Monday, December 12, 2011

Evaluating Hosting Platforms

Even though I grabbed the free Supadupa offer I'm still looking into others and comparing them to each other to see which seems the best to me. There are so many but I think that I'll stick with Supadupa, Weebly and Goodsie since I can get the most information about them from small sellers.

So far I have seven main issues to consider on my list. Of course I can get the most information about Supadupa because I can see all of the details and I have to look at demos for the others. There is an Etsy team for each one so I can learn a lot by reading through threads to see what kind of experiences other people have.

1) Stability of the company: Weebly wins since the other 2 are too new to have a track record yet.

2) Technical Qualifications: I can't find out much about that other than PR pieces but Goodsie often hangs up on me and I'm not sure why. Both Goodsie and Supadupa are so new that their servers might start bogging down as they get more traffic but there's really no way to predict that without asking a lot of questions that are none of my business. I've been out of the business for too long to do a decent evaluation of hardware and platform software anyway. Weebly probably wins because they're bigger and most likely have a larger and more well-paid staff.

3) SEO Capabilities: This is the most important thing to me so far. In order to figure this out I went to shops on each site and dumped the page source to see what they were sticking into the title, description and keyword HTML tags. The only real difference between them is in the use of the keyword tag. As far as I can tell neither Goodsie or Weebly is even using it at all and Supa is using them in just the way that I would want other than the keywords for the home page view. I wish that they would use our categories as keywords but instead they are using the words of our title separated by commas. It's not awful and I can somewhat work around it by using my keywords judiciously but I'd get a bit more bang for my SEO buck if they used the category names in full. They plan to implement a more granular level of control in the future so that will be fun to learn to use. IMO Supadupa wins on this one.

4) Cost: Obviously Supadupa wins since I just got a premium membership that is free for life and I can list up to 450 products. I'll die of old age long before that point. Weebly and Goodsie aren't expensive if you go for more than the stripped down free version but I can't get anywhere near this much for nothing on those sites. All I have to do on Supadupa is be a guinea pig and since I plan to do this slowly and not open until late spring or early summer I have time to see if something yucky comes up first.

5) Aesthetics: Goodsie sites look pretty nice and there appears to be a reasonable amount of template choices and customizable features. Some looked very nice and others made my eyes hurt because they were so busy. I looked at about a dozen weebly sites and didn't see even one that I really liked. The landing page is some "about" thing and I want people to see my products on the first click. That may be a choice but the shops all took too many clicks to get to the actual items and they all looked mostly the same and sort of bland and boring. It wasn't reassuring that most of them were just redirecting people to Etsy. Chances are that I'm only seeing some free accounts and that there are more interesting choices when you start to pay for them. IMO Supadupa wins this one. There is a really big selection of free templates, it's as easy as can be to run through them all and see your shop with them and most are very elegant and upscale looking. I can play around with all sorts of combinations of my logo and banner and switch them out for a preview. I think that I've narrowed it down to two choices and I like both of them so much that I can't choose one.

6) URLs - As far as I can tell I can redirect a main URL to all of them but Weebly charges for it, I think.

7) Ease of Use: I can't imagine how anything could be easier to use than Supadupa is. As I read through the Weebly and Goodsie team threads I don't get the sense that they're as much of a breeze to use. They also have a great feature that lets you put items in more than one category at a time and arrange each section in the order that you want your items to be in. I haven't looked into the payment methods, shipping and tax parts yet but no one else seems to be having trouble with them.

I'm sure that I'll find out new things that I should have considered as I go through the process of setting up my shop and redoing everything in it but for right now I think that Supadupa is the best choice for me.

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