AcademiaThemes – WordPress Themes Specifically For Academia

Academia Themes LogoOn January 1st, 2014 a brand new theme shop called AcademiaThemes opened its doors for business. The new theme shop is operated by Dumitru Brinzan who also co-founded WPZoom.com. This isn’t the first niche theme shop that he’s launched. He’s also the man behind HermesThemes, a theme shop dedicated to hotels. I reached out to Dumitru to find out more information about his latest business venture.

What inspired you to create a theme company squarely aimed at the academia sector?

Academia Themes University Theme

In the past I have designed a couple of education WordPress themes, which customers enjoyed. This made me think that my design and development style could be a good fit for this sector.

What lessons have you learned through the launch of HermesThemes that you’ll apply to AcademiaThemes?

HermesThemes taught me a couple of things. The most important one is probably the difference in a customer’s psychology. The attitude towards a $199 product is much more respectful than towards a $50 product.

Why have you decided to do everything on your own instead of tapping into ThemeForest to sell niche themes?

ThemeForest doesn’t let you set your own price, which devalues an individual’s work. If the creator can’t price his own merchandise, then you are just an employee. I have added one theme to CreativeMarket though.

How did you create the Staff Directory and Course areas found within AcademiaThemes?

Academia Themes Staff Directory

Those blocks are created using custom page templates combined with custom post types. All of our themes include about 8-10 custom page templates each.

Why did you decide to license AcademiaThemes under the GPL?

Are there any other license options? :)

What sets your themes apart from your competition?

My focus is on fast and clear customer support. Just like HermesThemes, support is provided not just via a forum, but by email and Skype as well.

During regular hours most questions and emails are answered in 5-15 minutes, not many can beat that. Also, I want to try something new with AcademiaThemes: each theme purchase includes one hour of free customization services. So if a customer likes the theme but requires just some minor styling changes, there is no need to hire someone else to do it, everything will be done in-house.

How did you come to the fixed price of $199 per theme?

Academia Themes Pricing

The price is the same as at HermesThemes. It is not something that will fit everybody, but that is not the objective. With such a price, the themes will remain somewhat exclusive, and you can be sure that they won’t be used on other 10.000 websites.

If there is ONE selling point you’d like everyone to know about AcademiaThemes, what would it be?

I know how important customer support is, so I’m making sure that it is quick and reliable.

What Do You Think Of His Themes?

Looking at how Dumitru has set up his theme business, is there anything you see that he could improve upon to help him succeed? What do you think of the three themes available for AcademiaThemes?

13 Comments


      1. Hey Steven,

        Renewal is 50% off the initial cost, and is NOT billed automatically.
        Don’t want to lock people into long-lasting contracts, renewal is optional.

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      2. Thanks, I like that. We’re doing it the same way at churchthemes.com. Seems like the most reasonable approach.

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  1. I assume then that the $200 price tag for the hotel themes is paying off. If so, that’s really cool to hear. I imagine that gives him some real breathing room as far as providing greater support to less customers.

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    1. My initial thought is that there is no way I’d pay $200.00 for a theme but if it’s working for him, congrats!

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      1. Considering that support is provided not just via a forum, but by email and Skype as well, most questions and issues are resolved in 10-15 minutes.

        So as Steven mentioned above, such a price does give some breathing room.

        Also, something that hasn’t been mentioned in this post:
        On AcademiaThemes, every purchase includes 1 hour of customization work.
        Considering that most developers charge at least $120 / hour, this price tag becomes even more “reasonable”, don’t you think?

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      2. There are a million ways to justify a price and I’m in no position to tell you what to charge. You know better than I do what to charge but I know what I’m willing to pay for something. Yes, the one hour of free customization is a nice cherry on top of everything else and it was mentioned in the post as you added that information into one of your answers :)

        How do you plan on scaling the business if you’re going to give personal support via skype or email? How does that work with 100-500 customers?

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      3. Good question.

        That bridge will be crossed when we get to it :) But I’m pretty sure that it will be much easier to scale than shops selling for $40 with unlimited everything, unless they are planning on doing this for a year or two.

        But my main focus goes into the stability and flexibility of the themes. They are easy to customize and extend, don’t contain areas and features that require a ton of updates and adjustments, such as shortcode managers, sliders, and all the other stuff found in bloated themes.

        With over 60 commercial themes that I have developed in the last 5 years, I have a feeling about stuff that breaks often and stuff that is timeless. And this is what I tried to apply at both HermesThemes and AcademiaThemes.

        P.S. I really hope that my previous comment didn’t sound “with a tone”, just trying to keep the conversation going :)

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      4. One reason you wouldn’t pay $200 for a theme is because you don’t need it for your business. If you have a hotel or school, you need a niche theme or a different website solution altogether, so your options might be:

        1. $50 – $100 from ThemeForest or another shop that makes all types of themes and doesn’t specialize in hotel or school themes. The features may or may not be ideal because the maker may or may not be totally familiar with the industry. The theme may or may not receive improvements because the focus has shifted again to making another type of theme.

        2. $200 for a hotel or school theme from a provider that specializes in those types of themes. That’s their focus so they probably understand better what will be useful to you and are more likely to bring improvements to their niche products because that’s the only kind of product they have.

        3. Solutions not using a pre-made WordPress theme almost always cost significantly more, maybe $1,000 or more. I’m not familiar with the hotel or school industries so this is just a guess.

        I’d look strongly at the $200 option if I was in the market for a niche theme. It’s probably only a little more than the themes from people who don’t focus on the niche when compared to alternative solutions. A hotel will probably be willing to spend more to have a nice website than the cost of sheets for one bed. Likewise, a school will probably be willing to spend more than the cost of a few desks for one room.

        As a maker of niche WordPress themes, what Dumitru is doing with AcademiaThemes and HermesThemes is super interesting to me. I hope he shares more about his experience with this “high price” model. WordPress people tend to compare WordPress solutions to WordPress solutions but real-world customers usually compare all solutions, whether WordPress or not. That’s the whole picture.

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      5. Hey Steven,

        I might share some info on my blog in the upcoming future.
        HermesThemes will be 1 year old on 1st of February, so it will be a great time to make a summary.

        But yes, you are making good points about choosing a more expensive, niche theme. It is easier to update and improve 5 themes in the same category, than 5 themes in 5 different categories.

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      6. I’ll look forward to that. It’d be great to hear how you’re marketing a niche theme shop too.

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  2. Amazed there’s no cheaper plan option that does not include “1 hour of free custom coding” and “Expert advice on website best-practices”, a lot of people like to do this themselves or get their own developer to do it. But hey, if it’s working well then congrats.

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