April 27, 2017

iThemes “on making money” and being there for you “when you need help, support”

I posted a while ago about what I felt was a disturbing trend in pricing that some of the companies that sell “premium” WordPress plugins were moving towards. I won’t repeat myself as the post is available here.

In the wake of that original post, some feathers were ruffled. I will admit that I was challenged by the frenzy of comments to take a fresh look at my viewpoint. The result is that I have tempered my views somewhat. There are some “premium” plugins that are way more complex than I alluded to in my post. An example of such a plugin would be Gravity Forms. Definitely a notch or two above others in terms of coding complexity and support offered.

However, I still believe the model of pricing based on annual renewal fees sucks. And if you are not a developer by occupation, yet still run a few sites and purchase a few “premium” plugins, you will quickly be running up a costly to maintain annual subscription model to support your “premium” plugins.

In any case, I was mildly amused when I became aware of a relatively recent video published by Cory from iThemes in which he was making the justification for his company charging for their products. You can view the entire video, but below the video in this post is the pertinent portion of what he had to say…

“…our true ideal customers will come back and say “no no no, we want you to charge us money for this because we want you to be in business. We want you to be in business a year from now, five years from now, when we come back for updates or need more help, support, all that kind of stuff.” … and trust me, as our true clients, you want us to make money cause you want us to be here and I’ll say this one warning to those few that are lookin’ at different other companies and everything… I like to talk mostly about us but I’ll just say this one warning ,is that you really need to look at those, where you invest that money to make sure those people have a long term sustainable business model wrapped around those products because in a year, six months from now if they vanish off the face of the earth…. you wanna know that they’re going to be there for you when you need help. And so that’s why I’m confident, that’s why I share this about pricing, about getting paid and all that kind of stuff.”

Sounds like what Cory is trying to say is that when you buy something from them (iThemes), that they are “going to be there for you when you need help.” So it would stand to reason that if you bought something in late November 2008 and that if you had a problem with it scarcely 5 months later, you’d eagerly get the support you needed from iThemes, right? I mean afterall, they charge money and all that good stuff to be there for you when you need help and support. That’s what he said, right?

Well, let’s investigate that statement a little bit. In November 2008, I bought the 2009 Theme Club membership from iThemes. It was not inexpensive. As the months went by, I found that several of the themes that were part of that slowly growing bundle of themes contained bugs and in some cases had features that did not work. Seemed I was frequently visiting the forums to report the bugs I had found.

Specifically, the theme BizCard was coded to have an address field that could be filled in from the Dashboard. It had several fields; Street 1, Street 2, City, State, Zip, Phone number and email address. The problem was that due to an error in the coding of the theme, the Address 2 field did not work correctly. I posted this issue in the forums several times and got no reply from iThemes. When I emailed iThemes for support, I received no solution or fix. I then made a Tweet about my experience and Cory replied to me in this way… (keep in mind, this is from the guy who has just told you that iThemes is “going to be there for you when you need help”)…

Here is what Cory told me in his reply…

michael, i always appreciate your input – but seriously?! we’re not even actively selling it – think we might have more pertinent issues?

What could be more pertinent than supporting a buggy theme that your company developed?

So do you get the support you pay for with iThemes? I sure didn’t. Good luck with that.

Wibiya toolbar width CSS hack

CSS_hack

If you’ve used Wibiya, you will have undoubtedly discovered that the toolbar extends the full-width of the browser window. Although it will dynamically resize if you re-size the browser window, it cannot by itself be set to a fixed width. This means that if the content area of your website is 800px wide, the Wibiya toolbar will be wider than your content area and will actually be as wide as your browser window.

Clearly this presents a design dilemma because your beautiful website now has an ungainly toolbar at the bottom of the page that doesn’t fit in with the design of your site.

Although the developers will certainly address this in an upcoming revision, right now the only way to adjust the width is by using a simple CSS hack.

You just need to determine the width that you’d like your Wibiya toolbar to be and insert that width into this little chunk of CSS which you will place in your styles.css file for your website.

#wibiyaToolbar_tbl{
width: 800px !important;
margin-left:auto !important;
margin-right:auto !important;
}

As you can see, in my code, the width has been set to 800px. If you need the toolbar width to be any other value, just replace the 800px with the value you need.

Here is an example of how a site looked with the default Wibiya toolbar and then after applying the CSS hack.

Default toolbar width

Default toolbar width

Toolbar width with CSS hack applied

Toolbar width with CSS hack applied

Wibiya review, an interesting toolbar plugin for WordPress

wibiya-toolbarI’ve been beta-testing a new plugin for WordPress, Wibiya. It adds numerous interactive features to your blog or website. At first glance you might be inclined to think that Wibiya doesn’t do anything new or replicates functions that may already be present via other plugins you may have installed. But looking a little deeper it becomes obvious that Wibiya is definitely more than a re-hash and collection of already available tools. It is being agressively developed and new features are already in the pipeline. And to realize that all the functions provided by Wibiya are discretely present in a concise toolbar anchored to the very bottom of your browser window makes it constantly available yet not in the way.

Among some of the features are…

  • Search function
  • Translate page to another language
  • Recent Posts
  • Random Post
  • Subscribe to RSS feed
  • Share this post
  • facebook Community
  • Twitter Dashboard
  • Notification panel

wibiya-toolbar

It’s in beta mode right now but it only took several hours for me to be “accepted” into the beta cycle so I’m not sure how difficult it is to get into the program. From my experience it was not very difficult at all.

Check it out and let me know what you think.