Chip Shots by Chip Griffin

The Web Makes Disruption Easy and Customers Fickle

I have been a devoted user of the Thesis framework for WordPress for some time now. I have purchased licenses to use their software for myself and my clients. In fact, this site is built on Thesis, as are most of the ones I have built over the past several years. I routinely recommend Thesis to friends, clients, and anyone else who will listen because it has some nice features to make creating WordPress sites easy and well-structured. It also makes it pretty simple to reuse bits of code from one project to the next without having to dig through complicated theme files.

Naturally, when I needed to build a new website for a marketing project for Franeo over the weekend, I turned to Thesis. I discovered that there was a brand new version of the product, which made me pretty excited. As a tech geek, I always enjoy playing with new features.

Unfortunately, I found the totally revamped Thesis interface to be much more difficult to use. Yes, it appears that it may give more flexibility than earlier versions, but it comes at the cost of a pretty steep learning curve. I even watched a Thesis power user’s unofficial video tutorial for what should have been a simple task — and it took him more than 5 minutes with repeated mistakes and confusion to get the job done. (Honestly, I would have reshot the video, but so be it.)

So I figured if I was going to have to learn something new, I should conduct a quick review of what else is in the marketplace today. In the past, I have used Genesis, but I never quite fell in love with it. I was about to take a new look at it when I stumbled across a WordPress framework that hadn’t really caught my eye before, although I had heard of it.

Headway seems to offer everything that the new version of Thesis promises — an easy, clickable interface that allows even non-designers to create pretty sites. Yes, it still requires graphic design and CSS skills to produce something more than a pretty vanilla site, but it does take a lot of the challenge out of basic layout and formatting. Bottom line: I found it to be a a nice product to use.

This isn’t a review of Headway vs. Thesis — I may do that at some future point. Instead, I’m writing about this to underscore the point that the web makes it easy for one product to disrupt another. Finding new product options is often as easy as typing something like “Thesis competitor” or “Thesis alternative” in a search engine.

With the ease of finding replacement products, customers become more fickle. Companies — especially those that depend on the web for business — need to be constantly aware of this. It cuts both ways. It can be a great way for upstarts to find customers, but it’s also a threat to incumbents who may become too complacent.

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