12 reasons why the life of XSitePro desktop version has come to an end
It has been the hardest business decision I’ve ever had to make, but I suppose all good things have to come to an end, which is whywe will stop selling XSitePro as from today.
Please do read on and I will do my best to explain why.
Firstly, I hope you’ll agree that XSitePro has proved a very useful piece of software over the last ten years.
It has allowed people to
do things that would previously have required an experienced
It has allowed people to create everything from micro-sites to sales letter type sites, right through to huge content sites and everything in between.
It has allowed people to get their business, school, club or organization online and to have a web presence that they could be truly proud of.
I know from reading the many kind emails we receive each week that XSitePro is still a well-loved piece of software, and one that thousands of users are keen to see continue and grow ... andthat is what has made this decision so very hard.
Over the last year I have received well over a thousand messages of support and encouragement regarding both my own health (which I’m pleased to say is improving greatly) and the future of XSitePro. This certainly spurred me on to try and find some way to push forward with development, but the more I pushed the more it seemed I was fighting an uphill battle on so many fronts.
So why exactly has the decision been made to bring the development of XSitePro to an end?
There isn’t a single reason, but TWELVE!
I’ll do my best to explain each of them as briefly as I can below and then hopefully, after reading them, you’ll realize that there really was no other alternative.
1. New technologies
Since XSitePro was released there has been a seismic shift in web technologies.
Back in 2004 page hit counters, animated text, and Flash were still the order of the day, CSS was only just catching on, the term Web 2.0 hadn’t been coined, HTML5 wasn’t even on the radar, social media powerhouses like Facebook (2004) and Youtube (2005) were only just starting to appear on the scene, and the iPhone (2006) was just a twinkle in Steve Job's eye.
2. PC versus Mac Usage
When XSitePro V1 was released in 2004 the technological landscape was completely different to what it is today. Almost everyone used PCs, most of them with Windows Vista or XP. Today, if you wander into your local Starbucks, you’re likely to see justas many Mac laptops as PCs.
Back in 2004 we might get the occasional email asking if were going to do a Mac version; by 2014 it had becomeone of the most frequently asked questions.
As a Mac user myself (I use Parallels so I can still use XSitePro) I’d love to do a Mac version, but it would be impossible for a small company like ours to create something like that from scratch.
3. Programming expertise
Back in 2004 we had no problems recruiting top-class programmers. Alas, over the last few years the demand for good programmers has far out-stripped supply. We spent tens of thousands on recruitment, but didn’t manage to recruit anyone of the right calibre.
Maybe if we were located in California we’d have had more luck. Yorkshire is a beautiful place (amazingly it came third in Lonely Planet'sBest Place to visit in 2014), but it isn’t exactly California and techie geeks don’t flock here in their droves.
Back in 2004 Internet Explorer accounted for a whopping 91.35% of all web browsing.
When developing XSitePro this meant that if we could get web sites looking good on Internet Explorer then we were over 90% of the way there (91.35% to be precise).
By 2014 Internet Explorer had fallen to just 20.27% of total browsing and the likes of Chrome (36.29%), Firefox (16.6%), Safari (7.1%), Opera (1.01%) and numerous smaller browsers had come from absolutely nowhere.
To make matters even more complicated mobile browsing had grown from pretty much 0% in 2004 to 17.35%. Even when we released XSitePro 2 mobile browsing only accounted for 0.67% of all browsing.
Browser compatibility is of massive importance when developing a web site building tool. It is one thing to be able to build sites that work on one or two browsers, but it is a complete different - and far more complex task - to build good quality sites, with all the bells and whistles, that are guaranteed to work on every different browser. It is a task that even the big boys are struggling with.
Here’s a link to those browser stats I’ve used above so you can see for yourself how much the browser landscape has changed over the last decade.
The link below lists the major operating systems that are currently in use along with the major browsers that will work with that operating system. The permutations are mind-boggling.
And here’s a link to HTML5test. If you want to see just how incompatible some of the latest browsers are, this is a great place to start:
When the likes of Microsoft and Apple are struggling to keep up with the latest HTML5 standards it makes it near impossible for little ol' XSitePro to hit the mark.
5. People’s need and wants
Something else that has changed dramatically over the last decade are people’s needs and wants.
Back when XSitePro was first released people were looking to create mini-sites, affiliate sites, sales letters, and content sites and the content of those sites was pretty similar.
These days people’s needs are much more varied. People want and need full-blown e-commerce functionality, flexible blogging tools, full social media-integration, and a whole heap more.
To cater for all of these needs requires some seriously sophisticated tools that need to be constantly updated to work with all the different browsers, operating systems and devices (e.g. desktop computer, laptop, tablet, smartphone).
Staying at the cutting-edge of technology and web site development has become a challenge even for the mega-corps such as Apple, Adobe, Google and Microsoft with their billions of dollars at their disposal. For a small company like ours to keep on top of all of these things isenough to make someone ill (literally).
Like any business, we need to generate some revenues to stay in business and to sell the product in sufficient volumes to be able to afford ongoing development. This is becoming increasingly difficult when you’re up against large companies who can afford to give their product away for free, because they’re making massive revenues from other areas of their business.
I’d love to be able to give XSitePro away for free and generate revenues in some other fashion. It is something that I’ve given a lot of thought to, but unfortunately I’ve never managed to come up with a workable model for doing this.
Back in 2004 our primary competition were Frontpage and Dreamweaver. Today, there arehundreds of competing products, both online and offline. These range from totally free to software selling for hundreds of dollars.
It would be nice to think we could do an XSitePro V3 that would, to some extent, compete with these other products, but the reality is that the budget required to market and support such a product is now totally out of reach.
The competitive landscape, and the complexity of that landscape, has changed beyond all recognition and it is pretty much impossible for the little guy to be anything other than a very small niche player.
8. The desire for online
Back in 2004, and even as late as 2010, online website building tools were overly complex and messy, but this has changed considerably over the last few years. Now there are online website builders that are powerful enough to meet most people’s needs and some of these tools are available for free.
Yes, there are downsides to some of these tools, but there’s no denying that they’re a valid alternative for many people with existing sites, and the first place that newcomers to website building will often go to.
9. Get Rich Quick and Black Hat
There are a lot of people around today who are after some kind of get-rich-quick tool. Many people don’t want to put the effort in to learn how to use a piece of software like XSitePro. It is just too much effort.
Instead, they want something quick and easy, that they can switch on and start making money from within hours. The Internet marketing world is full of people offering such tools and it is hard for us to compete with that kind of promise.
There’s also a desire for black hat tools that will exploit weaknesses or loop holes in Google to get a high ranking in the search results. There are things we could do to XSitePro to make it such a tool, but it doesn’t sit comfortably with me ethically. I’m proud that XSitePro has always been a white-hat web site development tool and there’s never been any question of Google banning XSitePro sites, or downgrading them in the search results.
So, as attractive as black-hat techniques may have proved over the last decade (mainly very short-lived) it isn’t an area we could compete on ethically.
10. High speed internet
In 2001 only 4% of American households had
broadband. By 2011 this had grown to 62%.
Even for those who did have broadband back when XSitePro was first released the speeds were nothing like they are today, and so the optimum way to design a website was to do it on your desktop or laptop computer and then publish it via ftp to your online web space. Now, with high speed Internet, it is possible to do all the work online, and so bypass the whole ftp publishing process completely.
This has meant the need for desktop-based website development tools has decreased substantially over the last decade. Personally, I prefer to develop offline and then publish, but I can totally understand why many people prefer the online development route.
11. Technological Savvyness
When XSitePro was released in 2004 the vast majority of users were, to a great or lesser degree, technologically savvy. Those who were not realized that they did need to make a bit of effort (reading manuals, watching videos, etc) to acquire the basic technical skills needed to build a web site.
Today, many people wanting to set-up an online business don’t want to have to learn all of this techie stuff. Ideally, they want a solution that does pretty much everything for them. There is absolutely nothing at all wrong with such a desire, but a tool like XSitePro does have a learning curve and it is pretty much impossible to take that away without dumbing down the software to such an extent that it makes it useless for everyone else.
12. Tablets and Smartphones
Apple released the iPhone in 2007 and the iPad in 2010. These two products revolutionized how people consumed the web. Prior to these devices almost all web browsing was done on a desktop or laptop computer.
The chart below shows the rapid growth in tablet ownership from almost zero in 2010.
According to an article on CNN Money mobile devices accounted for an incredible 55% of Internet usage in the United States, which just goes to show how much things have changed.
XSitePro was never designed to cater for this quantum change in Internet usage and it would be very difficult to rewrite it in such a way that it had those kind of capabilities.