Twitter Bootstrap, a framework for quickly developing front-end web interfaces, has permanently changed the way web applications are built. Not surprisingly, in the few months that Bootstrap has been available, it has risen to become the most popular repository on Github of all-time. As such, it’s only expected that a cottage industry is about to emerge from this: twitter bootstrap themes.
How It Will Happen
Yesterday while grabbing coffee, Paul McKellar, entrepreneur in residence at SVAngel, presented a great idea when I brought up the concept of Twitter bootstrap themes: serving up CSS files on a per-request basis. It’s a model that Typekit has been using for a while now: charge people based on the number of pageviews they get to their site. It’s a significant contrast to Wordpress Themes which have historically been priced on a per theme basis.
Clearly Wordpress themes have a much greater audience: millions of people use wordpress to power their blogging activity. However there are countless startups that are using Twitter Bootstrap as a quick way to get up and running without having to wait on a design team. Take Swole.me as an example. I found them through Twitter last night and immediately recognized the design. If you want to know other sites that leverage Twitter Bootstrap, you can check out this blog which is dedicated to covering all the sites built with the framework.
By charging on a pageview basis, theme creators could quickly start generating revenue without much risk to the developers who simply want to get ideas out there. Obviously there’s always the opportunity to charge a flat-fee, but this market is not yet as large as wordpress. I wouldn’t be surprised if it became just as large though: developers and hobbyists are the ones responsible for the success of Wordpress.
The market is definitely similar: people who want to quickly get a nice-looking site up and running without a lot of configuration. Granted, Bootstrap doesn’t exactly have a powerful back-end to power their system but that’s also the beauty of the product. With the rapid adoption of Twitter Bootstrap, I’m willing to make a significant wager that we’ll see a emergence of a cottage industry built around Twitter Bootstrap themes.