[thelist] finding another backend service provider

Adrienne Downey adrienned at semico.com
Wed Jan 10 17:35:31 CST 2001

Hi everyone,

URL:  www.semico.com

I am our company's webmaster - but I am by no means half as knowledgeable as
you guys are!  I basically add content and HTML when needed (this accounts
for about 5% of my duties here), while an outside company runs the backend.
Here's my problem:

We consistently have problems with one or more backend aspects of either our
web site or our email, which this company also hosts.  Lately these problems
have been getting more and more frequent, and there is only one guy there,
the president, who can fix our problems.  I know they have at least 5-6
other employees for sure, probably more than that, but the president is the
only one who can fix things.  Unfortunately he is a very busy man and more
often than not, things do not get fixed at all, do not get fixed properly,
or else standard hardware/software upgrades cause a whole host of new
problems.  I spend a great deal of time dealing with these issues (a lot
more than 5% allotment).

My questions to you all-knowing evoltians are:

Can another back-end provider do what this company does for us with a better
service level?
Are there off-the-shelf products available that, with training, would allow
me to take over the back-end of the site myself?

Take a look at semico.com to see what kind of functionality we require.  We
have a standard shopping cart/product database that I'm sure could be
serviced by an off-the-shelf product.  What I'm concerned about is the
feedback form and the special order forms that we do twice a year for our
two conferences - these forms ask for more information than the standard
shopping cart order form would ask for.  But the main problem is the client
login area, where our clients log in with a user name and password, can see
a list of the products (Word documents zipped up into self-executing files)
they have purchased from us, and click on links to download those files to
their hard drive.

I'm not asking for a site critique - I know there are things that are broken
right now, such as the feedback form, which I just now discovered, and that
things don't work right in Netscape.  These problems are insignificant
compared to some of the major problems I've dealt with lately.

Thanks in advance for any guidance you can provide,
Adrienne Downey
adrienned at semico.com
Semico Research
Research Analyst and Webmaster

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