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Thoughts on the new pricing page and plans?


(Ben Orenstein) #1

New pricing page (with new plans): https://learn.thoughtbot.com/subscription/edit

What do you think? How’d we do?


(Luke Jernejcic) #2

Seems high to me. I think the old pricing was pretty fair. I’m just glad I joined on Monday this week! I would not have joined at the new pricing.


(Flávio M Oota) #3

I’m with @luke. I’m really glad I joined last week. But I’m pretty sure there’s good reason to these changes.


(Renan Gurgel) #4

I´m with @luke too. For me, who lives in Brazil, is expensive. If I had not joined last week I couldn’t have paid for this new plan prices. Although, I’m sure, like @massayoshi says, there’s a good reason to these changes.


(David Becerra) #5

I’m not a fan… it seems very high. Paying 30 bucks a month for just the weekly iteration doesn’t seem like a good deal.

I think $50 a month is alright, but I don’t think I would sign up for it if I were coming to this as a new potential customer… If I did, I would probably cancel after I went through the courses since downgrading would mean I lose the forums. I would hate myself if I paid 50 bucks for forum access.


(Andy Waite) #6

I realise that in general it’s very difficult to sell anything to developers, but it does seem on the high side.

I allow myself a budget of about $100/month for personal learning - eBooks, screencasts, etc. Out of the other services that I’m a fan of, PluralSight and CodeSchool are both only $29/month and have way more content than the $99/month Learn plan.

One particular irk I have is that the Coding Exercise system seems to have been seriously broken for several weeks, which seems to have put people off using it (for example only myself and one other member have submitted an attempt for the “Cleaning up a Controller” exercise).


(Pedro Moreira) #7

Ever since Destroy All Software stopped, the only alternative to a good weekly screencast would be Advi Grimm’s Ruby Tapas. There are of course many others, but I’m referring to a specific type of content and/or level of discussion. The caveat here being that, evidently, I’m not trying to be snobbish or condescending. Every resource has a time and place in growing as a developer.

I would be perfectly happy to pay for the Weekly Iteration alone, even though Forum or Learn Campfire access would add a lot, specially since the discussion venue for episodes is the forum.

While Learn’s price can be steep, specially for people outside the US, I feel the new plans are a good step in the direction of making it a product that can cater for people at different levels of progression.

Having said that, the resources and community here helped me more than I can say in getting my first Ruby job. I would be very sad to see people leave or new voices unable to join due to a price barrier.


(Luke Jernejcic) #8

I wanted to add one more thing. My monthly budget for learning had been $25/month. Yes, I’m now $5 over budget, but I’ll adapt… I’m agile like that ;-). Anyways, I left the Platform University because I felt this community, these forums particularly, would better serve my needs.

So, I think of think that the forum access should be at the entry level. I feel that it is beneficial to the community at large and not just to the single subscriber.

I guess that it could also be looked at in a negative light, but that’s how I feel about it.


(Frank Carnevale) #9

If I wasn’t grandfathered in, I wouldn’t sign up. $30/mo for only the weekly iteration isn’t worth it to me. I enjoy watching them regardless of the topic, but I’m not paying that each month for a swift first impressions video (for example).

Why not fill the void left by Ryan Bates with a couple of high quality Ruby/Rails/CS/system design/etc 10-20 min screencasts per week? That would be worth closer to $30/mo IMHO.


(Jared Smith) #10

It didn’t really effect me I was already paying $99 / month plan paying for workshops. Which I think are worth every single penny. They are the best courses I have taken so far.

The new plans on the lower end leave a lot to be desired, specifically the 30 dollar plan. It’s almost like you are paying too much for too little at the low end and at the high end I think the pricing is right. The $99 and the $249 plan are pretty spot on.

Additionally, it would be cool if there were a yearly plan, that offered some kind of discount or benefit to paying 1 lump sum for the year. Just a thought.

I would say open the forum for all plans. Since the value of the forum is having more people to generate discussions. Just my thoughts on building this community space.

Now on another note I have had my dashboard broken for the last day or so, when I tried to upgrade to the 1-1 coaching from the previous 99 dollar plan. Not sure exactly what went wrong. Other pages appear to work, minus the dashboard .It does not seem to be effecting the payment processing either.

Unfortunately, I use the dashboard to navigate around. I have not as of yet memorized all of the URL paths.

Perhaps this is an easter egg in learning? I guess I could go rake routes the source code. LOL

All in all I really like the work the guys at thoughtbot are doing here.


(Ben Orenstein) #11

Crap! Sorry about that.

I know exactly what caused that and just fixed your user record in the database. You should be all set now.


(Jared Smith) #12

Thanks Ben! Everything is working again! Whoo, just in time for my weekend learning bender! :smiley:


(Ben Orenstein) #13

I see what you’re saying. Let me explain our motivations.

Some data:

In May, we acquired 159 new customers.

  • 101 subscribed to Basic ($29/month)
  • 47 to Workshops ($99/month)
  • 11 to Mentoring ($249/month)

As you can see, most people choose the cheapest plan. The “problem” with that is the lifetime value of those plans (lifetime value is how much we can expect to bill the average customer on a plan before they cancel):

  • Basic: $152
  • Workshops: $574
  • Mentoring: $1,739

As you can see, if we can move someone from Basic to Workshops, or Workshops to Mentoring, it makes a huge difference to our business.

So, the primary motivation for the new plans (and new design on the pricing page) was to move more folks into the higher plans.

We partly hope to accomplish this with the new design of the page (you can see that we’re highlighting the $99 plan). However, we also decided to pull out some features from the cheaper plans, so that the higher plans are noticeably better.


(Ben Orenstein) #14

You’re totally right: the exercises are by far the most unstable part of the service right now. I’m sorry for that.

Two (hopefully) mitigating factors:

  1. We’ve been working on them consistently, and they’re definitely getting better. (Fixing bugs, adding exercises, etc.)
  2. Next week our whole team is going to focus on nothing but improving the exercise user experience. I think we’ll make some excellent progress.

(Ben Orenstein) #15

There is!

We actually email people about this automatically after ~4 months of being a subscriber.

I want to change the UI so that:

  1. You have the option to pay annually on signup.
  2. There’s a call-to-action in the dashboard somewhere that offers the same.

@Jared_Smith: If you’d like to move to annual billing, let me know and I’ll switch you over. The discount is actually two free months. We bill you for 10 months immediately but your subscription is good for a year. Let me know!


(Matthucke ) #16

(perspective: I’m a developer since 1996, mostly Perl & Java. Switched to Rails two years ago, now looking to patch gaps in my self-taught knowledge. Gainfully employed, full-time, with limited time to study.)

I’m grandfathered in at the former “Prime Basic” level, which gives me the Weekly Iteration - and I faithfully come here each Friday for it - and the forum and screencasts. I think that’s a fair value, though once I’ve watched all the screencasts I might drop it.

Tried the Exercises too, but lost interest after the page refused to let me proceed after I did several successful commits. I even made a few frivolous changes just so I could do extra commits… no joy. Gave up.

I looked into the upgrade just now and see that $99 would get me Workshops as well. But there’s no sample available, so I’m not sure if that’s worth the extra $70; and if I don’t like it and choose to downgrade, I’d probably lose my current plan and have to go back to the lowest level… so, that’s an experiment I’ll not try.

Is this package worth $99? Maybe, if you were the only publisher of such material… but there are lots of other services. Railscasts, even though it’s been inactive for a year, gives you over 400 videos for $9 a month. Confreaks is free. O’Reilly Safari gives me so many books for $40 a month that I could literally quit my job and study for every minute of every day and still not keep up!

Your format is different - I do enjoy seeing the actual production code accompanied by the developers talking about their decisions - but minute-for-minute it’s much much pricier than the alternatives.

I think your top level package - with a dedicated mentor - is extremely appealing, especially to those starting out. The other packages, though, are not a good value for the money - compared to competing services - and you need to provide better value at the lower levels to generate buzz and interest in your premium offering.

thanks, matt.


(Jared Smith) #17

Oh I get why you did it. You guys are looking at, based off the numbers, that even if you lost the 101 members who sign up for basic that could be negated by around 12 more sign up for mentoring, or 29 more sign up for Workshops. Which in all actuality is not that many more signing up for those services, and should be relatively easy to achieve.

I also get that you see a between 5-7 month maximum retention for any given user on the system on average and it breaks down into numbers. It’s really sound business to be honest. No bones to pick there.

Now my only complaint is, I think the community is a huge selling point for more advanced users, premium level subscribers, and cheapskates alike. Additionally, the community is just that a community. The real benefit of any community is active members discussing things. The best way to get lively conversation is more users on it more often.

For my two cents, if nothing else having the large number of people on the lowest plan in the forum, adding to the content here benefits all plans, and adds value for anyone signing up no matter the level.

Here is my thought process perhaps its just me and me alone.

  • 30 dollars for weekly screen casts is a bit steep.
  • 15 dollars for weekly screen casts is about fair. I would pay that for screencasts.
  • 15 dollars for forum access per month is about fair. I would pay that for forum access.

Both of those combine to make the 30 dollar plan a overall good value and maintain the full power of all subscribers powering discussions here. Worst thing that can happen for this forum is for the discussion to dwindle. Which is my concern, since pricing for that plan does not effect me.


(Jared Smith) #18

I would say it is, depending on your experience level. I truly enjoyed them since I am fairly new to Rails. Each one has been chalked full of learning nuggets. They are a cut above the other tutorials for Rails for sure. You end up with a really good idea of what Rails is and don’t waste time on fluff that impedes your learning Rails itself. They pull the fluff out into other workshops.

So during the courses they dive into Ruby, then Rails in the intro to rails. Then intermediate Rails dives deeper into rails and how it works with more complex concepts like polymorphism, and Sandi Metz’s Rules for developers. Then they have a full course on just TDD, followed and then I have not even touched the courses on Design, or iOS Development, backbone.js development, and looks like a new one was added this week Analytics for Developers. All of which seem like great topics that I am looking forward to going through.

Each of the courses seems to be around 4 hrs long give or take a little. Making it 7 courses x 4 hrs = 28 hrs of guided study through topics. It’s really awesome that they separate each course and focus on one aspect instead of trying to do too much in too little time. It takes me roughly 2 weeks per course so that is 3.5 months if you keep a steady pace on them. Making the cost to watch all of them 400 dollars-ish. Turns out to be around 14 dollars per hour of content, not including all the other spiffy content you get. That’s how I justified it to myself anyway.

I am looking forward to seeing how mentoring works. I’m hoping it is as worth while as I think it will be. If the workshop value is any indicator.

@matthucke I can understand your hesitation when you would be sacrificing your bundle of value you are grandfathered into. I cannot say I would not have the same reservations. I would recommend the workshops to anyone needing to learn one of the above mentioned topics.


(Matthucke ) #19

Thanks - I may give them a try sometime in the future, as they do sound like a good value, even if it means losing my original basic subscription after the eventual downgrade.


(Dan Weaver) #20

I’m certainly very glad to have subscribed a couple of months ago, albeit at the $29 level.

The new prices seem to be quite steep. I can’t see many people subscribing to a single weekly video for $29, no matter how good they are (and they really are), but I see your reasoning for having a ‘cheap’ plan.

Like @matthucke, I’m wondering about upgrade paths for those of use grandfathered-in - if I want access to the workshops (now called video tutorials) and I ‘upgrade’ to the $49/month plan do I lose my current access to the source code, ebooks and coding exercises?

I had originally intended to stay on the $29/month level for a few months while I build my skills then upgrade to include workshops (at the old price of $99/month).