Two Website Lessons from 2013

Free Website - not!If there are two lessons that everyone should come away from 2013 learning about websites, I would say it would have to be these:

  • 1. There is absolutely no such thing as a “free” website!
  • 2. A website should not cost over $600 million!

I will tackle the second point first because that is much easier to grasp. Of course, what I’m referring to is the “Obamacare” website Healthcare.gov, which amazingly did not work when it was launched on October 1st (it is now about 75 days later and the jury is still out on whether it actually works).

To be exact, it was reported by Digital Trends that the contractor CGI Federal received $634,320,919 to construct Healthcare.gov. Now to appreciate this amount, it is more money than Facebook spent in its first six years of existence (you know, the years went it went completely viral) and it is also more than the amount spent building two more recent services – Linkedin and Spotify – combined. All that money spent and it didn’t work for at the least its first two months of existence.

As a small business web developer, I’m sure I could have figured out a way to get competent developers to complete the site on time and working for, I don’t know, about 1/1000th of that cost! But they never asked me.

Now for the first point, the opposite end of the money spectrum. There is absolutely no such thing as a “free” website! Whenever you hear such a claim to “build a website for free”, what you are actually getting is a new example of an old trick that big companies do to try and squash small competitors (in this case, small business web developers like myself) by cleverly masking a false offer. You’ve surely seen or heard of these free website offers, many from three-letter companies that start with the letter ‘w’ and only disclose the fact that you have to pay a monthly fee in order to keep your “free” website in the cluttered disclaimer at the end.

For companies who are serious about starting and staying in business, such offers do not stand up in the long run for two primary reasons. First, you lose the ability to expand unless you pay the fixed price arbitrarily set by the company. This ties in well with the second reason, you ultimately do not own anything – neither content nor domain name. It is almost akin to those fake houses on a Hollywood set, nice enough to look at but totally impractical to live in.

So, if you’d like a website which is neither free nor $600 million, check out a quality website developer like 33 Dimensions and you will actually get what you pay for (if not more!)

Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday logoThis year marks the fourth Small Business Saturday, a shopping holiday following “Black Friday” with a mission to steer holiday shoppers towards small and local businesses instead of national, “big box” retailers. The holiday was conceived by American Express in 2010 as a promotional campaign, but it soon took on a life of its own as thousands of small businesses and consumers joined in, and it has grown ever since. This is a very positive development, as Small Business Saturday brings awareness to businesses which often have limited advertising budgets.

Perception is very important in business. Customers and clients will make a decision on where they spend their money based on level of comfort or simplicity just as much as for reasons of value or service. Beyond mere comfort or simplicity, people tend to simply go with the choice that has been validated by others and this is one area where small businesses have to spend a lot of time and energy to improve their lot. For those consumers who do choose a small business, the rewards can be great, especially when it comes to great personalized service. However, there can also be a downside of this great service and that is when customers feel comfortable to the point that they forget it is a business arrangement.

And there are also economic benefits, as small businesses employ about 50 percent of all private sector workers, including about 40 percent of high tech workers. Over 60 percent of net new jobs created over the last decade have been by startups and small businesses.

Working in concert with the small business movement is the “buy local” movement. Here, you have what is called the “local multiplier effect” where buying from a local, independent small business creates a ripple effect which helps to strengthen the local economy at a much higher rate than larger corporate chains. Further, independent businesses help keep communities distinct and unique, with products tailored to the interests and needs of local citizens.

We Most Certainly Have Our Work Cut Out For Us

 

33 Dimensions Newsletter, Labor Day edition
September 2, 2013

SisyphusHappy Labor Day everyone.

In the literal spirit of today’s holiday, I am writing this brief newsletter to reaffirm my comittment to work harder than anyone for the success of my customers and my company. In all honesty, this has been a rather sluggish summer for business expansion, as some of the expected (or hoped for) opportunities did not quite break our way. Growing and expanding a small business has been tough due to the continued uncertainty in the economy and lukewarm consumer confidence.

However, as a firm believer in the promise of the future, I resolve to double my efforts and press forward in the face of these challenges. Right now, we choose to focus upon the optimistic fact that this is an incredible time for web technology with a fantastic array of new tools and technologies to forge the future of our business. So for the next four months, through the end of this year, we will work our tails off building this business and providing the best and most up-to-date technology for our current and new customers. Consider this a “New Year’s resolution” four months in advance, as we expect to be moving at full speed when 2014 arrives.

Stay tuned, folks!

Ric Albano
Owner and Chief Web Designer
33 Dimensions LLC

Late Summer Spectacular

Our discount special continues through September 30th, as 33 Dimensions will be offering a 33% discount on all website design, development, and implementation as well as online marketing and multimedia services. If you’d like to get a project started in 2013, please act now and take advantage of this tremendous offer.

Client News

Big Blue BullfrogA full re-design of the entertainment site Big Blue Bullfrog is underway, making this long staple of 33 Dimensions the latest site to becoming fully responsive. Also, with the start of football this week, the site will resume its weekly features including the unique and original Tuesday Morning Tailback.

Yoga 4 Healthful LivingA very special series of classes called Yoga for Life begins this week facilitated by grief counselor Jennilu King and yoga instructor Elizabeth Terry. This is accompanied by a series of blogs entitled “Yoga and Grief” on the Yoga 4 Healthful Living website. For further information on registering for the class, please contact Elizabeth at eterryyoga@gmail.com.

Sinclair SoulThe latest additional to our family of musicians, a website for Sinclair Soul was launched this past month, providing a home for new original rock and roll compositions. The project One More Rock to Roll is ongoing for the artist.

There will be much more client news in our next newsletter!

 
33 Dimensions
P.O. Box 126
Highspire, PA 17034
info@33dimensions.com

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Interstate Journey

A Day Without Multitasking
by Liz Reusswig

Interstate TrafficI continue to ponder the analogy of traffic and its relation to multitasking and managing our businesses and life in general. Personally and professionally, the past couple weeks have provided much fodder. Today’s blog reviews a bit of what I’ve discovered personally.

Last week was wicked. Over several days, our family said good-by to my dear Aunt Nellie. Actually, she was my aunt-in-law, but through the years, she and I often joked that we were the outlaws. In reality, she was my aunt-in-heart. You know those people who enter your life and instantly seem to know your soul? They love and support you unconditionally and it has nothing to do with bloodlines – those are in-heart relatives and friends. I’m blessed to have and have had a number of these people in my life. I will miss my aunt, but in our final time together, she provided me something completely unexpected.

We had to drive 2.5 hours between services in New York and Connecticut along the infamous Interstate 95. Thankfully the traffic was light, the day was beautiful, and the ride, though long, was cathartic. After spending some time reminiscing, we mostly became quiet – each of us slipping into our own thoughts. For me, having previously lived in Connecticut, the familiarity of all we passed was welcoming. At the section where you can see the Long Island Sound, I wondered about the cargo ships – where they were from and what they might be hauling. At many exits, I longed turn off onto roads that lead to Connecticut friends whom I haven’t seen in too long, and accepted that there would be no reunions this trip. I studied the craggy trees and bushes that line the highway. Their imperfection is intriguing to me as it is borne from years of weathering the many storms that roll up the East Coast. Storms, like traffic, are so unpredictable.

Previously, I would never have considered a ride along the usually hectic I-95 a “four-way stop,” but on that day and in that time, it became exactly that. The frenetic traffic patterns of the many roads of my life paused – there was no multitasking, no worrying about other things. I was in the moment and it was as it should be. Somehow the sad ride along I-95 became a peaceful journey. We need these “four-way stops” to power down, reflect and renew.

~
Liz Reusswig is the owner of EMR Strategies, LLC and the founder of Kid’s Theatre News.

Death, Taxes, and Social Media

Facebook public launchNews broke last week that, despite bring in over a billion dollars in profit last year, Facebook owes no taxes for the year 2012. Actually, the company will be getting a refund of close to a half billion dollars. This is due to a provision in the tax law that allows companies to discharge all previous losses, from their date of inception, during the year that the company goes public, as Facebook did in 2012. However, this is not necessarily a one-time windfall as Facebook may continue to get monster tax breaks in the coming years. And Facebook isn’t the only major social media company with no federal tax liability. This week it was revealed that LinkedIn has paid no federal income tax over the past three years, in spite of an estimated $160 million in profits over that time span.

The irony here is that much smaller businesses and/or individuals who promote these large companies through their social media services get no such tax breaks. In fact, I know of fellow small business owners who are struggling to meet their tax obligations at this time. Of course, social media is just one example, as similar situations exist in all trades and industries.

Politicians try to exploit such unfairness with lofty talk of “ending tax break for millionaires and billionaires.” The richest of the rich, such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, often avail themselves as props for such proposals. After all, who has more to lose than the richest of the rich? And if they are in favor of higher rates, why shouldn’t we be?

But when the rubber meets the road, such as in the fiscal cliff agreement less than two months ago, these same politicians advocate that the top tax rates be raised on those who make $200,000 per year (hardly millionaires or billionaires). So the brunt of the burden is carried by the small businesses on the lower end of the spectrum and, even for those of us who don’t quite make $200K, many of our clients and customers do. As for the likes of Buffett, such rate increases make no difference because these wealthy entrepreneurs have armies of tax attorneys to offset any meager rate increase. In fact, Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has been fighting the I.R.S. over an estimated $1 billion in back taxes for over a decade (how many small businesses can afford to do that?).

The only real solution is to throw out the current tax system, which is loaded with loopholes for the crafty and traps for the less-connected, and replace it with a simple and straight-forward system for absolutely everyone. Such a common-sense solution will be vehemently opposed by tax attorneys and politicians who rely on the current convoluted tax system to grant special favors, but it would unleash an era of growth and certainty for everyone involved in commerce. Then even Facebook could “invest” in the infrastructure of our country.

~ Ric Albano

Sources:
NY Post
Yahoo
Mother Jones
Huffington Post

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