Future plans: theme updates, price changes and partnerships

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I want to take a moment to tell you where I’m planning to go with Theme of the Crop, why I want to get there, and how these changes might effect you.

When I started Theme of the Crop I wasn’t entirely sure whether it would have feet. To be honest, I didn’t have much of a business plan or a clear mission. The website that’s up today is still very much the same thing I rushed to market with when I started.

But in time, I came to settle on the what, why and how of what Theme of the Crop was all about. I wanted to build the best WordPress products on the market for restaurants, and a sustainable business that allowed me to provide the support that customers needed to use those products.

This hasn’t always been easy. Trends in the WordPress marketplace are driving prices down and saturating the market with a lot of products that seem identical at first glance. I’ve tried to stand out by building solid, stable and effective products. Sometimes that’s meant fighting against trends, like deciding to abandon sliders and carousels once I learned how completely ineffective they are. Sometimes that’s meant investing a lot of time in the free plugins which power my products.

Along the way I’ve learned a lot about what makes a theme or plugin genuinely useful. What keeps a theme or plugin from breaking when it mingles with the thousands of other themes or plugins out there. And which areas my customers need the most help with.

Over the next several months (probably longer, maybe a year!) I plan to pursue a few different strategies that will make use of the things I’ve learned, in the hope that it will result in better products, happier customers and more effective restaurant websites.

Theme Updates

WordPress themes pull all the pieces of a website together into a coherent brand. Which plugins they integrate with, and how well they work with them, has a big impact on a website’s success. I’m planning three things to improve my theme offerings.

More Themes
Going forward I plan to hire out design work whenever possible, in order to bring more beautiful themes to market faster. I hope this will bring fresh ideas and top-notch design standards to my theme collection.

Better Events Support
I have long promised that all of my themes would support events. But so far only CafeCultura has done so. That’s because I haven’t been happy with the events platform I chose. Updates to the plugin frequently broke backwards compatibility and required a lot of maintenance work. I’m excited to say that I’ve finally found an events platform that I am happy with. The code is solid, the templates easily customisable and the stability much better. It even has a raft of reasonably priced addons for customers that need to do more with their events.

Switching Forms Plugin
All of my themes support Visual Form Builder. This is a nice forms package, but over the years the development of the free version has slowed. At the same time, Ninja Forms has matured into a top-notch forms plugin, with a bunch of quality addons and a stable company behind it. Switching support to Ninja Forms will allow users who need advanced features to take advantage of their large and growing library of addons.

Ugh, but I’m happy with what I have. Do I have to change my website?
No! I’ll be carefully ensuring backwards compatibility so that your theme still works with all of the plugins it did before. These changes will make it easier for future customers — or those who want to make the jump — to do more with their website.

Pricing Changes

I’ll be increasing prices as I update and improve my products. This will happen in stages over the next few months. But let me be clear about where I aim to end up.

$79 for just the theme.
$129 for the theme plus all of my commercial plugins.

As Theme of the Crop has grown to sell a diverse collection of themes and plugins, it’s become more difficult to communicate to the customer precisely what they’re buying. As the scope has changed, the website hasn’t really adjusted.

I will address this with a redesign of the site, which will feature more informative sales pages and a clearer buying process. Part of this change will entail focusing on the two-tiered pricing. If the free plugins serve all of your needs, you can buy just the theme. But I’ll also offer a special discounted bundle that will provide you with a license for all of the commercial plugins I sell in addition to the theme.

I understand that $79 is a big jump from the current price of $59. I strongly believe this is a fair price for a product that truly serves the needs of restaurants. And this price will allow me to provide even better support to every customer.

Remember that license renewals are always given at a 25% discount. So if you’ve already purchased you won’t need to pay the full amount. But if you have any concerns about this pay increase, please get in touch. I’d love to chat with you.

Partnerships

Finally, there are many areas where I can better serve my customers by partnering with third-party services or products. I have a few ideas to pursue here, such as white-glove installation services, support and SEO services, marketing tools and more. But it’s too early to comment on anything now.

My goal will be to establish strong relationships with companies that can provide top-tier services for those restaurants that want to take their website to the next level.

Conclusion

This is where I want to go with Theme of the Crop. I can’t offer any solid timelines, but I wanted to share these plans with you so that you can understand the direction I’m taking with some of the changes you’ll see over the next year.

I understand that price increases are never a welcome thing. But I hope that you will at least understand the context in which I’m working under the hood to build the best WordPress products for restaurants.