Around four years ago, DevPress.com started with four founders. Due to a case of too many Chiefs and not enough Indians, the team didn’t mesh well and the site never got traction. For a short time, DevPress was dying and members were left hanging so I offered to take over. On my own with DevPress, I found some success here and there. There were high times (like DevPress’s partnership with AlienWP.com), but also low times. Through thick and thin I stuck by until recently I had to let go.
Last weekend, I held an auction to sell DevPress due to my wife’s mounting medical bills and lack of time to manage DevPress properly for the last few months. After posting the auction online, I reached out to a few individuals in the WordPress community to seek help finding a buyer. Within 24 hours, someone made a bid to end the auction.
I jumped at accepting the bid because I instantly recognized who it was from and is familiar with his work. More bids and offers came in as news of the auction started spreading, but I honored the first accepted bid because I felt it would be the perfect fit for DevPress going forward. Continue reading →
Ambience is an advance theme designed for blogging, photo-blogging, and portfolio showcasing. It’s built on Hybrid Core 2.0, meaning its code is powerful, modular, and probably more future-proofed than anything else in the theme’s market. Additionally, it’s self-aware, responsive, and supports RTL users. Continue reading →
Ravintola is an upcoming WordPress theme to be released on DevPress.com. It’s being developed primarily for websites of restaurants and cafes, but many of its features can be used for other businesses (for example, settings for: company description, business hours, contact information, and Google map location.) Continue reading →
My long running beef with one of the WooThemes.com co-founder — Adii — has been squashed through email by the two of us. This post isn’t about hate, jealousy, or kicking someone while they’re down. It’s an example of doing things the wrong way.
Woothemes recently announced a price and terms of service change. This is important because Woothemes.com has hundreds of thousands of customers. On the business side, most people running a service or selling their own WordPress products agree with the move and so do I. It’s just not smart to promise anything unlimited or lifetime. I have sold lifetime memberships here on DevPress.com as well and that’s the part where we’re all amateurs trying to figure out business as designers and developers.
What I don’t agree with is how Woothemes did it. Most of the points have been made for both sides through 492 responses to the announcement and through comments on WPTavern.com’s post about the changes. Some of it makes me cringe for the customers because its a bit shady. Secondly, I don’t agree with screwing your customers over when it’s your mistake you’re trying to fix.
Telling customers you’ve considered all the options, this is what needs to be done, and this is how it must be done…isn’t transparency, it’s a lie that asks for blind trust. Reading the announcement from a service provider point of view, I can already tell some of it is bullshit. Even the business people defending the changes know it, but they don’t point it out because they’re not as stupid or transparent as I am.
The majority of people praising Woothemes have a business of their own. It’s only natural to praise a price hike when you want to educate customers so you can charge more as well. However, price isn’t the issue and overlooking how Woothemes is doing it ruins the trust we have with WordPress customers in general.
A profitable, debt-free company like Woothemes should pay for its own mistakes over time.
Knowing that you’re going to change your terms of service, you don’t run deals/sales selling the exact thing that you’re going to take away. This is classic bait and switch.
People complain because you’re on the edge of committing fraud, not because they’re disloyal customers wanting the company to crash. They’re more interested in keeping your company going because they want the service to continue as you’re the only one who can continue supporting your line of products and services.
How you and I can see through the lies
Take ThemeHybrid.com for example, it’s a community one-tenth the size of WooThemes.com (tens of thousands of members). All products are free, the service itself is entirely based on support, and it’s run by one person — Justin Tadlock. Justin’s business is entirely based on time because it takes time to give support and write documentations. He doesn’t have the benefits of selling products.
When your business is selling products, some customers do not require support. They buy because they want the product and simply move on. ThemeHybrid.com doesn’t have that luxury. Woothemes makes some of its money selling products, not selling support.
At the moment, Woothemes has a team of 28 people and profits in the millions to hire new support staff. Justin Tadlock has a team of one and no millions. Yet, the one always complaining about being crushed by support is Woothemes and it’s the same problem they’re using to justify the recent changes.
So I call bullshit. They’re taking the easy way out and making you pay for their mistakes.
What Woothemes could’ve done
Cutting down support is not something you can do immediately. It has to be done over time and it starts with educating your community. Justin Tadlock is able to manage his customer base by himself through:
creating powerful, but easy to use products that require minimal maintenance
educating his members to help each other
writing easy to understand documentations that answer most questions
Hell, sometimes Justin takes vacations or is forced to sick leave and people on his ThemeHybrid.com naturally help each other.
What I’ve learned from this
Nothing really, haha. Although I don’t offer lifetime memberships anymore, I always try to thank DevPress early supporters and lifetime members whenever I can. Actually, I think Woothemes can learn from me and Justin Tadlock.
Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.
Pay for your own mistakes.
Educate your customers. It strengthens your community and cuts down work for yourself.
Suggested by a reader through email months ago, I agreed to create a magazine theme based on some of the links sent to me. After completing the front page preview you see above and even designs for sub pages, I left this theme concept on the shelf for two months and have decided to throw it away to work on a different theme to release in August. Why? It’s just not in line with what’s coming for DevPress.com.
I was researching and working on DevPress hosting platform in June and recently restructured the site in July to cater to my own needs. Everything on DevPress is moving towards solving my own problems and problems of the individual, not group needs. A magazine theme is more useful to a team of writers or editors and that’s not the audience DevPress will cater to.
While future DevPress products might be useful to groups, they will always solve problems of the individual first. I’ve also decided not to create and support things I don’t use. Solving my own needs lead me to creating cool stuff like the DP Dashboard plugin. The difference in quality shows when I’m solving my own problems instead of just focusing on turning out new products to increase profit.
So moving forward, I’m just going to focus on creating things I’m interested in and sharing them with you.
It’s weird to declare your love for another man when you’re married to a beautiful woman and even weirder when you’ve never met that man in person, but I must say I love Justin Tadlock.
We crossed paths several times online, most recently the failed collaboration on DevPress, but I continue to support his work whenever I can. Hell, everything on DevPress is built on top of his drop-in theme framework, Hybrid Core.
We’re practically twins if he isn’t two years older, a foot taller, and Caucasian instead of Asian. He’s the Arnold Schwarzenegger to my Danny Devito.
While his six-foot-something, all-state football, tight-end frame doesn’t look the part, Justin is actually a hidden gem of a developer in the WordPress community. He has a habit of creating functions, scripts, and writing tutorials that I need even before I realize I’d need them. If you’ve been using WordPress for the last four to five years, you’ve more than likely benefited from his work.
He creates features so modular, flexible, and future proofed that they actually hurt his business at ThemeHybrid.com. Much of his work has been copied and pasted in other products without attribution. But like the Louis C.K. of WordPress, whenever he gets ripped off, he moves forward and turn out even more great stuff.
From development approach and managing user expectations to managing my own ego and meeting deadlines, I’ve learn a great deal from Justin Tadlock and hope our paths cross again in the near future. So here’s you to buddy! The talented, but cautious developer who never complains about supporting a community of tens of thousands of members and someone who has yet to abandon any of his products unlike many other WordPress companies that have done so in the past.
I know it makes you cringe reading this, but this post is long overdue. You’ve done great things in the past five years. I wish you luck in the next five and hope to be there myself when you celebrate your success.
Love and Poke Fun Relationship
I’ve written a lot about Justin as a developer, but his humor is why I’m a fan of this big scruffy guy. Once, I told him that I’m sorry my knowledge of coding is not technical enough to appreciate what he’s about release. Without skipping a beat, he dropped this one on me:
It’s ok. I can be excited enough for the both of us.
And just today after discovering his script to grab audio shortcodes/embeds from the content, I told him, “thanks for this.” Of course, he couldn’t help himself and had to respond with…
@Tung – I know you had a design at one point that could’ve definitely used this functionality. So, now, two years later… :)
The fourth theme to be released in last three weeks on DevPress, Boast is a photo blog theme, but designed using a magazine style layout. It features a sleek, dark design with logo uploader, custom menu, custom background, custom post stylesheet, custom post template, and sidebar toggle to display widgets at the bottom. Go to theme’s home page for download link.
p.s. – It’s also the first theme to use David Chandra’s Auto Hosted script for auto notifications/updates. If successful, the update script will eventually get added to all products on DevPress for easier updates.