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New Custom Design Upgrade

  1. I posted this comment at the news: http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2011/06/15/new-upgrade-custom-design

    Posting this here as well under non-support question thread.

    I see Blogger and I see Six Apart. No offense but WordPress seems to have come back full circle and is now a completely paid blogging platform. There are less and less reasons for people to not use Blogger. This was one long standing feature which WordPress could have been generous in providing for free to compare with Blogger. Oh well! Nice to know this feature is out there now.

    The blog I need help with is webwanderings.wordpress.com.

  2. Do you want Themes Staff to respond to this? If so "modlook" flag it and request that it be moved to the Themes forum, as Themes Staff monitor Themes Forum threads and reply to them.

  3. Not really. This is just part of the conversations.

  4. Okay.

  5. Blogging here is still free. Millions of people blog here everyday and never buy an upgrade. If you want to take advantage of the upgrades that is your choice, but no one twists your arm. The bonus you get with the design upgrade is that you get the full typekit included and the ability to far more easily integrate their fonts into your blog.

    Not to be outdone though, blogger has their own delightful bonus (and it's free): over 100 XHTML validation errors and 80 warnings before you even start blogging. So kind and generous of them, don't you think?

    If you want to move to blogger, then go right ahead.

  6. From that link:

    Along with the CSS Editor updates we’re making the WordPress.com CSS forum officially supported by the WP.com Happiness team. Bring your CSS customization questions to the forum and you can get expert help.

    about time?

  7. Well, I am only personally projecting that WordPress is increasingly becoming a paid platform. Sure blogging is free here, just as setting up of account at Facebook is free. It is free as it gets. :)

    The only reason I was comparing this feature with blogger is because they do provide this exact feature for free.

    As far as errors and less-SEO is concerned at Blogger, my experience suggest that it just takes very long time for any new blogger blog to get the juice. This is apparently now the case with any new blog at WordPress as well. There was a time in the past when new blogs at WordPress were getting instant SEO. I doubt that's the case anymore. Besides, Google pays more attention to your site if your site has your own domain name, unlike *.wordpress.com or *.blogspot.com.

  8. If you want to blog for free and have a nice-looking site with zero effort, wordpress.com does the job. If you want to blog for free, have total control over how your blog looks and choose whether or not to have ads on it, then yes, Blogger may be a better option for you than wordpress.com. That said, their commenting system is clunky and their image handling sucks so badly that most people posting images on Blogger seem to do it via Flickr.

    It all depends on what your priorities are. I would say, though, that anyone spending out on more than two upgrades here would be better off self-hosting, both financially and in terms of what they can do with the software.

  9. I agree with you in general. I have seen people use Disqus and other commenting systems with blogger and you're right about the images. However, their bookmarklet is better. The point I am making is that for a non-serious/casual/hobbyist bloggers, wordpress.com is increasingly becoming a less appealing choice. For serious bloggers, obviously you are paying and you'd judge the ROI. Those who are in-between, I guess it depends on your priorities (the choices seems to be tilting the other way).

  10. The point I am making is that for a non-serious/casual/hobbyist bloggers, wordpress.com is increasingly becoming a less appealing choice.

    These types of people do not typically buy upgrades, and basic blogging here is still free.

  11. I guess I am one of those non-serious/casual/hobbyist bloggers types, and I will remain here as long as basic blogging is free and the free features we have now do not diminish.

  12. I would just point out that WordPress.com continuing to update and innovate and try new things, including being a bigger part of the community. (Yay!)

    Custom Design is intended to have a more casual/hobbyist friendly interface that allows you to change fonts without knowing any code as well as the more advanced CSS interface. So its really meant to appeal to both sides. I hope it bolsters some interest in building some really spectacular custom designs!

    This is an interesting discussion. :)

  13. I still love WP.com as a blogging platform and love the new features that are being introduced all the time.

    However, I am unhappy about the CSS upgrade doubling in price. Yes, I'm aware that I have a 50% voucher applied for my next renewal in January, but it still means that I have to pay $30 instead of $15 in 2013. Adding to that $12 for domain mapping and suddenly there's a lot of money going into my blog with a lot of things I don't have control over.

    I think it mostly bugs me that I've recommended WP.com to so many people over the past five years. "You can have a CSS customised blog and domain for less than $30" and just had a friend sign up last week.

    50% is a lot more than just adjusting the price a little, especially if the additional features aren't wanted.

  14. I'm sorry but the idea that this rip-off is "..... really meant to appeal to both sides" is absolute rubbish. You have bundled the ability to change fonts (for the casual user) together with the ability to modify CSS (not for the casual user), so that both are paying for something they dont want.

    If its such a good idea, why not introduce the ability to change fonts as a separate upgrade ($15) and keep the CSS upgrade as is ($15).

  15. My feeling is that when premium themes were introduced the pricepoint for custom CSS suddenly looked weirdly low in comparison. Obviously if you double the price of something overnight your customers are like 'wtf?', so they needed to present this as a new and substantially improved offering by a) bundling Typekit and b) adding support.

    Separating the font and CSS upgrades would do nothing to solve the intital problem of the discrepancy between prices for custom CSS and premium themes, and I somehow doubt that the alternative solution of slashing premium theme prices would go down a storm with Automattic's business associates.

    You can't blame Automattic for trying to make as much money as they can out of you. That's how the freemium model works: the minority who are willing to upgrade are pushed to spend more and more in order to subsidise the freeloading majority.

  16. I have nothing against freemium model but transport yourself back say five years ago and look at the blogging landscape. You had Six Apart with outright freemium model, you had Blogger with totally free model backed by giant Google and its bureaucracy and you had WordPress, an underdog with the cleanest UI, with the combination of above two. What differed between Six Apart and WordPress was WordPress competing head to head with Six Apart in blogging software market (remember the tussles with Matt and that guy who used to head Six Apart?) but Automattic taking lions share of free users at WordPress.com (Six Apart didn't have a free user base and their Vox experiment failed).

    Now transport yourself 2 years ago and we see WordPress standing alone in the blogging software market - in fact, I would say they are standing way ahead of anyone in terms of new website creation market as most are utilizing WordPress CMS. Here, we now see WordPress slowly tightening up their free model (Six Apart is no longer in the picture and Blogger was never a big concern irrespective of Google as a giant in the background).

    While the so-called present day freemium model develops across the board, the micro-blogging/social world takes shape and Tumblr/Posterous appears on the scene. WordPress.com's free users now become fair game for all sorts of experiments (remember the Like button fiasco?). The free users of WordPress.com are now the guinea-pig, and the semi-serious/serious bloggers are now struggling to cough up $$ here at WordPress.com for one paid upgrade or another to sustain their long standing relationship. They now have a choice to continue here or they host their own at WordPress.org (we will help you transfer for a fee, yes!).

    Nothing wrong with such evolution of all things internet, but this changing landscape is something to ponder about.

  17. I'd argue that wordpress.com users have been 'fair game for all sorts of experiments' since day one. They have always basically been beta testers, which is fine if you're not paying, but is problematic if you are.

    The main problem is that as any site grows it becomes more expensive to run, and the minority who are willing or able to pay become an ever smaller percentage of the whole. In the end, many upgraders stop renewing their subscriptions or jump ship entirely, because either they're disillusioned with what the site has had to do in pursuit of sustainability (more expensive upgrades, more ads, removal of free features) or they find the service itself has deteriorated due to the site's failure to do these things. Or sometimes both.

    They then go on to some new site which is currently surviving without advertising or fleecing its customers, and the cycle begins again.

  18. Just chiming in to say that arifsali is correct that the SEO advantages of WordPress.com have been vastly reduced thanks to making links from global tag pages to the blogs NoFollow, however they still enjoy a significant advantage over Blogger.

    I, personally, don't care whether WP.com is more attractive than Blogger. I don't care how many paid things they add to it (they're not converting previously free things to paid, so it's not greed). It's not my job to sell WP.com. I just teach bloggers to use it because it's simply better than Blogger, by far.

    If they want to transfer to Blogger after the class is over, it's none of my business, but only one person ever has, in six years of teaching. And he switched back to WordPress.com, too.

  19. @designsimply
    You have said:

    Custom Design is intended to have a more casual/hobbyist friendly interface that allows you to change fonts without knowing any code as well as the more advanced CSS interface. So its really meant to appeal to both sides. I hope it bolsters some interest in building some really spectacular custom designs!

    Hobby?
    domain and domain mapping $17.00 per blog per year
    Ads-Off upgrade $29.97 per per blog per year
    custom design upgrade $30.00 per blog per year
    Total = $76.97 per blog per year and all restrictions still apply

    Excellent web hosting with excellent support 24/7 at A Small Orange $50.00 per blog per year and no restrictions apply.

  20. OOPs! I forgot to add in $10.00 per year for the domain from ASO.

  21. I would pay some small fee ($5?) in order to use a limited set of custom fonts a la Typekit (essentially the free option that has been grandfathered in for those of us lucky enough to have set it up before the upgrade to Custom Design), but I don't see any point in paying for a lot of features that I don't need or want. I suppose that the way consumerism works these days, a lot of people love to pay money for features they think are "cool" in various hi-tech gadgets, even if they will never learn how to use them and wouldn't miss them if they vanished.

    Me, if I want to row out onto the pond, I'll take a dinghy, thank you; I don't need a 46-foot ocean-going yacht. Let people giggle at my dinghy if they want to! That's the way I feel about the Custom Design upgrade.

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