The Simply Schedule Appointments (SSA) plugin is, as the name implies, a very simple yet incredibly powerful online booking calendar for WordPress, which aims to set itself apart from the myriad of similar tools thanks to its beginner-friendly approach and wealth of features.
If you’ve ever found other popular booking plugins just too technical, difficult to get to grips with, or simply overwhelming, Simply Schedule Appointments sets its stall as being the perfect tool for you, focussing on ease of use without compromising all of the high-level functionality you and your clients need to make the most of your booking calendar.
But does it really live up to the hype?
Is it really such a perfect tool?
To find out, we put it through its paces on one of our own websites and will share with you exactly what we discovered in the following review:
Simply Schedule Appointments Review
It’s often said that when it comes to handing over your hard-earned money, you get what you pay for.
That’s certainly the case with Simply Schedule Appointments. A premium plugin, this one is by no means cheap, but then, if you’re serious about your business and your online presence, cheap is the last thing you’d want.
Although there is a free version available via the WordPress Plugins Directory, which offers features including:
- Unlimited appointment types
- Blackout dates
- Customizable email notifications
- Customizable styles
- Integration with Elementor, Beaver Builder, and Divi.
- Advanced scheduling options so that you can limit the number of time slots or access your booking calendar.
That said, the free version lacks a number of key integrations that you’re likely to need and is best suited either for those just looking to give it a test run before they purchase or for anyone who wants a nice, simple booking calendar without worrying about taking payments, sending reminders or using other premium features.
To do that, you’ll need to opt for one of the paid-for plans, which start at $99 for the Plus package.
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This offers all of the above plus integration with:
As well as the ability to book classes and group events as well as offering multiple bookings in the same time slot.
Simply Schedule Appointments Professional Edition
If you want to accept payment for your bookings, you’ll need to take out the Professional edition, which in addition to everything we’ve just covered, also offers:
- Paypal integration
- Stripe integration
- Email and SMS reminders
- Conversion and goal tracking
- Unlimited webhooks
- Live SSA support via Zoom.
Simply Schedule Appointments Professional Edition
If that’s still not enough, the $299 business edition also includes new features such as the ability to create custom booking views, schedule your team, and resource management options.
Although the pricing seems a little high up on the scale, it’s important to point out that every plan includes one-click support, with countless user reviews praising the plugin’s developers for their excellent response times and helpful support.
You can even schedule Zoom calls with their support team if you’re a Pro or Business customer. Sharing your screen and getting 1-on-1 support is a great way to make sure you’re getting the best scheduling solution for your business.
There’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee, so if you find that you’re not happy with it, you don’t have to lose out.
So far, so good then, but what is SSA actually like to use?
Installation and Setup
After downloading the plugin, uploading it via FTP or your WordPress dashboard, and activating it, you’ll find quick and easy access to Simply Schedule Appointments via the ‘Appointments’ tab in your dashboard menu.
Selecting this option brings up the starting page for your easy-to-follow setup wizard.
Of course, advanced users can always choose to skip this, but since we’re focused here on how good the plugin is for beginners, let’s go ahead and work our way through it.
The first page simply asks for your license key, after which you’ll be directed to a page that automatically detects your time zone and offers default settings for date and time format as well as other options such as when you want your week to start and appointment contacts.
These default options should be perfectly fine for you, but if they need tweaking, a handy button will bring up a menu that allows you to customize things to your liking.
Google Calendar Sync
If you traditionally use Google Calendar to manage your schedule and you don’t want to lose that when you start using this plugin, the next screen will allow you to sync the two so that they work together in harmony.
If you’re not sure how to do that, SSA even includes easy-to-follow instructions to talk you through the whole process.
Up next, you’ll be able to configure the first appointment type you want to set up.
This feature is particularly useful for any business that offers multiple types of appointments.
If you’re a gym owner, for example, you may need one booking for gym inductions, a second for regular fitness sessions, and a third for classes, while hairdressers and beauty salons may need any number of appointment types for the different treatments offered.
To set this up, you can first configure some basics such as the name, duration, and booking view, as well as assigning a color to easily distinguish this appointment type from others.
From there, you can determine your availability for this appointment type before moving onto scheduling options.
This is particularly handy as not only does it let you determine time zones but also allows you to set an appointment buffer so that sessions are not booked back to back with no breathing room.
The scheduling options also let you set how much notice is required if you need time to prepare and limit the number of appointments per day.
We’ve used countless booking tools in our time here at WPLift, and yet found very few that offer appointment buffering and notice requirement options, both of which can prove to be invaluable when running a busy business.
Elsewhere, you can configure the form that collects information from your customers before reviewing and saving everything.
With that done, you can preview how booking an appointment will look for your customers.
Alternatively, you can use the setup wizard’s final screen to create more appointment types, manage your settings, or grab a shortcode that you can use to add the booking form to your WordPress pages.
Adding Booking Forms to Your Website
The use of simple shortcodes makes adding your appointment booking forms to your site a total breeze.
If you want to give customers the ability to book just one type of appointment from a single page, you can grab the shortcode from the bottom of the appointment setup options.
Then simply drop that into any post or page…
And you’re good to go:
It really is as simple as that.
If you prefer to give customers the option to choose from multiple appointments, all you need to do is drop the main [ssa_booking] shortcode into a page exactly as you do for individual appointments.
That then presents your website visitors with all your different appointment types, and all they have to do is select the one they want and book in.
Of course, if you’re using Gutenberg Blocks or any number of popular drag-and-drop page builders such as Elementor, Divi, or Beaver Builder, you can simply select your form as an element and drop it into place, simplifying the whole process even further.
Viewing Your Appointments
Of course, once customers start booking appointments, you’ll need a way of keeping track of them.
Fortunately, SSA offers a number of options to do this.
- A notification is sent to your email when new appointments are made
- Syncing with your Google Calendar
- An appointment tracker within the main Simply Schedule Appointments dashboard.
Configuring SSA Settings
Another thing we love about this plugin is that there are so many things you can customize, edit, and integrate into your site. Not only that, but the colorful, visual style of the main settings menu makes it very easy to track down exactly what you’re looking for.
Along with the main settings we looked at in the configuration wizard, you can also:
Configure the style of your booking forms, including changing colors and font settings
Download and install translation packs to cater to customers who speak different languages
Configure notification settings for both you as the business owner and your customers
Blackout certain dates such as when you’re on vacation or otherwise closed
Edit the advanced scheduling options for each appointment type.
Elsewhere, the settings menu will also allow you to customize your integrations with tools like Google, Zoom, Mailchimp, Stripe, Paypal, and more, as well as to use webhooks and even to set up tracking options to help you keep tabs on conversions.
All combined, this gives you complete control and the ultimate power to manage your online booking system exactly the way you want it.
Simply Schedule Appointments: Final Thoughts
As we said earlier, Simply Schedule Appointments may not be the cheapest booking plugin on the market, but having tried it out for ourselves, we’re certain that it offers exceptional value for money, especially to WordPress novices.
Whereas other plugins can be a bit of a head-scratcher, everything is so well laid out here that even absolute Day-1 beginner users could easily create an entire online booking system for their online business in minutes.
Still, just because SSA lives up to its name by being incredibly simple to use doesn’t mean it sacrifices the important stuff.
The ability to offer an unlimited number of appointment types, customize the timing, availability, and scheduling of those appointments, as well as integrate with tools like PayPal and Stripe to offer customers the ability to make payments at the time of booking can all prove invaluable, and combine to make Simply Schedule Appointments one of the best plugins of its type currently available in 2021.