I have been asked by many on our team about replicated websites. We have never used a replicated website, so we do not have any experience with them (we just spent a lot of money having a custom site built for us). Also, I have never seen this type of review or website comparison on any other site. Being the technical person that I am, I want to help our team (and Team YL) as much as possible in determining what the best site FOR THEM is going to be. There are so many different sites out there! We know that different people will have different requirements, so that is why I wanted to do a review like this so that we can cover as many people as possible.
Who Am I:
In creating this, some are probably wondering, who is this guy, so I thought it important to explain my expertise. I have been in the IT industry for the last 14 years, both in DoD and private industry. I specialize mainly in software and web development. In fact, I have spent the last 4 years working more in web development than anywhere else. I have built numerous websites, while they may not be pretty, they work! 😉 I have a bachelors degree in Information Technology and my masters in Computer Security. I also hold a CompTia Network+ and Security+ certifications. I have often been told that I am able to take a complex technical subject and make it easy for the layman to understand. I hope that this review and website comparison is able to do that for you!
I contacted the top 7 replicated web site companies. I asked for a phone call where I could ask a series of questions regarding their features and as much about them as possible. I then compiled all the information and tried my best to do an apples-to-apples comparison. I did this by asking specific questions that were grouped into categories. I then ranked each company, 1-7, by each category. These are the categories I will be evaluating
- Numbers make apples-to-apples comparison pretty easy. But to do this, I annualized all the plans, then averaged each company to determine the overall cost of each (this excluded the setup cost). Then each of those averages were ranked smallest (7) to largest (1).
Ease of Use
- This is a difficult area to measure, and is a very subjective as well. I did my best to objectively measure these based on available features and my understanding of website design and users; but it is just my understanding and personal preference. The usability of any site will depend on the visitor. That is one reason why designers have to write to the “lowest common denominator”. They also have to contend with our waning attention span!
- While it may not be fair to penalize a website solution because they are using a custom built solution (or not something widely available), it can cause support issues. Systems like WordPress are widely adopted and supported. The company has to do a little customization to the WordPress back office and then they can utilize updates from WordPress themselves. Of the 6 companies I talked to, 3 of them used WordPress as their back office, 2 used a custom built solution, and 1 used a commercial solution.
- In considering this, I wanted to measure if new posts or content to the site are populated by the user or the company. Automatically posting to a blog (like downloads from a Young Living blog) are huge in keeping the site looking active and dynamic. This helps in search engine rankings. I was also measuring updates like release of new farms, new products, reformulation of products, etc. I actually did these reviews at a prime time…right after convention!
- This is another difficult area to measure. Different companies have all kids of features and even within a company they may offer different features on different pricing tiers.
- Another thing that makes this difficult is do we base this on the pure number of available features? The usability of the features? I think the only way to accurately compare these is the pure number of available features. So to do this, I compiled a list of all the features available on all the sites and put them into one table for cross-referencing. I included ALL features that are available (so some features may only be available on higher cost plans).
- To measure this, I am considering responsiveness to my initial interview query as well as responsiveness to any “support” issues I had while writing the review. For example, if I found the site was missing something or was unclear, I would send an e-mail to the point of contact I initially made contact with, explained the situation and await a response.
I will be evaluating the following sites. The site itself is a link to each company, the “(review)” text is a link to my individual review of that company and their product offering.
- MarketMSO.com (MMSO, Review)
- MarketingScents.com (MS, Review)
- MyOilSite.com (MOS, Review)
- YLDist.com (YLD, Review)
- YLPersonalizedWebsite.com (YLPW, Review)
- YLScents.com (YLS, Review)
- YLWebsite.com (YLW, Review)
- As of the publishing of this post, nobody from YLWebsite has contacted me regarding their site. Therefore, I will not be able to fully review and compare their site to the others. If I was not able to obtain the information I needed, I scored their site at 1 in that category. Even if they tied with another site, I ranked them lower due to their nonresponsiveness.
Update 9/15/15 – After publishing this comparison and reviews I was contacted by another website company asking me to be included. I have done a review of their website, but have not had the time to update the comparison tables. Feel free to take a look at Oily Sites.com (OS, Review)
Comparison Nuts & Bolts:
Based on the findings and features, I am going to rate each site compared to the other sites on a scale of 1-7 (because there are 7 sites). Then I will total each one on the far right. Since there are 6 categories and 7 possible sites the highest possible score is 42. Refer to my reviews to understand the reasoning behind the scores.
|Company||Cost||Ease of Use||Back Office||Maintenance||Features||Service||Total Score|
* = was not able to review
A couple items were score the same, or numbers were skipped. This was because they were identical (feature count), or I was not able to review (back office).
In order of score:
In summary, I believe this is an accurate representation of my experiences with the various companies I interviewed. I believe it to be an accurate representation of the facts I had at hand. And of course all this is time bound. The developers can create new functionality and roll out new enhancements, but this is what I have available to evaluate as of Aug 2015. I hope this comparison is helpful to you and your teams.
These are raw features. Some of them are further broken apart on the company’s website, but I pulled them together into an easy to see table so we can all compare each site in raw features available.
|Social media integration|
|Site training material|
|E-mail campaigns (automated)|
|E-mail campaigns (manual)|
|Search engine optimization|
|Change existing pages|
|Password protected team area|
|New member signup links|
|Full US product catalog|
|Total feature offerings:||17||19||10||12||17||8||3|