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The Value Proposition

5 Posted May 5, 2011 by George Categories: Company News

Hi tadpoles… Allow me to editorialise for a moment, please?

You know that awkward moment when you have to look a customer in the face and say, “That’ll be $99″? And you know that there’s a value/price judgement war going on in their head? That. Our constant journey, to find that perfect (i.e. win-win) mental and commercial balance, between giving and taking, is what this post is about.

See, here’s the thing. We love what we do. We do it with enthusiasm, and we strive to be the best. We approach ideas and problems with a consistent mindset of quality, quality, quality. Internally, we double-check and cross-check each other’s work, constantly. We’ve committed to the highest standards. We don’t want to be good enough. We want to be the best. Take our Options Panel for example. We researched, we debated, we laid down rules, we applied the question, “Would your mom feel comfortable using it?”… We went back and forth, teasing the easy, and the good, out, until they were all over it. We’re proud of the result, and not in an arrogant way. Just in a happy-to-give-this-cool-device-to-our-friends way, because we know it’ll make their WP lives better and easier.

And then there’s this other thing. The “free” economy. The “race-to-the-bottom” effect. The bewildering array of free or cut-price … stuff. Software, photo’s, music… All supremely tempting, all within the consumer impulse-purchase threshold. Budget-safe. Up-front, at least. And often, it’s not *just* a case of buy cheap or buy quality. There are business models, alive an well and living in the modern global economy, that are forcing the price levels of real quality … stuff, to make the unhappy aquaintance, of the basement floor. Sub-dollar images on stock photography sites. You’d think you’d get some low-class, dreary, cellphone-camera happy-snap, right? No, my friends, not so. Pro-quality, superbly creative images. For under a dollar.

WordPress themes are in the same breed of price vortex…
To quote , writing on,

“Your site has those fancy drop-down menus you always see around the web. Not just the one that drops down, but the one that drops down and then out, and down and out with the really slick fading transitions. It took you zero hours to code.

Your homepage features a really unique display of your portfolio items, sliding and zooming them in and out with a custom effect (designated in a custom theme options panel, of course). Adding your portfolio items was as easy as sending an email.

Your site also has 20+ custom page templates, 50+ layout and styling shortcodes, color options, video support, custom twitter widgets and working contact forms. Not to mention it is professionally designed, coded, validated and supported by some of the best talent on the web.

Your site is absolutely amazing and it cost you a total of $35.”

In a world where a can of Coke costs a dollar, we’d like to charge $100 or $200 for a theme, because we honestly feel that kind of price adequately describes the value of what we’re offering. But, and this is a HUGE but… NOT before we  know that you would be able to:

  • afford that price, comfortably, without having to sell your children, 
  • see, and be in love with, the win-win value proposition at that price point.
  • Honestly? We’d like to hear your thoughts. It seems to be an issue that won’t reconcile easily, but we’re ever-hopeful when it comes to our community, so sound off in the comments, please.


05/05/2011 5:32 pm

I’d prefer to pay a subscription and get access to a database of themes. That way I feel that the money I’m paying is going towards creating new themes, not paying for old ones.

05/05/2011 5:57 pm

Valid point, Gary. For a larger user of themes, certainly the club or subscription model works well and provides value. We also service a lot of folk that just want a single theme though.

As a matter of interest, what’s your monthly subscription comfort zone?

05/05/2011 5:34 pm

Most theme shops are all kinda in the $29-$40 range and who knows why.. Probably because the first guys started off around that price and because the market is so crammed, nobody wants to venture too far out of that price range.

Bottom line is each person/company/theme shop must decide what they want to sell their themes for and go with it. If they want to sell their themes for $100, that’s fine, but justify the cost.

05/05/2011 5:34 pm
Chris M

Great article; most of what comes to my mind has been said already and I guess most industries go through this sort of thing. As a collective, every business essentially needs to increase its prices, because the fear is that if you increase your prices and others don’t, you’ll price yourself out of business.

One could argue that if your work is brilliant then people will still buy your products, but unfortunately in some industries, especially web, it’s not always transparent and obvious to the consumers. A typical person looking for a theme will not quite understand how important valid css/xhtml is for example, so they’ll not quite understand why they should pay more. I guess to this you could say that it boils down to the business to educate users and so forth that does happen, but without really getting technical, it’s tricky to explain why css/xhtml written properly can be so much more powerful than table layouts or poorly written css/xhtml. And then, the time to takes to communicate and educate is cost to company, which means less income, and the whole idea here is more income.

Could go on about this for hours.

Disclaimer: I work for eFrog Themes as the Operations Manager.

06/05/2011 1:18 pm
Charles Stroud

Really a nicely, well-rounded piece on “The Value Proposition” that applies to almost every aspect of business and life.

Business and life is about balance between sharing and helping both others and yourself. Look forward to reading more comments on this article.


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