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  1. How exciting! About an hour ago I was wondering if it would be rude to contact you and ask when this would be done and here it is! i’m just trying to decide which package to get.

    On the home page demo, you have blog posts and a sidebar. Is that area widgeted? I’m wondering how hard it would be to have something other than posts in there. Featured pages or something else?

    Thanks! So excited about getting this theme!

  2. Well done on making it accessible. I remember the accessibility discussions on GOH not that long ago so you have done a brilliant job of building it into this theme. You have raised the standard!

    • Thank you, Angie! I’m really excited to see how people will use it. Tutorials forthcoming about how to keep it accessible when making customizations (or adding content!).

  3. is this a good place for pre-sale questions?
    I signed up for your emails a couple of weeks ago, I do not remember exactly how I found you, perhaps a link on the Studiopress blog.
    I first opened this email announcing Utility Pro on my S5 and liked the appearance. I’m stuck with my own project where my logo doesn’t scale down. It’s the Genesis sample theme. So I have a couple of questions and need to know where to put them!

    • Hi Ti,
      Thanks for your question. Best practice for a logo is not to “scale down,” but rather create two graphics of your logo (the mobile version should be no wider than 320px). Then, using CSS media queries, you tell your theme to show the larger graphic on larger screens and the smaller version on smaller screens.

      A code-free solution is the Genesis Simple Logo plugin by Rob Neu. I haven’t tested it with my theme yet, but I don’t know of any reason off the top of my head it wouldn’t work.

      Bottom line, we could walk you through either implementation.

      Cheers,
      Carrie

  4. Utility Pro is the single best theme I’ve come across to date. I’m not going to bother coding my own child themes anymore. Instead I’m going to use your new theme. Your pricing options are fantastic for what you get.

  5. Super job on this, Carrie.

    Being both translation-ready and fully “accessible” really puts Utility Pro in its own (higher) class… indeed a “new standard” as you correctly proclaim.

    Add to the fact that this is one of the few ‘mobile first’ themes (there are some others out there based on Bootstrap) Utility Pro has, in total, what the Copyblogger folks call a “USP” (unique selling proposition.)

    If you market this well, and get a reputation for great support, it will do well. And no doubt your ‘fame’ from the GOH podcast will help you! (I love the show, never miss it!)

    Question: What is the cost of yearly support/updates? Will it be fixed for life (i.e. a percentage of whatever the customer paid for the original license) or will you instead vary it each year to whatever you want to charge?

    I ask because in the old days (like last year!) we’d buy themes for one-off projects since it was a one-time cost. If the client liked it, we got it for them… done and done.

    But now we have to be careful since we are committing ourselves to an (often unknown) recurring payment amount (and we’ve found it very difficult to ‘sell’ the client on making these payments.)

    Most clients when told that some themes and plugins (i.e. Studio Press or the ones we have built) come with unlimited updates while other themes will cost them whatever the vendor wants to charge for updates, well you know clients!

    Anyway, I have no doubt that Utility Pro will be well-received by the WP/Genesis designer community and it will get great reviews. (Which is one of the ways many design shops decide on themes if the developer is new to them.)

    I’ve owned a small book publishing company for 25 years (Adams-Blake Publishing.) Selling books is similar to selling themes. Market it well and the customers will buy. Do the tasks that the Copyblogger people prescribe and you will sell themes. It’s not hard, it’s just a lot of work.

    (As we say in the book biz, “The only place were ‘success’ comes before ‘work’ is in the dictionary!”)

    Really good work here, Carrie. Forget being nervous. You should be proud.

    • Hey Al,
      Thanks for the kind words. The license for support is new territory for me, so I don’t have a good answer to your question. BUT, what I want to strongly emphasize is that the license cost is tied directly to support and updates, not the theme. Clients can buy it once and be “one and done,” as you say. As long as they don’t require support beyond the first year, there’s no need to continue “re-upping” the license. It’s the model Pippins Plugins uses (among other WP companies use) and as a multi-year customer, I pony up again each year because the product is solid and I want the updates, plus their support is amazing – I use it rarely, but it’s a good feeling to know its there if I do.

      The other issue about purchasing on behalf of clients is a case by case decision for me. For instance, I don’t ask my clients to buy Gravity Forms – I just have a developer license (I know these customers are going to call me if there are ever issues, not GF). On the other hand, if I’m working with a client that’s more hands-on and I know will be tinkering with their site and doing their own maintenance, I ask them to purchase so that they have direct access to that product support. Just depends, ya know?

      Cheers,
      Carrie

      • When using the Genesis Framework the update-issue is not too critical. The vast majority of Genesis child themes do things the “Genesis way” and don’t build much or any “functionality” into the theme. Functionalities are provided by the framework and whatever external plugins the user wants to add.

        Thus, we don’t HAVE to upgrade (most) Genesis child themes.

        But your theme looks like it may have functionality built in. Perhaps you used independent plugins or maybe you hard-coded it. If you used free-to-update plugins, no problem. But if you coded it yourself it will probably be mandatory for buyers to purchase the yearly renewal because sooner or later all code needs updating.

        Is that going to be problematic for you from a sales standpoint? I think it might, but maybe not.

        I’m in contact with lots of mid-size web design shops like ours. The “new” policy of paying a yearly retainer for upgrades is discussed very seriously in relation to plugins, because those often need to be upgraded to work with new versions of WP or when bugs are found (as well as conflicts with other plugins!)

        Most of us agree that it is important to buy so-called “developer” or “unlimited” licenses for the plugins we use site after site. Of course that means we are not going to experiment with many ‘new’ plugins since we have already made the investment.

        For example we use and love the premium Soliloquy Slider plugin with which we have an unlimited license for. (They have great service, BTW.) We have tons of sites out there with this slider.

        Recently a new premium slider (which provides graphic/animated ‘layers’) was released that our senior designer said she would like to try/use… but we don’t want to be in the position of having to support these two code-bases forever… and so we feel somewhat ‘stuck.’

        This goes for themes as well, especially non-Genesis themes.

        One issue that comes up all the time in discussions with other web shops is the paranoia of “What if an upgrade is necessary due to a WP code change AND the theme or plugin vendor decides to price the upgrade in the stratosphere?”The usual answer is “We’re stuck… gotta pay the ‘ransom.'”

        Thus, might I suggest that you ‘guarantee’ in writing that your upgrade price will be a fixed rate or a percentage of what the customer spent for his/her license. That will give designers a little peace of mind and help incentivize them to buy.

        I’m the creator and owner of jaya123.com which has been out for ten years now and I know a few things about pricing vis a vis support… learned the hard way… but perhaps web services are different from themes.

    • Check out web-savvy-marketing.com – they have quite a few e-commerce themes.

      Also, no reason you couldn’t use Utility Pro as the basis for an e-commerce site – thought it would take more time to modify than grabbing something out of the box made for e-commerce.

  6. So excited to have this in my toolbox. I plan to use this as a base for projects whenever I can, so as to save myself a lot of work as far as accessibility. I look forward to learning from what you’ve created.

    Can you expand on what the “Desktop Server blueprint” means? I just upgraded to Desktop Server Pro and I’m not sure I really get what a blueprint does.

  7. HI Carrie, I am toying with the idea of using this theme for a town council website that requires the theme to meet or exceed Level AA of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines WCAG 2.0. It looks like this is the case from the demo and what you have written, but I just wanted to check with you first.
    Also – I am aware that after purchasing and installing this theme, it matters what I do in terms of content to make sure that the website remains accessible to the above standards… that is fine as far as basic content is concerned but what about using plugins.. such as event calendars, cookie notifications, forms for contacting & booking services, and so forth… I am assuming that introducing aspects like these can potentially throw a website well off target in terms of accessibility?
    Thanks in advance for your response!
    Chris

    • Hey Chris! Yes, the theme is WCAG2, but you’re absolutely correct that the “stuff that comes after the theme” has the potential to impact accessibility.

      If you’re using Gravity Forms, here’s a plugin that helps bridge the gap for some accessibility issues that GF doesn’t quite cover. I believe Contact Form 7 also has an accessibility extension.

      As for the other functionality pieces you mention, I don’t have recommendations off the top of my head that I know to meet WCAG2.0 standards. Doesn’t mean they don’t exist – I just haven’t experimented with them. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Generally speaking, I have some articles on accessibility that you might find helpful: https://carriedils.com/category/accessibility/

      Cheers,
      Carrie

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