Thursday, April 29, 2010

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Friday, July 31, 2009

10 Red Flags that Predict a Deadbeat Client...

Don't sell yourself short! Your time and expertise are valuable. Therefore, you should ALWAYS charge an appropriate fee to ensure a reasonable profit margin. If you undercut yourself, you are undercutting us all. And, in the end... no one wins. If you can bring value to the table, charge appropriately. If you are a pretender, then these prospects are all yours:

1) Jr. Designer needed
2) Looking for an entry level developer
3) Looking For An Intern For Web Design
4) Looking for a partner
5) Looking for someone that is looking to build their web portfolio
6) Looking for someone who is interested in teaming up
7) Looking for someone willing to work on this project for percentage of company
8) There will be more projects later
9) Any designers want to do a trade?
10) Payment based on results/conversion. You will be compensated well for our success.

And, the Bonus Round:
11) This website will be getting thousands of hits... your exposure will be huge!

If any of these are part of the deal... walk. Don't even bother to explain why. Just walk.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A study in searching for the best shopping cart solution...

So, we've been trying to find the best shopping cart solution to use for our new clients who need eCommerce (i.e., shopping carts) on their websites. 5 years ago it was a mishmash of open source, custom and hosted eCommerce solutions. As recently as last year it was still a guessing game in regard to which solution would function well in varied situations...

Since we've never found a suitable and affordable commercial solution for our clients in the past, we've been building custom shopping carts for every client, which (as you can imagine) is not really the most cost-effective or practical solution.

So, now that we've let technology evolve a bit, we decided to revisit the commercially available options.

So, what are the best shopping cart solutions now?

This IS NOT a review of free software. Nor, is it a review of software for small (i.e., less than 50 products) solutions. We wanted something that can handle from 100 to 10,000 products... without skipping a beat. And, if it was also a good solution for the mom and pop (AKA "20 product site")... so be it.

I am (and have always been) a firm believer that you get what you pay for. If you want something for free... ultimately, you are going to end up getting what you pay for... which will not be something that you'll be happy with long term (reference "Magento" - - Yikes... don't even go there... unless you are hosted on a super computer).

But, if you are willing to pay... at least a little (under $500) your options are much more exciting these days. I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised.

I spent about 14 hours reviewing the top shopping cart candidates this week (see footnote below). Yes, it was VERY grueling. VERY. I pounded hard on all of the top (again, see footnote below) demo sites that I could access.

From my relatively intensive review, I identified several dozen worthy shopping cart solutions, but there were only a few that met my minimal requirements:

- Robust (i.e., handles multi-level categories, unlimited products, photos, etc.)
- Flexible (i.e., relatively easy to "mold" to my client's unique specifications)
- Easy to customize (i.e., didn't require a PHD to figure out how to change the look-and-feel)
- Feature rich (i.e., gotta have at least: "real-time shipping calculations" and "groups / wholesale pricing" + plus all of the other standard shopping cart stuff)
- Handles both retail and wholesale (I think I just said that)
- Affordable (around $500 or less for software with reasonable prices for install help and support)
- No ongoing fees (I'm not looking for another marriage... just a shopping cart. :)

So, if you know someone who needs a full-featured shopping cart, but doesn't want to spend a fortune, these are the few that I recommend checking out:

X-Cart

TurnKey

CRE Loaded

Of these 3, the one that we decided had the most appeal (only because of the amount of responders to our Craig's List ad asking for "theme customization" help) was X-Cart. An oldie... but apparently a goody.
Another one that we liked, but couldn't figure out how to do wholesale (might not be important to most people) is:

I welcome criticism... insight... and recommendations. Please!
*Footnote: Here are a couple sites that we used to narrow our initial candidates down to a manageable amount:


Happy hunting!
Mike Haynes

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

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