Joe's Blog

Stacks Image 2729
Stacks Image 2732
Stacks Image 2735
Stacks Image 2738
Stacks Image 2741
Stacks Image 2744
Stacks Image 2747
Stacks Image 2750

Party Time! Total CMS v1.2 with Blog

This is not your typical update, in fact it may be my largest update ever for any of my products. Total CMS v1.2 brings in 45 new stacks into the CMS. That is nuts! Most of these new stacks are for powering the revolutionary new Blog.

While the Blog is just getting released to the world today, its already a highly mature product. It has gone through a highly active public beta for the past 6 months. The sites that users are building using the new blog have been blowing me away. These are no longer your typical RapidWeaver sites.

Sites built with Total CMS and Blog can now stand toe-to-toe with any website built with Wordpress. I am even proud to say that Total CMS based sites have replaced at least (that I know of) 3 Wordpress sites out there already. And the clients are in love with them. They are reporting that the admin interface is much easier to use that they ever had with Wordpress.

Total CMS Blog contains all of the features that you would expect to see in a blog.

  • Fully customizable blog layouts
  • Multiple blogs on a single site
  • Search and filter posts by category, tags and author
  • RSS Feed generation
  • Sitemap.xml generation for SEO
  • SEO and Social meta tags are automatically generated for each blog post
  • Every blog post can have its own image gallery
  • Add images inline with your post content
  • The feature list can go on and on…

The blog isn’t the only thing amazing about this update. The rest of the CMS components saw a ton of bug fixes and enhancements as well. Here are some highlights.

  • There are now 50 macros that you can use to integrate CMS content inside your favorite 3rd party add-ons.
  • New Date Admin stack allows users to control dates. Example: Users can now control the dates used inside the Tardis stack from within the CMS.
  • Hipwig has been improved with colors, fullscreen edit, code view, character counter and more.

Last and definitely not least is that Total CMS now has an official API that 3rd party developers can leverage to easily integrate into Total CMS. There have already been some amazing stacks released. Check out the CMS Integrations page for details.

We have already done a bunch of great video around this Total CMS update. Here are a few that you may be interested in watching.

Why I paid $150 for a $2 part

Last year my freezer stopped working. I called a local Mr. Appliance repair man to come out and fix it. When he arrived, Mr. Appliance quickly assessed the problem and had everything fixed in about 20 mins. The bill for the repair was $150. I was a very happy customer.

I had worked with Mr. Appliance before. He is a small local business who is professional, upfront and just a nice guy. Before he left, we had a nice conversation and I asked him how he was able to justify charging $150 for 20 mins and a $2 part. (Not in an argumentative manner. It was a conversation, businessman to businessman.) His reply was paradigm shifting.

He told me that I was not paying for 20 mins of his time. I was paying for 25 years of experience that allowed him to identify and fix the problem in 20 mins. Its pretty impossible to argue with that logic. If he had spent 3 hours working on my fridge, I probably would have paid the same bill and never had asked the question. However, because of Mr. Appliance’s 25 years experience, he did not need 3 hours. He only needed 20 mins.

Mr. Appliance is a good businessman and stands by his work. This is something that the software community could learn from. I have felt that for too long that the largest issue facing want-to-be indie developers is that they are developing software and not a business. This is a huge topic with too many branches to go through in this single post. But what is one lesson that we can learn from Mr. Appliance? We need to starting valuing our own work.

I have been solely supporting my family of 5 as an indie developer for 6 years now. I am blessed to be in my situation. I have built an amazing community of customers and I look forward to working with them every day.

Over the past few years the complexity of the software that I develop has grown. I am releasing a lot fewer products than I used to. However, the products that I do ship are higher quality and solve much larger problems for my customers. I have been developing for 17 years now. I develop software now that I could not have even dreamed of developing, even just 5 years ago. I look back at code that I wrote back then and I shake my head. If you have been developing for any amount of years, I am sure that you can relate.

With higher quality software, that solves bigger problems for my customer, I need to ensure that I value my work and not charge pittance for it. How we price our software has been debated countless times. I feel that there really isn’t a single correct answer for all developers. It all depends on your market.

The larger your market, the lower you could price your software in order to gain marketshare. If your product has mass market appeal, in theory, you could sell a $1 product to a million users. Obviously there is a much bigger story here. Developing a mass market success is hard, very hard. I have zero experience with developing software for the masses. I don’t have the resources or desire to compete with large companies with massive teams just yet. I prefer working in the niches. As they say, the riches are in the niches…

If you want a sustainable business in a smaller niche market, we need to price our products to reflect their true value. Since our market is smaller, we have fewer customers to potentially buy our product. So if we want to support a full time business, we need to charge more in order to make what we need to keep the doors open. From a customer standpoint, they are purchasing software that has been specialized for their niche. Traditionally, the more specialized a product is, the more expensive it should be. Why not with software?

When we raise our prices on software, less people will purchase it. Many will complain. Some will even be downright nasty. You will simply need to put on your big boy pants and stand by your product. Don’t ignore all of the negative feedback though. Over time, you will make small pivots until you and the market find a nice medium. That does not always mean that your pricing is too high either. Maybe you only need to add features to win people over. I feel that you have hit the golden price when you have users in the 3 buckets below.

  1. Instant purchase. The price is a no-brainer.
  2. Not an instant purchase but see the value. They will be back when they have the need.
  3. OMG! Overpriced! They love the product and want it but are furious at the cost.

You will need to determine what the right balance is. Obviously, you want most users in buckets 1 and 2. If you don’t have any users in bucket 3, you may have priced your product too low.

Six years ago, the prices of my products ranged from $1 to $10. However, my prices now range from $5 to $99. (I also have many free products.) From a business standpoint, higher pricing allows me to work on the harder problems that my customers face. With more money I can take on larger, more risky, projects that take potentially years to complete. It also allows me to hire Support Jedi to provide my customers with a level of support that I could not do on my own. I now manage my own online community for my users on my own servers. I have close to 300 training videos for all of my products. I could go on and on about the things that we can do with more money but hopefully you get the point.

When charging more money for software, its not about putting money into our own pockets. Its about providing stellar software and mind blowing customer service to your community. When you invest back into your customer, they will notice. You will develop raving fans that are more than happy to pay for continued support.

Let’s look at a real life example. Most of my business is developing addons for RapidWeaver, the best web design app out there for Mac. Traditionally, all addons in the RapidWeaver market are licensed so that you can purchase it once and use it on as many websites as you would like. This is unlike most other web platforms which are for the most part licensed per website or via subscription. Most of the addons available in the RapidWeaver market are widget based: sliders, galleries, fancy effects, etc. However, one limitation that the community has been waiting for is a great way to edit your website online. Since RapidWeaver is a Mac app, the entire site is designed locally and then published online. About 2 years ago, I decided to solve this problem.

I released CMS for RapidWeaver in October 2015. It consisted of 2 separate products: Easy CMS and Total CMS. Easy CMS allowed you to edit virtually any image or text content on your site with ease. It is currently priced at $49.95 with an all you can eat license (buy once, use as much as you want). Total CMS is the ultimate CMS experience for RapidWeaver with full on text, image, gallery, blog editing and a whole lot more. However, I chose to price Total CMS at $99.95 per domain.

Total CMS solves a big problem for RapidWeaver users. It provides zero setup, yet fully customizable CMS solution to edit your entire site contents online. It tightly integrated with RapidWeaver to provide a seamless experience from designing inside the app to editing the content online. It took me 2 years + 15 years of experience to develop Total CMS. My success with a previous higher priced product, Foundation for RapidWeaver, allowed me to take the risks required for such a larger project. I worked 70+ hour weeks almost exclusively on Total CMS for nearly 18 months. I was confident in my pricing when it launched. I felt that I was providing tremendous value to my customers. The price also rewards my business for the time and experience put into its development.

The new per domain pricing model makes perfect sense. For power users who are just building and maintaining one website, they only have to pay once. However, many of my customers use RapidWeaver to design websites for money. These users will get a lot more value from Total CMS. They will ultimately pay more for this value over time since they will be purchasing a license for each new domain.

Now obviously not all software fits into the pricing situation that I just outlined. However, the take away here is that we need to evaluate the real value that our software provides to our customers. Just as I learned from Mr. Appliance, we also need to take into affect the time and experience that we as developers have dedicated to our craft. That needs to be reflected in the price as well.

I am so excited today to announce a side project that I have been working on: The Weaver’s Space. Its a new online community for RapidWeaver users. 

Over the years I have used many platforms to communicate with my users. The first successful one was Glassboard. It was a great platform but in the end had to close its doors. After that we tried a few others but ultimately landed on Google+. Our Google+ group has been a massive success. So why move? Well Google has been changing things around and the new interface is not going in the direction that many of us like. 

By using a service for my community, I am giving up control of both the data and the future existence of the community. What is to say that Google closes down groups and my community and all of its history is gone. 

So I embarked on a journey to host my own community, where I have full control over the interface and have the peace of mind that it will be around for years to come. At first, this community was only going to be for my customers. However, I came to the conclusion that was a selfish point of view. If I were going to take the time to build an online community, I should make it available to everyone. This is when Weaver’s Space was born. 

Over time, I hope that more of the RapidWeaver developers come aboard. Once I feel that the server and applications hit a stable point, I will start allowing other developers to create their own spaces inside Weaver’s Space. 

I am really excited to to have this new community. I have a lot more things planned for it in the future. So head on over, sign up and help us make this new community great!

Foundation v1.6 is here

I released Foundation 1.6 (Theme + Stacks) last night and many of you have already been playing around with it. I have even released a v1.6.2 that resolved some issues that were not caught during testing.

Speed

Foundation 1.6 tries to focus on some small speed improvements again. The Page Speed options in SEO Helper have been really optimized for the Foundation theme. You should see small jumps in your Page Speed scores (because I know that you all love that so much). The Font Awesome rocket loader that was removed in v1.5 is back as well!

Duplicate Page Checker

We all have wasted time figuring out why our nice new website updates are not displaying when we publish. When the problem was that our webpage switched from html to php. Foundation now has a very convenient checker that will alert you when this happens.

Theme

The Foundation framework was updated to v5.5.3. This brings us tons of bug fixes and improvements for free. The CSS was also moved back into the theme. This means that you can use the Foundation theme without stacks again. Obviously, that means you would need to hand code your entire site.

Impact Integration

If you own the Impact stack, you will now see a new slide option when Foundation 1.6 is installed. This new Foundation slide allows you to use the features from the Foundation image stack so that you can define different images for mobile, tablet and desktop.

Full Release Notes

Theme

  • Foundation Framework updated to v5.5.3. We have many hundreds of fixes that come with this.
  • Foundation CSS loaded in the theme again, instead of via stacks.
  • Performance optimizations

Site Styles

  • Duplicate page checker now warns you inside RapidWeaver when you have both index.html and index.php files on your server.
  • P size settings now also affects lists

SEO Helper

  • Page Speed: Font Awesome rocket loader is back! It utilizes the Stacks Font Awesome version to prevent multiple versions from loading on the page.
  • Page Speed: More page optimizations to improve your Google Page Speed rankings
  • Twitter Cards: New twitter card options: Large Summary Cards, App Cards, Product Cards

Columns

  • You can now apply a color scheme to the contents of the column stacks. You can choose from the Alt and Swatch color schemes

Top Bar

  • Parent Link now shows when mobile menu is used on Tablet or Desktop
  • Mobile back link color now inherits from link color

Forms

  • Forms now have a small spinning in-progress indicator when the form is submitted

Impact Integration

  • You will now have the option to use an Foundation image inside the Impact stack when you have Foundation installed. This will allow you to define separate images for mobile, tablet and desktop.

Misc

  • Thanks for finding even more typos in my tooltips!

(This will probably be the last 1.x release of Foundation. Here comes Foundation 6!)

I want to wish you all a very Happy Holidays from all of us on the JW Team. We hope that you have a wonderful holiday and new year. 2015 was jam packed full of great things and I know that 2016 will be even more spectacular.

I want to thank all of you that help made this year such a success! You have all help build such amazing community here. I feel blessed everyday that I get to continue doing with I love. I hope that this video brings a smile to your face.

I also want to take the time to single out +Robert Ziebol and +Andrew Tavernor for all the hard work and dedication that have done, not just for me, but for all of us in this community. I feel lucky to have them both on my team. 

Older Posts

Custom Post Images