A colleague and I recently had a discussion around this question: What is the possibility of white-labeling WordPress to brand it as our own?
This is a great plugin and I think it definitely adds a nice touch to a client’s admin panel, making them feel it’s customized for them. I also like how it has an option for “Hide the nag update” which is great because it disables the “You are using WP version 3.x, please update to the latest version” which tends to throw clients into a tizzy. Using this plugin for this purpose adds an extra little step in the WordPress setup, but I think it goes a long way and is well worth the added effort.
Can you use this plugin to white-label WordPress and SELL it as your own CMS?
I don’t think the creators of this plugin made it for firms to be able to charge for WordPress. This sounds excellent in theory, but I myself am very hesitant to charge for WordPress (other than for the time it takes to install, customize, teach, support—basically all the things surrounding this from a professional standpoint). You could very easily create a “package” which says to your clients you provide a CMS and 1-2 hours of support a month, teamed with SEO and updates, etc. But I’m not sure if you would want to charge for the CMS itself.
One of the beauties of any other white-label CMS platform such as Light CMS is the ability for web designers to manage client web sites and provide a service by doing so. It all runs through the service provider, so the client gets what he or she wants, and the designer has a way of providing a hosted, CMS solution. There’s also the issue of recurring billing (automatically billing your client monthly) which you would need to setup on your own if you white-labeled WordPress. The ability to charge whatever you wanted to your clients on something that costs only you or your developer time would probably justify this.
Is white-labeling and charging for WordPress even ethical?
An important question arises of the legality of doing this. As one of the comments in this post asks: “Is it even legal to white-label WordPress as your own system?” Afterall, it’s an open-source, “free” platform with contributors from all around the world. One can’t really say it’s “his/hers” and charge for it if he/she didn’t even really create the product. I can understand an entity charging for a plugin or theme they created for WordPress, because their development time would then be compensated and the plugin/theme meets a demand people are willing to pay for. WordPress is openly “free” to install, so without any notion of what the client is getting on top of WordPress (such as support, version control, backup, updates, etc.) I don’t really see an ethical way to charge for WordPress. However, I do see a service charge for the installation and the previously mentioned service add-ons to be completely within reason for development fees. And furthermore, I’d rather be straight-forward with clients—letting them know exactly what they are getting and educating them about WordPress pros and cons.
The verdict is still out on being able to totally white-label WordPress. Beyond my issue of “charging” clients for WordPress, I think this idea is superb for white-labeling WordPress from a branding standpoint. Clients could know their CMS is tried-and-true WordPress, while this plugin gives the service provider the ability to “brand” it as their own, presenting a customized feel and more professional service than the typical WordPress installation. All in all, it makes for a more professional look and feel for both the designer and the client.
Do you have a question or comment on white-labeling WordPress as your own CMS? Any other plugins you have tried or heard about? Leave a comment!