What are product onramps?

Eighteen months ago I discovered this plugin that was a page builder for WordPress—from a long list of solutions I'd tried. I was writing a comparison post in October of 2014 and frankly, I'd never heard of Beaver Builder.

A month later, I was sitting in the offices of GoDaddy talking with one of their folks when we talked about page builders. When referencing the Beaver Builder plugin, my words were something like, “I think this is a powerful tool built by some guys who may have no clue what they're doing.”

I didn't mean they didn't know how to build a plugin. I meant, they were still, in those days, trying to run both an agency and build a product.

Everyone wants to do that. Personally, I think it's virtually impossible.

And while it took them a bit to shift fully to building their plugin as their primary focus, they've done it. I didn't meet them in person for almost a year, at CaboPress 2015. But I was thrilled to talk to the folks behind this smart product.

They built a very smart product

The other day I was at WooConf talking to a good friend who had recently tried out Beaver Builder. As we debated how well it worked, and what its future could be (without the Beaver Builder guys around), we agreed to disagree.

My smart friend wanted the product to make it even easier for DIY folks to build a good looking site with less effort and fewer distractions (or choices).

I totally understood that particular take. My take, on the other hand, was that this was a product that was doing something even more spectacular than simply being a product for DIYers.

Everything in product development is about segmentation

If I've not said it before, every decision you make when developing a product should be viewed thru the lens of segmentation. Which target markets will use your products in which ways, and will, therefore, need which features?

And what Beaver Builder does best is create product onramps for a variety of segments.

What are Product Onramps?

When you want to get on the freeway and people are driving 75 mph, you need a way to get from your current speed (likely closer to 0) to the flow of traffic. So the smart people who built onramps to the freeway created a length of road just for you to get up to speed.

It's a specific path, for a specific person, with a specific goal and intention.

It's not a super cool feature of the freeway, but it's critical, essential, and it delivers its value perfectly.

I'm not going to write the sentences here that you might expect about how most product developers don't get it right. I'll simply ask you the question about your own experience.

When you participated in the last effort to develop a product, did you find that people were talking about the different kinds of users, what their goals would be, and how specific features could help navigate them to where they needed to be?

Or was it a rush for a couple of cool screens and just a core effort to get stuff done and out the door?

Onramps help specific segments embrace and adopt your product.

Beaver Builder's Perfect Solution for Developers

Let's be honest, products that do page builder work—plugins and themes alike—are really most often focused on a non-technical person who knows nothing about code and just wants their site to look good.

This is the site owner / DIY person. They don't know margin, padding, or more. But they know what they like.

Then there's the designer. They know margin and padding, but not tons of code. And they know what they like.

And then there are developers. They like code. Everything else slows things down. And most often, they don't like page builders.

So how did Beaver Builder get past that?

They created the documentation and support for Custom Modules.

And it's a perfect example of a specific solution for a specific segment that delivers specific value.

Trust me, no DIY or Designer is looking at building a custom module. But when I was at Crowd Favorite, our team built several. For clients that were small and others that were really large.

Our goal was to create a solution we could deliver to a client that would still let them change things, without breaking stuff or making it look horrible.

And Beaver Builder embraced the role of a developer and gave them a path to embrace it, as a product.

Are you creating space for others to get involved?

When you build a plugin or theme, do you build in a way to let others (like documentation people, developers, virtual assistants, etc) interact or engage with your product?

My buddy Shawn over at WP101 did this by allowing developers to put his videos into the sites of their customers. He knew one segment was the end user that was learning, but the other segment was the developer who was passing back over a site to that other segment. And he helped them.

The folks building Beaver Builder did the same thing with their custom module and template importing/exporting features.

The folks behind OptinMonster and ConvertKit are doing the same thing as they keep creating ways to let partners create integrations to their platforms.

It doesn't matter which segment you're serving, you have to find a way to help them get onboard with your success, and that often requires you to create product onramps.

Don't take my word for it—go check out Beaver Builder.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on them and make a purchase, I'll get a commission, at no cost to you.

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Chris Lema
Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.

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