ThemeFurnace relaunched this week with a complete overhaul of its theme collection. The shop was founded in 2012 by Oliver Dale, a Manchester-based designer and entrepreneur. In addition to a new website and pricing structure, Dale and his team have recoded all of their existing themes to remove the old options panel in favor of using WordPress’ native customizer.
Themes developed with their own options panels aren’t necessarily bad. However, the growing consensus among theme developers is that utilizing the customizer is the now considered to be the best practice. Commercial theme companies are starting to embrace this in order to simplify their themes and remain competitive.
Recoding the entire ThemeFurance collection to use the customizer has been quite an undertaking, Dale said. The team has finished 11 themes so far and another five are still in process. He believes that this will make the themes easier to use, which in turn lessens the support burden.
Dale told the Tavern that ThemeFurnace will be releasing a free WordPress.org theme for every new theme they create from now on. “We’ve seen great results with our two free themes in the directory so far,” he said. “It’s the only way I can contribute back to WordPress, which has treated me so well, and it helps get our name out there to people who wouldn’t normally see it.” Customers who buy the commercial versions will be entitled to support and a few extra customization options.
ThemeFurnace Bets Heavy on Club Pricing Model
While many WordPress theme shops have started moving away from the club pricing model, the folks at ThemeFurnace have decided to embrace it. This week’s relaunch introduces a lifetime club membership pricing option.
“The reason we moved to the clubs membership was the vast majority of purchases were for single themes at $49 each,” Dale said. “So we figured that’s a good price people are willing to pay, so if we offer the whole collection for $49, it can only increase sales and that puts our themes on more websites,” he explained.
Many WordPress product and service companies have collapsed under the burden of support for lifetime customers who no longer generate any revenue but continue to utilize company resources. Dale is convinced that ThemeFurnace will not be negatively impacted by the new lifetime membership option.
“I think the support burden has been overplayed as an excuse to put prices up. I find that people need less support as time goes on so I’m quite happy to offer this new plan,” he said.
Do you think lifetime membership packages are a death knell for theme companies, or are there some unique cases where it might work?