Why We Don't Charge Extra for Customizations and Feature Development
A common question we get when talking to colleges about our course catalog and curriculum management software is “how much extra will it cost if we want to do ____?” We’re always happy to answer that customizations to your catalog are free, and you won’t pay anything beyond our affordable flat annual fee.
First, some definitions: by customizations, we mean everything from “change the size of this heading” to “build out a feature for generating custom curriculum-guide checklists for students.” As part of the build out process we work closely with customers to determine their exact needs, but we’re also open to customer feedback at any point; sometimes new needs don’t become clear until after you’ve been using the software for a year or two.
The only sort of customizations that theoretically wouldn’t be included in the cost are things totally outside the scope of course catalog software, like customizations to the college website or adjustments to the student information system API. And, of course, it’s possible to imagine features that just wouldn’t be feasible. But (so far) nothing like that has come up — our customers and our company are typically very aligned on what we expect out of our software.
Requests From Customers Are the Best Way to Improve Our Product
When a customer requests a new feature or customization, odds are that they’re not the only college or university that would use that feature. For example, our extremely popular PDF generation feature was created out of a customer request to generate PDFs of their whole catalog and individual pages, and now it’s used by almost every college and university we work with.
We have a great vision for our product and what features we think would be useful, but no one knows what they need better than our customers themselves. When a customer has a specific vision for something they want from their course catalog or curriculum management software, we view that as the best possible design and user experience testing we could get — instead of us guessing where our product should go next, we get our exact target audience telling us what would be valuable for them in our software.
We Want to Partner with Our Clients, not Nickel and Dime Them
When a customer pays their annual fee, we want them to feel like it’s entirely batteries included — that we’re invested in a long-term relationship, not in squeezing as much cash out of them as possible. And we also know how college and university budgets typically work, and that unexpected expenses throughout the year are much harder to budget for than a single flat annual fee.
Making our customers happy is important to us (see here, here, and here, for a few examples), and that goes beyond our great customer service and product to having a non-stressful pricing model for purchasers.
Our Process for Working with Colleges and Universities on Customizations
Typically when a customer requests a new feature or customization, we build it in a way that works specifically for that client, but can be generalized for other clients. For example, Windward Community College had a specific (and awesome) vision for what they wanted their catalog to look like, and we were able to implement it exactly how they wanted. But if another client wants to adopt any of those design elements — a background image in the header, sidebar menus on text pages — we’ve made it easy to offer those as options on other catalogs.
We don’t have a formal process for proposing new features — our clients typically work closely with our CEO and our content team, and new features and customizations arise naturally from our conversations with them about what will work best for their institution.