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HackPress: When Cutting Corners Leaves You Bankrupt

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Over dramatic title? Not at all. This is a very serious issue that I see repeated over and over again with dire consequences.

The problem is for a lot of us, we don’t really have the funds to do what we want to do. We have a grand idea and a plan and want to make it happen. In fact even large budget client tends to want more features then they can actually afford ( but often don’t need ).

Wether you are bootstrapping ( self funding a product ) or you just don’t want to invest too much in a untested idea, there is a motivation to get the product to market as quickly as possible whilst keeping the costs down as much as possible.

This much makes sense; of course you want to keep the investment minimal on a unproven idea. The issue lays in how you try to keep costs down. By the way, when I say product I include web sites.

There are also those who are fully established, but want to save money. Bigger companies are a key candidate for this. Whoever is in charge of the budget doesn’t understand the importance of investing in one of their key assets. What is worse they put their users at risk to save money. Not good at all.

Enter the world of HackPress.

You have a wealth of plugins, themes and cheap labour. You can get a website or web app on a shoe string budget. You make your own website even if you have no experience.

    • Takes a deep breath **

This is a massive misconception. But that topic needs it’s own blog post. But suffice to say, yes it can save you money to build using WordPress. But not necessarily and not always.

WordPress is a great platform to use for startups, it’s recommended for a good reason.

But because it’s so often used in a hacky way, it’s gotten a sour reputation too. It has gotten a reputation as the platform for quick and dirty. This is a shame because done right, WordPress is an amazing tool.

There is a big problem with the HackPress approach (i.e cutting corners), that have potentially very serious consequences.

The idea seems to generally be that if you can just get the product to market, then you can re-invest later, once a little money is coming in. This isn’t bad reasoning at all, but again it’s the way you go about these things.

Because what I most often see released is a poor quality, half baked product. It’s buggy, it has a terrible user experience, it looks amateurish and the most serious; it’s often full of security issues.

A product like that is highly likely to make no money, not a little money. The web is full of spammy sites and people are very on guard when they come across a site that looks amateurish. They don’t trust them. It’s very very hard to get traction with a new product, even when you do everything the right way.

What is more serious then perception is security. I cannot emphasis enough how important security is, but alias it tends to fall on deaf ears in the HackPress world.

I have seen far too many sites that deal with credit cards and other personal data being launched that are massively insecure. To make it worse they launch even when I’ve told them it’s insecure, so it’s not like they have the excuse that they didn’t know…

I’m scared for these people, the risks they are taking is, well, pretty scary.

Reputation and branding is a integral part of a successful business. What do you think will happen to your reputation if it gets found out that you put a product to market that put your customers at risk? I’d wager your reputation, as well as the product will be down the drain.

That’s the better case scenario. What if you actually get hacked? That thing you assume just happens to other people, actually happens to you? What if when your customers land on your site, they are presented with some porn? Or some message about how your computer has a virus. Or just a nice “You’ve been owned by xxxhacker92”?

Again, that’s the better case scenario. What if you actually are responsible for losing customers personal data or even credit card details? It’s more then just reputation at risk, you could very well face a law suit…

The solution is to cut corners in the right places, not the wrong places.

Enter the minimal viable product.

The MVP, is all about getting the minimal viable product to market. It is the opposite of the idea of making something feature rich in the hopes that will make it more successful. It’s about being picky and choosing only the ones that are vital to the success of the product and not just the “Nice to have”. You make a minimal, beautiful, landing page that is optimised for conversion.

It’s about focusing on the essential that your product needs to sell.

You bring a product to market that has only the most essential features to make it viable. You can test and add new feature dependant on what your customers want. MVP’s are a good thing. There is also the concept of the MLP, the minimal lovable product.

Let’s make minimal viable products that are made in a safe and responsible way using WordPress and avoid the dark and scary world of HackPress.

Be responsible, ethical and safe when using WordPress.


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