I’m taking Sebastian Marshal’s advice and making a public commitment right now to launch jMockups, the web-based high fidelity mockup tool I’ve been working on since June, by November 3rd.
The jMockups editor – the part of the app where you actually create the mockups – works pretty well. There are a few bugs, but they’re relatively minor and should be easy to resolve. That’s not to say that I am done with its development – far, far from it – but I don’t plan on making any major changes to the editor between now and the launch. It’s a decent minimum viable product.
So why not launch? Two words: billing integration.
After talking with a bunch of folks, I decided to charge for jMockups from the start. I’ve went back and forth on this, but ultimately I think it does go a long way towards defining the product and it eliminates the need for a transition down the road, which was a major headache when I did it for Preceden.
When I first started integrating billing I came up with a multi-tired pricing model that went something like this:
- Free: Up to 5 mockups
- Basic: $19.95/mo for up to 50 mockups
- Standard: $49.96/mo for up to 150 mockups
- Pro: $149.95/mo for unlimited mockups
The problem is that I have no data to base either the prices or the limits on. It’s all just guessing on my part. I don’t know how heavily people are going to use it or how much they are willing pay for that ability. Hell, I don’t even know IF people will use it.
I could change the limits and the prices down the road, but then I could be in a situation where some customers are paying different prices than other customers for the same product. There are ways around this, but they’re all complicated and I’d rather just wait and see what happens.
And who knows, maybe there’s some other way to structure the premium plan other than by the number of mockups a person can create. Maybe, for example, the tiers are based on customized shared pages or the ability to collaborate. If I start with a model based on the number of mockups and then decide I want to change it completely, I’m going to be in a tough spot.
My current plan is to let customers create up to five mockups for free and unlimited mockups for $19.95/month after that (a freemium model). By limiting it to two plans right now, I’ll be able to expand it to four or five down the road once I have more data.
Additionally, anyone who signs up for the $19.95/mo plan, which I’m calling jMockups Pro, will automatically be upgraded to whatever the highest plan is down the road without incurring additional charges. So if I do eventually introduce a $149.95/mo plan with a killer feature set, anyone who signs up for the jMockups Pro plan will get those same features for the same $19.95/mo. This helps keep it simple right now and it rewards the early adopters who take risk by signing up for a new, unproven product.
Anyway, recurring billing integration is new to me so it’s taking a while to set it all up correctly. More on this in another post.
Meanwhile, I’m currently waiting for the paperwork to go through for jMockups LLC so I can set up a business checking account which I can tie to a merchant account to use with Authorize.net, the payment gateway. If I don’t launch by November 3rd its going to be because one of these steps is taking longer than I anticipated.
And with that, it’s off to work.