May 2015 Update: How you helped shape Wild Apricot

Dmitriy Buterin 29 May 2015 3 comments

 

Wild Apricot’s functionality has grown year after year due in large part to our customers (you!). You may not even know it, but you have shaped the course of Wild Apricot.

Let me rewind.

Wild Apricot had humble beginnings. We started with a small staff of only 3 people in a tiny space in Toronto. Today, we have over 85 employees in Toronto and Moscow who work virtually round the clock to improve our product, simplifying the management of small membership organizations everywhere.  

What’s more is Wild Apricot was once again ranked #1 on Capterra’s Top Membership Management Software list. That’s 3 years in a row now!

How Did This Happen?

For us, it starts with one of our core values: constantly communicate with our clients to better learn how we can help them.

We spend considerable time and energy trying to figure out what our customers like, dislike and need the most. And we use that information to make important decisions on the direction of Wild Apricot.

What channels do we use to listen to and converse with you?

Our software forums have always played a big part in interacting with you. When we started our forum in 2006 it was a great tool to interact with our users, provide support and collect feedback on our product. But since then it’s grown to include over 5,000 users who have contributed over 27,000 posts.

One of the most popular sections in the forum is our Wishlist thread that allows our customers to tell us exactly what they want. Since 2014, the wishlist has become even more important, as it now formally guides which features we develop and when. That means that we actually go through all the requested features and add the most popular ones to our product roadmap for development. The system isn't perfect as we get so many requests, but we’re learning and improving all the time. We are working towards an ideal situation where there is a direct connection between what you ask for and what we deliver.

We’ve also done our best to be transparent about the process by opening up our internal product roadmap to the public, so you know exactly what we’re working on at any given time and can make even more suggestions that we can then use to serve you.

In fact, you are one of over 15,000 membership organizations that use Wild Apricot to serve more than 3 million members worldwide. Everything from our homepage and help pages to our actual software features have been carefully designed and implemented based on your input.

Wild Apricot was built by you.

We’re constantly surveying clients to help gain feedback on software usability, and our support team is always in touch with clients to identify common problems.

Your influence on Wild Apricot is easy to see. Over the years, we’ve been gathering feedback and have published 62 major releases, offering hundreds of new requested features and we've been investing heavily into accelerating this progress every year.

Here are some of the big milestones in Wild Apricot Software history:

  • Version 1.0 - Internal beta version  (April 2006): The very first version of Wild Apricot took a whole year of development and was created as an internal release so that we could do some extensive usability tests and bug tracking.  We wanted to make sure that before the general public got a hold of Wild Apricot, our software was secure, stable and truly easy to use. We added some more functionality at this point to get the product ready for the public.

  • Version 2.0 (June 30, 2006) : Wild Apricot is Live! After months of discussions, development and testing, Wild Apricot was available for use by small membership organizations all over the world. The first version of Wild Apricot Included basic login functionality, a simple member directory and events module.

  • Version 3.0 (May 2009) : Version 3 was a landmark year for Wild Apricot as the introduction of the new “contact database” revolutionised the way organizations could keep track of their members’ information. Previously, Wild Apricot users had to have 3 separate databases for members, donors and event attendees. Version 3.0 allowed for the unification of these databases, creating one central, cloud-based directory that plugged-in to all other modules within Wild Apricot.

  • Version 4.0 (September 2010): Version 4 brought a whole new dimension to Wild Apricot with the “finances module”. For the first time, users could automatically generate invoices, record offline payments, generate financial reports and export data to MS Excel and Quickbooks.

  • Version 5.0 (April 19, 2014): Version 5 was our biggest release ever and included a new content management system (CMS) with drag & drop functionality that allowed someone with zero-coding experience to create fully fledged web pages. We also included numerous new gadgets, layouts, fonts and formatting options.

  • Launch of Mobile apps: After much development and testing the Wild Apricot App was launched for iOS (September 2014) and Android (March 2015). The app allows Wild Apricot administrators to perform a number of admin functions on the go, including the ability to register event attendees at the door, add new contacts to the database, and keep track of offline payments.

For some contrast, have a look at what the membership directory back-end looked like in Version 2.0. It was fairly simple and got the basic job done...

 


In the latest version of Wild Apricot, the membership directory has much more functionality including more powerful search and filter options and a much more user friendly interface.

 

The usability, look and feel of your organization's website has changed dramatically too. Have a look at the options for website templates in Version 2.0:

 

After great demand for more design options, we've continually been adding new themes, including our latest responsive themes. Here’s what it looks like to select a theme in the latest version of Wild Apricot. We now have 18 different theme sets to choose from, with dozens of colour scheme options.

 

This opens up a whole range of design options for organizations! Have a look at some of the beautiful websites powered by Wild Apricot.



And here are a couple of examples of our highly requested responsive themes, Bookshelf and Whiteboard.


Discovering and addressing needs beyond software

Through our interactions with customers, we always knew that our clients were looking for more than just software when they found us. Fun fact: most of our customers find out about us by searching for different topics (e.g. How to find young volunteers) on Google and landing on an article on our knowledge portal.

To find out more, we decided to hold our own focus groups. We sat down with leaders, volunteers and staff of membership organizations to try and understand the biggest challenges our customers were facing, the biggest obstacles their organizations faced, issues they could not solve themselves.

We discovered that many of our clients were looking for guidance, resources and support to help run their organizations and grow their membership.

Most importantly: we discovered another way for us to contribute to and enrich the lives of our clients and their organizations.

We started by completely overhauling our Knowledge Hub to create our new “Knowledge Wiki” to house our extensive library of in depth articles and guides that provide practical information that can be implemented immediately.

To provide our customers access to experts and their peers, we expanded our Community efforts too. We now recruit industry experts to hold free live webinars every month. We get almost 500 attendees each session and we’ve been receiving great feedback. Our next Free Expert Webinar is on “ How to Use Your Database to Grow Your Membership” presented by Wes Trochlil on Wednesday, June 24th @ 3:30 - 4:30 PM (ET) Register Now

We continue to hold our Membership Advisory Group sessions that connect you with your peers to discuss the most pressing issues that membership managers, board members and volunteers are facing. And because of overwhelming signs of support and demand, we’ve also recently launched the Wild Apricot Podcast. Now, all the great insights and resources we gather can be absorbed on the go right on your music player or phone!

The Wild Apricot Podcast is now available on iTunes - Subscribe now!

What’s next?

We’ve been paying attention to your comments and your wishlist posts and we’re happy to announce some big additions coming soon:

  • WordPress Integration: With the upcoming 5.4 release, Wild Apricot's single sign-on for WordPress means users will be able to access restricted Wild Apricot content on a WordPress site without having to log in separately to both accounts. What's more, you’ll also have the ability to restrict WordPress content by your Wild Apricot  membership levels, as you would on your Wild Apricot site.

  • New Forums: Our software forums (including our wishlist thread) are getting a major overhaul. We’re migrating to a new system that include better tools to get your voice heard. You’ll soon be able to:

    • Vote and comment on features to increase their priority in our roadmap

    • Follow the status (e.g. under review, developing, released, etc.) of features and get instant notifications when the status changes.

And don’t worry, your existing contributions (suggestions, comments, user accounts) will all be migrated to the new platform.

  • Version 5.5: Scheduled for an August release, Version 5.5 will bring big improvements to Wild Apricot:
    • A comprehensive redesign to the usability of inserting pictures and documents into pages
    • With new recurring events, you will be able to set up an event with multiple sessions on different dates - useful for courses or seminars with recurring dates.
    • Administrators will be able to limit event registrations to use same email just once per event
    • Wild Apricot will support  Stripe  - a leading  payment system “built for developers”
    • Guest registrations will now create its own contact in database, so you will be able to engage with them via email
  • The Wild Apricot Book: Thanks to you, we’ve been collecting a wealth of knowledge on how to better run membership organizations. We’re working on an exciting book that brings together all our learnings in one place. It’s going to include peer insights, expert opinions and best practices. Stay tuned for more information.

Thanks again

Our customers made the last 9 years and our evolution of becoming the #1 membership management software possible.

And we plan to reward your contributions in the only way we know: by continuing to be the #1 resource for small membership organizations everywhere.

We will continue ramping up our software releases with new features that are informed by our wishlist, and working even harder to increase our community and knowledge efforts to bring you more tips, insights and resources from peers and experts around the world.

To your success!


 

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Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot] Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot]

Posted by Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot]

Published Friday, 29 May 2015 at 9:46 AM

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Comments

  • Kim said:

    Friday, 29 May 2015 at 10:49 PM
    I just wanted to congratulate you, and your team, on what you have done and created.
    I love learning about the history and milestones: seeing the changes. To me, it is motivational. It says, "If they could do it, so can I!
    I love Wild Apricot. And I know, like my brain, I am only using a portion of its functionality!
    If only I could find time to learn more!
    Might be a silly question, but do you have an Event Calendar, for your webinars? It would be great, if I have a window of time, to be able to check out if something is happening, at a time I am actually free.
    Just a thought.
    All the best! And here is to 10 more amazing years! Thanks so much!
    Sincerely,
    Kim
  • Shiv Narayanan [Magnetic Apricot] Shiv Narayanan [Magnetic Apricot]

    Shiv Narayanan [Magnetic Apricot] said:

    Monday, 01 June 2015 at 11:33 AM
    Thanks, Kim! Please be sure to visit our community section for the latest info on upcoming events: https://www.wildapricot.com/community
  • Farhad Chikhliwala [Professor Apricot] Farhad Chikhliwala [Professor Apricot]

    Farhad Chikhliwala [Professor Apricot] said:

    Tuesday, 02 June 2015 at 4:26 PM
    Notice: This blog post has been updated on 6/2/15 to include more information on Version 5.5 and the Wild Apricot App.
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