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7 Reasons to Hire a Local Webdesigner

I thought I wrote about this before but I can’t seem to currently find the post. A bunch of chiropractors were gathered around my ubuntu running laptop a few days ago and someone asked me the question I’ve been asked some thousand plus times before. Who should I hire to build my website? My first response is always “don’t hire me” because I’m far too busy doing other things (like making posts about cheeseburgers). For those of you non chiropractors that have ended up here seeking local webdesigner advice this will likely be helpful to you as well (especially if you run a local small business).

Seven Reasons to Hire a Local Webdesigner

  1. They are local: This may seem all too obvious but it’s number one for a reason. I’ve done outsourced websites (built in other countries or at least not made locally) and you may have heard stories of how much money you can save by doing so. After having several websites created I can say that the potential savings are just not worth it for the individual or small business when creating a single web site. Going local is nice because you get to meet the person you’re working with. They can come to your office and you can potentially visit their office.
  2. They know your community: Assuming your web designer has lived in your community for some time they should have a good understanding of the neighborhood. This is something that’s often overlooked but it’s become really important for small businesses hoping to capture the local search market. It’s my experience that your local web designer is going to be more familiar with things like zip codes, major landmarks, neighboring cities, and will generally have a better feel for the geographic area your business serves.
  3. It’s easy to check referrals: Hopefully your local web designer has already completed other projects in your community. Not only can you check out those projects online (like you could in nearly any case) but you can also visit the local businesses that employed your potential web designers services and ask what they thought about the experience. Nice way to network too.
  4. Promoting your business locally off-line: (this one’s really valuable) Chances are your local web designer is going to want to show off what a great job they did on your web site. You’ll potentially be the small-business owner that people will desire to visit when the topic of referrals comes up. In my experience it never hurts to get face-to-face with more local business people, even if it is to discuss websites. Think outside the box for a moment here and imagine the possibilities if you and some of your local business buddies linked to each other’s websites. (that’s really an online idea but it works better if you ask local business owners off-line)
  5. Promoting your business locally online: It’s likely your local web designer has their own website (and I bet they have more inbound links than your website) and they’ll probably want to display a screenshot of your web site along with a link to show examples for future clients. That’s a big plus for you since they are delivering you local traffic!
  6. You are supporting your local community: You can electronically transfer your funds overseas or waste huge amounts of money on companies providing cookie-cutter template type sites for your industry or you can support a local, talented, artistic and often times independent web designer. “Made in [Your City]” adds a neat touch to a local site. I can tell you right now the outsourced project is not likely to provide you with any links and worse, the company giving you a template will likely suck your pages right out of search engine rankings by keyword linking back to their main web site (without telling you they’re doing so).
  7. They have other valuable ideas: Your local web designer is likely to know at least a little bit about search engine optimization. If they don’t (and even if they do) they’ll probably have better local connections for other Internet related services then some non-personal company. They could potentially become a resource for you when it comes to other topics such as e-mail newsletters, calendars, online promotions, web site updates, photo accounts, and a number of other areas web designers are typically knowledgeable of.

OK, there are my seven reasons to hire local web designer. If you have more feel free to post your comments. Local web designers, you are welcome to use this article as long as you provide a full follow link to it.

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Open Source Software – Opportunities and Challenges

I participated in an Open Source seminar graced by some experts in the field and it helped me visualize the emerging opportunities in this field.

First, let us see how the field looks today. Open Source software projects started as community endeavors or by individuals who pioneered to solve problems on their own. The source code is shipped to the public and anyone who wanted to use it needs to adhere to simple licensing agreements. Best of all, the licenses are commercially free. The earlier companies took advantage of the licensing model and started selling subscription on a commercial basis. Linux is one of the earliest open source project commercially supported by companies like Redhat, SuSe etc. If you look at the landscape today, you will find many companies providing support for open source software packages and infrastructure tools.

Future Trend

Now let us analyze the future trends in open source. The emerging market is clearly towards Applications and Solutions built on open source platform. There are already a few players in this segment and many new entrants are coming in. As the acceptance and support for open source grows in the commercial segments, the demand for such applications will only go up. When we look at the software delivery model, there is a clear trend in providing software as a service. From the torch bearer, SalesForce.com to smaller players in the e-commerce industry, many companies have started delivering their software on demand. Being on a hosted platform help the end customers to reduce overheads, resources and switch between players without much issues. Couple open source with SAAS and you have potential dynamite. This combination would change how software is developed, delivered and consumed. I see endless possibilities here.

Let me try to paint this scenario. You can pick up some open source project to build a solution addressing a specific vertical and deliver it as an on demand service. All you need to do is to develop technical/domain expertise and support your customers who subscribe to your services. You save a lot of money for your customers by saving expensive commercial software licenses and a hardware/network platform. In addition, think of the huge maintenance cost because of ‘owning’ these assets.

Revenue model

Right now, the adoption rate of the open source model is very limited. Moreover, there are not many applications/solutions available in this space. Since the earnings for a new company entering into this field is limited only to the subscription, the revenue stream is not very attractive. The deal size may probably in the range of $10 to 50 k. Therefore the onus is on increasing the number of customers i.e. volume. If we are considering a SAAS delivery model here, scalability will not be an issue.

Challenges

When you talk to someone who have used open source within their enterprise or for development, you will come across the usual complaints. Bugs, Lack of proper support, Security issues and undefined product roadmap. They are the key issues in the open source software domain. Some of the successful vendors are trying to take out the uncertainties through commercial subscription model. The open source software needs to go a long way before getting the proper attention and respect in their customers mind.

Opportunities

I am of the kind who believes that there are many opportunities when you hear ‘problems’ or ‘issues’. It means potential opportunities for an entrepreneur. Most of the issues mentioned here are classical issues when the software industry was born. Some of the early software entrepreneurs took advantage of those challenges and turned them into successful ventures. In the global economy, collaboration, global markets, lean companies and geographically dispersed resources are a fact. In addition, open source projects have the ability to make use of these factors to their advantage.

In spite of the challenges and the growth pains faced by open source projects, it has all the potential to grow into a commercially viable, highly flexible approach to software development and delivery. For this very reason, it provides many opportunities for an entrepreneur to reap the rewards. It is a rewarding opportunity waiting to be conquered.

Useful Links

1) Source Forge (Open Source Projects)
2) Open Source (Open Source Standards)

Popular Open Source Products

1) JBoss (Application Server)
2) SugarCRM (CRM Software)
3) Pentaho (BI Platform)
4) Wikipedia (Online Wiki)
5) Linux (Operating System)
4) Apache (Web Server)
5) MySQL (Database)
6) PHP (Programming Language)
7) Eclipse (Development Environment)
8) Jakarta Tomcat (Application Server)
9) Bugzilla (Bug Tracking system)
10) Mule (Integration Tools)