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  1. #1
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    ParkinT's Avatar
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    I've Created A Service to Accomodate Clients You Can't Afford To Take On

    SYNOPSIS:
    I've created a web application that makes it stupidly simple for users without any technical ability to create their own simple website. By leveraging free services available on the web (Google, Dropbox, et cetera) the entire process is completely free for the user.
    As a developer or designer, their website will include a link to your website; attracting more notoriety for YOU.

    Have you received an inquiry from someone :

    --who wants another Amazon.com, Facebook, or eBay but--
    --has no money ("Build it for free, when my businesses makes tons of money I will share the profits with you!". Sound familiar?)
    --no idea of what they need in a website and
    --no understanding of the time and skill it takes to create one.

    In the past, you may have directed these inquiries to a free CMS that might still present them with a tough learning curve. What you tried to do as a favor to them, loses them completely!

    You needn't lose these potential clients completely. I've created a web application that makes it stupidly simple for users with no technical ability to create their own simple website that credits you for the recommendation. It's as simple as 1, 2, 3 and in fact, I like to call it "1, 2, FREE!"
    1. No worries about hosting.
    2. You still earn goodwill by helping the client build their site.
    3. In addition, you get a backlink to your site.

    Simply direct them to Simple Free Website where they:

    1. Select from one of our Professional Website Designs
    2. Fill in the content to make the website their own.
    3. Launch a free website (including free server) to the world.

    You get a referral code and a link to your website. Users register with your referral link, which appears in the footer of every page they create with Simple Free Website. More, if you have an affiliate account for domain name registrations, you can direct your clients to register a domain name and simply redirect it to the URL we generate.

    I am working on new designs - and would like your help. Designers also receive a permanent link in the footer of every page that uses their design. Find the details for creating or donating designs at http://www.simplefreewebsite.com/designers.

    I would also greatly appreciate your feedback on the application. It is, admittedly, a little "rough around the edges."
    Last edited by Shyflower; Dec 7, 2011 at 10:21.
    Don't be yourself. Be someone a little nicer. -Mignon McLaughlin, journalist and author (1913-1983)


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  2. #2
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    I am very impressed!! Well done!

  3. #3
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    Thanks molona!
    I may have failed to make it clear that the service is intended for users, who must log in separately at the main landing page. To log in as a developer/designer you go to http://www.SimpleFreeWebsite.com/designers where you can pick up a referral code and define the footer text and link that appears on the pages of all users you refer.

    I appreciate your positive comment. My HORRENDOUS skills (lack of skill) in design show quite clearly here and I am soliciting some help with that aspect.
    Also, the DESIGNS from which users can choose are very limited. I have set up a job posting on eLance in hopes of getting some better quality designs on the site.
    Don't be yourself. Be someone a little nicer. -Mignon McLaughlin, journalist and author (1913-1983)


    Git is for EVERYONE
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  4. #4
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    Awesome work Thom. Thanks for being our first post in the forum!

  5. #5
    Avid Logophile silver trophy
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    I appreciate the confirmation from my peers. My natural inclination is to doubt that my idea has merit. But I have always been of the opinion that if I think this is a problem that needs to be solved there must be at least one other person in the world with the same problem.
    Based on this Sitepoint Blog post, I appear to be correct.
    Don't be yourself. Be someone a little nicer. -Mignon McLaughlin, journalist and author (1913-1983)


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  6. #6
    It's all Geek to me silver trophybronze trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by ParkinT View Post
    My natural inclination is to doubt that my idea has merit.
    Your idea seems amazing to me. Well done—this is awesome. The only thing I wonder is—what's in it for you?

    I can already think of a bunch of people I want to refer to this. Will sign up soon!

  7. #7
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    I think that your idea has a lot of merit and it is great that you've taken the time to integrate all those APIs to help users create their own site using free services. I think it is really awesome!

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    no doubt your idea is worth it ..and i will sing up soon..this is really helpful. great work..thanks a lot ...!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ralph.m View Post
    Your idea seems amazing to me. Well done—this is awesome. The only thing I wonder is—what's in it for you?
    I appreciate the sentiment. And I would be asking the very same question.

    Although it may be hard to believe, I honestly just want to help make the world better!
    This is a problem that has plagued me and I am gratified to have devised a solution. In a sense, I have become my primary client for this!!
    Don't be yourself. Be someone a little nicer. -Mignon McLaughlin, journalist and author (1913-1983)


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  10. #10
    Chopped Liver bronze trophy imaginekitty's Avatar
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    I don't understand what it does. I fill out the link and the footer text and then there's nothing else to do on the site.

    Edit - Oh, I see, I went to the design link you posted and now I'm stuck there. I had to clear out my cookies to get off of that page.

    Try going over the links. I ran into a few 404s and the mailto: puts a URL in the To: box on my email client

    The navigation is a bit random.

  11. #11
    Avid Logophile silver trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by imaginekitty View Post

    Try going over the links. I ran into a few 404s and the mailto: puts a URL in the To: box on my email client

    The navigation is a bit random.
    Thanks for the feedback. As I stated, it is still "a little rough around the edges"

    It's true that if you are a designer and want to "try what your clients will see" you must create a second account. I struggled with an elegant way to provide a single login for a Designer allowing them to follow the client CREATE process. But nothing seemed to work well.
    Don't be yourself. Be someone a little nicer. -Mignon McLaughlin, journalist and author (1913-1983)


    Git is for EVERYONE
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  12. #12
    Chopped Liver bronze trophy imaginekitty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ParkinT View Post
    It's true that if you are a designer and want to "try what your clients will see" you must create a second account. I struggled with an elegant way to provide a single login for a Designer allowing them to follow the client CREATE process. But nothing seemed to work well.
    I see. There seems to be no way to log out of the designer account though. I had to manually delete the cookies from the site to be able to try a second account.

  13. #13
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    This is pretty nice. Great job on this ^^

    Good luck with everything and hope it turns out how you wanted

  14. #14
    SitePoint Enthusiast ShrimpChip80's Avatar
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    Clever idea. I wish I had the knowledge to do something like this. And it doesn't seem bloated like other create-a-page sites. Good luck.!

  15. #15
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    Improvement and added features

    Quote Originally Posted by imaginekitty View Post
    I see. There seems to be no way to log out of the designer account though. I had to manually delete the cookies from the site to be able to try a second account.
    I have successfully implemented a "Log out" link on the site.
    This was among the top 5 or so issues on my long (and growing) list of features/functionality for the service.

    I am still actively soliciting some assistance with
    • the overall design of the site. I admit it currently looks horrible and I fear most members of the group for whom this is intended will turn away because it is not appealing
    • additional DESIGNS to provide on the site. I have successfully added two (of three) new designs for which I paid a designer. But I need more


    If anyone, in the immense Sitepoint community of skilled and talented designers, has been inspired by this idea I would ask you to share your talents to help me.

    Post here or PM me.


    I am not adverse to paying for your help. Realizing this is NOT a service intended to earn me money I must continue to use my personal discretionary funds.
    Don't be yourself. Be someone a little nicer. -Mignon McLaughlin, journalist and author (1913-1983)


    Git is for EVERYONE
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  16. #16
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    After reviewing the site again, I think you have one major stumbling block. Your home page points to a target market of consumers who want free websites. There are scads of these all over the Internet; in fact, many web hosts offer free templates and web building programs to their customers.

    As I understand it, your target market is the web designer who wants to save a client-developer relationship but not extend free services. Your home page should point to that target. The business/end-user should only be able to access your site through the referral link given to him/her by a developer. Otherwise, they will find your site, build their site, and worse, tell a friend about this free website opportunity.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  17. #17
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    Actually, the primary market is the end user who wants/needs to construct a website but cannot/won't pay for it. I understand that numerous web hosting sites offer templates (better than what I have to offer at present) as part of their service. The primary difference there is that the user still must pay something. But, more importantly, the process of securing a host and uploading files, or using a CMS like WordPress - although commonplace and simple for us - is confounding and daunting to so many whose primary business is NOT related to the web (or technology). I am leveraging free services and providing "hands-off" access and configuration of those services for those who are not tech-savvy. Because the primary audience is the uninitiated I wanted the "landing page" (which will be discovered in SERPs) to address that group*.
    The web-designer has an alternate access point. I am still contemplating the use of a subdomain (e.g. designers.SimpleFreeWebsite.com) for simplicity.

    That is the secondary aspect to this service - providing an alternative for web-designers to offer their prospective clients (who fit the profile I mentioned as a user). And, as you mentioned, the purpose of the "referral" system is to help the web-designer maintain the client relationship without expending any effort or their [expensive] time. It also gains them a great deal of goodwill in the user's mind.

    Based on your observation, though, perhaps I have it all turned around backwards. The discussion is helpful.


    *This is also where I have a fear that the site's appearance is 'repulsive' to the very audience it was intended to serve.
    Don't be yourself. Be someone a little nicer. -Mignon McLaughlin, journalist and author (1913-1983)


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  18. #18
    SitePoint Member DanielMilstein's Avatar
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    ParkinT I wish you all the luck with the product that you have created. However I have seen many such tools online. Why dont you mention that 'extra' something that your product has which no other company is offering??

  19. #19
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    Thank you @DanielMilstein ; for bringing that up. I have struggled with precisely that aspect of this project.
    In order to fully understand what makes this service unique, it requires a degree of technical expertise (a little understanding of the technical aspects). But, the real target audience is the technically uninitiated (clueless?).

    Since you opened the question I would really like to attempt an explanation here with my peers. Perhaps someone who is a @Word Painter could help me construct a good depiction.
    I have discovered a simple 'trick' that leverages the Dropbox service to support a set of [static] web pages. The major way in which this differs from services like Blogspot or Wordpress is in the client application Dropbox provides. An 'instance' of your files co-exists on your local machine. You can edit/delete/rename them in your local Explorer (Finder for Mac) and they are synchronized in "the cloud". This provides simple and direct access to the files by the user. This affords customization and editing of content without the clutter of complex WYSIWYG editors and associated toolbars.

    Secondly, any of those other services require some initial setup - a process that, for the technical non-savvy, can be mysterious and daunting. For a Designer this means ANY client requires their time and attention. Many will simply reject or ignore anyone who needs a little help but requires time for which they will not be paid. And I do not fault them for this!!

    In my experience, I was a very poor businessman when attempting to freelance because I would spend time and effort with people who were completely lost in this world that seems so natural for all of us without being paid for my time. There are many, many people with very small businesses or social services that recognize the need for a presence on the web. But they cannot or will not spend the hundreds of dollars required to engage an experienced and skilled designer/developer. For many of them, simply pointing their browser to blogspot.com or wordpress.com is not enough. I found myself guiding them or demonstrating (shoulder to shoulder) how to setup and use these services.

    The idea for SimpleFreeWebsite was born from those experiences. I wanted to provide a service where My Mother-in-law could create a simple website, unaided by a professional. At the same time I envisioned this as an alternative for Designers/Developers to point these people and minimize their expenditure of time or effort (or reduce it to zero).

    I am a developer and acknowledge my complete lack of skills in design. The 'technical' aspect was interesting and exciting for me so I met the challenge.

    With an understanding of my root intention(s), if you can recommend something for me to help with this I would greatly appreciate any help/advice/criticism.
    Don't be yourself. Be someone a little nicer. -Mignon McLaughlin, journalist and author (1913-1983)


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  20. #20
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Off Topic:

    @ Mother-in-Law very crafty there ParkinT!


    I think you painted a good word picture on your own!
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  21. #21
    Avid Logophile silver trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shyflower View Post
    Off Topic:

    @ Mother-in-Law very crafty there ParkinT!
    Off Topic:


    I knew that would evoke a response!

    It appears you have met My Mother-in-Law !!!!
    Don't be yourself. Be someone a little nicer. -Mignon McLaughlin, journalist and author (1913-1983)


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  22. #22
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    Hello ParkinT,

    Awesome, AWESOME idea that's seems to be coming along great! I work for a small business that develops and hosts websites for other small businesses and I've been searching the net looking for an app like yours that we could use on our website. I would love to speak with you more to learn about your app and present what we're looking to do to you to see if you'd be interested. Would it be ok to PM you?

    Thanks in advance!

  23. #23
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    I like the idea, I think it's a winner. It is unique. However, I struggle to see how you would cope with the hosting costs?
    follow me on ayyelo, Easy WordPress; specializing in setting up themes!

  24. #24
    Avid Logophile silver trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sega View Post
    I like the idea, I think it's a winner. It is unique. However, I struggle to see how you would cope with the hosting costs?
    Thanks for the positive feedback, @Sega

    You hit on the most exciting part of this idea (if I may brag a bit)!

    There is no hosting. I found a way to utilize Dropbox (a free service) that enables the user to post and maintain the files that comprise their site. The app does all the HARD WORK of setting it up (for anyone who is NOT tech-savvy) and the Dropbox API helps me do the "magic" of instancing those files in their account.

    The truth is that anyone (Designer/Developer) could do this for a user* but I hope this application makes it painless and simple enough to take the burden off a Designer.


    *Minus one simple trick I like to think of as my "Secret Sauce"
    Don't be yourself. Be someone a little nicer. -Mignon McLaughlin, journalist and author (1913-1983)


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  25. #25
    SitePoint Mentor silver trophybronze trophy

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    I think it's a winner anyhow. I am a little confused to how you will make enough money to host their sites, or how Drop Box works with hosting. I also have a Dropbox account but mine is for files. If clients can have their own domain, http://www.yourdomain.com/ and if you will be charging for this service. It's still a little grey to me, but all very exciting.
    Last edited by TechnoBear; Apr 21, 2012 at 11:47. Reason: Example URL delinkified
    follow me on ayyelo, Easy WordPress; specializing in setting up themes!


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