WebsiteSpark Launch Good News for Small Web Design Shops
As of yesterday, Newtek Technology Services officially became a web hosting partner for the newly launched Microsoft WebsiteSpark program. You may have read some of the online chatter yesterday, but there’s a healthy amount of buzz out there about this program, and it comes at a key time when drumming up new business has never been more important. We spoke with Microsoft Developer and Platform Evangelist Keithe Williams about the program, focusing on the most notable highlights. We also asked him to make a case for why designers and developers should give it a try.
Newtek Technology Services: If you were to send out a Tweet explaining what Microsoft WebsiteSpark is, what would it say? (We’ll be nice and double your allotment – 280 characters or less)
Keithe Williams: The WebsiteSpark Program is a community-based initiative designed to jumpstart business development for small professional Web development and design companies, through tools, technologies, support, training and networking opportunities.
NTS: As far as web designers go, who is eligible to participate?
KW: Companies whose primary business is providing Web development and design services for its clients are eligible, provided they have 10 or less members. See www.microsoft.com/web/websitespark for eligibility requirements.
NTS: What comes with WebsiteSpark?
KW: With the WebsiteSpark Program, approved companies can have access to:
- Microsoft Web design and development software and solutions, including three licenses to Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition, two licenses to Microsoft Expression Web 3, and one license of Microsoft Expression Studio 3
- Two production licenses to Microsoft Windows Web Server 2008 or R2 (when available) and two production licenses to Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Web Edition
- Third-party premium Website control panel (DotNetPanel)
Participating companies will also receive the following professional support and training:
- Two technical phone support incidents per company
- Access to community support through connections with Network Partners, Hosting Partners and peers with complementary services and technologies
- Unlimited access to technical managed newsgroups on MSDN
- Unlimited program support for non-technical issues
NTS: For designers currently hosting on other platforms, they’d have to be pretty motivated to switch. Why should they? In other words, what can Microsoft offer them that no other platform can?
KW: WebsiteSpark uniquely offers training and support, in addition to tools and technologies, all for a $100 fee at graduation after a three-year period. Designers in particular can take advantage of innovative products such as Microsoft Expression, where they can seamlessly manage workflow and ultimately create rich compelling Web applications and sites. Participants also get production licenses of Windows Server web 2008 and SQL Server Web 2008 as well as discounted hosting services. Furthermore, Microsoft provides WebsiteSpark participants with tremendous business opportunity, connecting them to a thriving network of more than 75 partners and hosters (and counting) to help extend their reach.
NTS: I know Microsoft just launched BizSpark in November 2008. Have you detected any common and applicable success patterns from that program that may translate well to this series?
KW: We are very pleased with the success we’ve seen with the other “Spark” programs. Over the past 10 months we’ve seen approximately 20k startups enrolled in BizSpark and over 55 hosting providers enrolled as BizSpark partners worldwide. We anticipate we’ll continue to build upon that success with the WebsiteSpark program, as we continue to build an entire ecosystem of partners to support these Web professionals as well as providing them with the opportunity to obtain support, tools and resources needed to help them innovate and succeed in today’s highly competitive business environment.
NTS: As we’re all just beginning to recover from this economy, it’s worth noting that marketing/PR/web budgets took a huge hit during the last two years. What are some of the key marketing functions Web designers can look forward to with WebsiteSpark?
KW: A marketplace will be added to WebsiteSpark later this fall, enabling Web professionals to promote their offerings using Microsoft marketing vehicles. The marketplace will be available at www.microsoft.com/web/websitespark/market. Moreover, Web pros will be able to complements the skills of their peers through our Partner Recruiting Portal.