From LiveCity: “LiveCity provides a website building service, which is both easy to use by novice website builders, and robust enough to allow skilled customers to express themselves by accessing the background code. The LiveCity system was developed by us, and with more than 200,000 websites already opened with our website builder, we are glad to be a leading service provider in the field of CMS systems for websites.”
I spoke with CEO Nir Alloush about his company’s product and how they’re helping SMBs. Of most note is his eye for how customers will use the product and providing room to grow with his company’s tool, as well as their thorough QA/usability testing process… For the advanced folks reading, you can skip over the marketing tips as you’ll know them.
1) What is wrong with other website builders that you saw the need to create another tool? What does your tool solve?
Our main goal was to bring the sophisticated craft of website building to entry-level customers – without the need to own a server or a dedicated hosting space, upload files, and configure databases and other activities that small business owners usually have no experience with.
As most other website building services usually require the user to have non-standard knowledge just to get started – our solution requires no programs, is available anywhere and allows the user to complete a short registration process and own a fully designed, operational website.
The trial period is another significant upside, as other solutions require the user to accomplish a checklist of tasks before he has the chance to see the system he’s about to be working with. We also take pride in our rapid development and variety of tools that do not require the user to install add-ons – everything is ready to use, out of the box.
2) What are the most popular aspects of Livecity’s website builder?
If we were to choose one major popular aspect – it would be the virtual store. Our virtual store requires no separate installation, already includes credit card clearing and SSL, leaving the user with the only responsibility of adding products and setting prices. As no further purchase is necessary, having the solution ready allows customers to sell products and create additional income flow, even if they haven’t planned it initially.
In addition, our new interface is a source of pride as well. We have simplified many action flows, while introducing many new tools such as blogs, calendars, drag & drop editing and more. While it is online for less than a month, the feedback from new and existing customers is astonishing!
3) What are some of the better known sites that have been built using Livecity’s software?
Although we initially targeted small and medium businesses, many high-profile companies joined along over the years.
We are proud to support several of the websites owned by MATI, entrepreneurship cultivation centers – a chain of governmentally funded nonprofit
organizations that support local businesses.
Bar-Ilan university has also chosen us to provide them services, as well as Bynet (a subsidiary of RAD Data Communications), EZWay (SAT test preparation school) and many more.
4) What are the top 3 features small business owners should ensure their business has?
That’s a difficult question, as the answer is dictated by their business goals. In a nutshell, a small business must own a website these days, which will represent it online (where most searches for service providers are conducted), in a professional manner. As a result of that, a small business must also aspire to surpass its competitors in the search engine rankings – as the top-rated websites gain maximal exposure to potential buyers.
Another thing we would advise to have is a platform to grow: every business owner will want to expand, so he must choose service providers that will allow him to do so easily. That includes offices, marketing efforts and naturally – the website itself.
5) Do you use usability testing as part of your software development process? If so, can u share some of the things you found and how it influenced your development?
Of course! Over the years, we have introduced a great variety of tools, interfaces and features. All of them require testing and evaluation before we feel ready to launch them officially. As errors could heavily influence business owners (for example, making changes to tools that people already work with might result in unwanted changes), we take measures to ensure the quality of our products.
First of all, every line of code is being observed with many pairs of eyes.
Then, we usually launch an internal beta, in which our workers test out tools and submit feedback. Following that, we usually expand the beta circle to a limited number of tech-savvy customers and resellers, willing to test out tools and submit feedback.
After enough feedback has been gathered and all unforeseen errors have been corrected, we launch the tool to the general public and continue to collect feedback via our technical support operators.
6) What are the most affordable ways for small business owners to market themselves on the web? Why?
In terms of web-based marketing, Google-based marketing yields the best results. As small business owners do not pay there for exposure but for actual clicks – clever campaign management leads to more relevant visitors: only people who are interested in the product or the service click the ad, and the results are measurable and improvable.
Besides paid marketing, it is also advised to establish a well-known brand online, making the name of the business be a synonym to the service it provides. That’s accomplished using SEO, forum participation, social network presence and everything else that assists the business
owner to become the leading brand in his line of work.
7) What should small business owners have on their requirements list for web hosting?
We have learned that small business owners cherish technical support and customer service – as they often do not have the resources to hire someone to tend those specifics. So – the first thing on the list would probably be professional, in-house, non-outsourced and well-trained representatives that will assist the business owner in his time of need. Other than that, it is important to review the reliability, stability, technological proficiency of the company itself.
Ease of use would be another important factor for newcomers, as most starting business owners build their websites themselves. Also, the ability to promote the website in search engines, design it freely and take advantage of various tools that the owner may require should also be checked.