Dispelling the Myth of Cheap Development

Thanks to Richard McManus for a great summing up of Web 2.0 this week.  One thread that really caught my attention is the first I have seen that addresses scalability of web 2.0 Apps.

Scalability is both a development and a growth issue – especially for many of the ultra viral community type tools that are making waves in Web 2.0 today.

There is something I find shocking about Web 2.0 – shared environments.  Many early stage web 2.0 apps are developed in and run shared hosting environments – it just blows my mind.  We were certainly boot strapping when we built 2ndSite, but we weren’t fooling around.  We went straight to the best managed hosting provider available and implemented a number security safeguards.  Given the nature of the information we store, I could not live with myself otherwise…but that’s me.

But with regards to this issue of scalability, I’m excited that it turns the notion that it is cheap to develop a web app on its ear.  Maybe they are cheaper to “code”, but they are not necessarily cheap to run.  Developers that think they should be cheap to run, or who skimp on hosting ought to think twice.  I think all this hints at the fact that may web 2.0 apps are not being run like business and I don’t think that is a good thing for the consumer..

There is an old adage: “Buyer Beware”.  I hate to say it, but it’s as true as ever with Web 2.0 apps today. Internet users need to beware of the service provider they choose and service providers need to communicate what they REALLY offer.  Call me old school, but I like a good service with REAL support.  Without that, I’d “be-wary”.

I keep trashing business models

I mentioned how I came down against Adsense context advertising as a business model.  Last week I came down against entering search in the Globe and Mail feature because new entrants would need real value-adds to get me to leave Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft.  Those value adds may be coming, but so are advances at GYM.

So with these things on my mind I came across this article on Dion’s blog which addresses revenue models in Web 2.0.  It echoes many sentiments I included in building real businesses.

I often like Dion’s posts for what they DON’T answer.  In this case he hints that new revenue models that will be emerging in web 2.0.  Chances are he’s right. Any clue what they’ll be?

Choosing Your Voice: Be Casual?

Blogger.com founder Evan Williams just released his “10 Rules for Web Start-Ups” .  Nothing earth shattering within them, but they are concise and a good read.

Rule #3: Be Casual

Something I wrestle with at 2ndSite is the tone of our communications.  When Evan says “be casual”, he is literally talking about your business and the services you provide.  I’m extrapolating here because I want to discuss tone.

Many successful web services today maintain a very informal tone with their corporate communications. At 2ndSite we are going to be working harder at “breaking through” with our communications.  What is “breaking through”?  It is reaching through the monitor and speaking to the heart of the end user so they know you know them.  When you “break through” you connect with your user and their world slows a little and their relationship with your deepens.  It’s a subtle and powerful thing.  Photos help.  So do case studies and testimonials.  I believe breaking through is highly important in persuading people to use your service.  At 2ndSite our voice is straightforward, professional and honest.  I do not want to change these qualities one bit.  Is our tone dry?  I’m not certain, but I don’t think so.  Can we liven up our tone and still retain its straightforward, professional and honest qualities?  YES, I believe we can, but it will take some work.  Is our current tone the best one for our business?  Great question.

2ndSite is a billing application.  We handle sensitive records for our clients and we take that responsibility very seriously.  We believe our current tone meets the expectations of our target audience.  The question gnawing at me is, “can we lighten things up and make the relationship we have with our users more enjoyable?” I’ll bet we can, but how and what is the cost of a misstep?

I do not think “being casual” is necessarily for us.  Maybe it’s for you, but it is not necessarily for 2ndSite.  This speaks to Evan’s Rule #11:

#11 (bonus!): Be Wary
Overgeneralized lists of business “rules” are not to be taken too literally. There are exceptions to everything.

So those are my questions.  I’m searching for answers.  Feel free to chime in.  Chances are if you read this blog, you have a blog or you run a business.  How have your strategies and your positioning influenced your tone?  Has your tone evolved since you started?  If so, how?