My name is Rogier Lankhorst, the Co-founder of Really Simple Plugins, living in the north of the Netherlands in the beautiful city Groningen. I grew up in a very small town of 300 inhabitants.
I studied mechanical engineering and somehow I drifted to programming at that point.
In 2003 I started a restaurant, I had this restaurant for about ten years. The idea was to build a franchise, but it never did really take off. So after those years I sold the business and started over.
At that point, someone asked me to build a very simple webshop. And that’s how I came back to development and I got to know WordPress. So I gradually started with WordPress Development.
The Journey Began
I think that was in 2013. In 2015 someone asked me to switch a website to SSL. I installed a plugin for it and the whole site crashed. So I thought, I can do it better. That was how Really Simple SSL started.
I just wanted something simple and lightweight, the front-end loading almost no code, and it really took off. Not really have anything commercial in mind.
But in a year there were 20,000 websites using the free plugin, and that’s when I thought I could offer a premium version because, with 20,000 users, there’s bound to be someone who’s going to buy it.
This went far better than I would have expected. In a couple of years, it grew into a real company and I thought, stop with all the custom developments, no website building anymore. Just plugins.
A great advantage with plugins is: that it builds recurring revenue, so each year your turnover grows.
Challenges with SSL in WordPress
Really Simple SSL Logo
With Really Simple SSL specifically, the problem was that there are so many different hosting environments, all handling .htaccess, redirects, and headers in a different way.
You have servers with Apache, NGINX, Litespeed, and IIS. And each hosting provider does something different.
That was difficult in the beginning and hard to test. I think we tackled that by always responding to every support request and fixing everything we encountered, even if it was just one user. I think that made it really simple as well.
In 2018, Aert and Leon came to me with an idea for a cookie consent plugin and that was when the GDPR privacy regulation just started. And that’s how the Complianz Cookie Consent plugin was launched.
With Really Simple SSL used as a method to market Complianz, it also took off really well.
And we now started with Burst, which is a privacy-friendly statistics plugin, we use the same method to try to get users to install the free plugin and then let the plugin speak for itself.
As our users are expecting this of us, we will be extending Really Simple SSL with more security features this year. In a few years, Really Simple SSL will have become Really Simple Security.
Really Simple SSL Structure
Myself with my Brilliant Team
Rogier Lankhorst with Team Members
Rogier lankhorst Team at WordCamp Europe 2022
After the Pandemic, WCEU22 was the first physical WordCamp Europe to meet & greet people around the world and listen to their stories. And, I was lucky to be one of the speakers speaking about “Protect your Website Visitors with Security Headers (Session Full)“.
And, a big thanks to Mustaasam for featuring me on WPfounders. That’s all because of the community.
Rogier Lankhorst with Mustaasam at WCEU2022
Advice for Business Owners
I love building plugins. I would always recommend starting building a plugin and building it as a freemium model.
I think even if there’s already a plugin doing it, there’s always room for something new that may do a bit better with better support and a better UX.
I’ve done some custom themes, but that’s really something different than commercial selling themes. I prefer building plugins to themes.
WordPress & Beyond
I think these are going to be some interesting years with Gutenberg, which hopefully will fulfill all the expectations.
It’s both a risk and an opportunity, but I’m hoping that Gutenberg will be what it can be, a really good full-site editing experience.
Currently, we have the risk of all the heavy page builders which are slowing WordPress down and causing a bad image for WordPress.
I hope Gutenberg and the performance team can improve the image WordPress has, speedwise. Therefore I think Gutenberg is the future.
I believe Gutenberg has to succeed because they invested so much in it, and it can be the solution for the speed issues that are currently surfacing due to slow configurations (page builders, lots of plugins).
WordPress in itself is not slow. I’ve built some very fast sites with it. But when configured badly, it can become slow.
My Love for the WordPress Community
Well, I think that the WordPress community is a great community. I really like how free users always come up with ideas and suggestions for our plugins as well.
A lot of things we built in past years were suggested by users and it’s also a pretty friendly community.
There are always some hateful people, but most users, even if something goes wrong, they’re really understanding and say something like “did you notice there’s an issue”? So that’s what I really like about the community.
WordCamp Europe 2022 was my first WordCamp, it was an amazing experience.
How I Keep Myself Updated
It’s not like I have a single source of information, I often look at other plugins and how other plugins solve a problem and get inspiration from that.
Apart from that, I get ideas by having discussions with my colleagues and keeping track of what WordPress is offering.
So in this way, we keep track of how to update our plugins. For example, due to developments in WordPress, we have decided to move our entire back-end to React. As WordPress is going React I think it’s a good idea to follow that development.
I Have a Life Other Than the Work
I usually like to spend time sailing and surfing on the lake. It’s always fun on the water.
For vacations and winters especially, we love to go skiing. It’s always a great experience.
This summer we are hoping to visit the United States. We would have gone last year, but couldn’t because of Covid.
We’re visiting the family my daughter lived with when she went to high school in the United States for a year.
I Reward Myself by
- I really like developing, so I like to do that in my free time as well 🙂
- I like to spend time with my family at the lake.