I'm gearing up to launch a new venture called ResponsiveCampus, a premium Wordpress theme aimed at college universities looking to either get their foot in the door with Wordpress or redesign an existing website.
For the past two years I have been busy redesigning my universities website, and had the benefit of being in the unique position of being a current student. Because of how many hoops have to be cleared to get anything to officially go live, the waiting period (of nearly a year) allowed me to make many changes and continue to fine tune my work. At the beginning of this year I vowed to focus on responsive design in my freelance work, and a few months back I re-wrote the university templates to be completely responsive.
I've since had the idea of stripping out all university branded assets and building a backend customization panel. I would then package this up as two themes (a parent and a child) with advanced features and full customization options to act as a starting point for colleges.
It is priced fairly expensively when compared to your standard wordpress premium theme, but the idea is that the theme more than pays itself back in "time and resources saved.". What I've learned from working in a university web & communications department for two years is that they are typically understaffed and field way too many requests from each individual department wanting this or that on their sites. By providing campus web departments a working base to which build upon (while maintaining a responsive theme) I feel as though I will improve the hectic lives of web directors.
Schools have big budgets, and the amount of work (4 themes, countless revisions, etc) that I did for my university would have ran them five figures easily -- no where near my measly "student developer" pay. With big budgets but limited resources in terms of time and staff, my hope is that the Responsive Campus framework can do big things at schools around the country.
So now it comes down to it -- will the product sell? The idea came to me yesterday and I spent 10 hours or so putting together the portal today -- rushing to buy the domain and everything -- before considering how truly viable the project is. I'm a fresh college graduate looking to pay off my tuition bills and start enjoying some success - so I really can't put too much effort into a project if it is meant to fail. I believe that there is a market for this -- although my price point may need adjusting (although I believe it is fair).
I need to make a decision before spending a few days building up the final template and backend panel. Please feel free to share your thoughts.
I doubt it. Around here several departments have their own IT / web development teams and some of them use Wordpress, many use Drupal, and others have custom solutions, and thats not going to change soon or ever. When the university finally got around to having their site redesigned they had styles made for nearly every use case, multiple layout variations, and then had templates made for plain PHP, Wordpress, Drupal, and Dreamweaver.