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Tag Archives: launch

I just spent the last many hours fixing bugs. I can’t imagine how many there are …
Gee I’m so stressed out with hardly any sleep AND I need to go have a meeting later today for a stupid University project. I’ve been threatened of being kicked out of the subject for not contributing enough to the project. BS. Why do I not give a shit about University anymore? And I don’t respond well to threats.

But before I have that meeting I need to go to my sister’s birthday lunch thing. I’m getting ulcers in my mouth >.<

So far nobody has joined the site yet … even though I sent out 50 or so invitations.

Ahhhhh this is sad.

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Okay, this is the unofficial “pre-beta” launch of PenpalVoice.com. The website is still pretty unstable but is open to everyone (who is reading this post), for testing. If you are interested in testing the website go to: www.penpalvoice.com/penpal/

The /penpal is required for now. You will be able to access http://www.penpalvoice.com directly when the testing period is over.

Depending on whether there are serious security breaches during this testing period, the website’s database may be reset after a few days before the “official” launch. If all goes well then nothing will be reset (hopefully this is the case).

Also, there are parts of the website that are obviously missing or incomplete. I’m keenly aware of this 🙂 However if you find any bugs please comment here. Any feedback welcome. Thank you!

Here’s a tiny peek at the website that will be launched in the next 24 hours.

Finally I think the pagination is all done. Now I just need to fix a few things, then the website should be online sometime in the next few hours 24 hours.

pagination!

pagination! yes this is how it appears on the site

Here is a quick summary of the progress towards launch day (scheduled for the 28th Australian Eastern). The local time is currently 5:05AM on the 26th July 2008.

THE CONCEPT
The concept is simple. The website is a language exchange profiles site. In other words, a penpal site.

THE NAME
The name and domain name of the website will be released on launch day.

THE HOSTING
I just signed up to Media Temple Dedicated Virtual hosting (dv), and I’m paying by the month because I can’t afford to pay upfront for a whole year. I did say I was going to sign up to the Grid (gs) plan, but giving it A LOT OF thought, I decided I’d just go straight to Media Temple’s Dedicated-Virtual (dv) plan for $50USD a month. The web application is custom built in PHP using the CakePHP framework, and it’s a user profile website – that combination seemed very unsuitable for the Grid plan due to guesstimated resource usage (it’s very difficult to actually estimate). What’s more, bugs are to be expected in the coding and it’s not unlikely that the web application will be a resource eater until the bugs are addressed. If I were on the Grid and started eating up resources it could qualify as resource abuse. However if I ran a blog or a personal website, I’d host it on the Grid, definately. More information on hosting later. I am currently familizaring myself with the (dv) control panel. It looks clean and beautiful.

THE MARKETING
I’m a newbie in marketing so I’ve been rather unprepared the whole way long. I have been researching Google Adwords as well as guerilla marketing methods. The idea is to clearly project to others what the website is about and inject passion into it. That should be no problem because I’m already passionate about language learning (currently learning German). Deutsch zu schreiben und sprechen gefaellt mir schwer aber ich lerne gerne 😉

MARKET POSITIONING
Obviously there are many other penpal sites out there. One thing that I did not research when deciding to develop the penpal site was how many there are already on the market! Unfortunately, I only figured this out just a month or two ago. It’s going to be near impossible to compete (I believe), but having put hundreds of hours (maybe over 1000), it would be a huge waste not to try anyway.

Also, I’ve had to change the focus of the website several times in the past month, in order to differentiate against other penpal sites. Will it be enough? Only time will tell.

I know I’m being rather vague, but that’s deliberate 🙂 You’ll see the website on launch day.

GRAPHIC DESIGN
Graphic design was done (and is still being done) in Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and Fireworks. I previously finished the logo but now I need to change it again because of a last minute change website name!

The site is pretty simple looking (and also simple in general).

SITE DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT
Due to limited resources (there’s only 1 person on the project, me) the website is very simple and is not feature packed. I think I’ve covered all the basic features, though.

There are many bugs I still have to fix, and a few features to put in! So I better get to it!

As always, more info coming…

I posted about choosing a webhost a few days ago and listed some webhosts that I was considering to use. MediaTemple wasn’t one of them, but I’m pretty sure I will go with Media Temple’s Grid (gs) plan for $20 a month. This is their lowest-end plan.

Yes, I have heard that lots of people had a lot of problems with Media Temple’s Grid hosting plan – downtime, slowness, the whole lot.  So why am I considering Media Temple’s (gs) plan? One reason is that I really like their higher end dedicated virtual (dv) plans a lot and MT doesn’t seem to have any problems with them. So, should the site become successful and draws significant traffic, I want to migrate from the (gs) plan to their much more reliable (dv) plan anyway. I think it’s MUCH easier to migrate a site within a hosting company than between hosting companies.

Second reason – MT’s site looks awesome. Yes I have heard the mantra, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, but the awesomeness of MT’s site seems to point to their passion and commitment to what they do. I can judge companies for their up-time, support, pricing, technology etc, but I believe that passion, above all, is what’s most important. And MT shows it. So I’m pretty sure I’ll be hosting with them.

The third reason – MT’s worst problems with the Grid was back in 2006 and 2007. It appears the Grid has stabilized a lot more since.

The fourth reason – Notable companies such as Adobe and Starbucks have dealt with/are doing business with MT. This probably isn’t a really good reason, but still it gives me some confidence 🙂

The fifth reason – MT has a AA rating from the Better Business Bureau.

The sixth reason (and probably the biggest one) – Intuition!

The ‘Web 2.0’ website I have been working on is a user profile site for language learners. In other words, it’s a penpal website. So, it’s not exactly a new idea. As a consequence I’m seeking to differentiate it from other penpal sites, but until the launch I’ll have no idea if it’s been differentiated enough to take off.

More info is on the way …

Financial viability in terms of bandwidth usage. Now that’s something I didn’t think much about. Now I’m feeling pretty depressed after doing some maths on bandwidth usage.

Mathematically, it’s extremely unlikely that the site’s revenue (if any) will be able to cover its own bandwidth costs when launched. Taking into account all of the users’ submitted media, the bandwidth usage would skyrocket way past a budget host’s limit. Also, Google’s Adsense (which is what I hope to implement) is a poor revenue model for social networks/profile sites. And that’s all assuming the website will attract users, which was never so likely in the first place.

Very depressed.

But Harper Lee’s Atticus once said, “Courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and you see it though no matter what“. Licked is a slang term for “defeated”. That quote has stuck with me since studying the book To Kill a Mocking Bird in 9th grade.

So that is what I am going to do.

Besides, it’s never all for nothing. Regardless of how the website turns out I will have learnt about many things –

  • Web development in general
  • PHP
  • The CakePHP framework
  • SEO
  • Making good content
  • Some marketing strategies
  • The software development process
  • Information Architecture
  • Time management
  • How much time a simple web application really takes to build!
  • It’s a bad idea to be a 1 man team! Have at least 2 or 3 programmers in a team.
  • What I’m talking about in this article.

Oh, and I’ll definately put the on my CV as one of my personal projects 🙂

But let’s not be so self-centered, yeah? With what I’ve learnt I will –

  • Write tutorials to help others with the programming problems that I encountered during development
  • Write tutorials about the development process
  • … and many other tutorials

Alright. Enough writing. It’s time to get stuff done! And remember the quote.

Nothing but headaches over here.

I have to make several changes to some forms because of usability issues. What this means is that the backend code also needs to change too. It’s a lot more complicated than I first thought. A seemingly simple change to the user interface layer can cascade right down to the database layer of application.

One of the problems I’m having is the use of multi-select boxes (the box where you hold down CTRL to select multiple things). This form element is a usability nightmare. So now I’m refactoring the multi-select boxes into several, single dropdown menus. This means I need to rewrite some backend code as well.

Usability issues aren’t the only problem. There are a few fundamental issues with the database design too. I’ve also done a fair amount of poor programming and lots of code needs to be fixed!

The revised launch date is now the 28th of July 2008 (hopefully I won’t have to change it again)

Soldiering on …

I’m launching a simple Web 2.0 website sometime soon, whatever “Web 2.0” really means. My budget for the entire development of this website is $0. There is just 1 person working on it (me). I have a hosting budget of $300USD. I have no education or experience in business or marketing. I am still studying Software Engineering at University, which has a high workload at the moment.

That is sounding incredibly ridiculous, and I haven’t even told you what the website is about!

However, I’m not going to reveal what the website is about yet. What I’ll reveal is that launch day deadline I set myself is rolling towards me like a freight train and the website is nowhere near complete. What also matters is that this website will have a 99% chance of totally failing. By “failing”, I don’t mean it from a technical viewpoint, but from a business viewpoint, i.e. the site will not attract visistors.

“I will reveal new details about the progress of the website on a daily basis, and I hope you can follow me on a journey that began with the first step a few months ago.”

You may wonder. If this guy is so disillusioned, why is he still working on the website when the odds are so improbable? Is he crazy? Possibly. This is going to sound cliched, but I’m doing this because I’m passionate about it. I love building things, I love building websites. I’m not good at it, and I’m a slow learner. But the passion always shines through. So, in the unlikely case that the website does succeed, great! But if it doesn’t, I wouldn’t have lost anything. I will have gained a significant amount of knowledge and experience.

In any case, I am working on the website as if it will be a tremendous success. If I place myself in the mentality that “my projects will never ever succeed”, then I will never see a single success in my life.

I’ll reveal new details about the progress of the website on a daily basis, and I hope you can follow me on a journey that began with the first step a few months ago.