Happy new year to all, Sawadee pii mai
We’re sponsoring Tedx Thapae Gate, here in Chiang Mai, January 21st. Make sure to say hello to Simon who will be there! For my part I will be in Montreal saying hello to our nice new and existing clients and making sure our 4th year will be the best ever! All the signs are there. We will keep you updated in due time
Many times a week we receive requests along the lines of “I want to sell online, can Magento do it?”. Well yes it can, and that’s the easy part. Many people underestimate the time and energy needed prior to launching an e-commerce site (and the effort needed after the launch as well, but that’s another topic…). Based on our experience developing e-commerce websites, here’s a quick list of things any clients wishing to “sell online” should seriously consider before establishing any sort of budget and time line. Obviously there’s a lot more, but here are the most obvious from the top of our heads
- Who are you targeting? this will impact everything, from the languages of your website, currencies, taxes, shipping, etc…Seems obvious but it changes so many things. If you want to sell let’s say to Europe, Canada and USA, well that’s at least 3-4 languages, 3-4 currencies, etc…And do you need to sell to special groups, like B2B, or agents, on top of the general public? Right away, that’s 6 different stores to manage, with different content and prices
- How will your customers pay? You only take paypal, or you want seamless credit cards transactions? If you deal with a payment gateway, you need a merchant account (for a new company this could take months to obtain), you need to buy a SSL certificate, you need to be PCI Compliant (the standards required to handle transactions online, like having a dedicated server, safe place to store data, never have access directly to credit cards number, etc…)
- What is your content? Yes ok you have products to sell, but do you have any text, marketing stuff, who is going to write your FAQ, your blog, the description for all your products? Most importantly, who is in charge of populating the website?
- How do you manage your inventory? Do you want to link your inventory to your existing ERP system? Are you sure you can easily import/export data from it or you need to build a new API? Do you want to invoice your clients through your accounting system or use Magento to handle all this?
- When you receive an order, what will happen? Who’s in charge of delivering your products? What are your shipping fees? Are they too high, too low? Can customers pick up their products in store?
- Do you have any pictures? Do you need to do a professional shooting of all your products? You need consistent quality throughout, meaning angles, size, background otherwise the site looks unprofessional. Do you need to re size and crop all of them? If yes, who’s going to do it?
- Does the platform answer all your needs? If not, how much extra development is required? Or do I really need all that? Case in point: a client wanted a blog with its new e-commerce site. Fair enough. But you need to create the blog (choose a module or a platform, create template) and most importantly you need to….write. The idea was discarded pretty fast because they did not anticipate the extra costs and especially the time needed to write meaningful and regular posts. There’s nothing worse than a blog with 2 posts dating from 6 months ago (yes we take the blame too!!!!). Of course there are many more examples but I like this one because it’s not a technology problem, it’s a human/business one.
No platform is perfect and there will always be a need for extra modules, extra development, tweakings, etc….It is crucial to carefully review the standard features before assuming anything and prepare the budget accordingly.
Anything we forgot?
2010 has been a big year for us. We doubled our revenues and our team, we worked on bigger and more complex projects and we started going mobile at the end of the year.
In terms of clients, we now work with great web agencies in Germany and New Zealand, and have direct clients in New York, Australia, France, Singapore and obviously Montreal Canada.
We’ve seen in the last year Magento really taking off. It is already big in Europe, it’s getting bigger in USA and Canada is finally catching up. In the last month we signed 3 Magento projects in Canada, something we never really anticipated since we never really got any demands coming from Canada. It’s a good sign for us since we’re already well established in Montreal, and our Magento portfolio speaks for itself, giving us a triple edge over Canadian competitors: expertise, experience (more than 15 Magento projects done) and competitive costs.
We get a lot of request for mobile and apps, 95% of them for iPhone. Which is great but a shame too since our team is very Android ready (all of our developers come from Java background, the language Android is using). We hope by the end of 2011 we’ll be able to split our mobile revenues equally between iPhone, Android and even “simple” mobile websites. It seems everybody wants to create mobile apps because it’s the cool thing these days. But you can have a great mobile presence by making your website mobile-friendly. For example we built a standard Magento website for a juggling products company and at the same time, using the Magento iPhone template, launched its mobile-friendly version. You can check them out both at www.goudurix.com using a normal browser and then your mobile phone. Let’s be honest, creating a standalone iPhone app for this webstore would have cost at least 5-10 times what we did and I’m not sure it would have made a huge difference in terms of features.
So what to look for in 2011? We are profitable since day 1 and we’ve increased our revenues probably by 3-4 since we started 2 years ago. It would be easy to say let’s double size again. But is it really the objective? Like a good friend of mine once told me, you can make more money (i.e more profit) with 5 people than with 20, it’s all a matter of profitability (we are now 10 by the way). I think it comes down to: keep enjoying what we do, work on great projects and aim for a even better work / life balance. Sounds easy but as any entrepreneurs or start-ups will tell you, these are the real challenges.
It’s one of those “we will finish it when we have a bit of spare time” kind of project…and obviously you never do. Or you change your mind 50 times because we cannot agree on the content or layout or logo or…
A big thank you to our friend Vincent from Webalys. He created a really nice design and this really kicked us in the a**. Ok let’s do this now! (or 3 months later….)
As you can see, we have a new portfolio, and we revamped the technology section to show small case studies. On top of this he created a new logo as well.
Overall, we’re really happy with the result. We liked our first website very much, but we needed more room to add content, and decided to go the opposite direction of black and went for…white. What do you think?
Pleasant surprise today as I was browsing through my emails. We are now in the Silverstripe Developer Network
I’m glad because even though we built probably around 10 websites already with Silverstripe, NDA agreements doesn’t allow us to “publish” or market those projects, so it’s a bit strange to tell we are Silverstripe experts but we can’t show you why!
Actually we can show you, but not in public. You’ll have to contact us for this ; )
A big thank you to the Silverstripe guys for being understanding.
Here is our entry: http://www.silverstripe.org/silverstripe-developer-network/?BrowseByCountry=Thailand
In the previous post I mentioned bigger projects. Well this is one of them.
We won the complete re-design and development of a video/audio sharing platform for a large organization in Paris, France. Basically members (mostly public radios and television stations throughout the world) can order, upload and share television and radio programs through this platform.
The challenge is (because it’s still in progress) to build everything from scratch using Zend, namely:
Zend Framework Video Audio
- rebuilt all the databases
- create a CMS for content, news, events
- create a catalog and shopping cart, with different type of “products”
- create a membership module with full capabilities (my orders, my uploads, etc…)
- create a back-end to manage all of this
And the last part but still crucial, create a user-friendly website which looks good. Thanks to our regular art director, Dan Mireault, I think we’ve got something pretty nice going on. Here’s a preview of the catalog page. What do you think?
The website is scheduled to be launch in July, with a mini site before that for the World Cup in South Africa.
Sorry for the lack of posts lately, it’s the same old boring excuse….too busy working
To keep you up to date, in the last few months we hired 2 more people, one to help our front end team (html/jscript/design) and another one to boost our Zend framework capabilities. And we’re happy to tell you it makes a difference. We can take more projects now! (is it really a good thing, i don’t know….haha)
On top of this, we’ve made a big leap in terms of projects, taking bigger and more complex jobs. I’ll tell you more about one of them in the next post, but let’s just say our choice of platforms is really paying off a year later. The decision to go with Silverstripe for our CMS, Magento for e-commerce and Zend for all custom development looks like a good choice now.
Finally, the other exciting thing for us is the diversity of clients we signed, not only in regards to industry but also geography. We now have clients in Paris France, Sydney Australia and New York City. Our Canadian clients still provide the majority of projects but it is shifting slowly and surely to a more diverse and global portfolio. Which is something always fun no? It would be nice to have a “local” Asian client too. We’ve been trying but the stars have not been aligned yet
Next step? Find a new office. 8 Months later our “new” one is already too small. After the move we think we will have a good balance now (projects, people, revenues, enjoy what we do) so our objective will be to keep it going like this for a while.
That’s what we said 8 months ago.
Rock and roll!
We are looking for kick-ass PHP developers, preferably Zend framework people.
If you are a passionate PHP Web Programmer looking for a chance to make your mark in a company in Chiang Mai with outstanding growth opportunities, one2crowd is the place for you!
We work in a truly collaborative environment where every individual is equally important. We value exchange and constant communication. We work hard but play hard too. No employee has ever left the company so we must be doing something good no? (Probably because we pay well too eh eh…)
Please submit examples of work so we can judge your expertise, send us your CV and portfolio/examples to firstname.lastname@example.org
Very interesting article in ZDNet Asia on working with Chinese web developers
Interesting because we could pretty much apply the same to our own experience here in Thailand. People are different, think differently and work differently. Let’s try to apply a bit of humor here (in no way we are saying westerners are better….we are simply different, and we really mean it)
Here are the 3 main elements of the article:
Different definition of “work completion”: For westerners, a project is completed when the final copy is approved, when the final pixel is aligned, when the size of the page is optimized (and when our developers roll their eyes 6 times a day at us). In China (and Thailand), a project is completed when it’s running and doing the job. The rest are technicalities and details.
Developers decide what final software should be: “Ok why do you input this function?” “Because it’s better”. ” “Hmmm….but it’s not in the requirements” Blank stare. “Why didn’t you ask me before doing it?” Blank stare….”Ok thank you”. (Note to self: I’m a Zen master, I’m a Zen master, I’m a…..)
Keeping quiet about problems. Nothing to add here ; )
How do we solve these issues? We use the oldest trick in the book.
And guess what, it works. We’re 2 French Canadians working with Thais, using English to communicate between ourselves, and it works. It took a bit of adjustment but we can honestly say we’re on par with any Western companies now. Jing Jing
We love the 37signals guys. We don’t agree with them all the time but at least they bring so much more in their blog or books than the usual PR/buzzword BS we usually get.
A simple phrase from their latest book, Rework, out in March.
“The best are everywhere”
We couldn’t agree more. If you have the right people, it doesn’t matter where your company is located or where you come from.