2023 – Year in Review

2023 has been a huge year for Uncanny Owl and there’s a lot for our team and customers to celebrate. From plugin releases to WordCamp Europe to customer support, the year was packed with milestones and accomplishments. 🥳🥳

Plugin releases

So far in 2023 we have released a total of 90 plugin updates, with 1 or 2 more expected before year-end. (Yes, that does mean we released a plugin update more frequently than once every 3 business days!) Here’s the breakdown:

Every single one of our plugins gained new features this year. Here are some of the highlights:

Those are just the biggest new features, of course; changelogs across our various releases had over 650 total entries. For Automator plugins alone, there were over 250,000 code changes! 🤯

The Automator 5.0 releases along with its two new addons represented a big expansion of Automator’s capabilities, evolving it from a pure integration and workflow tool toward a complete WordPress site development platform. Where customers used to think, “How can I connect these 2 things together?”, it’s starting to shift to, “Do I really need all these other things anyway if Automator and its addons can do it all for me?”

Automator Loops

In addition to the work on our own plugins, our developers made core contributions to several releases of WordPress itself! 👊

Plugin support

Our Help Desk has been busier than ever, sending over 14,000 replies (from January 1 to November 30) and resolving well over 6,000 tickets.

Here are just a few of the comments from customers this year:

  • You responded very quickly, took my ticket seriously… and offered me a solution within 24 hours. Thank you for great customer service!
  • These guys just get better and better. Very glad I chose Uncanny Owl.
  • This is probably the most thorough, specific and tailored technical assistance I’ve ever had from a plugin support team.
  • Far beyond what I was actually expecting. [Uncanny Owl] went the extra mile and assisted me with a mostly unrelated issue that will save me quite a bit of time in my general business. 
  • I am blown away by the capabilities of this plugin. I have been able to achieve things across multiple sites that I didn’t think possible. It was simple to use and when I did hit a snag, the support was incredible. They did everything they could to drill down on the issue.
  • Outstanding – fast, competent, responsive. Superb as ever.
  • More great support from Uncanny Owl – consistently some of the best customer service I’ve encountered in any industry. Great work guys.
  • These guys are just unreal – SUCH an impressive level of support and expertise. Truly exceptional. Keep up the great work, y’all. Cheers
  • You can remove the Help Scout form’s buttons for “okay” and “not good”. They seem unnecessary for a company like Uncanny Owl. 😉
  • The feedback received was clearly documented and helped a great deal with resolving multiple issues. Thank you very much! Ps. Your solution is amazing too 🙂

Install growth

It was a big year for all of our plugins, but of course the star was Uncanny Automator. We increased Automator’s install base by over 50%, moving from 20,000 active installs to over 30,000 in less than a year. It’s also up to over 750,000 downloads. While the install count is still just behind our Uncanny Toolkit for LearnDash plugin, Automator will eclipse the Toolkit in about 3 months.

Beyond just the growth in the number of sites using Automator, we’ve also seen growth in how much Automator is used on each site. Over the past year, Automator users have run over 50 million recipes (and that’s just from sites that are sharing analytics data; the actual number is much higher)! The average site now also has over 5 active recipes (up from about 3.5 in 2022).

Uncanny Toolkit Pro for LearnDash remains our most popular premium plugin, crossing the 8,000 sales threshold this year, and it’s thrilling that all of our premium plugins have now sold thousands of copies each!

New plugins

Late this year we were thrilled to announce 2 brand new plugins for Uncanny Automator: the Custom User Fields addon and the Restrict Content addon.

Custom User Fields makes it really easy to add new fields for user profiles, display and manage the data, and incorporate those fields into your Automator recipes. It’s also fully compatible with any other plugin that adds custom fields to user meta.

Automator Custom User Fields

Restrict Content is a simple but powerful plugin that makes it easy to set up access/membership levels, manage them for users, then control access to blocks, posts, pages, and shortcode content. It’s all tightly connected to Automator, so it’s easy to manage access levels using recipes.

WordPress Accessl Levels

Both are free tools for anyone with a Business or Agency annual license for Automator.

Plugin ratings

Beyond the feedback we received in our Help Desk, Uncanny Automator and the Uncanny Toolkit received lots of new 5-star reviews on WordPress.org. In fact, over 97% of reviews in 2023 were 5 stars!

Here’s a sample of some of the feedback we received:

  • We had a quote for customisation – approx £2,500 – way out of our reach as a tiny charity. But a few days work with Uncanny Automator Pro, MemberPress, Google Sheets and MailChimp and we have a fully functional automated system for a fraction of the cost, and we’re identifying other opportunities on a daily basis.
  • WOW! It was the best decision ever. This PLUGIN is great, I’m in love with the things you can do and to be honest I haven’t explored half of it.
  • This plugin has been absolutely brilliant, any automation process I’ve needed it has fulfilled. Without a doubt, I’d recommend this plugin to anyone that needs automation built into their WordPress site.
  • Uncanny Automator is super powerful with so many integration one can not fathom how powerful this plugin can be. It is definitely one of my top 3 plugins to install on all my WordPress websites.
  • This is a MUST HAVE plugin for any WordPress site, especially those utilizing LMS or WooCommerce!

It’s also been a thrill to be featured on more “best WordPress plugins” lists than we can count! 😎

New content

It’s been a busy year for the writers at Uncanny Owl, with more than enough new blog posts and knowledge base articles to fill a book or two. In our goal to make our plugins as useful and well documented as possible, we published over 60 new blog posts for Uncanny Automator, a dozen for Uncanny Owl, plus several dozen new Knowledge Base articles.

We know that all of the new content is helpful, but we’re also aware that it makes discovery challenging and that it’s a lot of text to go through. With almost 250 total Knowledge Base articles, in 2024 we’ll implement more ways to quickly find content that’s relevant to you.

Team meetups

In our first big meetup post-COVID, most of the Uncanny team was able to travel to Athens in June for WordCamp Europe. It was an incredible opportunity for our team, families and peers to connect in a gorgeous location. From left to right, here’s a picture of David, Ken, Dani, Brendan, Nastia, Agus, Manal, Saad and Ryan in front of the Athens conference centre:

WCEU 2023 Uncanny Owl

For even more details about our WordCamp Europe adventure, check out the full blog post.

In December, we met up with the Toronto-area team for lunch and some bowling. In 2024 we’ll get more of the team over to Canada for a meetup in May!

Uncanny Holiday Lunch

What’s next for 2024?

We’ve made some tremendous advances in 2023 that will allow us to push the boundaries of WordPress automation in 2024. While we typically don’t talk about what’s coming, certainly some of our priorities will be obvious, including:

  • Recurring recipes, scheduled recipes, and better support for nesting of conditions, delays and loops.
  • Another addon or two for Automator.
  • Lots of new integrations, surpassing the 200 mark in the next few months.
  • An overhaul of this website, because yes, we know that it’s very, very overdue.

We also expect to expand the team in early 2024 to grow our capabilities related to support, front end development and LearnDash development. If you’re interested, you know where to find us!