WebKeyDesign Interviewed

It’s another long, boring day at work and so CoffeeBear.net is happy to bring you this interview with the man behind our webhost, WKD.

CB.net: Who is WebKeyDesign?
WKD: Essentially, it’s just one person. Francisco Olaguez.

CB.net: What inspired you to start your own company?
WKD: At first it was boredom, because I felt that there was not enough challenging things in my life, but now that I reflect on it more. Even though the business has made my life more stressful, it has improved my health. I have less time and what time I do have is more focused. I am definitely the type of person that produces more in chaos, than order, so if lots of things are happening, I end up doing more, not less.

CB.net: What is WebKeyDesign?
WKD: Well, the WebKeyDesign.com website serves two purposes. The main one of course is for people to purchase simple web hosting and support for their websites.

My customers are mostly average people who have modest hosting needs like bloggers and of course non-technical clients who need a web site, but who have very limited budgets. The original market for WebKeyDesign was suppose to be for daycare organizations that wanted to create a web presence. Once the school season starts again, I will actually start to work on a couple of daycare sites.

CB.net: Daycares with a web presence? Where did you ever come up with that idea?
WKD: My son’s daycare is a non-profit business and I found that their primary way of communicating with parents is through paper flyers. Most school children bring home a lot of paper already from the school, and young children are very good at losing things like papers. I suggested to them that they use a web site instead to publish their information, this way even if the child lost it, the parents could access everything online.

The daycare was interested in this, but the local school system does not allow for things like MySQL and CGI on their webserver, so the daycare would have to purchase hosting separately to make a nice dynamic site.

Eventually, it was they who pushed me into taking care of everything, from hosting, to site design, to support.

CB.net: I’ve noticed lately you’ve been reading a lot about SEO (e.g. in magazines and on websites). How does this fit into your company’s mission of providing simple web hosting & support for the non-technical crowd? Also, what is SEO anyways?
WKD: SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization. Coming from a technical background, I knew that quite a bit of hacking takes place on the Internet, but in the SEO world, you will find a lot of it as well.

What good, harmless SEO means, is that you make your site popular by doing such things as analyzing your web traffic, finding the right search phrases that people use, and monitoring your competition to see what makes them popular.

Some SEO is expensive, like using a Google AdWords campaign to market your site to the Internet at large.

Then there is the spammer SEO, some of this came to light with the WordPress.org website. Spammer SEO is all about cheating the search engines like Google and Yahoo.

WordPress.org has a very high Google PageRank which is what Google uses to rank a site important. By WordPress.org linking to your site or collection of sites, you instantly attain a higher PageRank, which makes your site higher on Google’s search results. Search Engines believe that sites should be important because of their content, not their links, and so stuffing a bunch of invisible links into a popular site to make other sites popular is not something they condone.

However, spammer SEO does happen every day and the search engines are getting better at ignoring it, but from a business point of view, if you can drive 10,000 more visitors to your site, the temptation is hard to resist.

In some cases though site owners do not understand that what they are doing is borderline unethical, and if you break Google’s policies enough, they will ban your site and possibly your business.

CB.net: Just to clarify, when you mentioned “hacking”, in your previous answer, were you meaning it in the same blatantly wrong manner as the mainstream media (e.g. as a reference to illegally accessing other people’s computers and/or networks) or are you actually using it in the correctly (as a reference to programming a computer in a clever, virtuosic, and wizardly manner1)?
WKD: I mean it more in a general way, that hacking is something you do that you know is wrong, but you do it anyway because you can. In other words, not hacking for the sake of curiosity.

CB.net: That doesn’t make much sense…
WKD: It’s like stealing a pack of gum. You know it’s wrong and don’t really need the gum, but you’re doing it anyway. Basically, I’m using it as a negative term.2

CB.net: Sorry about digressing there, but the way the mainstream media misuses the term is one of my pet peeves. Getting back to talking about SEO, you gave a good overview of it but you have not yet told us how it plays into your company’s strategy.
WKD: I myself don’t have the time to do much SEO. I rather make WebKeyDesign.com popular by adding content than by researching a new key phrase every day. Plus, the big strategy was there from the beginning, when I switched to WordPress to drive the site’s main content. WP has some great plugins like SiteMapper and Jerome’s Keywords that make SEO easy for everyone3. Blogs in general have some great built-in features that helps search engines index them.

RSS being the most important and obvious one that I can think of.

CB.net: What do you find most enjoyable about having started the company?
WKD: There is a sense of empowerment in being able to say that you run your own little enterprise, and then there is the occasional moment when a customer is really happy with your business and lets you know it.

CB.net: And what’s the worst part?
WKD: For me it has always been sales and marketing. Even when I was younger and sold audio equipment, I was never that great of a salesman. I hate to bother people in general, but when you are a small business, marketing is everything. You have to open your mouth and introduce yourself, give strangers your business card, and so on, because you never know when you will hit upon your next customer.

Some clients end up buying your product after they thought about it, and other clients make up their mind immediately. So far, when I have kept in touch with potential clients, it has not worked for me; I have had better success with being less of a salesman.

CB.net: Doesn’t that make the choice of starting a web hosting company rather awkward? After all, there are thousands of companies out there already doing this sort of thing.
WKD: Yes, the market is quite flooded with overnight hosting companies, but what I found out through research is that the majority of companies doing webhosting are not interested in talking to small clients. The major hosting companies only want clients who can pay around $35 or more a month for services.

Their business is also very automated. Any time they actually have to communicate with people, even through email cost them money, and cuts into their profits, so the majority of companies would rather not deal at all with small websites.

It is actually the same thing with domain names and other internet services. Companies see support as a negative, so they rather not have these clients at all.

This is where WebKeyDesign comes in. We only service small clients and we give them the same product that they could not afford otherwise. The biggest benefit is that they talk to a real person and they get actual support even though they are paying less.

CB.net: It certainly sounds like a noble goal and we wish you luck with it. I’m afraid that I’ve run out of questions for you. Do you have any closing remarks that you’d like to make?
WKD: I would like to thank you, Manzabar for your time, and say that starting your own business really requires three things: Money, Patience, and Determination. You have to be careful that you use what little money you have wisely and that your grow the business gradually as best you can. Thank you.

Well faithful readers, that’s it for this interview. If you liked this sort of thing, please let me know in the comments and perhaps we can see about doing again sometime in the future.

1 Definition taken from the Urban Dictionary.
2 The majority of this interview was done via IM; however this question/answer was just chatter back&forth through the cube walls of our office. As such, the wording used here may not be 100% accurate.
3 I checked with WKD after the interview to get the links to the plugins he mentioned and found when he said SiteMapper; he was actually referring to the Google Sitemap Generator plugin.

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