We Built A Responsive Web Design Framework, But It’s Not For Sale.

By Monday September 30th, 2013

Licensing Leverage, our responsive web developer framework and CMS, is tempting. We've considered it for over a year, and even planned pricing models and started writing full documentation. However, we decided that the product is more valuable to us and our clients if it stays in house. We built it for us, and it's staying that way for now.

Leverage, our developer framework and CMS, is not available to the public. Let me explain why.

The early days…

Back in 2006 we would build websites from scratch, doing the same tasks over and over again for every client. We were creating a custom CMS from scratch for every site, too. Eventually we decided that the CMS should at least have a consistent look and feel for all clients. So, we decided to give the CMS a name. We called it the Brolik Dashboard.

It stayed that way for almost three years. We built custom sites for every client with a custom CMS delivered as the Brolik Dashboard.

This thing is powerful, but what is it?

We asked ourselves this question a lot. Is it a CMS? A framework? A platform? Eventually, it became clear. We were creating a developer framework with a “built-in” CMS. It was finally making sense and was saving us time on every website.

In 2012 we said goodbye to the Brolik Dashboard. Our product deserved a better name and brand, and we felt that it was time to give it a life of its own. We developed Leverage CMS which, to our knowledge, is the most flexible and responsive developer framework and CMS out there.


The reason we built Leverage…

We built it for us. There was no other platform or CMS that gave us the flexibility and responsiveness we wanted to deliver to our clients. The whole thing happened organically, and we’re thankful for that.

Dozens of our clients use Leverage. Larger companies like Everlast and Alex’s Lemonade Stand use Leverage. Smaller companies like Cheng Crowns, Upstage Video and Monster Math Club use Leverage, too. Our website, Brolik.com, is also built and managed through Leverage.

Launching Leverage

For over a year now we’ve been talking about launching Leverage to the public for a licensing fee. How exciting- an agency that offers products too. The truth is, Leverage is better in the hands of our team. We built it to serve our developers, to streamline our process, and to make websites better. Leverage (the CMS part) is just a bonus for our clients.

We’ve had developers and other small agencies ask to license Leverage. We considered and actually started planning for a public launch, but the answer for now is a confident “no.” We tried to bottle up and standardize everything for everyone, instead of focusing on adding the features and functionality that would empower Brolik and our clients.

We don’t “sell” Leverage.

We don’t license it to developers, either. It’s not open source. We built a product that doesn’t easily scale. Why? Well, by licensing Leverage, we are becoming a product company, and we currently make our money as a service-based agency. Paul Graham explains it well in his essay, Do Things That Don’t Scale. This approach helps us focus on growing our core business.

We will not water down the product that makes us strong and efficient so that we can offer a one-size-fits-all version to the public. That would break the precedent that Leverage was built on. Not to mention, it would weaken the product.

As crazy as it sounds, we’re not shipping it.

Leverage will stay a powerful platform that helps us grow our core business.

We may not reach thousands of customers, but we’re going to make a few hundred of our clients happy and profitable in the coming years.

Learn more about Leverage CMS, or contact us for more information.

You can also read A Guide to Leverage’s Top jQuery Plugins.

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About the Author

Jason is co-founder and CEO of Brolik, a digital agency in Philadelphia. As an entrepreneur, Jason is passionate about helping other business owners navigate the complicated journey of owning a business and developing marketing strategies to grow their brand.
Follow @jaybrew on Twitter or connect with Jason on LinkedIn or Google+