Monthly Archives: March 2011

websites vs web apps

At KV Sites, we currently focus on providing websites to our customers.

However, this is not our main goal. Creating websites is a means to an end. We want to eventually enable all of our customers to create their own websites, and to eventually become creators of websites for their own clients.

How we do this, is to concentrate on automation.

Whenever we are asked to do anything, we do it, but we try to do it in such a way that the next time we are asked to do it, we can simply press a button.

The obvious example is the creation of a website. To build up a CMS-based website manually involves a number of technical points – create and install the database, create the virtual host, install the CMS, install the template, fill in the content. Purchase the domain name, configure the DNS

Every point above can be automated except the “fill in the content” part, and so we have automated it.

For our company, creating a website involves us simply clicking a “Create a new site” button:

This installs a CMS, including the database, a template, and even some sample content so it doesn’t start out blank.

All that leaves is for the client’s company-specific content to be entered, and for them to choose a domain name, and a design template change if they want it.

This is the reason why we are able to provide our websites much cheaper than most traditional web design companies – we try to cut out as much of the “behind the scenes” work as we can, so we don’t need to charge our clients for that work.

Now, back to the topic…

As said at the beginning of this post, our main goal is actually not to be a web design company.

The goal of the company KV Sites is to become a web applications provider.

While we still love our clients and want them to come in and buy websites from us, we are also working away in the background trying to come up with ways that we can give our tools away so that other people can create websites (and more) using our tools.

As an example, our control panel, which we use for creating websites, is currently also shared out so a number of resellers throughout Ireland can create websites themselves using the same tools we use (if you’re interested in this, contact Kae).

The reason we are doing this, is that we love working on the automation side of the equation. We love letting our clients edit their own sites whenever they want, and we love giving our resellers the ability to create and sell websites even if they are not web designers themselves.

We even love the people that are not using our CMS engine.

For those of you out there that already have websites from other providers, we are writing a suite of tools to give you added abilities on those sites – for example, imagine adding a Facebook-like chat to your website by adding a single line of code to your website? Or maybe adding a subscription tool that lets you send SMS messages to your visitors? It’s all on the way…

success vs comfort

Over the last week, I’ve had the opportunity to work with some people who are building a large-scale application for a company. I can’t say much about it other than the company is a “house-hold name” online, and you will probably come across the work in your own online life soon.

The architecture (which I was hired to look at and suggest improvements for) is interesting, but what interested me more were the people driving the work.

It seems to me that the more people there are in a company, the more specialised the language gets when managers speak to each other. There was a lot of talk of “crud”, “sprints”, “stand-up meetings”, etc., each of which seemed a bit over-abstracted to me – it seemed to me that these things are for the benefit of the managers, and that the work itself could be done quicker without them.

I wasn’t very comfortable with it. I prefer to get on with the work. Spending an hour in the morning discussing what I’m going to do, and an hour at the end of the day discussing what I got done that day seems to me like I’ve just spent 25% of the working day talking when I could have been working.

I’m used to building up a plan which may be a week or two long, then getting it done. Having to stop every few hours to explain to people what is really a bit too low-level to be of interest to them is just not my idea of fun. It is my opinion that a manager needs to know when a project is ready to be demoed or published, but to invite a manager to dig into the engine and examine the nuts and bolts seems a bit mad.

Facebook do the exact opposite, and I admire them for it. They allow the programmers free reign to do their work whatever way they need to, and are only interested in results – not whether the method followed was Agile, Waterfall, Scrum, or some other cycle.

Companies that follow certain coding philosophies do it with a specific goal in mind – they want to be rich, and quickly.

I’m kind of the opposite to that, as can be seen by my prices. While it would be nice to be rich, I really do not want to go far out of my way to obtain that goal. I am more interested in paying the bills and not being stressed, than in some mad rat-race to get paid twice as much as I’m currently getting.

And so my own philosophy is to work away on things, incrementally improving my products, and to never take risks. If I do well, then I will eventually make a tidy sum. If I don’t, then I will at least be comfortable.

And that, for me, is what’s important. I prefer to go home at 5pm to a comfortable couch and a book, than to have a load of money in the bank and a stressful life.