So this week I was back in VA/DC for some business. A good trip, certainly nice to see the coworkers as always, in person as opposed to just chatting and so forth.
A big highlight of the trip though was the chance to go to the latest Refresh DC meeting. I hadn’t been, and since moving to Massachusetts I’ve been meaning to get to a Refresh Boston, but hadn’t gotten a chance just yet. So this was great.
It was a packed house. The last meeting, from what I’d heard had about 15 people. By the end of the day on upcoming.org about 30 people had signed up. However, it was totally cool to see about 50 people actually show. Crazy.
Passionate Web Entrepreneurship
At any rate, this was especially great because my totally cool and talented coworker Alex Giron, of CSS Beauty fame, was was speaking with Joshua Lane (another, and another) on “Passionate Web Entrepreneurship”. It concentrated a lot on the challenges and considerations that anyone interested in creating a niche online offering, that might actually get popular (or even not), has to face. It was a good talk.
What was especially great about it was the focus on something other than blog construction. These days, everyone has a blog (note the irony), and just about anyone can sign up for one. They talked at length and in detail, from personal experiences, about design, competitive research, advertising, content management, and scalability. Alex even handed out the pieces of paper he used to originally sketch out (yeah, on paper, imagine that) his ideas for the current design of CSSBeauty, which he still carries around!
What struck me about this was the application to the business side of things, some of which I think only comes up when you’re building Web sites for enterprises or other potentially higher volume sites. This is the professional stuff. These are the things which separate the “men from the boys” so to speak, or the professionals from the kid who just happened to crack open FrontPage (no link for a obvious reasons). ;-)
Anyone who does this sort of thing professionally should have been reminded that the same rules can and often do apply to your personal projects, and for good reason. But bottom line, just about anyone can do it.
Of note were:
- finding a thing you can be passionate about, because of the time required to do a great job
- being first to market
- while designing, looking over the competition
- while designing, keeping focused on the focus for the site
- examining content management tools
- the benefits of using a database to organize volumes of content
- search engine optimization tips around page titles, etc.
- advertising placement
- concerns about scalability and site traffic, both from the performance and Web hosting sides (basically, you get what you pay for)
In the end, it pointed to careful planning and thinking ahead. They, like many others have had missteps, things that worked and didn’t, but they were able to bring it down to earth in a clear way without going on in IT or marketing terms which are meaningless to so many people.
As always, it was cool to go hang out after and meet some interesting people, including getting a chance to talk with Josh, who’s a real nice guy, and meeting various others. It was a great time.
So what’s next? Yeah, next week I’m going to be attending The Ajax Experience in downtown Boston. I’m really looking forward to that.
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