Here’s an interesting little service: Have you ever been on this site, and sometimes noticed weird spacing in the layout or something not working properly? Believe me, we know they are there, and when we flag them down, our developers do a nice job at getting them fixed promptly.
But one of the most frustrating things about running a WordPress site is finding a small glitch — It’s annoying, but not ruinous to the site. And it’s relatively low on the priority list when developers are working on more major redesigns.
Josh Vickers thinks he has the answer to solving those lightweight problems quickly. His service, Fantasktic, which launches to the general public today, fixes one-off WordPress problems for $99 a pop. Typical problems include “theme” issues, like getting something to align properly, or pesky little hacks. Not the kind that will get you thrown in jail or make the news, but, say, a spammy ad that might show up as a result of a bot exploiting a java script file, says Vickers. It’s good for sites that don’t have immediate access to developers, and it beats waiting for the ticket to be resolved.
The service started as a part of Vicker’s company Direction 1 Media (not to be confused with One Direction. Sorry, all the tweens who read our site), which builds websites for companies and organizations using WordPress. Past clients include Cooley and the 2012 Obama campaign. Vickers was on the campaign’s creative advisory board. Angel investors include Jonah Stein, founder of CodeGuard.
Each fix takes about 15 minutes, and much of the process is automated, using technology that the team developed itself. After one of the five-person team makes a fix, he sends it back to the client for approval, and the client pays up. The company has been offering Fantasktic’s service privately to Direction 1 clients and some other companies for the last six weeks. Vickers says in that time period the company has served about a hundred clients and fixed under 1,000 bugs. That’s a little under $100,000 in sales in the first six weeks.
Fantasktic isn’t the only company in the business of providing webmasters quick fixes. There are marketplaces like Odesk that connect customers to developers, but Fantasktic seems to be the only one offering the direct service. There is also a software suite from Rally software that lets webmasters make changes on the fly, but it’s more about customizations and less about fixing bugs.
This kind of direct to consumer developer service does score the digital environment we’re in. There’s a need for a good solution against those minor hacks. Just last week, Google released its “Help for Hacked Sites” series, which teaches webmasters how first to avoid hacks, then to fix them. The question is: Will websites pony up for the direct service? Our interwebz backend people say $99 is about half of what most developers charge for an hour.
But the blanket $99 price point might be too simplistic. Anyone who’s every used WordPress will tell you there are thousands of things that can go wrong, and some fixes may be worth less than a Benjamin. Some may be worth more. In some cases, Vickers says the company will offer a customized price for larger projects, like styling a widget, but that’s on a case by case basis. Some nuanced, clearer price tiers might help webmasters to hop onboard.
[Image courtesy: John Tann]