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  1. #1
    SitePoint Addict clearweb's Avatar
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    Unhappy Why does every customer want to "maintain" their own website?

    I am in a smaller town where technology hasn't quite caught up yet. It seems like every customer that is interested in having a website, wants to be able to update the website themselves (with no knowledge of HTML, CSS, etc.). Now I know there are CMS's out there, but I haven't learned enough to implement something like that. Part of my income is doing the updates for them.

    Does anyone have any good suggestions on what to tell potential clients like these? I totally understand what they would like, but I just can't provide it yet. Also, they don't seem to understand the extra costs to have something like that implemented. I guess it's just another case of "it's easy, how hard could it be?" I just lost a very good potential client this morning because they want to update it themselves through some easy interface.

    Any suggestions are welcomed (even those that are going to tell me to learn Content Management)

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    SitePoint Member xtreme1's Avatar
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    What program do you develop your site in? If Dreamweaver, then I recommend a program called Macromedia (now Adobe) Contribute 3 that I have several clients using. It is very easy to use. You can lock out your clients to the main structure of the site (ie navigation, site structure, etc) and only allow access to content areas. I think it costs about $150 but you can add that to your project costs.
    Jeff Dudley
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  3. #3
    SitePoint Zealot webfinity's Avatar
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    1. Give them a cost effective alternative. It amuses me what designers charge for cutting and pasting text, and the occasional photo.
    2. Make it cost prohibitive to implement a CMS system.

    Honestly there are very few updates that are done on a regular basis. Which brings me back to point 1... make it cost effective.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Wizard LiquidReflex's Avatar
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    Well, to be honest, the best answer you can tell them is: "Yes, I understand what a great benefit it is to be able to update your own website and we can help you accomplish that!" ... but obviously if you don't have that skillset yet, then that's a bit tough to do. I would definitely recommend learning how to build CMS systems into your websites as they are very common today. Nobody wants to contact the designer, wait for the time it takes to get it updated and then pay for each individual little change. They want to be able to change their text whenever they please, update their news regularly, etc.

    Personally, I would say start out small. Learn how to integrate a CMS for content / text first. Maybe an events page, regular page text, etc. Don't get into the advanced stuff right away like a lot of photo integration, complex formatting, etc. Just learn how to make it so they can change the simple stuff. If they want the advanced, they can contact you since it's not just "as simple as that".

    Along that same route, I never give my clients full reign on changing the entire site. I set up a CMS for areas that they said they wanted to change (content-wise). I don't let them use tools to modify the page itself or any of the main framework. This just opens up the risk of many "oops" messages that they were editing something and now the page doesn't show up properly. If you limit their editability to the content, at least you won't have to re-do all of your work over and over again.

    Once you get the ability to offer clients a DIY option (for a higher price obviously) you'll be able to earn extra income for a feature that is fairly simple to implement and also reduce the hassles of minor changes. To be honest, I sell the CMS feature as something that stands out against the competition ... "they want to charge you for every change, by spending an extra $XXX.XX for the CMS, you'll be able to make changes yourself". It's a big selling point and I can see why your client wants to find some way to do it. Learn the ways of CMS and you'll be able to compete again!
    Kevin Hauge : Modern Leaf Design : Follow Us on Facebook
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  5. #5
    SitePoint Addict clearweb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xtreme1
    What program do you develop your site in? If Dreamweaver, then I recommend a program called Macromedia (now Adobe) Contribute 3 that I have several clients using. It is very easy to use. You can lock out your clients to the main structure of the site (ie navigation, site structure, etc) and only allow access to content areas. I think it costs about $150 but you can add that to your project costs.
    I use Dreamweaver. I have heard of people using Contribute, but have never tried it. Do you have to go to the client's machine to install it for them?

    Thanks

  6. #6
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    Partner with other companies that implement your designs into a cms. This way you can offer many different cms's: you do the design and subcontract the implementation to the other company. You then support the client by training them on how to use the cms.

    This is a very common practice.

  7. #7
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    I know this thread is over a week old so hopefully the topic is still open for discussion. I am in the same boat with clients expecting to simply log into a slick little interface and knock out a quick update. It seems to be the natural order of things so I am currently researching the zillions of CMS options and getting a bit overwhelmed.

    Liquid, you seem to have a pretty good handle on the 'CMS thing' would you mind sharing some of your insight? Do you customize something like Joomla, Mambo or Drupal to take care of your clients or did you develop your own CMS?

    Thanks

  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard LiquidReflex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigfishon
    Liquid, you seem to have a pretty good handle on the 'CMS thing' would you mind sharing some of your insight? Do you customize something like Joomla, Mambo or Drupal to take care of your clients or did you develop your own CMS?
    I develop my own custom CMS for my clients now. To try to customize, modify or limit one of the scripts for the masses proved to be too tedius and full of headaches in my opinion. I'm sure they work for many people, but for me, they have produced more problems than solutions. I've had many people ask me if I could create a CMS package for mass distribution ... but that defeats the "custom" purpose.

    I believe it's all about understanding your client, where they want to go with the site and what their skill level is. Text changes are pretty basic and easy to incorporate into any CMS, it's when you get into the formatting and graphics that make for the control issues. Say you have a photo of the business owner on their About Us page and they want to update it ... do you trust their ability to use the correct size, code, etc to replace it? By custom creating a CMS, I can create a specific form to ensure the size is appropriate for the space and input the correct code every time ... it's still easy for the client, but eliminates the variables.

    The most common problem associated with a custom CMS is: "but that will take more time and cost more" ... and yes, that is correct. If you are in the business of a quick turn-around website for a cheap-and-easy website, then creating a custom CMS for every client may not be for you. My business model is to provide solutions, not just an end product. You're selling the client on the simplicity of updating themselves and the cost benefit of doing it themselves. Draw it out in a simple equation clients want to see: CMS costs you $x,xxx ... hourly maintenance costs $yyy an hour ... making X changes each month yourself will cover the CMS after Y days/months! Every future use only benefits further!

    As a designer, you obviously know about the free / cheap CMS options out there ... but that doesn't mean that a different solution (a more expensive one at that) will not be a better solution for the client. Even if the client knows of these free CMS options, illustrate the benefits of having one custom for their site. They are paying you to create an image for their website ... why install a CMS that opens up the potential to destroy that new image? Yes they're quicker to set up ... but the time spent on repairing a client "oops" may exceed the time saved on a pre-built CMS.

    Of course, this is all just my opinion ... I know many people that use those CMS options and haven't had any issues. So you do what works for you and your business I guess.
    Kevin Hauge : Modern Leaf Design : Follow Us on Facebook
    Client Axis v.08 - client / project management script

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by LiquidReflex
    I develop my own custom CMS for my clients now. To try to customize, modify or limit one of the scripts for the masses proved to be too tedius and full of headaches in my opinion. I'm sure they work for many people, but for me, they have produced more problems than solutions. I've had many people ask me if I could create a CMS package for mass distribution ... but that defeats the "custom" purpose.

    I believe it's all about understanding your client, where they want to go with the site and what their skill level is. Text changes are pretty basic and easy to incorporate into any CMS, it's when you get into the formatting and graphics that make for the control issues. Say you have a photo of the business owner on their About Us page and they want to update it ... do you trust their ability to use the correct size, code, etc to replace it? By custom creating a CMS, I can create a specific form to ensure the size is appropriate for the space and input the correct code every time ... it's still easy for the client, but eliminates the variables.

    The most common problem associated with a custom CMS is: "but that will take more time and cost more" ... and yes, that is correct. If you are in the business of a quick turn-around website for a cheap-and-easy website, then creating a custom CMS for every client may not be for you. My business model is to provide solutions, not just an end product. You're selling the client on the simplicity of updating themselves and the cost benefit of doing it themselves. Draw it out in a simple equation clients want to see: CMS costs you $x,xxx ... hourly maintenance costs $yyy an hour ... making X changes each month yourself will cover the CMS after Y days/months! Every future use only benefits further!

    As a designer, you obviously know about the free / cheap CMS options out there ... but that doesn't mean that a different solution (a more expensive one at that) will not be a better solution for the client. Even if the client knows of these free CMS options, illustrate the benefits of having one custom for their site. They are paying you to create an image for their website ... why install a CMS that opens up the potential to destroy that new image? Yes they're quicker to set up ... but the time spent on repairing a client "oops" may exceed the time saved on a pre-built CMS.

    Of course, this is all just my opinion ... I know many people that use those CMS options and haven't had any issues. So you do what works for you and your business I guess.

    I'm normally of a similar opinion with off the shelf software, but we found Mambo/Joomla very good and easy to hack. Apart from picking apart the same three files for each site, there are also various mechanisms, where you can use the code generated by Joomla and re-wrangle it how you want (Mambot). Also, a couple of things like shop and multi-language module are really good.

    We don't try to hard to keep it updateable and therefore have to hack the security updates into at as well. Yay to CVS!

    Hope this helps,

    Jochen
    http://www.automatem.co.nz
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  10. #10
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy Tyssen's Avatar
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    I haven't used it yet but I was told about Interspire yesterday which lets you hook up your existing pages (including DW templates) and lets the client edit them through a web browser, kinda like a CMS but without the whole thing being linked to a database. You can also lock off certain parts of the pages.

    It's not free like a lot of CMSs, you have to pay a licence for every site you set it up on, so I guess you need to weigh that up against how much/soon you want to be able to offer this sort of thing to clients without getting involved in full blown CMSs.

  11. #11
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
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    I developed my own CMS - over the past 2 years I've refined it, added to it thanks to my clients requesting new features (hence development has been 'free') and now it's pretty much ready to be released commercially. So well worth it, I also obviously know it inside out so can easily and quickly upgrade and adapt for each client if required.

    But as menioned above, if you're looking for something quick and cheap, just use a free open source CMS.

  12. #12
    SitePoint Guru dojo's Avatar
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    Most of the clients are cheap and want to reduce costs as much as possible. Even if I don't ask for much for the site maintainance they still want to do it themselves. The nice thing is that soon they realise it's hard and after they mess out they agree on having me work on the site ..


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