In a few short years, dot-com will be a quaint throwback referring to a couple of economic booms, and not something to indicate a web site. Like the Great War -- everybody now calls it World War 1, since we've had another great war... Why? Because the floodgates are about to open on domain names, and so we're about to see the rise of dot bike, dot plumbing, dot gifts, and even dot dentist.
It goes something like this:
(Client): I want to add a shopping cart to my site. I heard that xyz cart is free, can you add that for me?
(Developer): Sure! That looks easy.
(Months and a couple thousand dollars later): Okay, I think it finally works, and is all hooked up, ready to go. I put an SSL certificate on your $15/month GoDaddy account and so now you're all safe and secure.
(Client): Great! I'll just check all the boxes on this PCI questionnaire and we're in business!
A few orders come in here and there, and all seems fine. At first.
Whether you realize it or not, you're doing CRM already. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has become a hot buzzword that all kinds of businesses desperately want. I think the perception is that a CRM will somehow magically bring in sales, coordinate sponsors, manage members, fix your business.
There is no magic here, only hard work.
What are the results you are trying to achieve? How can your web site help you get those results? These are a couple of questions we're starting to ask all our clients, and what we're finding often reveals some very easy things we can do to drive more results, quickly and easily.
There's a few problems with setting up shop on the web. All of your competitors are right next door. You're in the worst neighborhood, with crooks inventing new tools to break in every day. That parking lot you just built now has to accommodate scooters and semi trucks. Your customers now expect perfect service, or they will just go next door. And there's a guy standing with a bullhorn next to you drowning out everything you say announcing prescription drugs for sale and windfalls from African dictators and widows.
Software is expensive because it is irrational and difficult to build. More than 70 years of mostly-failed software projects evidence this fact. Face it, and your chances for success will dramatically improve. Any client worth working with will accept this, any client who doesn't will pay through the nose when some snake-oil peddling, imprudent shop promises the world and delivers them only mud, budget woes, and unstable time lines. DON'T be that shop; the world has enough of them already. Over time, the world gets wise to who they are.
Results. Return On Investment. Value. How do you measure these things in a website? There's one thing you can easily measure -- cost. Or at least the amount you actually spend to build and maintain a site. The others are far more troublesome to measure.
What are the guiding principles you use to make decisions? Over the past few months, as the Freelock team has grown, I've been spending more time on strategy, while delegating more and more of the day-to-day work to my team. To get us all working more effectively together, I needed to answer that question.
The more I dig into the decision-making process, the more I spend time on planning, the more I have found four key principles emerging that underly most of our business decisions.
Not 4 hours after posting my most recent blog stressing the importance of setting up systems with disaster recovery in mind, fate stepped up and thwacked me. "Oh yeah, think you're so resilient? How about I take down that critical LAN server you haven't upgraded?"
Yes, it's true. While we have really good recovery plans for all our production web servers and sites, we still have two legacy systems that we are not set up to quickly replace.
Well, that's one now. One just failed.
Freelock has a deep bench in all things Drupal, but beyond the technical skills they also offer the much-appreciated ability to ask the right questions, articulate issues, and offer strong solutions. They were a true partner that went the extra mile amidst shifting priorities and deadlines. I look forward to a continued working relationship with the team at Freelock.UW Center for Reinventing Public Education