Oh dear. Much to quarrel with here. I’m afraid to say that I agree in many ways with your sentiment but struggle to see the facts supporting the points as much as I would like. Let me try to explain, perhaps you can tell me if I’m missing something.
Stacks, the plugin which enables all this ‘boutique’ build stuff (I’ll circle back to that), costs less than some themes and stacks. Quite a bit less, in some cases. Take Nick Cates (not trying to single any one dev out here though) Aspen theme. Very nice I’m sure… but £79.99 for the theme where the Stacks plugin itself only costs 75% as much. How so? I would suggest that, as a previous poster cleverly points out, it’s being sold at what people are willing to pay.
Foundation, Foundry, Depth and all those things could not really exist the way they do without the Stacks framework to bind all these framework components together while providing the end user with a visual way to interpolate preferences and using Stacks to crank out the code. Shouldn’t Stacks cost more than a theme? More complex, more users, way wider support audience.
Wait… what about RW itself? The Stacks plugin itself is an integration against that (ahem) render engine/settings collector. Would not be much in the way of ‘boutique services’ going on without those… and given that every site uses them the ‘cost per wear’ for pro’s must be really low, right? So why does a theme, or a stack, cost more than the RW base product or even the plugin class dependency which it’s built in? How does the ‘cost per use’ argument stand up there?
I did choke a bit on the ‘customised value’ and ‘boutique services’. In my view thats (in the broad) piffle, here’s some reasons why that are drawn from observations across the RW community over a few years:
I think there are many more RW/Stacks user producing awful-mediocre sites than anything that could be described as ‘boutique’ or customised. Yes, there are exceptions. Yes, there are artisans/craftspeople in this space who have real skills, but in the broad, have you SEEN some of the sites that are linked to in the forums when ppl ask for help? Hmmmm. Your use of ‘customised’ may be valid but but not always in a good way. Your use of ‘boutique’, and what it infers by way of expectation doesn’t land for me.
Building on that, any of the people who are using RW/Stacks + top end stacks/frameworks/themes or whatever to produce high quality product would be doing so anyway. Their skills transcend the tools and whatever they are able to produce in Stacks they would soon be able to bring to Divi, or using HTML templates and VSC, for example.
Have you seen the junk html that RW and Stacks produces? I know it’s getting better, but how can we talk about ‘boutique’ when the end-product, having managed to click all the right tick boxes in the stack settings looks something like this:
If a client is boutique enough to want boutique at all don’t you think they might notice all that crap?
‘Customised value you provide’. ‘Truly custom’. Help me to understand that. My opinion is that being able to design and produce a ‘customised’ site or experience requires you to have the knowledge and confidence to scale from 1 through to 10 across the site surface, it’s look feel and behaviours and be able to craft just what’s right for the situation. I don’t think most RW/Stacks users can say that they do. I tend to think that RW/Stacks/Frameworks and top end stacks offer 3 through to 8 on that scale (maybe), by the time you take all the options offered by the GUI into account. To get 1 and 2 and 9 and 10 you have to really own what you are putting on that page.
No? Just do a search on this forum for the number of ‘Client wants …’ posts followed by recommendations of ‘have you tried…’, swiftly followed by “well, it does some of what I want but I can’t figure out how to get it to…”. Not my idea of boutique or ‘Truly custom’ …
I enthusiastically concede that there are super-users who can and DO use the materials we are debating to offer and produce some ‘truly custom’ sites and products. No doubt about it, but they would find a way to do that anyway, RW or otherwise.
As a thought experiment, imagine this. Lets say you as an ‘add-on’ dev come up with something superb that producers of client sites are going to really want. Lets call it (haha) a booking stack that actually does what clients need with a solid back-end database/calendar/appointments/billing integrations/invoices all that. Fair bit of setting up - but its solid. Given the RW community you are marketing to… would you sell it for $80 because you know that you’re going to be up to your elbows in “how do I”? ‘support’ requests by lunchtime. Or do you think… I’m selling to pro’s, they know how to wire up this stuff (on their boutique, truly custom sites) $30 will be fine.
I think it is a combination of:
(a) Stuff gets sold for what the vendor thinks the customer will be willing to pay for the expected business value in the new shiny thing.
(b) The price takes into account the knowledge/expertise/patience and troubleshooting skills of the average RW user.
I sometimes wonder about a base price for the product then a completely different price/product to cover the ‘support’ package. That way maybe the devs could protect themselves commercially from the curious masses, while still making their cool stuff accessible, at a fair price, to pro’s?
If the community around RW/Stacks is so good then would there be some mileage in a ‘community support only’ badge to take some weight off the devs and provoke more adventurous pricing in the market?
Thats all I have to say about that.