Firstly, I absolutely agree about charging for cloud storage-related products. Cloud storage is insanely expensive, so you’ve definitely got my support on that front!
I’ll be the first to admit that I am no business expert. All I can give is my opinion based on my experience as a heavy PC user (14-18 hours a day for the better part of 37 years), a software engineer, and a UI/UX designer. Bearing all of that in mind…
The way I see it, you’ve got 3 types of users for software like Lunacy. First, you’ve got folks like me. We don’t like fluff. Anything that takes focus away from the task at hand is but an annoyance, and that can be frustrating. Take Adobe XD for example. In 99% of other vector based UI tools, if you click and drag to draw a shape, as soon as you release the mouse button, it should switch back to the move tool, however; in Adobe XD, this was not the case. It would just stay on the rectangle tool, and that was enough for me to get rid of it. It might not seem like much, but it’s an extra step in my process now that wasn’t there before. Instead of drawing the rectangle and being able to move it, or do whatever I want, now I have to draw it, and then either hit another hotkey or use the mouse to switch to the move tool and then I can do what I was going to do. That is silly, especially for a UI/UX tool. Everyone in the UI/UX world knows that the goal is to make the experience as painless as possible, whatever it may be. In a lot of cases, that’s eliminating as many clicks as possible. If there is a way to do something in 1 or 2 clicks, don’t make it take 3 or 4.
The second type is just your more casual user. They’re not really a UI/UX designer or graphic designer. Maybe they just use it seldomly to create simple graphics for work presentations or updating icons for their website. They might buy something related to the software if it’s a one-time purchase, but usually not, and they definitely won’t buy a subscription simply due to the fact they don’t use it enough.
And the third, and last type is the UI/UX/graphic designer who focuses primarily on speed, and isn’t concerned with creating everything from scratch if they don’t have to. I feel like these are the types who will happily purchase a subscription for icons, photos, fonts, and more if it can save them time.
So, for now, let’s refer to these 3 types as A, B and C (in the order they’re mentioned).
I believe you guys can ignore B. They’re really not your target demo. But A and C are perfect if the model is right.
C is already going to purchase a Lunacy subscription considering the amount of assets it makes available to them, which allows them to save time. But A (my category), there has to be really good value for that to even be a consideration. Me, personally? I don’t care to buy a subscription for access to icons and photos. The free resources on the web (Pexels, Heroicons, etc) are plenty for me in that regard. Not to mention, the application would have to be perfect before I’d get a subscription.
Lunacy has about 4-5 things off the top of my head that would keep me from buying one (if I was going to). The biggest being it’s still (even in the beta) so choppy when panning around. Figma and Sketch are both smooth as ice, but Lunacy isn’t there yet. Also, the fact the outlines don’t disappear when tweaking layer properties, which makes it really hard to see what a shadow or border looks like without deselecting the layer, looking at it, tweaking it, deselecting, rinse and repeat. There are definitely more things that make me feel Lunacy isn’t ready for primetime yet.
But let’s say it was. All the bugs are fixed, and all of the features I want are there. You’re still not going to get a subscription out of me. One, because most of us have way too damn many of them as it is. It’s tough to justify another one, especially for a piece of software that isn’t up-to-par with the current standard (Figma, in this case). Two, because Lunacy’s subscription model is confusing. I shared a screenshot showing it was $30 a month for me, but then someone on the Lunacy team told me it was $19.99, but then there’s the other subscription if you want to have a team account. Then there is the issue of keeping projects organized, which you can’t really do without a cloud subscription because you can only create cloud-based files in the Projects section, otherwise when you create local files, you’re relegated to using the file system (which is fine, but it’d be nice to keep everything concise). Seeing the Upscale Image or Vectorize buttons popup every time I click on certain elements drives me nuts, because I don’t want those features, but I can’t disable them. The Icon packs, images, vector illustrations, and ready-made UI kits are of no interest to me, but I can’t turn those off, either. Yes, I know I can just ignore them by not clicking them, but they’re “still” there, taking up UI space, taking up space in my brain, taking up memory.
So, I’ve ranted about why I hate subscriptions, and why certain types of folks won’t use them either. So, does that mean I hate paying for software? Absolutely not. As a matter of fact, I love paying for software, because supporting the people who took the time to build these wonderful tools deserve it, 100%. Which is why if Lunacy offered a one-time payment option which included some other features, I’d buy it in a heartbeat. Lunacy Pro. It could offer more UI customization (let me turn off the Upscale Image, Vectorize, Icons, Photos, Illustrations, Ready-made UI kits AND the Share buttons so I never have to seem them again, access to dev builds to test new features, uhh… not really sure what else could go in there yet. But it’d be like Serif. I bought the Affinity Universal License, $169.99, and got Designer 2, Photo 2, and Publisher 2, plus the iPad versions, which allowed me to get rid of Adobe’s $20/month for Photoshop and Lightroom. Serif will still make money from people who bought the Universal license, because they sell brush sets and addons. The addons are all one-time purchase extras, and while some of them are simply brushes or stock photos, others are really useful like shadow generators, or illustration generators. They’re basically new tools within the tool to help augment each other.
I have one last example of why I can’t stand subscriptions (I mean, I have 1000 more, but my fingers are getting tired). I also produce music, and have for the past 20 or so years. Recently, a lot of software companies that produce music-related software and plugins have began going the subscription route. The problem is, let’s say I subscribe to a plugin but I only need it for 1 or 2 songs. I produce those 1 or 2 songs, release them, and cancel the subscription. Not a big deal, right? Well, now it’s a year later and the record label wants me to create a remix album. So, I go and load up the old projects and boom, nothing’s working. Because I have a project that now relies on an active subscription to exist, the project is all jacked up. Maybe the company doesn’t even exist anymore and the activation servers for the subscription are gone, so even if I wanted to re-up it, I couldn’t. That entire project is toast.
Phew, okay. I’ve typed enough, and I have no idea if any of this is helpful. I didn’t wanna just type out a one-paragraph reply as this is a topic I’m highly interested in. As someone who opposes companies who implement subscriptions for literally everything (I know you guys don’t do that, I’m simply referring to those who do), I’d love to work with companies to help find a way to use them less often. I’m not alone in my disdain towards them, either. I know plenty of folks who’d happily buy software outright if that was an option. With Lunacy, I understand it’s trickier because what kind of features could you offer to make a pro verison? Besides the UI stuff I mentioned earlier, I definitely believe it’d be a tricky task, but one I still think is worth exploring.
Anyway, as usual, thank you for creating Lunacy. It’s a wonderful piece of kit, and I do look forward to watching it evolve. And also, thank you for the open-dialogue about it, and not being too overly protective or taking offense to any criticisms, as they all come from a place of love. I definitely want to be able to use the best UI tool available, and I’m sure you guys want to build the best UI tool available, so our goal is the same.
Have a lovely rest of your weekend.