Note 1 year after original publication of this article: Usability Dynamics creator has left a comment below about their now-free premium add-ons.
It’s been a little while since I published my last review, due to health issues. But this excitement of comparing and contrasting CRMs has been on my mind! And today it’s my privilege to take a look at WP-CRM by Usability Dynamics. They offer this plugin for free as well as free Property Management and Invoicing plugins.
This CRM looks like it’s been around for at least five years. It has over 5,000 active installs, and the reviewers have given it an average rating of 3.6 out of 5 stars. It’s a very lightweight little gadget, so I don’t expect to bore you with a super-long article here.
Summary of WP-CRM
WP-CRM should fit well into the toolkit of anyone who wants to keep things light and lean. And it would be good to have a little developer’s savvy while you’re at it too (which I know a lot of you WordPress folks already do have more than a little of). Basically, this is a repository for contact information as well as a way to work with forms for automatically collecting that information from website visitors. If you buy the Messaging add-on ($50), you’ll be able to send group messages as well.
WP-CRM Core Features
Integrates with their Invoicing plugin (Free)
Group Messaging Add-on ($50)
Digging into WP-CRM
If you’re familiar with WordPress Users, you pretty much know what you’ll find in this CRM’s “All People,” “New Person,” and “My Profile.” As a matter of fact, entering a New User adds a New Person to the CRM, and adding a New Person adds a New User.
That being said, there are differences. And just how many differences there are depends on how you tweak the CRM’s settings. So you can beef up the information you want to store about each Contact. Also, each Contact Record offers a specialized functionality for tracking interactions. So every time you want to record a phone call, a meeting, an interesting note, or whatever, you can just click Add New and enter the information. Messages are stored chronologically by date.
There’s also a few actions you can take on the People Dashboard. You can do some filtering, export the contacts, or click on that “Visualization” button to view a nifty little circle graph.
The bulk of this CRM lies in its Settings options. There are a number of Main (general) settings, some User Identification settings, and then a place to set up what Data you want to track on your contacts. You can add pretty much as many data fields as you wish.
Then there’s settings for Roles. There’s not much you can do here except hide some of the information for particular roles. Also, you get a listing of what all permissions each user gets. As far as I can tell, there’s no way to tweak those permissions here.
Notification and Shortcode Forms settings both require a little knowledge of code, but there are a few helps for variables usage and arrays under the Help settings tab. (If you’re not comfortable with the sort of thing pictured below, this should give you some pause.)
Notifications are the messages that will automatically pop up when someone fills out a form on your site. And the Shortcode Forms are the various contact forms you want to appear on your website. As people fill out these forms, their data is automatically added to your People (and User) records.
This is a very simple, streamlined CRM—a great place to store a list of contacts for your blog or club. And what’s even better is that you can determine for yourself what data you want to track about your contacts by adding or deleting fields in the program’s settings. You can also categorize your contacts and filter them according to User Types that you can define.
WP-CRM is not terribly intuitive (though its simplicity takes the edge off of that pain). There’s some documentation, but most of it requires the same type of general code knowledge as the Notification and Shortcode Form settings mentioned above. There is one video tutorial that was very clear and easy to follow. Also, I’d love to see just a little more attractiveness in design. Of course, that’s not of primary importance for a very functional, free CRM; but I can’t help but think it would make using it a little more fun.
Once again, let’s review my 5 criteria and why I chose them.
- Core System — this is the system I downloaded without any extra add-ons. I’ll be giving this rating based on how robust and on-point those features seem to be.
- Front-End Integration — it’s important that the tools available in a CRM “speak” with the front end of your site, as this is how you automate the collection of data.
- Ease of Use and UX — naturally, the more intuitive a program is, the quicker it is to become familiar with it. Something like 60% of CRM implementations fail because of poor user adoption. If your CRM system is unintuitive, it doesn’t matter how great the feature set is if your users aren’t going to use it.
- Add-Ons/Integrations — that’s what WordPress is all about, right? Having the flexibility to build a system that fits your needs. To do that, you need a variety of building blocks to choose from.
- Customer Support —this one is pretty important for me (after UX) in learning a new program. I love browsing through help documents and watching tutorials. And if that doesn’t cut it, I look for the chat box or some contact information.
Score for WP-CRM System
- Core System — 2.8
- Front-End Integration — 2.5 (This requires a lot of know-how and setup on your part.)
- Ease of Use/UX — 3.2 (Entering contacts is straightforward. Setup [which is pretty much what this CRM is] needs more help.)
- Add-Ons/Integrations — 2.0 (The invoicing integration looks great. But the CRM hasn’t been made to integrate with any well-loved WordPress plugins.)
- Customer Support — 3.2 (I’m going solely by their available manuals and tutorials here.)
Total Score = 2.7