Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Website in a Can

Let's say you run a small business, or maybe a small organization. You have decided that you must have a web site, and perhaps you have one already. If you look at the cost of building a site, it may be well outside your budget. As an example, I will use the official website for the town of Milford New Jersey. I know that Milford is a small town, but frankly this is just embarassing.

So let's state the problem. You need a website, but you can't afford a very good one.

So let me make a proposal. What if a hosted site could be provided, and a very reasonable fee, and included the following features.

  • A highly configurable blog.
  • RSS feeds for not only the blog, but podcasts as well.
  • Two dozen pre-build page templates.
  • Build as many template based pages as you need.
  • Calender tool, add upcoming events to any page.
  • User personalization tools (user login, preference settings).
  • Password protected pages.
  • Mailer forms (sales request, support request, etc).
  • Page tracking plug-in via Google Analytics, Omniture, or Web-Trends.
  • Online polls.
  • Image optimization tools (for those without the tools).
  • Photo gallery.
  • Design support at hourly rate (for custom templates, graphics work).
Now lets add in those things that you don't need to worry about since you aren't hosting the site yourself.
  • Application, site, and database monitoring.
  • OS and application patching.
  • Free upgrades.
How much would you pay for such a service? I'm not sure what the answer is, but I think that it would be possible to build a hosted application which would solve 95% of the needs for a small business at 5% of the cost.

What if you added to the list of canned applications. Perhaps you could add applications that you might find in an Intranet. Would you be willing to outsource your intranet? What if the applications could be run as a remote web service?

These are open questions. I have no answers.

Do-it-yourself Software Services
Retailers buy into hosted applications
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've actually seen something like this for sites specifically for real estate brokerages. It's so long ago that I can't remember the URL-- at least 5 years ago now-- but it was quite slick... reasonably flexible/tailorable, modules you could pay for individually, a total cost around $100 per month for a very richly configured site (i.e. with lots of useful functionality for real estate selling/buying, contact management, lead capturing, interfaces to the MLS, etc., not "with flaming animated logos and lots of blink tags")...

I think you could do this on a reasonably domain-specific basis, i.e. "sites for amateur sports teams/leagues", "sites for publishing online magazines", "sites for small retail shops", etc. though I think to do it for a general case would be much harder because you can't figure out just the right use cases if you don't know enough about what the site is for.