When introducing Caddy to other people, I always have to explicitly state that Caddy is free to use, since the “Caddy is Free to Use” is somewhat misplaced/hidden in my opinion.
The first thing people see when they go to the website is a navbar with a tab “Pricing”, and then, prominently on that page, the options for paid support.
It would be better if that page was called “Professional support” (or something similar) and stating clearly that Caddy is free software (forever) and that you can optionally opt for paid support.
Now it feels the other way around.
You know, I think I agree with you on that one. At first glance, the home page looks like paid software - not through any fault of its own, but simply because so many other paid softwares I’ve seen use similar UI patterns on their website (“Download now!” + “Pricing”).
I don’t know what I’d call it instead, though. Can’t think of anything quite as succinct as “Pricing”. Maybe it might just bear emphasising that usage is free, instead of differentiating that only professional support or sponsorship is paid.
To be honest, I do mind the perception of Caddy as professional-grade software, and optionally free use.
Yes, Caddy is great, and does everything I need.
But Caddy is an open source, community driven project, which was created by you, but also enhanced by >170 contributors. So I think that it should breath open source and free use.
I honestly don’t have any problem with charging money for professional support. I even encourage it, because you did an awesome job making Caddy, and you’re still the key contributor / cornerstone of Caddy.
But it would be a shame to market it as a enterprise product with a free tier.
I also believe that marketing Caddy as “optionally free” will not aid in expanding Caddy’s user base.
You know, I totally agree with you. This is one of the core values of the project. When I did the site redesign it didn’t even cross my mind that people would think of Caddy as only a commercial/paid product.
I agree, and I don’t even want to call Caddy a “free tier” - it is free to use, period. There is no upgrade. The products we sell are not software upgrades (at this point; no plans for that, either).
How can we make Caddy more obviously open source, while still making the Pricing page (more) effective at selling pro options? (Cory and I will review this some more but I welcome community feedback of course.)
I dont have a problem with the home page or the word ‘pricing’. To me seeing a ‘Github’ link on a website with open source software gives me a sense of security that it is open. I also think the pricing page is nicely laid out and makes it obvious Caddy is free to use.
However I do think the download page can be a little confusing as the sponsorship additions are given prominence.
Would be be worth considering a small redesign of this page and perhaps changing the word ‘recommended’ above the sponsorship options to simply ‘Sponsorship’ or ‘Add Sponsorship’
I also wonder whether the download page needs to have the sponsorship options as prominent. It is very unlikely that someone will add sponsorship when they first download Caddy, they will presumably try it out first for a while then decide it is for their company and look to take out an engineering package. Perhaps something like ‘Sponsorship Packages Available’ on the download page could be considered.
However having said all that, in my opinion it is up to Matt and Cory how they layout the Caddy Website and sell their support options.
When I saw the pricing appear on the website, my first thought was that this looked like the first stage of marginalising and maybe eventually removing the free option, or reducing it to a less functional subset - and I wondered if I needed to start looking for an alternative.
This impression was heightened by the size of the prices listed. I often contribute in a small way (I am retired, and so have a constrained income) to free projects, because I don’t like to feel I am merely leeching; but your pricing shows that you are not interested in the kind of contribution I could offer, and this increased the sense of unease about the long-term viability of my use of Caddy.
The pricing layout is certainly better than what I recall previously - but still lacks an assurance that Caddy will continue to be free to use. After all, there is software that has been free or had a free option for a period and then become chargeable without warning (some I have then paid for as the price was affordable to me, and some I moved away from). But the download page doesn’t encourage one to continue - the suggestion that paying $500 a month keeps the software free comes over as disingenuous, as $500 is far from free!
Thanks for your perspective Paul, it’s rather timely, as I’m working to improve the download and pricing pages.
A programmer’s gotta eat. Our hope is that profitable companies who are vested in the interest of their customers and whose customer base consists mostly of web server users will sponsor the project to keep it free for individuals to use. Our sponsorships and Engineering Packages are definitely not intended for consumers – they are business-to-business products. Considering the value that businesses get for it, the prices are actually quite low. (For example, other web servers charge thousands of dollars per instance.)
I’m afraid, as with anything that’s free, there are no guarantees like that. But hopefully our announcements back in April will bolster your confidence a little bit in what we’re trying to achieve. Keeping Caddy open source is very important to us and everyone.
Be assured that if Caddy is no longer free for personal use, that the price will be well in the range of what is affordable by consumers.
We’re looking into ways for individuals to contribute in smaller ways, who want to do so. (Without going the donation route, since, obviously, that is not a valid business plan.)
I understand about eating! Indeed, having been a programmer from 1971 until I went into system management in 2004, I was more than a little surprised that open source software found a way to become part of viable business plans. Back in 1980, when I was for a time self-employed, my income came from about ten sales a year, so my software was correspondingly expensive (it was a complete system, including underlying OS, for image capture and processing for medical diagnosis using a gamma camera, sold worldwide).
I may have gone too far suggesting that a free version should have parity with a chargeable one. Often a commercial version can readily be distinguished by features which most free users wouldn’t be interested in, such as centralised authentication to a domain - and this may be an effective way to go (though it’s caused me slight inconvenience in one instance, because I run a domain at home - but that’s my choice!).
While I can agree that donations are not a reliable business plan, I can see no reason why you should not still have a simple way to accept them (e.g. through PayPal) from people who, like me, would like to be able to give a modest “thank you” for the software you make available freely.