Friday, December 17, 2004

2004 Year Ender - My 2004 in a Flash in the IT Scene

The IT Web Business

2004 was the first start of a new year for my new company YDS Web Solution. For a very long time I was identified as part of Action Online Co. Ltd. Too much projects, too little time, too little money. I got burned out and quit the company in 2003 and eventually closed in August 1, 2003. Being burned out, I decided to do business passively. Not really put in serious effort in running the business and just work in the IT industry instead for some company. I ended up working for Informatics Computer Institute and mid-2003 and 2004 was when I decided to leave my job there too.

Although I did not put in serious effort in YDS Web Solution during the start of 2004, everything just fell into place. New deals coming in without serious selling. I realized I was not really identified that much as part of Action Online, but was identified as myself. And clients for YDS Web Solution slowly started building up again, simply because of referrals. Lost clients started coming back without really calling them up. Only recently have I decided to call everyone up again when I noticed they were coming without effort. What more if I exerted effort.

Being a smarter businessman this time, I only took in what I can do with a lower limit on time range and price. I did not take too low prices or too short development time. If the client did not like it, I did not take it. And minimized freebies that are really hard to deliver. I believe these were three major mistakes of Action Online that caused the great burn out. Too low price, too short time and too much freebies that come with loose contracts.

With the amount of competition, and low market prices for web design, YDS Web Solution is still a SOHO (Small Office Home Office), but with a service that of a corporate giant. With connections of other SOHOs, any kind of project is attainable.

Closing more than one deal a month without selling hard is already a good feat for the company. 2004 has been very fortunate for YDS Web Solution, with clients not only in the Philippines but in the States as well.

Hosting Server Upgrade

2004, there are two new Philippine web hosting companies that started to do a massive marketing campaign to promote their drop down web hosting packages. They were killing the competition. So YDS Web Solution had a major server upgrade. Thus on the start of 2005, most accounts on my hosting server will have extra disk space and other features added with no additional charge. The trigger for the change was the two web hosting companies that offered very low prices.

Big Email Boxes

GMail, the email made by search engine giant Google offer free email with a big twist others can't even seem to offer, a 1GB email account. Still in beta period and a per invitation usage but will be offered to the public really soon. This put Yahoo and MSN up on their toes as they needed to retained their email users. So both companies increased their mailboxes to 250MB.

MSN just having the first mover advantage in email usage is trying it's best to retain all users. Yahoo being a first mover too in search engines already made a household known brand name. With tie-ups with everything, your Yahoo account can do a lot, join egroups, play Yahoo games, pay the bills, search the internet, send greetings, look for people, use their instant messenger service, there is so much convenience that comes with a single account. So I predict Yahoo not loosing much email subscribers in the presence of GMail. Also MSN accounts can do a lot, they integration does not seem that streamlined in the same way it is with Yahoo.

In the web business, where companies like mine offer email accounts that you pay for, needed to increase disk space too. Why? They are paying for your service for an email account. And here is the free GMail with 1GB! Some people are willing to sacrifice their own branded domain name email for a big email account. So email boxes of YDS will also be increased in 2005. The trigger of the events was caused by GMail.

Cheap Domain Names

When Yahoo sold domains at $9.95, I decreased my domain name prices on from $14.50 to $9.50. Actually this price does not surprise me. There are several companies selling domains this low, but Yahoo is just known so much that it will spread the word too fast. Thus my domains dropped right away to $9.50.

New Technologies and Skills Learned for Me

Being a hard core HTML tables coder, 2004 was the start of a big change. The switch to tableless HTML maximizing the use of CSS. Once I got into it, I never let go of it. For me it is the best way to make sites today. Yahoo and Red Hat switched to full CSS websites this year too. For me, CSS in combination with PHP, all my websites are now based on one HTML page calling different parameters to show dynamic content. That part may not be as easy as making plain HTML, but once applied in all your work, updating will be a breeze. Everything can be done so fast which is critical in this business.

Search Engine Optimization was a broad general topic for me before. I knew the general concept, but never really had any idea how to effective implement it. Today, I have learned so much about SEO, how search engines work and how websites should be made, but it is still a continuing learning process as life goes on. But in 2004, I got started with the dirty details of SEO.

Being a PHP user where I made serious projects starting 1999, my programming style is still evolving. With many projects made in the past, whenever I have new projects, I consult my old projects for reference. But in 2004, I started NOT to consult my old work, but simple check the latest PHP manual. And I started changing some parts of my programming style to something better. Today I can say my programming is more organized, scalable and easier to maintain. The whole story is also applicable to MySQL where I believe also improved by simply reading about new ways to do things.

I consider myself an artist by heart. I was a member of my school's art club since 4th grade, was the president in high school, won the poster making contest, won diorama competitions, won room decoration competitions where we basically painted the whole wall with some art work. Then this skill started to fade away when I started concentrating on backend jobs than frontend in web development. But this 2004, I can say my designing skills were reborn. Today I just get tons of ideas coming from nowhere but I was just exposed to so many designs that stirred up my imagination again. Aside from the artistic training, I have learned a lot more do's and don'ts in website design. Making websites more effective which is the real point in making one than making one so beautiful but does not sell at all.

Operating Systems and Other Software Preferences

Although my server runs on Red Hat Linux, my personal use computer is still pretty much on Windows. I've got a copy of Xandros Linux and will be installing it pretty soon. Although I am sold out with the power of a Mac PC for this 2004. I will not be getting one for 2004, probably in 2005.

I used IrfanView all my life as my primary image viewer. But now, I also have iBrowser installed.

Winplosion as an additional tool to the common Alt-Tab.

Trillian Pro instead of Trillian.

I now use Dreamweaver sometimes. Before I do not use it at all since I am a Homesite user. But most of the time, I am still a Homesite user. I just like Dreamweaver for fixing out sites that I didn't make.

Firefox as my primary browser of choice than MSIE. AvantGo for offline web browsing on my PDA. BitTorrent for P2P.

That is basically my 2004. I expect more of happen in 2005. I picture more XML coming into the picture and myself using multi-platform environments, using WiFi, broadband and wireless handheld devices.

Merry Christmas to all of you and a Happy New Year. If you still have questions, just ask them. Sometimes I get to reply right away, and they will be posted here on this blog. Happy Holidays!

Benj Arriola


Post a Comment

<< Home