Today marks 20 years to the day when Dianne and Greg arrived in the USA and opened the US branch of Web Your Business. Happy 20th Anniversary in the USA to us!!!
We had planned a bold move whereby we’d expand business operations from our UK ‘Web Your Business Limited’ to the USA. The start of a long journey began that day on a Jumbo Jet (Boeing 747) operated by British Airways.
As we planned our expansion, our business was building and hosting websites with a focus on e-commerce, and we had a very cool British e-commerce solution which we were bringing with us. Something almost no-one in the US had seen before. We were about to conquer the world.. so how have things changed?
We were used to registering domains back then with Network Solutions at a cost of $35 per year and customers didn’t blink twice when you told them the domain cost that much. In those days, the domain registration process was quite a monopoly and due to the expense, a domain registration beyond a 2-year period was almost unheard of. Today, we register domains in the blink of an eye and .COM registrations take effect in mere seconds, with 10-year domains for around $140 being quite commonplace.
Even though the SSL protocol had existed since 1994, securing a domain with an SSL certificate was expensive and time consuming. We were experts in getting this done in under a week because we had relationships with the companies that issued the certs, to most customers it was some kind of weird magic, and it still is to this day, but it has become a lot easier and quicker to do. Today, you can add a file to your website or a DNS record to your DNS zone, get the SSL certificate issued and installed by your control panel in a couple of minutes. Oh – and the price? We used to sell SSL certificate for anything from $100 to $500 depending on the certificate, and today our control panel issues domain validated certs FOR FREE.
Building a website was a different matter back then as well. It took a knowledge of CGI-Scripts, and of Photoshop and all manner of other tools to build a website, including the use of an FTP client to upload the resultant website onto a physical server located deep in the bowels of a data center a few states away. These days we have WordPress (not invented until May of 2003 and not trusted by us until at least 2008), and WYSIWYG website editors like WIX and Squarespace, where almost anyone with a little time can build a pretty and dare we say, even workable website. (even if it’s unlikely to result in business).
SEO has changed a LOT – back in 2000, we could guarantee we’d get someone’s website listed in the major directories (Yahoo, Altavista and a bunch of others who have also fallen by the wayside). Google also wasn’t a thing until 2003, and when it did get to be a bit of a big thing, we could get a website onto the front page of results in days or maybe weeks. These days it can be an uphill struggle to get placed on local results, let alone the top 10 pages of results for your preferred search phrases.
Well we could go on about the ‘good old days’ for weeks and the changes we have seen in the industry but we won’t – We are grateful to all the small businesses that have supported us over the years. You humble us with your continued business. Thank you! We look forward to the next 20 years and the changes to the web.