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Cegłowski's first law of Internet business teaches: "Never get in the way of people trying to give you money"
I had just come out of Rails consulting when I started Pinboard and really wanted to avoid this kind of overengineering, capitalizing instead on the fact that it was 2010 and a sufficiently simple website could run ridiculously fast with no caching if you just threw hardware at it.
We charged money for a good or service. I know this one is controversial, but there are enormous benefits and you can immediately reinvest a whole bunch of it in your project ... Your customers will appreciate that you have a long-term plan that doesn't involve repackaging them as a product.
Although colo space is a commodity, salespeople become tetchy if you treat it as such. They will insist on talking to you over the phone and bristle at the suggestion that their job could be replaced by a web form. It is a good idea not to think about how much their salary or commission adds to your costs.
The money part turns out to be easy. People will pay for a decent service. As long as you stay small and don't forget to have revenue, you too can build a bookmarking website. There is plenty of room to specialize!
It is pleasant to work on something that people draw benefit from. It is especially pleasant to work on something lasting. And I enjoy the looking-glass aspect of our industry, where running a mildly profitable small business makes me a crazy maverick not afraid to break all the rules.
Every state lottery webmaster, along with the web savants manning PowerBall headquarters itself, seemed to have gone through the same thought process: We know that millions of people play our lottery. We know that every Wednesday at 11 PM, our website will get flooded with traffic. We know that the ONLY information those visitors will want is the winning numbers... so let's put those numbers on a bloated page filled with images... and serve it using IIS!!!
The cloud is a fog of sweet, sweet promises. Amazon promises eleven nines of durability. Eleven nines! The Sun will be a charred cinder before a single bit gets flipped in a file you've stored on S3. Amazon promises no single points of failure. Instead, you get a single cloud of failure, the promise that when the system comes crashing down, at least you won't be alone.
As soon as a system shows signs of performance, developers will add enough abstraction to make it borderline unusable. Software forever remains at the limits of what people will put up with. Developers and designers together create overweight systems in hopes that the hardware will catch up in time and cover their mistakes.
The cult of growth denies the idea that you can build anything useful or helpful unless you're prepared to bring it to so-called "Internet scale". There's no point in opening a lemonade stand unless you're prepared to take on PepsiCo. I always thought that things should go the other way. Once you remove the barriers of distance, there's room for all sorts of crazy niche products to find a little market online.
I want to share with you my simple two-step secret to improving the performance of any website. 1. Make sure that the most important elements of the page download and render first. 2. Stop there. You don't need all that other crap. Have courage in your minimalism.
Most of the talk about web performance is similarly technical, involving compression, asynchronous loading, sequencing assets, batching HTTP requests, pipelining, and minification. All of it obscures a simpler solution ... If you're only displaying five sentences of text, use vanilla HTML. Hell, serve a textfile! Then you won't need compression hacks, integral signs, or elaborate Gantt charts of what assets load in what order.
ACME hosts their service on AWS, and at one point they were paying $23,000 in monthly fees. Through titanic effort, they have been able to reduce that to $9,000 a month. I pay just over a thousand dollars a month for hosting, using my own equipment ... So while I consider bookmarking a profitable business, to them it's a $4,000/month money pit. I'm living large off the same income stream that is driving them to sell their user data to marketers and get the hell out of the game.
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