Simon Willison’s Weblog

Items tagged startups, webdevelopment

Filters: startups × webdevelopment ×


As a non-technical single founder for a web startup, is it better to hire a design firm to build the prototype, or find a technical co-founder?

Find a co-founder. The problem with using an outside agency to build your initial prototype is that you won’t really start learning about your product until after you have launched it. You need to have the talent available in-house to then make changes and improvements based on the feedback you get from real users.

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I’ve been working alone for about a year, how do I get out of this feeling of loneliness because no one is around me?

This is why co-working spaces exist. I don’t know which country you are based in but here in the UK most cities and many larger towns now have at least one tech-focused co-working space where you can rent a desk on a month-to-month basis and have a work environment outside your home with other freelancers with whom you can socialize.

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What would be a good web application framework to use for running a small online retail business?

I’d look at hosted SaaS solutions rather than running your own. I haven’t tried it myself but I’ve heard excellent things about www.shopify.com

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What’s best the site to visit to START building a website?

There are two ways to approach this: you can try and learn HTML yourself, or you can use tools that will help you build websites quickly without needing to code.

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If you’re starting a website as a product, what are the important things to consider for the domain and how important are they? Ex: effect of being .com, .net or .io etc., and is it okay to have a hyphen in the name?

Get the .com. If you don’t, you’ll find that a surprisingly large number of press mentions etc will link to the wrong place—and you may end up having to pay a fortune later to buy the .com from a domain squatter (the price goes way up once your site starts to gain traction).

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What is the best framework to use, Yii or Ruby on Rails?

This is a big decision, and it’s worth taking the time to pick what’s the best fit for you. I recommend going through the tutorials for each one, building the basic application they describe and seeing which made the most sense to you. As a Django developer, I suggest trying that framework too :)

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What are the best ways to get traffic to my SAAS project management app?

At your stage you won’t be able to get meaningful paying customers from regular web traffic. You need to be building up your customer base manually, one at a time, through a high touch sales process.

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How long should I budget for an experienced designer to design a responsive ecommerce store?

There’s no single answer to this—it depends on the scope of the project. A one-page store selling 3 items is quicker to design than a thousand page store with dozens of category homepages etc.

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I have an idea for a website, with an idea for eventually having cashflow out of it? However, my skills are insufficient to build it and I have no money at all to hire someone—what’s my best starting point?

You either need to learn some skills, or you need to earn some money. Sadly, having a good idea is not enough—you need to be able to execute it as well.

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What’s the best platform I can use for a food delivery startup? Shopify? Or should I instead learn to code?

Don’t build an e-commerce system as your first programming project—I know engineers with many years of experience who wouldn’t trust themselves to write code that handles money.

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How can I keep my website content exclusive?

No, there isn’t—people can always copy things if they really want to, it’s part of the cost of doing business. If you were to publish a book people could always photocopy it.

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