Tag Archives: website host

A tale of two e-commerce platforms

I’ve been developing a few websites with storefronts.  I used Nopcommerce three years ago, and it was impressive in many ways, but its poorly-defined technical support steered me elsewhere.

Two attractive e-commerce offerings with better-defined tech support are Volusion and SquareSpace.  Both offer mobile-responsive templates, and both products include hosting with tech support.

Volusion logoVolusion is more mature, potentially more flexible, and able to handle large volume needs. If you use it out of the box for online sales only, you may not need to write any code. If you need a physical store, you will need at least some HTML, CSS, and Javascript programming skills.  If your pages contain more than just simple paragraphs of text, you’ll need to write mobile-responsive code.  Volusion provides many options for every aspect of a business’s storefront, and its 24/7 telephone tech support is excellent.

Squarespace logoThe “drag and drop” SquareSpace templates allow a developer to quickly place a rudimentary SquareSpace site into production, but I don’t recommend it for sites of more than about twenty pages or a business with complex product inventory or special payment processing needs.  One could quickly roll-out a good-looking modest SquareSpace e-commerce site without writing one line of code.  Just don’t expect to easily expand this simple site into a large complex site, and your payment processing options are limited.  Unlike Volusion, SquareSpace does not seem to offer 24/7 tech support via telephone — only via email.

One beauty of both Volusion and SquareSpace is that you don’t need to host them.  Just pay a modest monthly hosting fee and let them keep your site on-line.  An attractive alternative to both is BigCommerce, but I have no personal experience with it.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

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Office Live is dead, mostly.

Microsoft tries a slightly different approach to keeping MS Office, their cash cow, healthy.

drawing: Microsoft

In 2007, Microsoft offered a fantastic deal: sign up for Office Live Small Business, register a domain name with them, host your modest website with them, create a blog on their platform, and share Office documents with your colleagues — all for little or nothing. I’ve been hosting my website and email there since 2007. They offered enhancements, including a storefront, for modest monthly fees. The collaboration portion was supposed to sell more copies of Microsoft Office.

I suspect that many Office Live users picked and chose: I used the website and email mailbox hosting services, but used OpenOfffice (cost $0) rather than Microsoft Office (cost $479).

For a couple of years it looked like Microsoft poured major effort into Office Live, but it suffered from lack of focus. About 2009, they began pulling the plug on it: they discontinued the storefront and blogging platform (“Microsoft Spaces”). Then development stopped. In 2010 they announced that they intended to kill Office Live and transition its users to a new product, dubbed Office 365.

I lost track of how many delays followed that announcement. During this time I looked at the transition procedure. I expected to see a simple procedure, but instead found a nightmare of confusing and incorrect documentation. It showed the usual lack of focus, as though people who never worked together or even spoke the same language had thrown together the mess that they called “The Transition Guide”.

I was sure that before the drop-dead deadline of April 30, Microsoft would produce a wizard that would ease the transition. I was wrong. They didn’t. In April I rolled up my sleeves and began transitioning my Office Live data to Office 365, and did the same for about a half-dozen clients.

Office 365 seems to be based upon the Software as a Service (“SAS”) model: you rent Microsoft Office from Microsoft for a monthly fee of $6.00 per user. I’ll continue to use Open Office instead.

I just heard that Microsoft has kept the email portion of Office Live, hosted by Hotmail, alive for one more month. I just tested mine. It is indeed alive.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695