People often ask me why I started writing the software for SpaceNode when there are countless thousands of competitors out there that offer you a website.
Some are "free" and others you have to pay hundreds or thousands of pounds for. Some you have to install yourself on rented server space and others give you a page on their website which, ignoring the adverts, you can consider your own.
So why write SpaceNode?
Through my work with DragonRising.com (personal development publisher) and TheAMT.com (association of therapists) I became irritated by having to login to different content management systems to post a news story or add a new product. This problem was OK managing one or two sites, yet soon became a pain in the backside when managing 50 other websites.
So I designed SpaceNode to be as easy editing one site as it is a hundred. Your login is the same on each site and you can administrate any of them from any other in your control. All for one and one for all!
Thus the first major feature of SpaceNode was born and was a welcome improvement for staff and clients alike. Not only was using the software more efficient and productive but people felt more comfortable learning one system well, than trying to remember the differences between 50 websites.
It was also an unforeseen and positive step forward that the easier something is to do then you are more likely to do it. The websites were all being updated more often and looked more active when a user came to visit.
That was an important message - a website that is easy to use will flourish where as a website you can't even login to will whither away and die.
At that stage we had nice looking news portals that were deceptively intelligent.
From the old days of creating static HTML files by hand, I loved the old naming conventions such as...
... much nicer than ...
Whilst I did this for neatness and structural beauty, it turned out that these links are also much more attractive to search engines. They also are easier to say down the phone!
However nice our features were for running in-house websites, it wasn't until late in 2008 when the system started distinguishing itself from the squabbling horde of other website providers.
That was when I had a vision which led to so many doors unfolding that it took a further 18 months to bring the product to market! The crux of the message was that the more connected a website is with its peers on the world wide web, the more successful and more visited it will be.
So I looked at our competitors and was shocked to see that very few of them provided a link to the websites they had made. That would be the first big feature of owning a SpaceNode website; we are proud of what we have created for you!
We also know that when you see people have visited in the statistics that this will make you happy and you are more likely to recommend a SpaceNode to your friends. This is simple stuff, yet most of our competitors are quite happy to pack you off with a website and not feel at all responsible for how well you do with the self-promotion.
If our commitment to help you get visitors wasn't enough, I also developed another unique feature thanks to the social networking site Facebook.
When you setup a website, it is almost impossible to get quality links back to your site yet with social networking, making these connections has become trivially easy. My own personal website http://AlexKent.com/ had no more than ten incoming links, yet I was pushing 250 on Facebook without even trying.
The question that obviously lead to the Eureka moment was – why does it have to be more difficult making those connections on social networking than it does on my own website?
So I started writing the software to allow my friends, colleagues and clients to have bloody good websites that networked well together and was pleased to discover that webmasters didn't mind linking back to your site if was done in just a couple of clicks.
Human nature is clearly that we are much more likely to do something if it is made as easy as possible. That goes for creating links as it does for getting your credit card out to buy a new SpaceNode website.
Yet, there was so much more that could be done with well thought-out websites that are automatically networked together. For one, they share links to each others updates so that visitors and search engines become aware of new content just that little bit quicker.
These networks can be organised by person (eg: Alex Kent's Buddies), by topic (eg: Pubs in Brighton) or by any other grouping such as a network sponsoring a particular charity.
By our beta-launch in February 2010 SpaceNode was at a stage where people who bought a website from us could expect to build a gorgeous online presence that they were extremely proud of. Not only was the system easy-to-use but I made sure that people don't out-grow their SpaceNode. I had created a system that was perfectly balanced between my complex needs as a programmer and the desire to reduce support requests as much as possible! Each support request received is direct feedback that the system needs to be either improved or better explained.
SpaceNode thus evolved from February 2010 to now (June 2010) with the clear aim of learning how real people at all different skill levels used the software. Just a few months on and I could not be more pleased with how it is going.
I wouldn't say that SpaceNode is idiot-proof – there is definitely a learning curve that most people get to grips with fairly quickly thanks to our online video tutorials. We could definitely make it simpler by taking away user choice and flexibility but by bubble-wrapping everything we would end up with software that is a mere shadow of the awesome power that a SpaceNode gives you.
If you are a complete novice with something to say then SpaceNode is perfect for you.
If you are a computer geek who has multiple sites to manage or just don't have the time to go the self-hosting route then SpaceNode is perfect for you.
If you are somewhere in between then SpaceNode is even more perfect for you!
I'm proud that we don't put caps on your success by limiting the number of pages or page views you're allowed. Some providers will stop displaying your website if too many people have visited! I believe this is an absolute disgrace and anyone wanting visitors should avoid these losers like the plague.
SpaceNode wants you to have a busy site. In fact, if you have a busy site we'll probably send even more people to you because we are proud of how you are doing! Whether your site is getting 100 or 100,000 visitors per day then the price is exactly the same at £59.99/year – bargain.
So who wants a SpaceNode website?
The natural target audience is any person or company looking to build up an online presence and we are keen to point out that we've made it an easy process to move your existing website or domain name over to us. Yes, you can even keep your email addresses.
I'm convinced that people will eventually outgrow social networking in favour of making their own independent websites. No matter how enjoyable it is to post content to a site belonging to someone else and know it is going to be seen by "friends" and family, I believe people will eventually become sick and tired of not getting the total credit for what they have to say or show the world.
For example, how long would you continue to freelance stories to your local paper without being paid? Or should we just be grateful for the privilege?
Surely it must be that every person would rather have their own website, if the price was cheap/free and they could build up new connections and online seniority. Not just based on casual relationships, but by any subject matter – be it topic, person or event.
There is also something to say about the controversy Facebook is churning in the media over privacy at the moment. SpaceNode makes the clear distinction that you would choose a website from us if you want to be easily found online! The way our pages and content is laid out and linked to is extremely attractive to visitors and search engines. The links you make between SpaceNodes and other websites is also good for giving you and your site exposure.
Our obvious market is anyone with services or products for sale, but what we've noticed is that there is a real hunger from creative people that want their articles to be read, music listened to or art appreciated. Even if they forgo revenue for the joy of seeing their content hit-counter steadily go up.
Many people when asked say they don't need a website, yet there is something inside everyone who wants to hold their little flag up and say to the world that they've created something they're proud of – come have a look.
In todays society where a drumming baby on YouTube attracts an audience of millions and queues for X Factor auditions wrap round the theatre, it is not improbable to foretell that in tomorrows world everyone will have a website and in a sense we can all be famous.
The future for SpaceNode websites is vast and we are only at the beginning of our journey to revolutionise the web. Like 'to Google' has become synonymous with search, I want 'SpaceNode' to be synonymous with building your web presence online.
My to do list is vast and what I've spoken about in this article is only what we've managed to achieve in 18 months development time. There are so many possibilities that are now possible thanks to the foundations that SpaceNode is built on.
So that is why we didn't just accept the status quo and sign up to the same old websites making the same mistakes. We dreamt of a brighter future for anyone wanting a web presence and we are super-pleased with the impact we've made so far.
As for the future...
Watch this Space-Node!