The buzz is real: Hyvä Themes does make a difference. Where many were disappointed with the Magento 2 frontend (which didn't change for half a decade), Hyvä took everyone by surprise with its clean performant frontend. And there is a charge: You need to pay for a license to get the code. Let's discuss whether this license fee is justified or not.
The price tag
A Hyvä Themes License is currently being sold for 1000 Euro per project. This is a hefty sum, compared to commercial Magento extensions that usually range from 5 Euro to 500 Euro. The usage limitation - having a license per project - is quite common. So it is mostly the price that stands out.
Many people have commented that they like the idea of Hyvä, but that they simply think the price is not worth out. Of course, everyone is able to have their own opinion. But if the only thing that holds you back from using Hyvä is the price, you need to make some calculations.
What do you get?
The question is what do you get with that license fee. In this, the comparison with other third party extensions is totally wrong: It is not an extension that you buy, it is a complete ecosystem. There are currently dozens extensions included. But that's still not the point.
The main value is that you get access to the ecosystem: A Slack space, GitLab sources, documentation. And support. Usually, commercial extensions offer this as well. But often, this support is only given for the functionality of the extension. If you - as a developer - are making modifications to the extension, the support stops. However, the support given by Hyvä is actually about this customization. Support covers both the out-of-the-box functionality and the customization.
If you realize that - when building a Magento project - most of your time is spent on customization (well, and troubleshooting bad extensions) then you realize that this Hyvä support system is enormous. For some, this is already well-worth the investment.
Still, this 1000 Euro could be a hefty sum. So let's see how you can win back this money.
The speed thing
With Hyvä, Tailwind and Alpine are used and because of this, all pages are simplified a lot - compared to the old Luma frontend. This gives you a much better performance. There are many talks within the Hyvä community about Lighthouse scores of 100. This might vary: Your geographical location, your device speed, the mood Google is in and the amount of tuning.
But that amount of tuning is where the difference lies: No more JS bundling, no more CSS minification, no more merging - Hyvä is out-of-the-box already faster than an optimized Luma theme. In other words, if you are delivering a Luma shop to your customer and that customer demands performance, I dare you to deliver a faster site with the same budget (where Luma has no license fee and where Hyvä does).
Tuning Luma is more costly than Hyvä
Let's put this differently: If you are trying to speed-up Luma, you have to implement RequireJS bundling (say, with Magepack), you have to manually skin down the CSS (perhaps throw away the LESS of Magento), you have to experiment with removing certain Knockout libraries (like IE6 residue, JS-based menus, JS-driven thumbnails).
This tuning requires time. Let's say your hourly rate is 20 Euro per hour. Then I dare you to do all of this is less than 50 hours. If you take more time or if your hourly rate is higher, then Hyvä could proof to be cheaper.
The commercial side of Magento Open Source
We have been living in a dream: Throughout all those years of using the open source (free) version of Magento, we have gotten the impression that Magento is free. That's not entirely the case: It is more like a sponsored package.
The core is shipped with numerous features plus dozens of third party extensions that you might actually not need. Vendors of such third party extensions (aka bundled extensions) actually pay a hefty fee for them to include their extensions in 10.000s of shops. Upselling to Adobe Commerce takes place. And certain vendors (like payment providers and tax services) use their extension as a freemium model. Big money is involved here.
With Hyvä, it is different. There are no big players involved (as of yet) that guarantee the product development without charging agencies. Instead, the agencies are simply being charged. Fair and simple.
The free stuff of Hyvä
Hyvä is not all commercial. There are various key extensions that are on GitHub: The React checkout, helper modules for the Hyvä frontend, Hyvä Admin. It shows that Hyvä is truely delivering back to the community.
Hyvä enables you
In short, I believe that the license fee is justified. It is steep. But if you are making money with delivering Magento projects, simply add this fee on top of this (if you don't have better ideas). Hyvä enables you to deliver faster shops - this should make up already for the license fee.
But there is more: Hyvä also enables you to become a happier developer. Working with Tailwind and Alpine is a delight compared to the Magento LESS and Knockout system. Hyvä is an ecosystem that you need to buy yourself into. But if you are honest about things: You were making money anyway with Magento. So this fee is about moving the money to where innovation is the biggest.
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About the author
Jisse Reitsma is the founder of Yireo, extension developer, developer trainer and 3x Magento Master. His passion is for technology and open source. And he loves talking as well.