Sustainable websites make sustainable businesses - jweiland.net
Jochen Weiland of jweiland.net gave me a lot of insight in his experience with the development of TYPO3–the content management system (CMS) and the community–over the years. Jochen and I had met for the first time in 2012, so it was great to get the chance to catch up with him again at the TYPO3 Developer Days 2017 in Malmö.
Jochen’s business is built around being a one-stop-shop for his clients. The sites he builds today for his clients need to keep serving them as their businesses grow and evolve. TYPO3 CMS and the TYPO3 GmbH Partner Program enable him to offer a comprehensive service built on a sustainable platform.
When Jochen started using TYPO3 CMS, there was little or no documentation. People were itching to try it out after reading great press and buzz around this new CMS. As soon as Jochen figured out how to install it, he posted the instructions on his blog. This caught attention of others who wanted to use TYPO3 and soon people were coming to him for help. Some were not comfortable with having to use the command line, “So they asked me ‘can you install T3 for me?’”
The answer was: Yes. He arranged to set TYPO3 sites up for free, generating revenue through hosting referrals. More success followed. “After a couple of hundred of servers I thought, I have to start my own hosting business.” Now jweiland.net has fourteen people on staff, totally focused on TYPO3. Most of their business is still hosting to this day. Yet the development work they do building sites for clients keeps their skills sharp. “We don’t strictly need to do the agency work, but we want to do it,” helping them stay on the cutting edge of new developments. “We understand what the customers need.”
They are in the lucky position that they can be selective about the clients they work with, and for their level of service they have to be. “We are really interested in a long term relationship with a customer. So it’s not like, we do your website for the next two to three months and forget about you.” For jweiland.net, a website is not a one-time thing, it’s a long-term thing and he thinks customers need to understand this, too.
Just starting out, companies are inevitably budget conscious. Jochen said many companies start with a small site targeted in one market, for one language. “The site needs to be cheap and easy to make.” But this thinking, while potentially right in the beginning, can quickly become misguided.
“Compared to other marketing efforts you can undertake, a website is still one of the cheapest.” Jochen thinks companies are often trying to save money on their websites, when they should be putting more into them. “Compared to a full page ad in a magazine, which has an impact for a few weeks ... With a website, it’s still there.” When he sees sites that haven’t been updated in 2-3 years, it’s clear to him, they “still don’t understand the impact of the internet.”
Then sometime later, they find they have outgrown their site. “They say ‘We have to grow. We need multilingual, multi-domain… we need application programming interfaces (API) to connect to other systems… And,” (if they’ve made a bad technology choice early on), “then they find out the system they started with doesn’t support it.”
Jochen explains that starting with TYPO3 CMS you don’t run into these boundaries. “TYPO3 has enterprise features; it’s difficult to outgrow TYPO3.” The popular CMS makes it possible for jweiland.net to provide hosting, design, and development services that see clients through all of the stages of their success. For that, TYPO3 also needs to be sustainable in the long run.
Jochen came into his business through contribution, and grew through his reputation for knowledge sharing which continues to this day. His colleague Wolfgang Wagner, has produced over 350 tutorial videos for TYPO3. “We didn’t get an instant return on them,” Jochen admits, but in the long term it helped build their reputation.
Jochen is inspired by community members who join in code sprints as volunteers. “They are just here to make the software better.” Open source principles offer freedoms, but he feels there’s also a responsibility to contribute. “When you see agencies making millions using TYPO3 and they don’t put anything back, that’s a bit unfair.”
“We were a TYPO3 Association Member from the very beginning.” Jweiland.net is a platinum Association member. “We knew from the very beginning, the money we spent on the membership was going to be used to foster the development of TYPO3 and make the system better.”
“One thing I have seen many times,” Jochen shakes his head, “there are a number of agencies who do business with TYPO3 but they aren’t members of the TYPO3 Association. They don’t contribute in code sprints. They just take but they don’t give. I found this to be unfair.”
Now with the TYPO3 GmbH Partner Program, he likes that all tiers of the program require members commit to contribute to TYPO3. It’s also a formal way to get recognition for your commitment, but more importantly, “In the long run we all benefit.”
Jochen’s business is built on lasting relationships with clients. He understands that the sites he builds today for his clients need to serve them as their businesses grow and evolve. As a result, he is highly motivated to ensure the lasting success of TYPO3 CMS and its community. Being a part of the TYPO3 GmbH Partner Program ensures the project will continue to improve. His business, and his clients’ businesses, depend on it.
Do you want to know more about how we’re making TYPO3 the open source CMS and our partner ecosystem sustainable? Contact us to learn more about becoming or finding a certified partner today!