Visitors to this blog yesterday would have seen the site using a new look. It’s something I had been playing with for a week or so, on and off, and I had finally decided that this was my preferred style.

In the end, I went for this Premium theme ‘Opti’, which cost £71.00. Plus points for me were that it had a clean but ‘newspaper’ type feel and gave me the opportunity to show some extra featured content on the home page without it being too overwhelmed in huge irrelevant pictures.

After all, this site is about the nonsense that I write, I have another one that is about the images I take.

So far, so good.

The theme cost me the money to purchase because I had only chosen to use the ‘Personal’ plan for my blog. That allows me to remove the adverts and use the scribblans.com domain name. I have looked at the next plan up, ‘Premium’ and can see that it’s pretty extensive in its offering for anyone needing any of that professional looking stuff, but I don’t need it for my level of ‘arsing about for fun’ here.

Premium 
Credit applied 
per month, billed annually 
POPULAR 
Best for freelancers: 
Build a unique website with advanced design tools, 
CSS editing, lots of space for audio and video, Google 
Analytics support, and the ability to monetize your 
site with ads. 
V Free Domain for One Year 
V Jetpack Essential Features 
V Email & live chat support 
V Unlimited Premium themes 
V Advanced Design Customisation 
V 13 GB storage space 
V Remove WordPress.com ads 
V payments 
V Subscriber-only content 
V Pay with PayPal 
V Google Analytics integration 
V Advanced social media 
V Site monetization 
V VideoPress support 
Upgrade

And, even if WordPress have tried extremely hard to make it attractive to upgrade–by reducing the cost to a bargain level for the first year–the implication of that ‘special’ saving is that it would be likely to go back up to the full price the next year.

So, I did a quick calculation based on the fact that I thought, if I paid fully for the theme outright now, that it would work out better for me over a longer term–if I, or any of us, lasts for the longer term that is. And it does in a way.

£4.50 over 12 months (the Premium themes are included free) = £54

but if I based on two years or more and wanted to keep the same look on my blog for them….

£4.50 pm over 12 months =£54.00
£7 pm over second year = £84.00 – Running Total now £138
£7 pm over third year = £84.00 – Running total now £222

etc, etc,

versus £71 once now, plus £35 per year, or whatever the annual Personal plan is then, makes purchasing one more sense really, for my type of usage (and if I don’t get the theme change itch in the meantime).

That was my thinking anyway.

But I had missed a little ‘gotcha’ in the WordPress plans. And I hadn’t caught it because I was–almost obsessively for two or three days–looking at, and comparing and thinking about ‘Themes’, not ‘Plans’, having already decided that purchasing a theme of my own would be better for me.

Having then finally decided on and made the purchase of the Opti theme at the £71.00, I of course wanted to make my own tweaks to it. In particular, I wanted to change the colours that are used for links and commenter names.

A little thing. An insignificant thing to most pragmatic people, but it’s like my ‘thing’ that I have pretty much always used a good splash of orange on my site. Little things that say ‘me’. In fact, with my viewing figures, mainly only to me. Anyway, on the screenshot, it’s all the little blue text that I actually want to be orange.

A very simple thing.

On every Free theme that I’ve used, some of the colours are adjustable. And the controls for changing them are there if they’re offered, not there if you can’t. Fine. Understand that.

Rowling. Things you can’t change are greyed and crossed out.

On this theme that I just paid £71 for, more of the colours were adjustable, even when I was at the trying before buying stage. At that stage, it is common for your widgets and some other stuff to all go a bit funky in the Try and Customise’ area. I knew that, it’s the temporary trial pages, but it is giving you an idea of how the theme works. Mostly.

Anyway, I owned the theme now, so I adjusted them. Saved and exited.

Opti. Nothing greyed or crossed out.

Oddly, although they were orange when I pressed Save, they have reverted to the standard blue ones when looking at the blog to see it ‘live’.

Perhaps I missed and didn’t hit the click point properly. Go back to Customiser, change colours again. Save and Exit.

Nope. Reverted again. Scratch head.

So, in the modern vernacular, I ‘reached out’ to WordPress by emailing them and said ‘Hey guys, this theme is fucked, and this is how. What’s up?’

Well, that was the gist of it anyway.

And they replied by saying “Yeah, we can see that is happening but that’s normal. You can’t change those colours on a Personal plan. You have to upgrade to the Premium to make that work.”

And I said “Ah, no, no, no… You missed that I own this theme. I paid full whack for it. And it lets you change them on the customiser. Like, all normal and stuff?”

And they said “Yeah. But it doesn’t work on Personal plans. It says in the Plan features list.”

Does it? Bloody hell what have I missed?

“Here, look. On the Premium Plan feature list.

versus your Personal Plan

“Advanced! ADVANCED! Changing colours isn’t advanced. I can do it on all the Free themes when I’m only allowed to be doing Basic. When I can’t, it’s greyed out. Why is it advanced when I now OWN the fucking theme and it lets me click the fucking boxes? Am I like some lab monkey doing an ultimately fruitless colour-recognising behaviour test? And I don’t even get the treat when I do it right?

I thought that perhaps editing the CSS was the ‘Advanced design customisation’… like, for example, when you click this ‘Additional CSS’ bit in the customiser panel…

And a panel slides out and says this…

You see? I expect to pay extra for that because it just bloody tells me I’ll have to if I want it. But that doesn’t happen in the customised colour panels. Before I buy or after. It just… doesn’t work.”

(Just to be clear, I am still slightly paraphrasing the actual email exchange)

“Honestly, a Premium Plan is your best bet, Sir. It’s cheap at the moment, so it’ll only cost you £54.00 for a year instead of the £71.00.”

” But what if I don’t want to do a Premium plan next year at the full £84.00 price?”

“Then you’ll have to change to a different theme.”

“That’s why I wanted to own the theme. To protect against having to change it again.”

“Yes, that works, but you can’t use its custom colours unless you also have a Premium user account.”

“So, I don’t really OWN the theme, do I? All of the sales pitch is ‘look at what you can do with this‘ but nothing about the ‘but ONLY IF you have a better account than you currently have‘. I only own most of it. In fact, I don’t own it, I’m paying to use some of it, not the whole thing. Why don’t you make that more obvious in the theme info?”

“We do. Well, OK, it’s not actually in the theme info, we put this in the Plan features table.”

“Oh for fucks sake. This is not ‘Advanced’. I do this in free themes. Everyone who has a free account can. It’s clearly there when you can, not when you can’t.”

“There’s no need to use the f-word Sir.”

“I didn’t really, I’m paraphrasing this whole thing.”

“Oh, I see. Sorry.”

“Yes. What you actually said, after I made it clear that I had paid for the theme and didn’t really need all the Premium features and I wondered what would hypothetically happen if I did use the Premium anyway just to use the theme fully–and I asked you in two emails before but you never answered that point specifically so this was the simplest wording I could try again I think–was this…”

My question is – Can I then still keep my customised Opti theme as I’ve done for the Premium year, but change to Personal plan and keep it as it is, or do I have to revert to non-customisable default Opti (or even not use Opti at all) because I’m no longer a Premium user?

When you downgrade from Premium plan to Personal, then I am afraid the Opti theme would be switched back to a Free theme and you would need to setup another Free theme to your liking, as you cannot use Premium themes on Personal plan without purchasing them separately.

“But I DID purchase it separately! And I still can’t do what I want!”

Thank you very much for all the other suggestions that you have listed about making the purchasing/trying process a bit more obvious.

Best regards,

The other suggestions I made were polite and helpful.

Yes, they were.

So the options are;

Pay £71.00 to ‘own’ the theme. But you can’t use all of it. Until you also pay extra for that.
or
Pay £54.00 to use the theme ‘for free‘ (for a year), even if the rest of the features of the Plan are completely useless to you and it then goes up by 65% to £84.00 next year, even if the theme is all you want out of all the Premium bits again.

I’m not wishing to get something for nothing. I just can’t understand that if you are pricing an item and only offering it at a single price (i.e. regardless of user account status) why there should be a difference in that item’s functionality based on some other criteria that you don’t know first.
If it was Theme A – this much, then Theme A GTi Deluxe – a bit more, I’d understand.

Or, blank or disclaimer out the colour change option in the ‘Try and Customise’ to start with, so you’d know before you decide to purchase what the whole deal is.

But, as it stands, the implementation of theme Colour Customisation is a mess. Sometimes you can do it on free plans, sometimes you can’t, sometimes it tells you, sometimes it doesn’t. And in all of this, you have to find out if it does or doesn’t work as an Advanced or Basic feature of your theme by finding out if it does or doesn’t after you’ve spent money on it. Because, even if looking at the extra ‘detailed information’ about the different benefits of Plans, you would have no idea if your desired customisation comes under advanced on your chosen theme or not.

Anyway, you’ll have noticed that I reverted to the original Rowling theme because I was so irrationally hacked off by this whole thing I cancelled the Opti purchase and got a refund.

Although, if I’ve been calmed down by having a rant about it here now, and I’ve got over the trifling detail that the reason that it made me pissed off in any way was so absolutely trivial in the grand universal scheme of things–of only being able to use the blue colour for links instead of orange–you might be reading this in the Opti one because I’ve relented.

But at least I got a nice long post out of it that was fun to put together.


Thank you for visiting Scribblans today. Sorry it probably wasn’t very good.
This bit of text here used to be me wittering on and effectively begging you to share the post, but I have decided not to bother with all that for 2021. Most people ignore it anyway.