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ocPortal has been relaunched as Composr CMS, which is now in beta. ocPortal 9 will be superseded by Composr 10.

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ocProducts as a business

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Posted
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#46283 (In Topic #10111)
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The services we offer, and who we target them to

This post explains how the commercial aspect of our company operates, and the nature of the services we offer. Specifically: how they are priced, and who they are intended for.

ocProducts is a business, founded by a group of people fanatic about enabling people to have great websites, for a lower investment than is typical in the web development industry today. We started ocPortal before even considering making a business of it - we're really passionate about it, and we always have been. To the founders, the ocProducts business is a tool that allows us to keep doing it full time, now that we're older and have to keep money coming in.

Let's talk about that 'lower investment' I mentioned users making…
  • In most cases that investment is just in time - our users spending time learning the ocPortal software, and taking advantage of the great features it has to offer. This way users get a better website than if they had used a lesser tool, or save tens of thousands of pounds/dollars/euros that you'd need to pay for a ground-up development from a traditional web development company. Really passionate ocPortal users go further, and maybe learn XHTML, CSS, or even PHP - and from this, push ocPortal as far as they want.
  • Sometimes (often for businesses), the investment might go to ocProducts in the form of money. Businesses and organisations can pay us to make a whole website using ocPortal. Depending on the website, it'll likely cost a few thousand pounds/dollars/euros. That's a whole lot better than tens of thousands - big saving.
  • In-between there's a proportion of users who want a balance - to invest their own time, and also to pay for some ocProducts services. This usually means users will make websites themselves in ocPortal, and pay us to add some extra features, or to provide some direct technical support for the software.

As a company, ocProducts makes it's money from the services we provide. ocPortal is free, so we don't make anything at all from that. We choose to give it out for free because we love the whole concept of it - what it empowers people to achieve - we are able to give it out for free as it provides a foundation for the services we provide.
A consequence for this is that when we are providing services to people we are acting as a business, earning money to pay our salaries - not just directly for the work we are doing, but also to fund what we do for free. We are able to do this and still charge less because, as ocPortal experts, we are able to save those many thousands of pounds/dollars/euros for our clients.

This way of operating is called an Open Source business-model. Other companies do this, such as Zend (the maker's of PHP), Sun (the maker's of mySQL and Open Office) and Redhat (one of the major sponsors of Linux).
Open Source business-models are new, and innovative. They allow companies to give out enormous value in software to communities, completely for free. We love that we can do this, even though in most cases we don't earn anything back. Often people who are in communities aren't accustomed to the kind of figures that companies have to pay for things, and expect services to be cheaper, more like the price you see for things in shops, or pay for a software license. There's a big gap between 'free'/$100 and 'tens of thousands of pounds/dollars/euros'. The reality though is most websites for businesses cost this much, or often a lot more because they are developed by a permanent staff. There are ways to get savings - you can outsource it all to developing countries, but unless properly managed there is almost always a big quality gap - and often it will still cost a lot.
Prices are relatively high, because wages are - think how many $100 there are in the yearly salary of someone who has been through years of university training, and then add to that things like the cost of dead time (periods where incoming work is slow), administration costs, write-downs (e.g. non-paying-clients), training, marketing and PR, management, sickness leave, vacation periods, tax, expansion funds, contingency, office and bills, return on investment, and many other costs. For people outside business costing, the actual cost things come to is a bit of a shock, but the figures that go around are fair reflections on the costs of it all.

Now comes the reason I am typing all this up. We often get a situation where people come to us looking to purchase some services, but don't have past experience of business costs. Most people don't. This creates a problem for us, when potential clients have an unrealistic expectation of costings - and think that a quote for a few thousand for a website, of one thousand for a new module, is extortion - when in reality, it would cost 10 times more if they approached a traditional web development company. By explaining the background to how costs are calculated, and what we can do for free, I hope we can demonstrate how we maintain an enormous passion for ocPortal and Open Source, whilst showing that our commercial services are necessarily aimed at organisations with a realistic business budget, and not intended to be taken up by the majority of our users (community websites).

We are actually going further than just explaining this though. We are a very ethical company, and when people come to us and we realise they are not a business, and think they are considering going down a route inappropriate to their personal situation, it affects us personally - we don't want to do any one any harm by suggesting our services to those people they aren't really designed for. Therefore we have decided a code of conduct for our operations:
  1. If we have any doubts we will point the prospective client to this topic.
  2. We will not knowingly take on work from individuals who have no way of recouping their investment if they are planning to finance via some form of personal loan.
  3. Anybody under the age of 16 will need to have one of their legal guardians send us an e-mail showing their approval of our quote. We will also ask if this is likely to happen before preparing that quote.
I should make clear that what I write above does not apply to any kind of established business or organisation - it's aimed at community users who don't fit that bracket, to avoid ethical problems that face us.

Please be aware also that ocProducts doesn't take payment-in-kind, such as payment via advertising, mentions on mailing lists, commissions, or deferred payments. Our operating margins are already quite slim, so in these situations we'd expect a business client to use something like a bank loan to fund their enterprise, rather than us taking on the risk for their new project.


We are happy to consider feedback on our policy and our general way of going about things. As Managing Director (CEO) I need to try and balance the needs of our business (and all staff within it), against our own personal passions and the needs of the community. I always have the option of using traditional business techniques like segmentation, prepared responses, and tightly controlled communication channels – but I have always preferred an open approach, to explain our position on issues, and to reach a collective wisdom.


Become a fan of ocPortal on Facebook or add me as a friend. Add me on on Twitter.
Was I helpful?
  • If not, please let us know how we can do better (please try and propose any bigger ideas in such a way that they are fundable and scalable).
  • If so, please let others know about ocPortal whenever you see the opportunity.
  • If my reply is too Vulcan or expressed too much in business-strategy terms, and not particularly personal, I apologise. As a company & project maintainer, time is very limited to me, so usually when I write a reply I try and make it generic advice to all readers. I'm also naturally a joined-up thinker, so I always express my thoughts in combined business and technical terms. I recognise not everyone likes that, don't let my Vulcan-thinking stop you enjoying ocPortal on fun personal projects.
  • If my response can inspire a community tutorial, that's a great way of giving back to the project as a user.
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Posted
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#46289
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Community saint

What about people like me that would like you to make a project that is for me but also for me to allow others to download it and use it?

I mean I am always trying to find away to pay you back with out money and thats why I have the skin site, ya I know have not made any skins as I found it harder then I thought, I can make the images but the coding is hard.  

Any way as mentioned I want to pay for mods that I can offer for download to help make ocportal more popular and hopefully make you even more money. Heck all my feed back specially about parts of the system I do not use are not for me but to help ocportal become more popular and get more people using it.


As some know I am both a web dev (not as good of one as you [Chris]) as I do it as a hobby and must of the stuff I do is installing mods and editing skins/ themes, my main job is computer repair which I am good at.

I will admit I started web dev classes several months ago but never finished. I did get through the css part of it too so the css part of ocportal seems very easy to me, which is good. I got through part of the php part but a lot of that started to confuse me and for a few months I gave up and I kind of go back to the books I got specially when making skins here.


I run http://otakuplayground.com and am hopping to make themes and other things for ocportal even though I no longer use it for otakuplayground.com I still love it and feel it could go far with the right help. It needs themes and needs people to advertise for it.
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Posted
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#46305
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Your participation in the community is fantastic Ami :). I love that people are active in the community, believe in ocPortal, and keep it alive.

I expect the community usage of ocPortal to always overshadow our commercial operations, and that's cool, because the community has a lot to offer everybody in it.

Our commercial operations are largely separate, and not targeted to the same kind of audience. There's some overlap, but we want to keep the community open and effectively independent.


Become a fan of ocPortal on Facebook or add me as a friend. Add me on on Twitter.
Was I helpful?
  • If not, please let us know how we can do better (please try and propose any bigger ideas in such a way that they are fundable and scalable).
  • If so, please let others know about ocPortal whenever you see the opportunity.
  • If my reply is too Vulcan or expressed too much in business-strategy terms, and not particularly personal, I apologise. As a company & project maintainer, time is very limited to me, so usually when I write a reply I try and make it generic advice to all readers. I'm also naturally a joined-up thinker, so I always express my thoughts in combined business and technical terms. I recognise not everyone likes that, don't let my Vulcan-thinking stop you enjoying ocPortal on fun personal projects.
  • If my response can inspire a community tutorial, that's a great way of giving back to the project as a user.
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Posted
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#46345
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Community saint

We are a very ethical company
I love that paragraph, and we ALL know that (we, like the "community").

I want to tell my personal story about my personal approach to OcPortal.
Preamble: I'm a web developers, and I'm doing mainly flash web site for my customers.

In the 2006 I was searching for a CMS stable and hack-proof, so I discover OcPortal.
I try installation and I give it a try (it was no so "easy" from the start, but I want to go deeper and I stand..)

As soon I open a ticket, just to have information about security (my main concern) and I have a reply from Chris.
Soon I have a deep-talk by ticket with Chris, and soon I love his way of reply to me, and his way to try to give me a BIG help on any matter I have about his product.

I think by myself "Wow, this man don't take - still - any money from me, but he is very kind and helpful"
(I think I was the only one in the world to have this merits)

Very soon was born a co-operation with Chris; cooperation that is very strong.

To-day I still do mainly flash web site, but I have also somes Ocportal web site installed and running for my clients.
I go "easy" with OcPortal, because I know the Chris - and other OcProducts team people - ethic.

I'll pay for license for my client's web site (in the past, when OcPoratl was "licensed"), and I'll love to pay:
man, they do a fantastic job, and it's fair to be paid for this.

Chris, you' right when you say "This creates a problem for us, when potential clients have an unrealistic expectation of costings".
Here in Italy it's the same..
So.. we are in the same boat..

 :thumbs:

See you!
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Posted
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#46347
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Community saint

lgdesign, I will echo your sentiments. One of the reasons that I love OCP is the support given to it by ocProducts. From this, one of the little things that really goes a long way: I can't recall at anytime reading a post where Chris is/was blaming the remote host, the hosting company, operator error, etc. until he has explored all other possibilities. This in turn shows that ocProducts is indeed interested not only in paying customers, but the community as a whole; this on top of the strong belief in their product(s). It's very refreshing to see!!  :thumbs:

"no violence, no hate, no pain, no enemies
just peace, unity, tolerance and love" - The Beloved

OCP V7 | Advocating monetary reform - FreeOurMoney

Need OCP friendly hosting? Look no further:
Web Hosting, Reseller Hosting, and Dedicated Servers w/cPanel - Elief! - Official hosting partner for ocPortal.
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Posted
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#46360
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Community saint

I agree with both of you. He has always been kind, even though I will admit I have not always been kind back, not intentionally I just try and push ocportal in a direction that will help get him more people and grow even more.

But the kindness he shows is why I want to give back. That and the product it self is wonderful and nothing else out there that has all of its features. You would have to merge several other systems I have tried to get what ocportal has. I do say that and yes I do admit I do feel it could use a few more features, specially on the forum side of things, but thats just my opinion and its still a great product and the staff is wonderful, its hard to find support like you have here.

It really is too. I have only seen 2 other times were support is as good as here and thats with 2 webhosts I use, which is everity.com and downtownhost.com, yes I have hostpc as a host as well but they do not have the level of support that is found here or at those 2 hosts. Well IPB does have good support as well as you can some times open a ticket for an issue and they will log  into your site and fix what ever it was and then just reply to the ticket saying they fixed it, some times Chris does  that or just posts a thing to download to fix it but the idea is the same.

I run http://otakuplayground.com and am hopping to make themes and other things for ocportal even though I no longer use it for otakuplayground.com I still love it and feel it could go far with the right help. It needs themes and needs people to advertise for it.
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