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  1. My unsolicited advice to a non-profit trying to launch a web magazine.

    04/28/12

    Way back I was briefly a part of an effort by a non-profit writers organization to launch an online magazine.

    I shortly withdraw my participation once it became clear to me that the obstacles that they were facing was insurmountable given the circumstances.

    And it is not surprising that they are still struggling with this effort two years later.

    The big problem is that these were writers trying to launch a far too ambitious tech product , from scratch, without a CTO (Chief Technical Officer) or a web designer at the helm.

    Given that those two roles easily command six-figures salaries, being a non-profit they cannot hope to compete for talent in today’s tech driven economy.

    And because what they are doing require the elusive unicorn (an extremely talented individual that can both design and code), the chances of them finding that person for a fraction of the price is very slim.

    But suppose such a person exist, then the second problem they face is their creative process.

    For a designer/coder they will be a very demanding client. One that will micromanage every details even if it is well outside their area of expertise.

    As writers they are consumers of design, not creators. By clamping down on the design process they will hinder any innovation they hope to create with this web product.

    It is sad to see an organization that I support floundering about, but there’s very little I can do to help, given the circumstances.

    Here is my unsolicited advice to them:

    1) Start small

    Launch a simple blog, let the content accumulate, eventually solidify the offerings. In a year or two, once there is enough traction, hire a designer, get a facelift. You are ready for primetime.

    2) Start big

    Hire the most talented web designer you can find and trust him/her with your product. Because he/she is making a big financial sacrifice to work on this project, it will have to be a labor of love. And if they don’t love it and own it, they will leave.