The whole point of marketing is to get people using your product. Obviously. But when it comes to our line of work, the product is rolled into the service. You want to use our CMS, shopping cart, or MagicMirror? It comes as part of our Traction Systems web development solution.
MagicEdit is much the same, as it includes an easy-to-use CMS that is perfect for smaller projects. Of course it does not have all the features a full-blown Traction site has, but our customers are more than pleased with its capabilities. The thing about MagicEdit, however, is that it's not necessarily both a service and product; it can be just a standalone product. That is to say, any designer who knows basic HTML (and I do mean basic HTML) can deploy it on any website.
Just like everyone else, web designers are only interested in shiny and have a very high opinion of their own personal style. Not that they shouldn't hold their own work in high regard, I'm just saying that they won't look twice at MagicEdit if it's not running on a site they designed. Knowing this to be true, we put an ad out on Craigslist to "hire" a designer to design us a website using MagicEdit. We didn't do this as a contest or a marketing ploy per se; we actually wanted to pay a designer or two to throw together a simple site in their spare time, just so they could see how easy MagicEdit is and hopefully start using it for some of their clients. The result? Food for thought, to say the least.
Now I know there are a lot of experienced, hard-working freelance web designers who hang out on Craigslist looking for work. There are also a lot of less experienced, less hard-working freelancers who hang out on Craigslist, looking to steal clients with the promise of quick turnaround and unbeatably low prices. We knew the market going in, but we were hoping to get a few decent designers out of the bunch and were willing to pay fair market value for a simple brochure site.
We decided on a few criteria that had to be met before any designer would be considered. The first criterion was that the designer had to be independent and somewhat local, meaning on this continent. Nothing personal against foreign web mills, but that's just not what we were going for. This automatically removed about two thirds of the applicant field. Second requirement was that they were actual designers, not high school students saving Word documents as websites or retired electricians looking for a new line of work that decided web design was their calling. This got rid of a bunch more. Third criterion was that they not reply to us with a form letter. For the remaining applicants we referred back to the number one guideline as listed in the job posting. "This site must be done using MagicEdit." This requirement got rid of about 95% of the remaining candidates. Seriously. Out of the 100s and 100s of applicants, only a handful took the time to: a) read the job posting; b) figure out what MagicEdit is; and c) agree to use it. While we did find a couple people that we hired to try it out, the entertaining part is, of course, the other replies we got back. Keep in mind that the only people at this time using MagicEdit were our own designers; we had no freelancers as customers yet. The responses, therefore, range from desperate to flat-out lying, with some hilarity sprinkled in along the way:
So what do the results mean? Well, looking at it from our point of view as a potential client who actually knows what web design and development entail, it means that most designers are not open to new ideas, regardless of how much they know. Many of them were fully prepared to use clunky and/or useless tools to get a job done quickly when instead, using basic HTML, they could have gotten paid to learn a new skill that would actually make their lives easier. And yes, I know, probably all designers and developers (ourselves included) have been guilty of this at some point. The system you use is the best, right? Well, maybe not. There is always a better way to do something and there is always a better tool for the job. When it comes to simple yet robust, built in CMS solutions, we are sure MagicEdit is the best. Not just because we built it, because we actively use it. And how many of our sites look like WordPress templates? None of them. If you build HTML-based sites (and I hope you do, because the days of Flash are certainly numbered), then you need to try MagicEdit.