Should web software support be charged?

supportAn uncomfortable irony: I write web software that I give support for for free to web designers who are charging their clients for the time it takes them to resolve an issue involving my software!

So they are getting paid to support my software, but I aren’t!

Why do we accept charging clients for support when we build them a website, but when web software devs want to charge for support, it causes debate? Especially when they change from a free to paid as WooThemes recently experienced without offering “grandfathering”, but I understand why they didn’t , as they as so large it is costly. (They now are offering “grandfathering” but if I was their client, I’d take the subscription option as I would want to ensure their long term viability and growth.)

We could argue a website cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, but, in terms of time, so does the development of plugins and themes for WordPress.

It’s easy for software support to be free when the number of clients is small and you want to makes sales on an unknown product. But as Woo found, you hit a tipping point where the cost of support, both monetarily and in time, is detrimental to the long term viability of the developer.

One day, Pizazz will also charge for support (via an annual subscription). At the moment it’s not possible with  Headway’s store. When it does, existing clients will be “grandfathered”.

The biggest benefit is it will mean more money to invest in support. Which in turn frees up more time for development.

So, in the end, paid support is a win-win for the customer.


About Chris Howard

Chris is a web developer specializing in add-ons for the awesome Headway Themes framework for WordPress. When not coding, he likes to read about pre-history.