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Every Friday, I post a small insight into running Curio City and/or Blue Hills Editorial Services. My most recent posts are directly below. You can also start with the first post, or use the subject labels to the right to home in on particular topics. Feel free to comment on anything that interests you.
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Friday, January 12, 2007

Possible Future 2: Curio Metropolis Online

My original design for Curio City Online was much grander than the basic web store that you see today. Drawing on my experience in PC game design, I wrote a long, detailed design document that described an e-commerce website like none other – one that made Curio City as much a community as a store. An old friend who owns a successful web design firm estimated that my ambitions would set me back $7,500, rock bottom, and probably substantially north of $10,000 – if they were even viable at all. My technology budget at the time was $2,500.

I doubled my tech budget and approached the contractors whom she had mentioned. The first one thought I was nuts. That's fine; his portfolio was pretty humdrum. The second developer was more diplomatic. He agreed to get a basic retail website up and running for me, and we’d see about the rest of it later on. One by one, I started pruning design elements and lowering my expectations. It was painful, but he was right: establishing a basic retail website was much more work than I had imagined.

My second possible future, which I call “Curio Metropolis Online,” is simply implementing my original site design.

Startup Phase 3 already includes some modest technological change for 2007. First, I have to absorb the long-delayed Sunshop version upgrade just to keep my site current; nothing can proceed until that’s out of the way. Then I need to find a new developer. Eric has consented to provide basic support, but he said long ago that he’s not interested in doing further implementation on my freaky design. Two other contractors have expressed some interest in implementing two important new features that I consider critical. (Sorry, but I have to be vague in case competitors stumble across this). But with the damnable Sunshop upgrade lying in the road ahead like a big steaming pile of muck, I can’t make any plans beyond that.

If I can roll out this planned functionality in 2007, and if Sunshop 4.0 delivers its promised search-engine enhancements, and if I can afford to pay for some modest professional SEO as well, then I will go into 2008 with a far stronger website than I have today. And that is the nucleus for the Curio Metropolis future.

If I go with Curio City Offline, web development more or less stops after Phase 3. If I go with Curio Metropolis instead, then the money that I would’ve borrowed to open a store in 2008 will instead go toward realizing my original 2005 design.

Moving Curio City out of my house is the one constant across all possible futures. On the positive side, the space requirements (and costs) for Curio Metropolis would be much more modest than those for a full-blown store, and the sales potential might be comparable. I’ll have a much stronger sense of that going into 2008.

On the negative side, web technology is my weakest skill area. Although it does build on all that I’ve learned up to this point, I would certainly remain dependent on SEO, marketing, and programming experts...something that hasn't worked out particularly well so far, thanks to my small startup budget. Running an offline store is a lot easier – not less work, you understand, but less demanding of specialized knowledge beyond my experience.

The Curio Metropolis future is compatible with Curio City Offline Lite, of course. At the moment, I consider this my most likely path. It seems unlikely that I will ever rent space without an eye toward OTC sales.

Forthcoming Topics:

  • Possible Futures 3: Tentacles of the Kraken
  • Possible Futures 4: Exile On Main Street
  • Startup Phase 3 Revisited, & Phase 4 Envisioned
  • Credit Card Processing

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2:07 PM

    We going in a similar way if thinking. I am right now working with designer to implement my 3rd step of dating empire growth. It will be more of a portal, then sales site. Cant talk much about it, but it should brake some grounds with a concept.



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