When we last talked to WooThemes Chief of Surgery Matt Cohen, we got the lowdown on his “sexy and lazy” approach to WordPress theme design. Yes, we said sexy and lazy in reference to WordPress. Cohen is officially the company’s Product Manager and this week we’re going to dive into the future of WooThemes‘ product with him. You didn’t think we’d talk about a company that’s not constantly evolving, did you?
WPHub: In our last interview, we talked about the popularity of some of your current themes, including Canvas. What is WooThemes working on now? What’s in the hopper?
Matt Cohen: We are scaling up our support quite a lot. The community is getting big, so we need to make sure everyone is happy all the time. Happiness to customers is derived from the support they receive. That involves reasonable support times, listening to what customers have to say, and working all of that into our decision-making.
In terms of our products, we recently launched WooFramework Version 5.5 and removed a bit of functionality. It doesn’t have SEO features or a Sidebar Manager, and people were very happy with that. They said, “Thanks for removing that stuff,” which was quite bizarre because normally people don’t like having things removed. We listened to customers, who helped drive our decisions, and they were happy. We molded our product to our customers as much as possible.
We also have the WooSidebar plug-in, which is a replacement for our WooSidebar Manager. We’re not leaving people high and dry. It’s a feature we have revamped from the ground up.
Theme companies don’t realize the reach of their product either. You might get one customer who buys Canvas and then uses it on 50 websites. We had an issue in the WooFramework where people had to update to the latest version of Canvas and I got an e-mail from someone using Canvas 1. That’s the reach of the product. It spans years, and people have a “set and forget” mentality. They build a website and then leave it, but you need to have the product itself grow. We try to help people move up to the next generation of functionality.
WPHub: Tell us about the process of updating themes.
Matt Cohen: If something is easy, people will be more likely to do it. That’s a general rule of thumb. You need to know things like FTP to use our themes effectively. For me, that’s Web 101. It’s like learning how to check the oil in your car. We have tutorials and guides for anyone who doesn’t know FTP. A lot of people weren’t comfortable with things like child themes, for example, but once you show someone what a child theme is, they are super happy and understand exactly what to do. It takes that little bit of education for people to get comfortable with your product.
We prefer to provide an answer and then point customers in the direction of our tutorials for further explanation. We provide the answer (the “what”, if you will) and then a reference to a tutorial (the “why”) so the customers can learn and understand the reason for the answer we provided.
WPHub: WooThemes puts a considerable emphasis on plug-ins. Tell us about a few of the plug-ins you offer and how they can help us.
Matt Cohen: We have lots of free plug-ins like WooCommerce and WooSidebars. Those are evolving all the time. We have about 150 extensions for WooCommerce, which represents the up-selling of a free product with a paid product. There are a couple of free extensions, but the majority of them are paid extensions that run up to $99. Some of it is more advanced functionality, so I would be more than happy to pay for it if I were a customer.
You’re helping people build a business using a product like WooCommerce. If you can spend $500 with WooCommerce and set up a fully managed subscription system with all of the features you want, you’ll make the $500 back quickly. It’s a small investment for what could be a pretty big return.
WPHub: What is WooSlider? Why should WPHub readers know about it?
In the fourth and final installment of our sit-down interview with Matt Cohen of WooThemes, we’ll talk about the future of WordPress, learn about a nifty plug-in with a unique name called WooDojo, and figure out the logic behind WooThemes’ pricing.