structure. However, even this limitation is customizable and we can remove or add any kind of functionality that you might require at a very reasonable cost.

 

JoomSport mobile App delivery process

What is the delivery process for JoomSport Mobile App? Well, it includes three steps:

Step number 1. Set up your sport data in JoomSport and then send a request for Mobile App delivery. From the technical point of view it would be significantly easier to roll out Mobile App using JoomSport data as far as it has the entire required API integrated.

Step number 2. Purchase marketplace development accounts from Apple and Google. Of course, you can skip buying these accounts and publish your app under our development accounts. However, if you would like to have the App delivered under your name, you will need to create your own account that would let users be sure that App is official.

Step number 3. Get your app delivered in accordance with the pricing plan! The App will be integrated with your site sport data, come under your name and have your branded logos.   

 

Contact us to order your Sport Mobile App!

 

F.A.Q.

Can you modify mobile sport App for me personally and add some extra functionality?

Sure! We will be glad to offer you any modifications based on our $50/hour rate. Please contact us in order to request the estimate.

I don't use JoomSport for managing my games. Can you integrate your Mobile App with my custom sport database?

Yes, we can do that. The pricing is specified in our custom development pricing plan. Please contact us to check if we will be able to complete such integration within the offered price.

Will there be any mention of BearDev development company in my App?

No, we are not going to add it unless you request us to do so. The App will be distributed under your brand name only.

How much the App support cost and what will be included in the price?

One year of free App support is included into the development cost. After that we will provide annual support for 30% of the initial price. For example, if you select our regular plan, annual support will cost you $298 per year. The service includes delivering public App updates and notifications service.

Which infrastructure is used to deliver notifications to the end users?

We use reliable and 100% secure Amazon services to deliver notifications about your games.

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Best selling WordPress sport theme launches partnership with JoomSport sport plugin

 What makes a sport website successful? Having more than 10 years of experience in building success stories for sports projects we can state with confidence that a great sports website needs three major parts:

  • Detailed sport statistics;
  • Great sport news content;
  • And the last, but not the least, is attractive design.

Usually sport news are managed and delivered by league or sport club managers. Unfortunately, until now our JoomSport WordPress sport plugin was missing such important feature as easy and quick delivery of great sport designs. We are happy to say that everything has changed!

 

All this time our team has been looking for the best WordPress sport themes examples and we have finally found the ideal one. We are glad to introduce you top flight Real Soccer theme by GoodLayers. Real Soccer theme is one of the most popular and demanded responsive WordPress sport themes – especially for football and soccer sport clubs. How can we prove that it's the best solution for you? Easily. Just check out three reasons:

  1. Real Soccer theme is included into the top five best selling WordPress sport themes list on the most popular in the world theme marketplace (Themeforest.net).
  2. The theme is the 1st prize winner in WordPress sport themes niche.
  3. If you enter "best WordPress sport theme" query in Google, you will see that almost all top rated blogs have RealSoccer WordPress sport theme in their list.

Are you still not sure? Just check Real Soccer theme demo and you will have no more hesitations seeing their great features and awesome functional design.

Today we are glad to announce the delivery of design integration between JoomSport WordPress sport plugin and Real Soccer WordPress sport theme.

Starting October 2017, RealSoccer theme will be delivered with JoomSport Standard edition. This integration is officially supported both by GoodLayers and BearDev. What is more, we are working on the process of integration with other great WordPress sports themes: Splash, Big Slam and WP Soccer.

Check WordPress sport theme demo website to see the results of this integration and don't miss a chance to take your sport project to the totally new level. Stay tuned! Stay with JoomSport!

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Swiss Water Polo results site renovation - interview with Michael Badulescu

Summer is great for all kinds of sports and it is especially suitable for outdoor activities, just like running, jumping, cycling, and … swimming, of course. Today we are talking to Michael Badulescu, CTO of Swisswaterpolo.com about the latest enhancements implemented for the national water polo web site by the BearDev team.


MICHAEL BADULESCU
Swiss Waterpolo, Chief Technical Director

BearDev: We know Switzerland as the country of a thousand lakes. As far as Swimming is greatly popular among Swiss people, would you say the same regarding water polo?
MB: Unfortunately, it is not so popular as Swimming, but we are growing slowly. Water polo in Switzerland is quite small community with about 1’500 licensed players. The competitions are played in swimming pools, so the numbers of lakes doesn’t help us a lot.

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15 Best Practices for Creating Exciting Sport Leagues Online

Most fans have their favorite kinds of sports or sports leagues and naturally want to follow them online, among other things. Consequently, web site owners need to provide them with a smooth transition from off-line mass media to online sport leagues and vice versa. 

However, online league user experience should give them even more opportunities to get plentiful and detailed information regarding their favorites (players, teams or championships), to socialize, comment and discuss current and past results, to feel in the thick of things, events and people.

It is certainly a complicated task requiring professional sports software. For Joomla web site owners below we present 15 hints to ease this burden and fine-tune league web sites to get plentiful grateful feedback from visitors.

To this purpose you can take advantage of the dedicated software products by BearDev including Joomla! CMS sport extension, JoomSport add-ons and dedicated Joomla templates able to provide you with all necessary features and beyond.

1. Responsive Layout

Nowadays, responsive interface is a mandatory component of great user experience enabling visitors to stay in touch with their hobby or professional activity on the 24/7 basis. Responsive design also makes your Google desktop and mobile rankings more successful.  

JoomSport hint: In order to correspond to the best examples of UI you have to implement responsive Joomla CMS templates, e.g. Joomla responsive sport template Kodiak. You should also make sure that all the extensions used on your site are also responsive. For that you can utilize the JoomSport responsive add-on making all your sport pages mobile friendly.

2. Teams Branding

Team logos added to their names makes content perception more convenient allowing fans to find their teams in seconds within the crowded calendars and Standings.

JoomSport hint: The smallest acceptable size of logo images is 30x30 px. The recommended size of logos in the new coming JoomSport release will be 100x100 px.

3. Photos in Web Site Style

Already known, that users perceive visuals much better than texts and often abandon too long descriptions. You should add multiple photos to players, teams, matches, and venues setting the tone of your professional league in this way.

JoomSport hint: The optimal size of illustrative pictures should be between 200 and 800 px width that is enough for both great  picture quality and site performance. The consistency of photo dimensions within a gallery is also very important since different sizes and aspect ratios of photos make them looking sloppy and unattractive.

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