I’m interested in what add-on vendor support means to the Rapidweaver community.
Does it mean that the purchase price entitles you to support from the vendor to get whatever it is working in your project - even if the reason you can’t get the product to work is “on you”?
Is there a time limit for that support? So we pay a one-off Eg $20 and in return we expect the add-on to be kept up to date for years and across potentially dozens of projects? What about customisations that are not exposed in the plugin settings? Requests for CSS or minor JS adjustments - does that come under the “support” umbrella? Does it mean that the product will be kept up to date with standards and browsers? Not to mention API changes and evolving privacy laws? What about when you install “Mega-Disk-Cleaner_v2” and lose all your plugins? Should the vendor(s) be on the hook for providing timeless download links too? And of course you’ll need exactly the same version you have in your project, right? So download links for all versions, correct?
What about when you add something else to the page and there is a conflict? That’s up to one or both of the vendors to (a) have tested for and (b) for them to resolve. Also timescales… how long can you wait for a reply or a fix? A day, a week… three weeks?
I’m interested in what non-technical RW / Stacks users actually expect from vendors and if you are in the business of selling sites which incorporate add-ons what is your strategy for dealing with the add-on breaking? This is where the gap between a skilled web designer/developer selling websites and a RW user selling websites becomes a gulf.
My opinion is that we have increasingly unreasonable expectations of what “support” actually means and a very inaccurate understanding about what that level of support does to the vendors economy. I think as a community we need to pause and think a bit more about what our $20 or $40 or even $100+ investment is actually buying us.
I am happy to get a timely answer as a kind of acknowledgement, even if a solution might take much longer.
For bugs in the software I will either buy an upgrade if available or expect a fix/explanation for the most recent version if I am using it. I do not expect support for legacy versions.
I am happy to donate if the error is on my site but the developer took time to look into it to find out about it.
Great question and a debate I’m also very interested in. My comments here are from the perspective of a small business that builds and hosts websites for clients.
Personally the most important area of ‘support’ for us is the longevity of a product and some assurance that, if at all possible, it wont be deprecated out of the blue with little or no notice. Once we find a product that suits, we may well use it on a lot of sites. So, for example, if my favourite Form Builder were to be incompatible with the next release of PHP, we would be in trouble if it couldn’t be fixed; 50+ sites with forms to be rebuilt with a different product! I would be very positive about paying an annual support fee to ensure the developer maintains an interest in and responsibility for the product and gives good notice when it is to be deprecated.
You ask about strategy to deal with ‘breaks’. For multi-use elements like Forms, we use more than one product in order to be au-fait with product B if product A breaks. Our contract also makes it clear to clients we are not liable for costs where breaks are beyond our control (beyond year one); however we always fix at ‘cost price’. Clients can also purchase a support contract and incur no one-off costs if preferred. As examples of these fixes and/or upgrades, issues have arisen with blogging platforms, PHP incompatibility, API’s, Browser incompatibilities. For JQuery conflicts with new RW products however, we take responsibility as it’s usually me that has purchased a new stack to try something only to find it clashes with another stack - hardly the clients problem!
For someone with a single site, the issue is less critical and I guess, in an ideal world, there could be separate arrangements for multi-users and single users. However, I’m guessing this is easier on a platform like WordPress where products are ‘per domain’. Outside of Rapidweaver, we have this type of arrangement for several Wordpress themes & plug-ins and also MachForms - in each case we have multiple licences. Each annual payment ensures access to new versions and general support.
User ‘how-to’ support must be very time consuming for developers, and frustrating where the user hasn’t read documentation or asked the community. I don’t know how developers deal with this apart from reminding users to do their homework before raising a ticket.
I very much appreciate what our developers produce and the often excellent levels of support. If there were an ongoing payment model that could offer business users more assurances I’d be the first to sign a cheque (not that we have cheques any more - but you know what I mean )