In most cases, customers want custom-made solutions. So offering Open Source CMS as a full website out of the box will not do. There has to be a degree of customisation. And this is not a few clicks as someone suggested in an earlier comment. You have to be highly skilled to be able to customise and theme, say Drupal or MODX, with all the fancy plug-ins thrown in. Those slagging off CMS-based solutions, I say go easy on your attacks, for this is a real marketable skills we are talking about.
As for how much you charge, Shadowbox said it well. You charge what you think you are worth. If you can put together a website, CMS-based or otherwise, in 30 minutes you don't bill for 30 minutes. Your price should be what you think is right for your skill set.
Somehow, this topic has gone off the deep end a bit... or is getting there.
Putting aside developers and low entry barriers, one thing a client will eventually find out is this:
A one-size-fits-all solution almost always means it never fits properly. Even something as popular and extendable as wordpress requires that you go into the engine and tinker if you want it to behave the way you want it to.
What happens is that: clients who have little or no experience will typically pay based on price, and in that regards, an off-the-shelf solution is almost always cheaper.
(Let's be honest - will any of you talented developers charge $2000 for a tailor-made CMS and website? I think not.)
Eventually, the client realizes that they need their site to grow, and their CMS is hurting them from doing so, this is when they go for the bespoke stuff.
So to answer the topic question: a bespoke site should always always cost more than one based on an off-the-shelf solution, but only if it is better suited (and better built) than the latter.
Well said. I failed to mention support as well being a critical factor.
Originally Posted by shadowbox
Charge a fair price for a fair job ... regardless of the approach taken to development and tools used, it's only the resultant site that counts.
Pretty much sums up my thoughs, and I wouldn't have said better. Good thing I read before posting.
Originally Posted by shadowbox
I would also add that enormous and blatant overpricing is fraud. So if you charge $2k for 3 static pages, they better be the best 3 pages ever made.
Same thing for the use of CMSes. If you can comply with client requirments with an out of the box solution, you don't charge as if you built the CMS yourself. In other words, if you take money for things you haven't done, that again is fraud.
And if that was the intent of the original question then it should be rephrased to: Is it ok to steal from people if you develop their site? The answer to which is of course no.
With that in mind, the question is ambiguous. Other than that, there's nothing to discuss.
If a designer deceives his client by tweaking a free template and calling it a custom design, then it is wrong. We integrate most sites into a CMS for management purposes, but the designs are all comp'd in Photoshop from scratch and the HTML/CSS and CMS templates are also coded from scratch.
So in that respect, I can't imagine a reason in the world why it would be seen as a negative. We're just being efficient with our use of time, because when the client calls and wants changes, we can have someone like an administrative assistant log in and make changes, instead of a programmer billing at $100 an hour.
In addition, many clients eventually ask if they can make small changes to their site, and adding a CMS later is always more complicated than building one in to begin with.
I think the key here is communication. You shouldn't ever try to deceive your clients. Be upfront with them if you are using a CMS. We find it as a great selling point... clients can get a much more customizable website -- almost like a custom database-driven site -- for much, much less than building a custom database-driven site from scratch. They get a great site, we have easier maintenance and everyone is happy.
How the designer implements their design is not all that important - after all if you hire a designer you are after a particular look to your pages. If you want the pages to actually work in a unique way then you'd need to hire a developer.
The skills of design and development are so different from one another it is extremely rare to find a single person who does both well. If you hire a business to do both then they'd need to have at least two people in the business so as to have at least one who does each of those tasks well. If you just hire a designer without a developer then having them implement their design using a CMS for the back end is probably the best you can expect. The alternatives are static pages or a badly written back end.
In my eyes, using Joomla as a solution simply doesn't do.
The problem being?
I put alot of work into sites I develop. I know the programming languages, I know the theory - give me a website problem and enough money and I will be able to do it.
Jo bloggs can unzip a file, create a template and bang! They have themselves a content site. That's what I see as stealing. That's my gripe with Open Source - it's too...open! The idea is great - developers sharing - but when guys who don't need experience can create a site in a few minutes, it is quite pathetic really.
It's like a grand pianist on a stage using a self-playing piano. Yes, he knows how to make himself look professional, but put a real grand piano in front of him and - well, he wouldn't be able to play.
I am a massive hater of WYSIWYG website development, e.g. Dreamweaver. Programming is a skill - which people now take for granted simply because they can press buttons and for all they know, magic takes place.
All I see using basic sites such as Joomla is one step below those editors.
Yeah, my opinions are strong, but that's the case. The client pays for my time and my skill.
It's like being a master chef when people are selling microwavable-readymeals for the same price.
arkinstall - clients want results, and trust me, very few care about the technical process and 'pain and torture' that may or may not go on behind the scenes to help achieve those results. They just want a solution to their problems at a cost they find acceptable and delivered within a suitable time frame.
If a vendor is able to provide that solution quickly and efficiently using os software, then top marks to that vendor. If joomla is the correct solution, then so be it. If an in-house solution is more suitable, then that's what needs to be done. There is nothing wrong with a developer using os solutions if they are truly suitable for the task in hand. I would certainly be unhappy to discover my developer had recommended a 'blood and tears' bespoke in-house solution just because he personally had some personal crusade against so-called lazy developers using os.
The guys who make it in the business are the ones who work smarter, not harder. It's a cliche, but it's true. If there exists a ready-made solution for a client (and it is truly the best solution), then go for it, everyone wins. So what if it only takes 5 hours to set up? What relevance is that to the client as long as it does everything he asked of it?
I agree no one can call themselves a web developer unless you develop something their self.
Using a generic CMS for the client without any ACTUAL work a client should not be charged for. The client doesn't know.
In addition to that, if you do charge them for setting up a CMS... better not to charge them much or your just copping out a CMS for real work.
Then don't call yourself a web developer. Be a businessman, a solution provider. Your job title is (again) irrelevant to your client, it's the end solution you provide that has any meaning to him. Snobbery against developers who use all the tools available to get the job done quickly, efficiently and cost effectively is somewhat ludicrous to say the least. Is sitepoint any the lesser because it uses off-the-shelf forum software?
Originally Posted by jjgoodson
No, but you can certainly own a web development company. There's nothing glamorous about doing all the work yourself. I guess if we're talking "freelancers" here, then maybe I understand the point trying to be made, but it misses the overall mark.
Originally Posted by jjgoodson
The point of this whole thread is seeded in dishonesty of the vendor toward the client. No matter whether a CMS or template is used, the client should not be led to believe otherwise.
The vendor, whether you want to call them a developer, designer, or just a company, has a certain responsibility to the client. Being deceitful is never a good strategy and will almost always come back to haunt you later down the road.
As long as you're up front with your client about the project and how you plan to accomplish the goals... what does it matter whether you use a template or CMS?
When I order a laptop, I know I want it to my specs.
I want the largest capacity of RAM, Processor and HDD as possible for a reasonable price; a screen around 17"; Windows XP (Vista is too resource-hungry for my liking, and most of my development programs); I want the keyboard in a UK-layout (" above 2, @ above ', # left of enter, and \ right of left shift).
Those are my specifications.
Do I want the ability to change my TV channel? no.
Do I want to pay the company who made my laptop to give me a laptop they made for free in five hours, with a factory install, the same amount as another company who put real time and effort into building it exactly to my specs?
For my personal projects, I code everything from scratch. I am quite picky with my requirements, and I don't like coding to someone else's model of a website.
At work, I use existing 3rd party software and modify it. For example, I recently completed modifying a wordpress site for the first time, to a tight deadline. I modify an existing CRM solution to match the needs of the customer too, and have started looking at Drupal for the first time for a new project.
I can sympathise with both sides. I can see the benefits of using existing software (sometimes), but also prefer to work from scratch myself, and for projects which differ from the model provided by the 3rd party software.
As for costing? I agree that you should charge the customer for the solution and its value, not the method. I don't really think the laptop analogy is the same - it is perfectly possible to meet someone's specs without starting from scratch, but also sometimes beneficial to just code the site from scratch.
Basically I have no real answer on this, because it entirely depends on the project in question. You take each one case-by-case and decide what is the best solution :D
To use your example, surely it depends entirely on the value that those 3 static pages gives the client.
Originally Posted by php_daemon
What if that 3-page static website generated a million bucks in return (or $100K or even $10K) for just a $2K initial outlay?
Money pretty well spent, I reckon, and you could hardly be guilty of being fraudulent.
The laptop analogy doesn't work. If you are installing drupal or joomla for a client, configuring modules and customizing modules to their requirements, THATS the equivalent of what most computer shops would do when building a laptop to specs. They have various hardware components (like software modules) which have been pre-built by a hardware company like nvidia or ASUS. They simply mix and match those pre-built components.
Originally Posted by arkinstall
Designing a website from scratch to suit the user requirements is more like going to the graphics card manufacturer and getting a custom designed graphics card built for your custom laptop. Designing from the chipset, solder and blueprint level upwards.
Many users settle for the 'pre-built' windows XP, they don't go demanding a custom built operating system. (wel if they do they might install linux and mess with the kernel hehe). Software is a product, software developers who can utilise the work of other open source developers already have a leg up in the real world products they can produce in less time.
Its not cheating the client, they are paying for the end product. They get the functionality and the developer can contribute any custom work back to the OS project. It also means that a developer using these tools can produce work cheaper, and in the free market that means they might get more business.
EDIT: also I might just mentioned that the belief that drupal or joomla developers are somehow less skilled because they work with a pre-existing system is flawed. Some of these systems have highly complex source code and learning how to extend and customize the system does take work. Most drupal installations aren't 3 minute jobs. Most commercial installations have clients with customization requirements which have the developer installing/modifying various modules and customizing the source code. There is a reason skilled Drupal developers get 70k in Australia.
Saying those developers are cheap is like saying the average Microsoft Windows XP developer is cheap because they aren't Linus Torvalds (since they had the starting point of windows 98 to base their code on).
pfitz, I agree with you 100%. I could not said it better.
Originally Posted by pfitz
Well, that's my argument run to the ground then, :lol:, very well said.
I suppose for the average website, an OSCMS isn't that bad.
For specialised websites, I think it should be hand-coded - e.g. websites which serve a sepcific purpose and require extra functionality.
My main income comes from creating scripts to go into the main site, so I can't really complain. I'd rather build whole applications, however - but I can stick to that for my personal projects ;)
The question gets ridiculous if you expand its scope ... is it ok to use an open source web server or database? Or is that unfair to the person who writes their own version of Apache or PostGreSQL?
Reusing existing code is of massive benefit to everyone, it should be done whenever possible. That said, there are tons valid situations where part or even most of an existing stack isn't suitable.
The thread is supposed to be about web designers - they wouldn't know how to write the back end of the site since they specialise in the front end. Their only choice is between a static site, an existing CMS, or hiring a developer to create a custom CMS for them.
My point was that the existing CMS is basically using code instead of writing it. And we all do that. You can't draw a circle around one of 20 different open source components and say "oh, the first 19 packages you used were totally reasonable, but the 20th crossed some magical fairness line".
Originally Posted by felgall
Well the fair thing to do is to charge by the hour, and if it takes you five hours to install and customize a CMS versus the fifty hours it would take you to write your own then no, that's not fair and you're ripping the client off.
In all honesty, but a modern web site of a certain size and open to future potential can not be developed without a CMS in the back.
The shift here is from "writing from scratch" to understanding content management, understanding SEO optimization of a CMS, understanding Optimization of a CMS driven site, templating, and yes, Service.
Most designers do not have the first idea about coding. If they did they'd be developers rather than designers.
IMO, if you use OS CMS, then be honest - tell the client, honour the OS licence and dont charge for the product. (that is naughty)
But do charge for your time, whether it is for unzipping and uploading or faffing in Photoshop or coding in notepad you are using your time and time is worth something.