WP E Signature, by ApproveMe, is a high-end, paid WordPress plug-in that allows users to create personalized, legally binding contracts that can be signed electronically with a computer mouse or touch screen. It’s the first application of its kind that I’m aware of, and can be either an excellent time-saver, or a costly burden. The app isn’t for everyone. There’s an immense learning curve to using it, and the price can be prohibitive. But when properly installed, it’s powerful, and can save a business money over time.
I discovered WP E Signature while searching for a solution for a client who needed an electronic version of their standard contract. They have hundreds of customers per week, and were buried under paper forms. Electronic signature apps for the iPad or Android tablets commonly require a monthly fee. Within their budget, I was able to set up a WordPress page on cheap hosting and install the plug-in.
The plug-in is available on the developer’s website, www.approveme.me. You can purchase the license for either the Pro or Business package. These offers are very different from what I first saw only a few weeks ago, so ApproveMe may still be adapting their business model. The Pro License costs $97, can be installed on 3 websites, and includes the Basic add-on list. The Business License costs $250, although sales and special offers are available. It can be used on an unlimited number of sites and utilizes the Basic and Advanced add-on collections. The Business License may be suitable for a WordPress web designer who makes many websites and can install the plug-in for businesses as part of their projects.
There are tutorials on YouTube narrated by Kevin, ApproveMe’s soft-spoken lead programmer. They also have a speedy support team. If you own the license, you can log into ApproveMe’s website and send them a question. In my experience, they respond on the same business day with an email. This is important because of the previously mentioned learning curve and complexity of the plug-in.
That complexity may be a consequence of needing to be legally binding and compliant with government regulations. Other plug-ins that feature signature add-ons don’t really focus on signatures- they’re bundles based on contact forms, invoices, or something else. WP E Signature’s selling point is that its signatures will hold up in a court of law.
When the plug-in is installed onto your WordPress site, there will be options in the backend Dashboard to create New Documents. Similar to a WordPress Post or Page editor, you can type up your contract and save it on WordPress’s database. It can be emailed to your potential client or viewed on a designated page of your site.
The Pro License includes the Basic Add-ons, which number 3: Custom Signer Fields, Document Activity Notifications, and Save As PDF. Custom Signer Fields are items like check boxes and date calendars that can be inserted anywhere on a contract. Document Activity Notifications will alert you when your client views the contract on their device. Save As PDF lets you download a signed contract from your website’s backend onto your computer for personal storage.
There are 13 Add-Ons in the Advanced Package, available with the Business License. The ones I think are most important are Stand Alone Documents, Document Templates and Unlimited Sender Roles. Stand Alone Documents are those that are automated and can be used repeatedly. If a business has many clients who need to sign a standard contract, this is useful. Document Templates are similar, but it seems they are emailed to customers while Stand Alone Documents reside on a WordPress page. I utilized the Stand Alone Documents for my client. Unlimited Sender Roles is key if there are multiple administrators of your WordPress site. They would likely be the web designer and the business owner, and anyone on the business’s staff the owner assigns. Other Advanced Add-Ons include the ability to add your logo and branding to a document, syncing with Dropbox, and signing reminders, in case your client is dragging their feet.
You would need to do pretty brisk business to justify WP E Signature’s price tag. On top of that, if you aren’t comfortable with web design, you would need to pay a designer or staff member to install the plug-in. Luckily for me, my clients were well established and my hourly rate was acceptable to them. Considering how much paper and ink they go through, this plug-in will pay for itself. Early stage companies and start-ups wouldn’t get much use if they’re still building their customer base. Starting out, they may be better off with paper contracts or iOS signature apps.
Hopefully, ApproveMe will streamline this plug-in to make it easier to use and more affordable. I think what they offer is crucial, and I’m surprised more developers haven’t joined in the effort. Competition would be great for this category. Early adopters are needed to support ApproveMe’s work while they perfect the product. There are growing entrepreneurial and freelancing movements. The future of the economy depends on them being protected in their business dealings. WP E Signature is rough around the edges, but promising.