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omgwes

Paying for Skins

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I'm curious.  I've coded for a long time now, skinning mostly jcink and IF but some tumblr themes, zetaboards, etc. I've noticed there is a trend where skinners are offering skinning services for payment, mostly on tumblr or their own sites. I've seen them for anywhere from $60-200. So my question is... would you pay for a skin? If so, how much? Would you require it be fit to your specifications or a premade works? And also let me know which forum hosts you use, since the skins and what is required on them varies per host. 

Edited by omgwes

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I have---for a Jcink skin. We were moving the board from IPB to Jcink and I wanted to get our "feel" back as soon as we could. I wasn't in the headspace to code something up, and I've always been a touch snobbish when it comes to premade skins. Possibly because I go looking already having some sort of idea of what I want (and it doesn't exist, of course), or because I get colours in my head that no one else would bother making a skin out of, or because I fall in love with the same skins everyone falls in love with, and I quickly associate them with boards outside of mine.

 

Buying a skin means it's guaranteed unique, and usually coded better than anything I would have thrown together at the time. I don't regret the decision. 

 

It cost about $45 USD, and from there I gave the designer a rough idea of what colours and functionality I wanted. Some of this was based on skins she'd made previously, taking the features that I liked and combining it into a solution that worked for us. And it was excellent---the whole process was great.

 

I've gone back to coding my own, but if you don't have that ability/want something unique to your site, purchasing not the worst idea.

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I have considered it in the past for wordpress themes, simply because most of the ones that are pre-made all look like each other (and rarely fit the subject of the blog - they all have a corporate feel about them) and although I am confident in coding static webpages, I am not when it comes to blogs, forums and the like because of all the code that is needed to make it function. I did quite a lot of the changes for the theme on my forum, but they were mostly simple changes like adding images, changing the colours, adapting the side-bar and the affiliate tables at the bottom, but there have been times when I've been stumped because parts of the site stop working and as this was down to the functionality of it, I needed help with fixing it.

 

If you have the money and want to make that sort of investment in your forum because you are unable to code it yourself and there is no one who can help you for free, then go for it. The only reason I've not gone down that route is because I can't afford it. However, I wouldn't pay for a pre-made because other people may be using it and there is nearly always something in the skin that wouldn't make it right for your site. Another thing to take into account with pre-made skins is how much you can edit it and make changes to it - I doubt that a lot of developers would let you do that and I've seen some coders not liking it much if you make changes to free pre-mades. With free pre-mades, I prefer a template, rather than a skin because I have more freedom with editing it and making it fit the subject of my forum.

Edited by Icewolf

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I have mixed feelings about this. I understand that this RPG is a hobby and everything from premium to chatboxes all cost hard cash, now skins. It seems like it's becoming more and more expensive to sell your site.  Then the other side understands that it could be extra income. Someone took the time and learned how to code and getting payback from that of education is rational.  I'm torn at how I feel about it. I would honestly like to see more free skins being made since it has slowed down a lot since pay for skins have grown in popularity 

Edited by BETA BLUE

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I wouldn't pay for a skin.  Partially because I'm broke and partially because $60+ is way too expensive.  I mean, that skin better be able to do my taxes because I can't imagine spending that much for a skin.  If I bought a skin, I'd pay like $15, $20 max.  But if somebody's making me a really legit customized skin, that person should really be paid more than $20.

 

I don't blame people for buying/selling skins, though.  So many skins look alike these days, and they're becoming harder to code with all of the doo-dads and variability.

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I wouldn't, but it's something I enjoy doing myself so -shrugs-. I baulk at the idea of many of those paid skins though because the skins themselves aren't particularly responsive, so you're paying a lot of money for something that isn't accessible for everyone. 

 

I mean, you can get some sleek responsive themes for 30 bucks at Envato. Why would I pay up to 300 bucks for a product that probably isn't usable for everyone?

 

Now a custom made and functional theme is definitely worth the price. But a lot of what I've seen for sale is like, yeah it looks pretty. Kudos on creative design (honesty! I save those screen captures into my inspiration folder and wish I had half the creative skill). Shame about the functionality though!

 

Given all that, I appreciate why people want to buy themes. I also appreciate that some people want some return on this skill they took the time to learn. There's nothing wrong with that. I just wish that those coding for jcink in particular were not so lazy about it. "You can use jcinks mobile default" (and lose half the board information and functionality because it's not accessible from jcink's mobile version.)

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I would never pay for a skin. Some hobbies are meant to be free. You give me what you are good at, I'll give you what I am good at (writing, researching, patience for lists and things). No money should taint it.

 

I think paying for skins would work in other fields than RPGs. Where the website to be skinned is for a product/ service to be sold. There, investing money would make sense.

Edited by Elena

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I personally wouldn't pay for a skin but my co-admin and I have a pretty sweet thing going. He's into coding and I love all things graphical so it really works out for us both. I can understand how people do pay for them if they are exclusive to them and they really want to give their game that extra touch. As a member, I do like to see personality in a board rather than seeing the same skin on ten sites. I don't mind free skins either as long as you've done something to make it compliment your board better.

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Yes, I pay for skins and will continue paying for skins as long as the option is available to me. My choices as a loyal SMF user are limited. There are either the ugly ass free skins you can get on the SMF support site, there are the general looking themes that are made for pretty much your general forum, so discussion forums without certain functionalities and "bells and whistles" that are expected in a role-play forum, or there are premium/paid themes with extras and more innovation. Now, these themes typically run from 15-30 bucks, which to me is a fair price but they still are made with general themes in mind, not "Supernatural Small Town" or whatever.

 

However, as others have pointed out, IF I am going to pay for a theme, I'm going to pay for a custom one that is unique to my forum, even if it costs a little extra. 

 

That said, the fact that I've seen some JCINK skins going for upwards of THREE HUNDRED is mind-boggling. NO theme is worth that much but especially not one for a website you're not even hosting yourself. I don't like the lack of security that a host like that gives me. I just don't feel like it's really MINE. It feels more like it's borrowed and I don't want to pay money for that. 

 

But I think it's well worth the money to pay for custom work for my self-hosted sites. 

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I just recently got into this because we've decided to change our skin since I've started to loathe it. After looking at what was available for free I opted to look for skins I could buy or have commissioned. Most of the free JCINK skins out there are either ones that I don't think our board well at all or are ones I like, but they're using CFS instead of the HTML templates and after using HTML templates and seeing how easy they are to work with I will never go back. 

 

I found someone to commission our skin from, she is lovely and amazing and has so far finished our header and it is beautiful and the layout is absolutely perfect, everything I wanted and I didn't have to do any of the coding! lol. Sure, a couple things need to be tweaked like font size and she's fine to tweak those things. It's really awesome to be able to tell someone exactly what you want all the way from the header to the main profile and board stats and have them do it. 

 

The skins we've used so far have been free to use ones that we've had to change a lot to fit our needs and since it's one of the few skins with a dark theme that has been put out on the resource sites within the last year I see it everywhere. 

 

I've had all these ideas for what I would like in our skin and so far she's either brought those ideas to life or told me that doing them is no problem. We're paying 90€ ($105) for the skin - one of our mods graciously offered to pay for it and when we told the site about getting a skin commissioned other members wanted to donate towards the skin as well. 

 

I totally understand not wanting to pay for skins when there are free ones out there or you can code them yourself and I understand that RP is a hobby, but for me, I stare at my site for far too long every day to not absolutely love the skin. I will say that I agree that skins for $300 (i saw one when I was looking sell for $330) is kind of ridiculous. Especially since many of those skins that are that expensive aren't custom made specifically for you and are premades (they won't be sold again so you'll be the only one that has them, but they won't be completely customized to what you need/want). I understanding charging more if the client says they want all the things ever in their skin, but when I see skins being sold that people made to fit someone else's needs for a higher price than usual I don't feel like the person buying it got their money's worth since it wasn't custom for them. 

 

And as a last note: getting this skin made is like Christmas for me. I just got to see the header fully coded for the first time today and i actually feel like I've opened a present lol, so that feeling is always nice too :P

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It's weird to me to see the comments on this thread and be a bit concerned. I've been in school to learn graphic design and hence, web design so I know how to code full websites. That being said, skins are a whole other thing that most people don't seem to grasp are actually hard. Coding a website is very different from a skin because you have to learn essentially a new language to get that skin correct. Sure, you use html, css, javascript, jquery, etc. but you have to learn the software that skin exists on. It's a lot of time and effort that does deserve compensation. This is the same thing I see with art. People all want custom stuff but don't want to pay for it even though that artist put in a lot of work.

 

Yes, there are plenty of free skins and other resources such as a friend who is willing to code it. The trade off is that most of them will have bugs, the coder is not there to help you, and anyone else can use that skin. So even if you change some of the imagery, maybe a bit of the code, it's base structure is the same as another board using the same skin. 

 

What you pay for when you get a custom skin is the access to that coder to help you with anything that may break, someone who can fix something you broke, a layout that only you can use other than the coder for portfolio purposes, and request every little detail you want. Yes this costs money, but you're paying for someone who is educated in this area so they can provide the best service. They are spending time they could have been doing something else for money or their own sanity, but instead they are coding and probably cursing at the code because they missed a semi-colon or something broke. 

 

If you have a friend who does it, great. Make sure you tell them how much you appreciate it because it's honestly a chore sometimes to do these things. I did the coding for our external guidebook that had I not done it and we had to outsource it, the same quality would have easily been $800+ to do. There are over 5 custom layouts to fit the content, different headers and sub headers, things to note special comments, responsive design, etc. We paid to have our skin for our site done and we absolutely love it. The coder is such a sweetheart and also hosts the site. She put a lot of effort into the skin from mockups to fulfilling our every request (even if they were stupidity nitpicky) and generally being great. Would I recommend her? Always! 

 

This is what you pay for with a custom skin.

 

With jcink and other forums, there are a lot of resources and coders so it is easier to find someone to help you. We use mybb, which doesn't have as many coders. It's an interesting environment so the prices to get a custom skin are easily $200+. Again though, it's worth it with all the help you can get from the coder because the mybb coders I've met are amazing.

 

(Sorry for such a rant xD This is just something that hits closer to home.)

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