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Published on, the grow your own/share your own gardening swap site, launched earlier this month for gardeners to swap their surplus home grown fruit and veg with people near them. The free site was conceived, built and then promoted by Lourish’s founder Dave Bower for a little over £1000 after he quit his job to do something “less corporate”.

In his presentation Dave will describe the ideas behind Lourish, the challenges of single-handedly building a site with almost no money, the use of social media for free online promotion and will look at the future of

Published in: Technology - Building a Website on a Shoestring

  1. 1. Growing<br />Building a website on a shoestring<br />Dave Bower –<br />© Lourish 2010<br />
  2. 2. Coming up...<br />A little background<br />Before you start<br />Building a public website<br />Promoting – If you build it, they're really unlikely to ever bother coming<br />Wrap up and Q+A<br />
  3. 3. I'm great, me...<br />10 years software engineering<br />5 years leading dev teams for Internet start-ups<br />C#/Java/Grails development<br />Gardener<br />
  4. 4.<br />
  5. 5. The need for Lourish<br />Gardening sites are all rubbish<br />Community gardening not involving 20-40 group<br />I had a LOT of cucumbers<br />Job driving me insane!<br />
  6. 6. Before you start<br />Get a grown-up to help you<br />Bounce ideas<br />Keep work options open<br />Stop buying stuff!<br />
  7. 7. Low cost start up <br />You don't need<br />a new PC/server/phone/shoes<br />a company (yet)<br />Buy domains<br />Free email + docs from Google<br />Free developer tools<br />SAAS may be expensive in the long run, but it has low initial cost<br />
  8. 8. The tease<br />Internet presence, you will need...<br />Holding page<br />Blog<br />Vague but exciting details<br />Gather email addresses<br />Survey (WUFOO, Survey Monkey)<br />Email form<br />
  9. 9. Designing<br />Fewer features<br />Cut out the unnecessary screens/features/details<br />Make common case simple<br />Leave the absolute bare minimum<br />Create real pages<br />Involve a designer as early as possible<br />Agree cost and time scale up front if you can<br />They know their stuff – take notice<br />Find someone interested in what you're doing<br />
  10. 10. Implementing<br />If you don't code...<br />Kiss goodbye to building a website on a shoestring!<br />Find someone you really trust who doesn't just code but who also manages developers<br />Managing developers is really difficult<br />Software is hard to estimate<br />Financial incentives<br />Other incentives<br />
  11. 11. Implementing<br />Thank God you can code...<br />Choose technologies with longevity<br />What are your strengths? Outsource everything else<br />Plan realistically<br />Missing milestones? Work out why<br />Don't be afraid to completely change direction<br />Move in to ideaSpace!<br />
  12. 12. Lourish Architecture<br />
  13. 13. Test It!<br />Really, really test it<br />Unit test, TDD even better<br />Functional test<br />UI Test<br />Load test<br />Staging environment<br />To beta or not to beta?<br />Users expect a working site, “beta” label or not<br />
  14. 14. Launch! (And you thought you'd done the hard part...)<br />It's easy to build a website, it's very difficult to get one noticed<br />Promoting is as important as building<br />Good support experience can create devoted users<br />Use monitoring to provide feedback<br />
  15. 15. Promotion<br />It's not rocket science<br />Consistent communication throughout<br />Use 1 key message, with maybe 1 or 2 subsidiary messages<br />Expect<br />Apathy<br />Insults<br />Mistrust<br />“ does it better”<br />Keep promoting<br />
  16. 16. Promotion - Email<br />Use emails gathered from teaser site<br />People will forget they registered...<br />
  17. 17. Promotion - Email<br />Expect to be marked as spam if you didn't have double opt-in<br />Use mailing service<br />Mailchimp / Campaign Monitor / Constant Contact<br />Protection from “spammer” status<br />Monitoring<br />Expect low conversion from email to site<br />
  18. 18.
  19. 19. Promotion – Social Media<br />Newsgroups<br />No self-promotion!<br />Use Google alerts to find out what’s being said where<br />Blogs<br />Support the site through a blog<br />Promote blog through Twitter and Facebook<br />Get influential bloggers to write about you<br />Add blog stream to site for easy CMS!<br />
  20. 20. Promotion – Social Media<br />Facebook<br />Like<br />Company page<br />Insights<br />Twitter<br />Use follows to position yourself<br />Use link shorteners for tracking (, twitpic etc)<br />Keep posting updates or risk looking dead!<br />
  21. 21. Promotion – Social Media<br />Integrate into site<br />APIs<br />Single sign on<br />News feeds<br />Give a reason for users to promote site<br />
  22. 22. Promotion – Press<br />Press releases<br />Use a story<br />Local papers need local angle<br />Targeted – one key message<br />Get it noticed<br />Journalists are lazy, write their articles!<br />
  23. 23. Promotion – Press<br />Radio and TV<br />Get key message into every answer!<br />Build “bridges”<br />Don't expect a deluge of new visitors!<br />Wrong medium for converting users<br />Get link on their website<br />Promote press appearances via social media<br />
  24. 24. Promotion – Grassroots<br />Invites<br />Trusted<br />1 in 3 invite<br />1 in 10 invites converted<br />Local champions / Virtual champions<br />
  25. 25. Promotion – SEO<br />Quality links to site (BBC)<br />Sensible page titles<br />Use image alt attributes<br />Write copy with keywords<br />Home page<br />Blog<br />Choosing a “meaningless” domain name helps!<br />
  26. 26. Monitor<br />Google analytics<br />Goals<br />Traffic sources<br />SEO<br />Google alerts<br />See what's being said & respond<br /><br />Facebook insights<br />Wordpress<br />
  27. 27. Support<br />Responsibility to<br />help users<br />keep site running and innovating<br />Respond professionally<br />Answer quickly<br />Respond only once to “chat”<br />Use pseudonyms<br />Reply during office hours<br />
  28. 28. Eleven Lourish Lessons<br />Get help (even if it’s from a soft toy)<br />Early design input<br />Build absolute minimum<br />Concentrate on strengths, outsource weaknesses<br />Changing your mind is OK but stick to your beliefs<br />Release early and often<br />A website is a responsibility<br />Promotion is everything<br />Hofstadter's Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law.<br />Network<br />DO IT NOW<br />
  29. 29. A Website on a Shoestring<br />Free software and SAAS<br />Fewer features<br />Get designer in early<br />Promotion is free<br />
  30. 30. Future Lourishment<br />Possible future directions<br />Stronger SN integration<br />Co-operatives<br />Marketplace<br />Fruitures<br />
  31. 31. Sign up at<br />Questions...?<br />