Friday, April 1, 2011

Usage-Based vs Feature-Based Billing

Ever since I started the WunderCounter, I've struggled with finding a pricing structure which is easy to understand and which is also fair to everyone who uses the site. One thing which I've tried to avoid, is making the billing anything like getting a cell phone plan. Any time I've dealt with mobile providers, I've always been confused about the different plans, how any one is better and what I'd actually be billed for at the end of the day. For this reason, the WunderCounter doesn't offer a lot of different plans. For the most part, I think it has been okay, but I'm not 100% happy with it.

The main problem is that there are too many differences between the different account types. They all have different features, different amounts of data returned in reports and data on file for different lengths of time (2 days, 1 week, 6 months etc). It's difficult for new users to get an idea of which plan is best for them. On the server side, it's a hassle to have to enforce an elaborate permissions system to make sure that person X cannot access report Y. I don't think it needs to be that way.

So, this is just a heads-up that I'm planning to move the WunderCounter from its current feature-based plan to a usage-based plan. The migration from your current account to the new account will be seamless. You will not see any downgrade in features. In every case it will mean you get the either the same features or additional features.

This will also mean that you'll no longer be left wondering which reports you have access to, as it should be generally the same across the board for all accounts. There will still be a few differences between account types, but generally it will be based on usage. By usage, I mean how many hits/day your account will be able to track.

The idea is that if you're using the WunderCounter for a personal site which gets maybe 500 hits/day, you won't be forced to pay as much as someone who is getting 5,000 hits/day. You'll still have the option of a larger account which can track more data if you need it to, but you will be given the more affordable option as well, without trading off on available reports etc.

This means that if you use the WunderCounter more, you pay a bit more. If you use it less, you pay a bit less. Cool features get released to everyone at the same time and you can all give me your feedback at the same time.

This will also likely mean the end of free trial accounts. The free trials will be replaced by a more fully-featured free account which will have a very low usage limit. The idea is that you can now test out the free account for as long as you like before upgrading to a paid account. That removes the need for new users to have to evaluate the whole system over just 14 days and it also deals with the cheapskates who continually try to cancel free trials and sign up for a new trial period every 14 days. ;) (Cheapskates, I know who you are and, for the most part, I haven't tried to stop you, since you have been a source of amusement.)

There's a lot of history behind this decision and I've given it a lot of thought. I may lay it out in more detail if I get the time, but this is just a heads-up to let you know to expect some (very good) changes going forward. As always, let me know what you think.

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