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My Personal Reviews PayPal & Ecommerce Web Applications & Online Software

Magento Go Review – Sucking Support & $99 Ripoff for SSL Setup

Magento goI officially signed up with Magento Go‘s Going Places plan for $25 / month and paid $99 for my SSL to be installed. It’s been 3 days and I wish I had better things to say about them.

And this is my review.

Uptime: 4.7 / 5

It’s too early to tell because I’m only with them for 10 days (in trial for 7 days). Sometimes it’s a bit slow. Magento is known to be resource-intensive. But as of now, Magento Go has been constantly up and responsive for me.

Price: 2.5 / 5

I would have given them 5 / 5 if I don’t have to pay $99 for my SSL to be installed – yes, that’s JUST for the installation service, not the SSL. You have to provide your own SSL certificate purchased from a CA to them. And this didn’t turn out to be very pleasant. I’ll come to that later.

The $1 million stimulus package that they promised to discount the monthly subscription fee by $15 for a year hasn’t been activated for me – and I contacted them about this twice – got NO responses of any kind. Waited nearly 24 hours and still no emails. So I logged back in to see the tickets. You know what I found? The tickets are all DELETED, like it’s never happened before.

What kind of support does that?

So the $1 million stimulus program is pretty much false advertising. Chances are, you won’t get it. Or you will. We are totally at their mercy.

Features: 4.1 / 5

If you are ever building an online store, once in your life time, you should use Magento Go. It simply makes sense.

After trying a few more online store builders, I think I’ll unsay the above saying.

Everything seems good, if not great. There are some parts that can be improved, such as the theming system, backup system, etc.

Their top plan for $125 / month offers a tingling of just 32GB monthly bandwidth. Anyone with decent SEO skills would easily hit that mark in half a year, especially if you’ve got lots of large images for the products. And extra bandwidth are charged $10 / GB. Pretty expensive. AND they don’t even have a bandwidth meter where you can see how much you’ve gone so far. So good luck…My tip is to use external website for hosting the product images.

Otherwise, Magento Go is simply NOT an magento go: not for growth. Be prepared to pay premium when you are locked in with them.

Support: 0.8 / 5

Appalling. If you are ready to pay $xxx per month for the top plan, you would probably be treated much better. But that’s just a theory.

I opened a total of 9 tickets, they DELETED 3 of them and responded to 3 of them.

They sent a very important message to *my* email. I didn’t receive it. Because that’s NOT my email, not even close. How hilarious is that!

Ticketing system is very hard to use. You would view the message and then click “Back” to return to the previous page to reply to it – if you have to quote something, you click “Forward” to view the message sent to you and then click “Back” again to continue writing. Very user-UNFRIENDLY ticketing system.

I posted a “Problem” message to the collaboration site (a collaboration support community to help dilute the workload of the REAL support team) about how my SSL hasn’t been installed after paying $99 and why my tickets got DELETED in the ticketing system. You know what they did? They changed the “Problem” status to “Question“. You know, it doesn’t look pretty in red.

Quick Facts about Go’s Support

People love interesting facts. Here are them.

  • A total of 3 tickets that got NO responses and simply got DELETED:
    1) A request for installing my SSL attached with my certificate files from GeoTrust
    2) A request to be enrolled in the $1 million stimulus package they promised – $15 monthly discount for next 12 billing cycles
    3) A question why my store home page doesn’t display the newest products after I added them in the backend – tried 2 different approaches but none of them worked.
  • After I complained about the SSL installation, they claimed to have sent an email to me at yanghit (@@@@@) gmail dot com. Apparently I didn’t receive it. Because that’s NOT my email, nor anything close.
  • For me, their support turnaround is about 12 hours, sometimes as long as 3 days, IF they respond at all. (I just recalculated the actual turnaround based on tickets’ and questions’ time stamps)

12 Hours Support Turnaround

Any support turnaround that’s 12 hours or longer is just unacceptable for mission critical sites such as eCommerce stores. Ordinary content sites have an eCPM of about $5 – $50 per thousand visits, however, online stores generally averages $200 – $2000 per thousand visits. Every hour of problem or down time causes substantial loss; the greater the traffic & conversion rate, the greater the damage.

People who choose Go are generally not technically oriented and would require a lot of help along the way. It would be a very painful experience for them should something get haywire yet they can’t get anything done in 12 hours.

Magento Go has got to seriously work on that.

Busted?

They got a final score of 60.5 / 100. Merely passed.

I will keep you updated on my experience with Magento Go. Even though their support isn’t the best in the world, I’d still recommend them to you. Hopefully they can see this review and give their support department a revamp.

I would love to see Magento Go becomes the go-to brand for online eCommerce solution. However, as of now, you would be better off with CE and do your own hosting, if you’ve got some technical nerves. In this case, I would like to recommend the Avalanche Magento theme.

What other folks are saying…

Seems I’m not alone on the bad experiences with Magento Go:

  1. http://www.shoppingcartsforwebsites.com/general/magento-go-review/
  2. http://www.commercestyle.com/e-commerce/magneto-sucks
  3. http://www.magentogoreview.com/list-of-magento-go-reviews~123

 

Update: I submitted a ticket and a *problem* at the collaboration site asking for a refund of the $99 SSL setup fee and they finally got back to me, addressing a question I asked 23 hours ago. After a few more tickets (each taking 2 – 3 hours for them to respond), my SSL is finally up and working.

 

Categories
Hosting Tips & Deals My Personal Reviews

Review: Why I love WiredTree hosting

wiredtreeThis is the second time I wrote a review of WiredTree and also the second time to have signed up a VPS account with them. The last time it was a 512MB VPS (VPS512) that has now been upgraded to VPS1000, doubling everything, RAM, disk storage and monthly bandwidth (tripled!), yet the price tag stays the same. Here are a few coupons that you can use to get 50% off the first 2 months should you want to sign up. The old coupons you may find elsewhere for VPS512 AND VPS 768 have been invalidated.

Okay, to the review part. After about 2 months I feel I should start using the VPS – I admit it’s a impulsive buy, just can’t resist the monster upgrade and 50% off offer – and the primary domain I provided when I signed up with it was somehow randomly picked, and now I want it changed into something else. So I sent the support team an email.

Note it’s about 2:30 A.M. CST. One of them, John, quickly responded to my help request, in less than 10 minutes, did the change and taught me how to debug DNS myself with a free tool intodns.com which by the way is a very cool tool.

The tool showed that I still needed to set the name servers for my domain at the registrar. I didn’t know how to do that so John asked me which registrar I was using, searched for the documents for me and then sent me the exact steps I needed to follow to accomplish the task.

Blah blah blah.

Things kept going wrong because I had no idea what I was doing with the DNS. I wanted to use my own name servers. It was after about 20 emails that I finally got everything in place and the domain started working. They responded to EVERY message in less than 5 minutes. And it’s about 4:00 A.M. CST.

End of story? Not.

I suddenly changed my mind that I wanted to completely re-provision the slice, using the new domain / host name in the first place, because, you know, I have obsessive disorders that knowing the old domain is still somewhere in the box makes me uneasy. I could still find the old domain listed via traceroute and reverse-IP lookup.

So I’m compelled to send another support ticket. John kindly asked me why I needed to do that and I told him I just wanted to, because I feel compelled. He then suggested me that I back up everything I can and let him know when I was ready.

After about 5 hours, the rebuild was done. I had a brand new slice that was as new as just born. Not sure how much time they spent in the 5 hours just for easing my compulsive mentality, I am sure grateful for their dedicated support.

5/5.

Find more reviews of them here: http://www.wiredtreereviews.org/

Categories
Content / SEO Tips & Tutorials My Personal Reviews

SEOmoz Pro Review – Bad Bad Bad

So I’ve tried the Pro version of SEOmoz, an online SEO software application, for a few days and I think I’ve got to write a review. This would turn out to be very ugly.

Many years ago the features that this system brings to the table could have been useful for the SEO novice, but today almost everything that it does, other systems do better. In addition, most of the tools you need to duplicate this product are either free, or very inexpensive.

One of its primary features is that it crawls your website weekly, and lets you know if you have any broken links or other issues with your site. If you have a Google account, you can simply register your URL with them, and use their free webmaster tools to do the same thing, and it does not cost you $99 a month like this product does. Here’s the link for Google Webmasters Tools http://www.google.com/webmasters/.

The next claim to fame that this item promotes is on-page optimization. This is a very simple concept to understand and implement. There are many articles on the internet that you can read for free that will tell you exactly how to do this. And it’s quite easy.

Essentially, it just comes down to using your primary keywords in the title and a description of that post. There are a few other things you will need to do besides what was mentioned above, but not too many. Lots of WordPress plugins have been created to help you in this regard. Simply search for ‘wordpress SEO plugins’. Some of them are totally free while some of them may charge a humble one-time fee which is exponentially lower than $99 / month. And they do the job very well.

Thirdly, it keeps an eye on your competition for you. Great, like you could not just use Google, Yahoo, or Bing to accomplish the same thing. It will also tell you all of your competitor’s backlinks for only $99 a month. If you would like to find out that very same information, there are tons of free ways to do that. Just google.

The final item they would like to impress you with is that the software will continue to improve and evolve over time. Well, for $99 a month it better, because it is pretty close to being useless right now.

The only thing I appreciate is their blog. It’s the best SEO information outlet I’ve seen. No one ever comes close. You would learn a hell lot more about SEO from there in an hour than from any other sources combined in a whole year.

For this review of SEOmoz Pro, the paid SEO productivity application, we give it a big fat zero stars, with 5 stars being the best. What else can we say about this thing, it is pretty much as bad as it gets. There is nothing that it does now, that cannot be accomplished for free with another application, or by researching a few articles on the internet. But if you don’t mind spending a *premium* price for a premium *looking* application, by all means, go ahead and sign up with it.

Categories
Hosting Tips & Deals Internet Tools My Personal Reviews Web Applications & Online Software

Microsoft Office 365 Review & Screenshots – What will you get?

online software microsoft office365Office 365 is a set of team collaboration / productivity web applications for professionals, businesses, government agencies and education institutions. It currently offers 3 different plans:

  1. For professionals and small businesses, $6 / user / month, basic features
  2. For midsize businesses and enterprises, $12 and more / user / month, advanced features
  3. For education

And I signed up with the first one which is meant for individual professionals, or businesses / organizations with up to 25 employees, at $6 / user / month. For now, I have yet to reach the end of my first month, and I have only one user in my organization which is myself. So this review would be pretty straightforward and very limited to those who are looking at the multi-user features in team collaboration / communication.

You will need a credit card to sign up. To verify the credit card, They billed me $1 when I signed up and that’s it. So I guess they bill clients at the end of every month instead of at the beginning.

What I get for $6 / month?

For $6 / month at Microsoft Office 365, I get these cool stuff:

  1. Online web applications of Microsoft Office: Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. You can create documents, edit and save them in your favorite web browser, and publish them to your team site so you and your colleagues can collaborate on them. You can also upload existing documents from your computer to Office 365.
    office-suite_thumb2
    Shared documents:
    office-365-shared-documents_thumb
    Word web app:
    office-365-word-app_thumb1
    Excel web app:
    office-365-excel-app_thumb
  2. Instant communication tool Lync 2010 enables you and your team members to send instant messages, easily set up online meetings and perform PC-to-PC audio / video calls.
  3. SharePoint Online. A public company website at http://yourcompany.sharepoint.com/ that you can edit from SharePoint. The default theme looks like this:
    sharepoint-public-website_thumb6
    You can re-create your public website by 3 editing panels, namely Home, Insert and Design:
    public-website-editor-in-sharepoint_
    From the content navigation sidebar on the left, you can add new content and remove existing content to the Recycle Bin: pages, documents, images, etc.
    And as always, you can also add your own top-level domain to SharePoint, from the Admin panel, rather than using a subdomain of sharepoint.com.
  4. Other than a public website, a private Team Site is pre-configured and ready to be edited when you (as the administrator) first sign in. This site is used as a portal for all team members where you can list contacts, shared documents, calendar entries / meeting schedules, announcements, discussion posts, and so forth. Much like editing the public website, you can freely edit the Team Site as if it’s a web page: lists, tables, images, links, etc.
    office-365-team-site_thumb2
  5. Exchange Online. Emails hosting under the domain @yourcompany.onmicrosoft.com. Likewise, you can add your own domain for the emails thus having @yourcompany.com hosted at Office 365. Everything looks like the desktop applications. You would be using a very similar online version of Outlook (web app) and it’s very intuitive. The learning curve is minimal.
    office-365-outlook_thumb3
    A calendar (Week view): (also are Day view, Work Week view and Month view)
    office-365-calendar_thumb2
    User self management:
    office-365-outlook-manage-myself-con[1]
    Organization management:
    office-365-outlook-users-management_
  6. Full administration panel and organization management features:
    office-365-administrator-panel_thumb

Some quick facts about Office 365

  1. It bills you at the end of each billing term. For instance, if you started the plan on Jan. 15th, it would first bill you $1 to verify credit card and then $6 / month each month on Feb. 15th and on.
  2. If you cancel the subscription, your subscription will remain active until the end of the billing term.
  3. You get 99.9% uptime guarantee.
  4. You can add multiple domains to your service. The default one is yourcompany.onmicrosoft.com for email and yourcompany.sharepoint.com for team site / public site.
  5. You can use different plans / multiple subscriptions under one administrator account.

Official tours

For administrators: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/videos/office-365-for-professionals-and-small-businesses-a-tour-for-administrators-HA102653442.aspx?redir=0

For users: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/videos/office-365-a-tour-for-users-HA102657904.aspx?redir=0

Categories
Kavoir & Whatever

Argophilia – Eastern Europe Travel Portal

Phil was one of my best friends on the web and he has been very kind and helpful when I was just starting out. A few months back he invited me to work on a travel project that eventually landed as Argophilia. It’s a shame I was occupied by a lot of chores then and never actually contributed anything substantial to it.

Now you can see it’s becoming something real: http://argophilia.com/

And the news portal: http://www.argophilia.com/news/

They are simply awesome! Both the design and the content are exceptionally great. Hopefully they would take off soon as for now the only travel site targeting the Eastern Europe.

Categories
Kavoir & Whatever Make Money Online

MilitaryFictionBooks.com and StandingDesk.org Status Report

MilitaryFictionBooks.com is actually an old domain, I registered it over a year ago and parked it ever since with a custom page of my own. It has been indexed in Google for 1 year. So what you are seeing now may very probably not happen for you if you just registered a fresh domain name. Don’t get your hopes too high for newly registered domains. You need to wait and be patient unless you have large amount of Internet marketing resources such as an established network of reputable sites that can link back to the new site.

So it’s not until recently that I switched Military Fiction Books to WordPress and started importing content into it by, well, virtually copying the texts and images from Amazon.

I know, but before you start judging me, let me tell you this. I may be too lazy to come up with something of my own for the sake of SEO because it’s time consuming. When you commit yourself in the chores, you are a worker, not an entrepreneur any more. You will be rewarded as a worker, instead of an online entrepreneur. It’s as simple as that.

That said, my recommendation is that either you hire someone who’s good at writing write the articles for you or you will find a way to automate the process in a time-effective manner. The results may not be as good as you want but it will surely save you a lot of time which is much more precious than some search engine rankings. You will do a lot more than you normally would if you follow this methodology.

Okay the site status part by promise in this post. For the last 17 days of August, MilitaryFictionBooks.com has been receiving traffic from various search engines (mainly Google, of course) by terms such as “military fiction books”, “military novels”, etc. The rough traffic statistics are listed below:

military fiction books site traffic stats

It’s been doing quite well and still gaining since I switched to WordPress and wrote all these posts about military fiction novels on Amazon. I posted 2 – 3 posts every 2 days for the last week or so. Built a few links from various forums (webmasters, book clubs, etc.) and on Kavoir itself in the last 2 weeks and it seems they are working. This site has clearly passed the sandbox phase because every new post brings significant traffic from Google and it’s on the steady rise. This is a typical sign of mature SEO for a site. Your page is pretty quickly indexed by Google AND it’s ranked well. But it also depends on the frequency and intervals you post.

StandingDesk.org on the other hand, is a freshly registered domain, less than a month old. But it’s already performing in SEO traffic though not much. What I did was building a few links from a few forum posts (some original and some duplicate) and Kavoir itself. I wrote all the product posts in the same day a week ago and never updated it since:

standing desk site traffic stats

But I’m sure it will steadily grow if I keep posting content to the blog. A sandbox effect is waiting for StandingDesk.org. Maybe in 1 or 2 weeks.

Categories
Kavoir & Whatever

My online income report – June, 2010

Edit: Forgot all the website advertising revenues other than AdSense. Added it.

So I thought I should start writing things that are more personal and interesting. I ended up with this crazy idea – posting about my online income. People always want to know how much people make online, and more importantly, how they have made the money online.

Listed below are my primary sources of income from last month, June, 2010.

  1. Google AdSense – $740.91
  2. Sales of my own products – $960.75
  3. Amazon Associate Program – $54.67
  4. Other affiliate / partner programs – $932.44
  5. Website advertising revenues other than AdSense (such as the buy sell ads on Kavoir.com) – Roughly $250

And the total amount of earnings I have made online from last month is about $2938. It’s not bad considering I spend like only 3 hours a day and 5 days a week working from home on my PC to get all this. The above earnings didn’t include my freelance projects which I used to rely on heavily for the primary source of income. I don’t quite like them because it’s not passive so I’m giving up on them. Unless it’s a very interesting project that I feel compelled to work on, I’d not do it for less than 5 figures.

If you would like to know how you can do this yourself, making 4 figures monthly, feel free to comment below and let me know. I will help as much as I can. Otherwise, what can you suggest as an interesting topic for Kavoir.com?

Categories
My Personal Reviews

Prova.fm, the Design Contests Platform – From Outsource to Crowdsource

When you need something done, design contests are a much better way to get the quality and diversity you need than traditional design outsourcing because you get multiple submissions from various designers who are after the bounty prize. It may be a little more expensive than when you hire just one designer, but the quality and diversity you get will definitely justify it. Not to mention the time you will save for communications with the one designer as well as later revisions.

Prova.fm is just such a contest platform that enables you to get what you need without spending an arm and a leg. You can get all the talents working for you on a single project by launching a contest. Be it print, web, audio or video, you can get all the input in just a few days and then decide which one you’d like to accept as the winner so that the designer can claim the prize you are paying. It’s perfect for a logo or advertisement banner design.

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Coupons and Promo Codes Hosting Tips & Deals My Personal Reviews

My WiredTree Review and Some Discount Coupon Codes

Update: Here’s my most recent review of WiredTree.

I had an enjoyable experience with WiredTree (Some Coupons) half a year back when I was starting a joint venture with one of my friends and needed managed VPS hosting. Joe Doss was very helpful in answering my concerns and questions before sign-up. After testing out their demo download and ensured of a good data center and smooth Internet connections, I decided to go with them.

I went with the $99 managed hybrid plan. I was then pretty new to VPS hosting / dedicated hosting where you are in control of much more stuff than when you are with shared hosting. Though they are all very well managed at WiredTree (click to activate coupon), it’s still a bit overwhelming with all the options and different control panel sections. I asked questions. A lot of them. And they responded to my support tickets within 15 minutes EVERY time, no matter when you submit them. I dealt with not just one of their support staff but quite a few of them and they are all quick, polite and to the point. When I search through my Gmail inbox, there are a total of 60 conversations (hundreds of messages back and forth) I had with them in a short matter of less than one month. They were professional and kind in every message they addressed to me.

The hosting part of my joint venture was absolutely awesome. If it weren’t the decision to abort the project with my friend, I’d trust the most important of my sites to WiredTree. So when I told them that I had to close the contract and leave them after just one month, I was kind of upset for them because they have been so nice to me. They replied to my request to close my hosting account with complete understanding and even offered me refund for the remaining days of the month (it wasn’t a full month, just 20 days or so), I asked them to keep it.

As for uptime and server performance, I didn’t set up any 3rd party monitoring or pinging service but as I was working furiously on the project in the 20 days, accessing my websites at WiredTree thousands of times and hundreds of hours, I have not seen the slightest of indications of slowness or down time.

4.8 / 5 from me.

WiredTree Coupons

You can get very nice discounts by using one of these coupons of WiredTree when you host with them, such as extra 50% RAM, extra 50% bandwidth or lifetime 20% off. Just enter the code in the Coupon Code text box and hit Update Total button on the order page. All coupon codes listed there are confirmed to be working as of today, except V768-333333 that may be unreliable.

Categories
Free Webmaster Resources Internet Tools My Products & Services

Create Contact and Survey Forms with FormKid.com the Free Online Form Builder

I just finished creating yet another web application that may be useful to fellow webmasters, FormKid.com. It helps you create professional online web forms for your website. Check out what I created just now, a contact form for Kavoir.com. You can contact me by filling out and submitting the form from now on!

Currently you can add 8 different types of input controls to your forms, namely

  1. Single Line Text
  2. Paragraph Text
  3. Check Boxes
  4. Radio Buttons
  5. Dropdown Selection
  6. Section Break
  7. Arbitrary HTML
  8. Captcha

Captcha is for recognizing and capturing spams and uses one of the 3 available approaches at your choice. The reCaptcha service that’s recently acquired by Google is one of them. So you can be rest assured that your form will stay clear of online spamming.

I’m planning to add more features such as advanced entries management in future but not until this application proves itself to be useful and popular. Before that, a lot of work need to be done to make the whole thing smooth, safe and frustration-free. Please join in the forum and let me know of your ideas.

If all you need is a simple PHP contact form, our company Simple PHP Script has it.