Developing the TYPO3 Website Builder ‘toujou’
This is a manifesto for conquering undiscovered markets, questioning business models, and finding solutions. And this is why we are convinced of our website builder ↗.
Today, with their workforce, countless website agencies providing TYPO3 services in Germany, Europe and worldwide build successful, large scale, excellent and highly complex websites. This leads to another important aspect: TYPO3 creates jobs. And fortunately, since markets are nowadays more connected than ever, the demand for elaborate web solutions is constantly increasing.
The number of professional corporate websites ranging up to high-end portals that were built with TYPO3 since the CMS first came out in 1998 is remarkable. That is, because the good work and quality is being assured by the core that has been entrusted with the ongoing development of the system.
Not entirely, no. The market is constantly growing, new technologies and ever-changing user behaviour keep business going. No doubt about that.
But – and this is the big 'but' here – our branch still lacks a certain sense for small and medium businesses with solid website budgets. Too often, ‘solid’ is considered as ‘small’. Sometimes rightly so, as agencies expect a fair wage for a well programmed web service.
The consequence: Small and medium enterprises (SME) are currently being served by a variety of mediocre web designers and website builders. Advertising the creation of a website in three minutes. That’s right! We’re not talking about a ‘five-minute-installation’ but a three-minute-website. Let’s just leave it at that.
TYPO3 evangelists should ask themselves, though: Is the market really large enough to leave a big chunk of potential clients behind? Are their budgets really too small to fulfill their needs? Can we afford the economic damage caused by endless relaunches until the client finally ends up with TYPO3? How can we serve local players and hidden champions who appreciate proficient development?
Let’s focus on the basic needs of these particular clients for a minute: They’re looking to launch websites quickly and professionally. They want a state-of-the-art website without the need of being relaunched ever again. Also, the service has to be affordable with a transparent cost model. The system has to be simple to handle by editors, marketing and web design staff. Of course, it should be responsive on every device, sustainable and possibly portable. Phew… Is that all?
It’s a bold concept: ‘One’ solution that serves ‘everybody’. Failure to meet expectations seems inescapable – either on the agency’s or the customer's side. Years of experience and numerous projects of different budget sizes have taught us so. Inevitably, the solution for a successful website builder should comprise components that offers both parties an attractive compromise.
On the customer’s side, you want to give them the best possible opportunity to create an individual website that has a unique look and feel mirroring their company's philosophy. Yes, of course real individuality is impossible to achieve because most of today’s standard functions of a website kind of work and look the same on the entire web. So how about teaching the client that content is king? That customisation is also part of their editorial work and corporate design?
On the technical and economic side of a TYPO3 website builder, you want developers to be able to handle daily customer service not individually but globally. Updates, bug fixes, deployments – everything you work on, every problem should be found and repaired once for all. Any other single, customer-specific handling would be counterproductive on the agency’s side.
The solution we aimed for: One customised pre-configured package that fits most of the needs of small and medium businesses.
Why ‘most needs’? Because all can never be achieved in an honest business model. Not even in custom website projects of any system or any size. Still, there is a sense out there that website building is easy and can be done within minutes. Is that what we want to promote?
We believe that an honest and affordable approach to TYPO3 could fill a major void. That is what we want to achieve: A complimentary business model to cater to all kinds of clients that have never been considered because of monetary reasons. At DFAU, we call it 'toujou'1. A made-to-measure website builder.
Already during the beta phase, ‘toujou’ has grown enormously on the basis of the first customer projects ↗. The same goes for the business model around it: We want to promote TYPO3, and it is certainly not our goal to steal any clients from anybody, by all means! So, how about preparing a lot of clients for future TYPO3 projects together?
TYPO3 Partners get the chance to distribute the kit themselves to much lower costs than the end customer would. This way, we can offer a margin for the agency to market their own services with. Or, if they cannot serve the interested client themselves, agencies have the option to secure a solid commission by handing over the project directly to us.
That’s what the open source community is all about. And we look forward to more partners who, with their ideas, take ‘toujou’ to the next level. In the meantime, we should all continue providing good development.
1Japanese for entry (on stage); appearance (on screen) / entrance; introduction (into a market)