An excellent presentation that might help you encourage signups in your next social web app.
As many of you know, I built a web-based CMS. While my product is aimed mostly at people with an existing site, I recently did some research on web-based site builders, aimed at new sites, and wanted to share my findings with the Brainfuel faithful. I found 4 products and they all look great, especially for those occasions when you need to whip a site up quickly.
This is my favorite of the bunch. It’s not free. Pricing starts at $8 per month. That’s what a lot of us pay for shared hosting, so it’s pretty reasonable. This system is very user friendly and the menus and dialogs are very Applesque. One of their claims to fame is that Kevin Rose uses it. They also feature some really nice designs.
Brightegg is also a paid service (they do offer a free package) with pricing starting at $19 per month. If you happen to be a designer, they have a program where you can make money by submitting your designs. Another great thing about Brightegg is that they have a private label service.
These are all great products and for canned websites, they have some very impressive designs and features. For free or for the cost of hosting, you can slap nice site together in minutes.
As some of you may know, I launched a new, simple cms system yesterday called Clover Content. I thought you might be interested in understanding why I spent the last year developing yet another cms.
There’s a real problem with content management systems. I’m not talking about the big enterprise platforms. I’m talking about the basic content management software that simple web sites need and use. They often do too much. That’s right. Modern content management software does too much.
For example, I have a friend with a pretty average technical acumen. This friend needed a simple website for an organization that he had started and I, being a web nerd, decided to help him set up a site. So we did the usual. I went to Godaddy and bought a suitable domain along with a basic Linux hosting account, while he stared over my shoulder in wonder. I found a template for his site and we paid a fair price for a nice pre-made design. So the next step was to get him up and running with a cms so he could manage all of his content without needing any further assistance from me.
My first instinct was to go with Drupal. I have tooled around with Drupal in the past and it has a good reputation among the web-savvy. So I installed Drupal, started configuring the site and I soon realized, this is way more functionality and configuration than my friend needs. Not to mention, it’s way more than he can handle. A little time with Joomla presented the same dilemma. These systems have too much complexity; too much functionality; too much configuration. Not only that, but working with the template frameworks of these systems was going to be a nightmare. Remember, I already spent some money on a pre-made template for this site. I was going to have to make the template fit the cms. Not fun.
So, with all these issues before me, I realized why so many developers end up rolling their own cms system. It’s because what’s out there is more than a simple site needs. A simple website needs a simple cms. Don’t get me wrong, Drupal, Joomla, Worpress and the like are all great systems and they have their markets, but often they are more complex than necessary for small sites. Another major issue with the standard content management system is the need to have a database running on your server and the need to install software. It’s always a problem to have to patch your cms because of some update, or deal with setting up a database to run your cms.
Just like software is moving more and more from the desktop to the cloud, it seems advantageous that server based systems might do the same. Instead of installing 10 versions of WordPress on the sites of 10 of your clients, on 10 different servers (all separate, all requiring maintenance), why not host your content in a central location? This way all of your client’s content is in one place and there are no software installations or databases to maintain. Centralizing content makes good sense. Using a CMS as a services makes good sense.
I realize there are lots (thousands) of content management systems out there and there’s no one system that’s right for everyone, but I think that Clover Content is right for most small sites and for people who manage a lot of sites for clients. Anyway, that’s why I boostrapped this startup and entered the arena. Let me know what you think.
I’m a fan of top 5 lists. Top 10 lists are even better, but this is a top 91 list of resources to make you a better programmer. You’d think there would be 9 more to make it an even 100. Come to think of it, it’s really bugging me now, kind of like when someone pulls their food out of the microwave early and leaves a few seconds on the digital display.
The internet has really opened up opportunities for self-teaching. Many great web developers have never so much as set foot into a college IT course (myself included) but instead, out of interest or necessity, learned to sling HTML, PHP, or whatever else, on their own.
Big thick tech books used to be my first step when learning a new technology, but where do you go once you understand the basics and you need a little help? Usually it’s Google searches that lead to discussion forums that require lot’s of weeding through bad answers and long threads. But recently some new resources have become available for developers who need a little help.
It’s always nice to have a forum you can go to when you run into a tough spot while developing software. Well, now that Stack Overflow launched (a few months back), developers can submit questions to a huge group of fellow coders. The suggestions are rated and the best answer rises to the top so you don’t have to dig through a ton of wrong answers to find the right one. It’s a great way to get answers and help others who are in need by sharing your expertise.
Refactor My Code
Have you ever wished you had a second set of eyes to look over some questionable code you cobbled together? Refactor My Code allows developers to submit code samples to other developers to have them critiqued and optimized. This is a great resource when you’re new to a language or platform and you just need a few pointers in highly specific situations.
Microsoft has introduced a new program for early stage startups called BizSpark. The goal of the program is to help get broke starups the tools they need to develop and deploy their software.
There are a few requirements to enroll in the program: Your startup has to be younger than 3 years old, make less than $1 million per year in revenue, be web-based, and you must be enrolled by a network partner.
For an early stage startup with little cash, this is a great way to get full access to Microsoft development tools and server software. You can even use things like SQL Server in your hosted, production environment under the program, which goes a long way if you use their database.
I found a local network provider to give me enrollment access and I’m really impressed with how much software is available. It’s no joke. You pretty much get everything Microsoft offers for free. So, if you’re like me and you use the Microsoft .Net platform for your startup (even if you don’t), check out BizSpark to help you get off the ground.
If you need a quick Flash widget or effect and don’t have the time to make one, check out the Flash for sale on FlashDen.