I just wanted to share some aggregated results from the first survey for directing the development of Print My Blog Pro.
As a reminder, I’m developing Print My Blog Pro with the aim to help users make professional-looking books and documents from their WordPress posts. Anyone can signup to become a Founding Member to have a vote on what they need it to do, and get a major discount when it’s ready (and the first 50 qualifying members will get a free lifetime license, and by the way, there are currently still 14 spots). Read the official invitation and details here.
If you think the survey results don’t reflect users’ real needs— by all means, signup and fill out the survey yourself 😉! And tell your like-minded associates.
I’ll step through each question as they appear. Some were open-ended, so I’ll just give an overview of what my impression was without saying who said what. For the multiple-choice ones I think its fine to share the exact results.
There were a couple categories of tools respondents have used: those for printing several posts at once by the site owner, and those for printing individual posts by site visitors.
- Anthologize WordPress Plugin: the respondent said they found it intuitive, but started to get slow after continued use.
- Blog2Print: respondent liked “fidelity in conversion and print” but it only supports posts, not pages.
- Apple Pages with Canva: needed to recreate all content from scratch.
- Scrivnr: intended for writing an entire book and publishing all at once, not publishing-as-you-go like blogging with WordPress:
- Designrr: pricey, intended for making PDFs from a single post, has some “idiosyncrasies.”
- PressBooks: also has some “idiosyncrasies.” I think it looks good for writing an entire book from scratch.
- InDesign: big learning curve, but basically this is the industry standard in print design.
- BlogBooker: no support for non-divisible spaces, like how in French there needs to be a space before colons, but there should never be a line-break in front of it. There are WordPress plugins that address this, which BlogBooker’s content ignored.
Many of those tools require you to import content from WordPress (either through a importer, or copy-and-pasting), which usually means you’ll need to reformat it all.
In my opinion, Print My Blog’s current big advantage over all of these options is its support for the wider WordPress ecosystem of plugins and themes. However, Print My Blog still has a long way to go with this, and I hope to improve it in the Pro version.
- PDF & Print by BestWebSoft: clean layout, easy to customize button placement on each post/page. But printout itself not customizable.
- PrintFriendly: image placement buggy when its inside text.
The main issue with these is a lack of customizability.
- Easily show all posts content on a single page (especially for copy-and-pasting)
- Control of how to display links
- Control of number of text columns
- Control of picture size
- Control of font size
- Customizable printouts (eg choosing whether dates, author, categorizes, etc will show)
- Filtered selection of posts (eg by category, date, author, etc)
- Helps you make a low-tech backup
- Plugin support
- Consistency between printing individual posts and groups of posts
- Ease of use
- No need to import content
- eBook generation
- PDF generation
The most common themes were ease-of-use and customizability.
So far, the majority of respondents indicated they wanted to create new books/documents from old posts (sometimes called “booking-a-blog”).
I was a bit surprised that writing new books from new blog posts (sometimes called “blogging-a-book”) had significantly fewer votes. Folks who want that are probably already quite well-served by PressBooks service, or are happy writing in Microsoft Word then copy-and-pasting into WordPress.
The biggest take-away is that “Let visitors print blog posts” was so low on the list. Post-printing plugins like PrintFriendly have 10x more active installs than plugins like Anthologize, and recently about half of my support requests are about this. So it’s surprising to see it got so few votes. I think users who want post-printing services for visitors are already fairly well-served by Print Friendly plugin and the like.
PDF is to be the big winner here, with ePub eBooks in second. Paper and MOBI formats got significant votes but are clearly in lower demand.
Right now, 4 people also voted for “Microsoft Word” in the “other” option. I bet there would have been more votes for that if I had listed it as an option. (I’m not thrilled with that because WordPress + Print My Blog should replace Microsoft Word, but I realize I need to listen to what users want.)
It seems to me almost all the features mentioned were popular, the only exception being custom post types. However, I know support for other post types will make Print My Blog useful for printing courses from learning management system plugins and products from eCommerce plugins, so I still think it’s important:
Currently, the majority of respondents want to use Print My Blog Pro for non-financial purposes. My assumption is that if you use it for your primary business you’ll value it more, so I was hoping to see more of those responses.
While Gutenberg is a winner, Classic Editor isn’t far behind. On principle, I also want to make sure this works with ClassicPress, because although I like WordPress, I also don’t like monopolies, which WordPress os growing towards.
(Originally I asked for all plugins, which I realized later was pretty overwhelming because we all use 20+ plugins 😵)
The ones that came up the most were:
- Yoast SEO
- MailChimp for WordPress
There were others that didn’t come up a lot, but I think are quite complementary to Print My Blog included:
- WP Recipe Maker
- Foo Gallery
- Easy Table of Contents
- WP Google Maps
- Advanced WP Columns
I got a lot of well-wishing and encouragement here, so thanks!
One respondent brought up how marketing their books on Facebook hasn’t been great, and getting reviews outside of Facebook and Amazon has been helpful. It might be do some type of “guest reviewing” of each others’ books (like guest posting in blogging), which I hope the Facebook group will facilitate.
It’s crucial that Print My Blog Pro:
- help users convert existing posts to documents
- generate digital and print-ready PDFs
- support table of contents, improved layout, customizing order of posts, converting hyperlinks to page references
- Gutenberg and the Classic Editor will need to be supported.
Also very important:
- help users write new documents and books simultaneously
- make ePub formats
- customizable templates and support for custom post types
- integration with popular plugins
It will probably be good to:
- facilitate making low-tech backups and let visitors print posts
- make Microsoft Word documents from posts
- integrate with the complimentary plugins mentioned
I’m really grateful for everyone who took the time to respond. I’ll try to keep subsequent surveys briefer.
Right now there have been 39 forms submissions. So we’re getting close to the goal of 50, at which point I’ll invite them to the Facebook group and we can continue with the release schedule.
For now, I think I have enough information to get started on the big-ticket items.
If you’d like to fill out the survey, please sign up below, then you’ll get a link to it.
Further comments are always welcome below too.