At Spruz we have been hard at work fixing bugs, improving page load time, and developing some cool new improvements that are less than a week away from release.
First we hope you have noticed a pickup in page load times over the last week or so, we have had a few reports of slow page load times and as a result made serveral adjustments. Our goal is to maintain an average page load time of 3 seconds or less.
As part of our future plans to improve and maintain stable performance for everyone, we must free up more resources by adding new limitations to our free service. As you can imagine we only have the resources in place that our revenue can justify, this leaves us with X number of servers and so much bandwidth to spread around for FREE and PREMIUM accounts alike. As we have said in the past we plan to always offer Free Service as it helps us and our future premium accounts to grow. However effective Friday November 5th we plan to only offer Free Websites to users in the US, Canada, and Most UK markets. All other world regions will be able to use our Free Solution for 3 days before deciding to upgrade to a premium plan.
We have elected to focus only on the US, Canada, and Most UK markets (Great Britain) because;
These markets have the quality of traffic we need to see for our advertisers and to refer new website creators. Yes, we will be displaying more advertisements on free websites.
A higher percentage of people upgrade their plans from these markets (Premium Accounts Pay the Bills)
This will free up about 30% of our server resources for everyone else.
Plus the majority of users that abuse our free offering come from outside these markets, thus putting less strain on our resources over all.
Remember if you are in these markets you can use our free service for as long as you need it or until you are ready to upgrade to a premium plan. Current FREE users not in the US, Canada, and Most UK markets (Great Britain) have 30 days from today to upgrade their website or locate other free hosting to move to, you will also notice a message in your website information pane telling you how many days you have left to upgrade.
Some improvements that will be in place next week:
Group Inviting: We will have improved features that make it easier to invite friends to groups within your website, plus a new feature to manually add members to a group if you are the site administrator.
Member Subscription Module: This whole feature is being overhauled, 2 key improvements include; being about to set the term (Days, Monthly or Yearly) of plans and settings for the currency to USD, CAD, or EURO.
New Service Plans: You will notice new plans next week, we want to make understanding our plans easier and will offer more for higher plan levels. For example we will no longer include items like the member subscription module in our lowest priced plan. Remember we grandfather all users into their current plan. So while the price or features of our plans may change. We do our best to keep your price and features the same for the life of your current package!
Remember if you have problems, issues or just some private feedback open a support request with us!
UPDATE MONDAY 11-8-2010
We wanted to take a moment to address some of the most common asked questions so new people reading this post won't have to dig to find answers to items we already gave answers to.
Q. ONLY 30 DAYS! What happens after that?
A. Really it is 60 days, After 30 days we lock your management area with an upgrade to continue message, but your main website that visitors and members see will be unaffected for 30 more days, after that point the site is deleted. This is to allow more time to ether upgrade or display a message of how to move.
Q. I can't pay to upgrade, how do you expect me to upgrade
A. There are 4 or more ways you can generate the cash needed to pay for your upgrade.
Donations - We offer a site fund element that allows people to pay directly towards your upgrade, have everyone chip in a few dollars. Plus we cover all processing fees! Something you don't get with placing a Paypal Button
Advertisements - Upgrade and find advertisers, if you have the traffic then you should be able be able to cover our upgrade costs by placing run of site advertisements or using a service like commision junction.
Member Subscriptions - We have a member subscription module that is part of our upgrade plans, setup areas of your site that require people to pay a small monthly or yearly fee
Sponsorship - Ask a business in your area to sponsor your upgrade and give them a dedicated spot that says Sponsored by BUSINESS NAME
Cafe' Press - www.cafepress.com is easy to setup on any website using there embeddable store, people buy items from you that you create. Plus it is FREE for you to sign up and start selling your wares.
If you can't put together resources using any of the options above, then what are you really trying to save anyway?
Q. Why are you doing this to us?
Regarding our focus on specific markets for our free offering; I would like to point out a few things.
We are able to justify the cost of the free sites we provide by treating it as a marketing expense. Free sites are a good way to advertise our paid service, in the form of an unlimited trial for perspective customers and for visitors seeing that we power those sites. As with any marketing effort, it is important evaluate what markets are actually providing a positive return on the investment. If a company fails to do this, the company will ultimately fail completely.
All successful companies use similar strategies to continue to provide quality service. For example Microsoft may choose to only release products and/or market in specific regions to remain profitable and continue serving its customers effectively. Hulu only provides service to very specific regions because their advertisers will only pay to have their ads shown in those areas. The same goes for UK based media companies, which restrict online media from playing when accessed from the United States.
We are continually working to provide the best service possible to our customers.