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Thread: You Get What You Pay For...

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    ScottJSmith's Avatar
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    Achievements Intermediate PosterLet's Talk...Happy Anniversary!Aging FastA Whole Month!

    Angry You Get What You Pay For...

    In yet another speedbump in my "one-step-forward, two-steps-back" progress, this little tidbit:

    I started designing websites for organizations I cared about, just so they would have a "point-of-presence" on the world wide web back in the late 1990's. They started out as single-page sites with general information, but eventually grew into encyclopaedic behemoths, which became a management nightmare. One by one, I asked for assistance, and when that didn't work, one by one, I resigned my position as each organization's unpaid webmaster.

    Given the puny operational budgets of local nonprofits, and (back in the day) the low priority of having a well-planned online presence, my job was to save costs...at all costs. Meaning, I would migrate content from my personal ISP's "personal web pages" to GeoCities (before they were assimilated by Yahoo!), to, most recently, Microsoft Office Live for Small Businesses.

    MSOLB made a very cautious, quiet entry into the small business web hosting market (think Intuit websites), with their own, proprietary, SharePoint-esque WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) basic editor. I chose this form because 1) the editor seemed to accommodate people who may not have much web design experience, so maybe...possibly...web management obligations could be more easily shared by other members of these organizations, and 2) the web hosting was free.

    Of course, all things must come to an end. This past week, I received a "Dear John" letter from Microsoft, saying their "MSOLSB" product life cycle has run its course and will be discontinued, but I am "cordially invited" for a six-month free trial of their "new and improved" enterprise service called "Office 365." Sorry, Redmond: Fool me once, shame on you...

    For a nice laugh, take a moment to read their 22 PAGE "Self Transition Guide" from MSOLSB to O365...THEY WON'T EVEN MIGRATE YOUR WEBSITE ON YOUR BEHALF!!!!! http://g.microsoftonline.com/0rmcm00en-us/5223

    Anyway, as many of us have stories of "ultimate deadlines" to get our rear-ends in gear, this one is mine. Unfortunately, the websites I still claim that use this service are not my personal for-profit websites. I had planned on focusing my Spring Break (I currently temp at an educational institution) on getting that elusive new business website up and running. In order to do that, this new, NEW task is going to have to occupy every waking moment until then.

    Joy.

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    ScottJSmith's Avatar
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    I am sure this will elicit the response, "That's why you never trust your business to a third party (i.e. Facebook, etc.)," yet we are taught to rely on third-party autoresponders, analytics and content management services.

    Hm...maybe I should just buy my own server farm with redundant backups and install every possible service I need and run them myself. THAT wouldn't be a wa$te of time...!

  3. #3
    Instructor ReginaSmola's Avatar
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    Oh Scott, I feel your pain!!! And just as I was about to write, "you should never trust your business to a third party," I scrolled down and saw your second entry.

    Even though I normally wouldn't recommend this, it sounds like the non-profits don't have their own domain names. So in this case, I would suggest that you recommend they start a FB page so they have an online presence. It sure beats nothing and will be maintained over there to cut down on your "free webmaster" time. It doesn't look like FB is going anywhere for awhile and hopefully they won't migrate to a paid service later.

    If you can talk them into getting their own domain names, then I would suggest cheap hosting and self-host WordPress so you have control over it.

    It sounds like you have a lot of experience in building non-profit sites and maybe there's a way you can incorporate that into a service you offer or a how-to product for those that want to start their own. I'm sure there's many out there that would like a site but don't have a clue on how to have an online presence, what content to include, how to get traffic, etc.

    I used to run my own affiliate marketing website and it was in a highly competitive market. Unfortunately, my site was maliciously hacked twice in 6 months. First time shame on them, second time shame on me. I spent endless hours educating myself on how to protect my website so it wouldn't happen again. I took that negative experience and turned it into a positive. I now have a successful business helping others protect their websites and fixing those websites that have fallen victim to hacker attacks.

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    Prolific Contributor richardschnur's Avatar
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    That's a bad position to be in. I had a hosting company go out from under me with no warning at all and what a scramble!

    However, you really can't avoid third parties completely. Even if you buy your own farm, the software you run will be from someone else and they could eventually fold and disappear. Obvious I know.

    I have two sites that are running on Drupal CMS and I've lost track of the times modules have broken because the developer was sloppy or worse. While I'm technical, I am not that technical on the web stuff. I can implement stuff, but to dig into php, MySQl and all of that makes me dizzy.

    Scramble and press on I guess.

    I would use the opportunity here though to start building distance between the various components of what you support. Like Regina said their own domains and such.

    I supported two sites as sub domains of my site once and when the hosting company disappeared I decided then to start isolating the parts so it would be easier in the future to hand off if I moved on or they moved on. I'm glad I did. Both are now gone and the pain was minimal to my other properties.

    Good luck!
    Regards,

    "I am your life's work. You are my life's work. That's what love is."

    The 365 Quotes Project
    It's No Hobby
    Live By H.O.P.E.

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