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  1. #1
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    Uniting Design Services with Web Programming - a frequent dilemma?

    I operate a small custom web design company in NYC. Our studio specializes in custom design, identity development and ease-of-use. Our in-house skills currently end where php/mySQL take off, and for good reason. We believe that design should be left to the designers and programming should be left to computer-science types. It's a division of labor that simply makes sense in this field. So... how do we unite them?

    We get several requests for CMS development. Rather than hiring an individual or team of programmers to handle our programming needs, we teamed up with with an outside firm several years ago that specializes specifically in Web development. Most of the projects we work on together are 50/50 to 70/30 programming/design. However, we frequently get leads for projects that are 85% design and 15% programming. These are the types of projects that don't warrant a full-blown development team to be involved (primarily because budget does not allow) but do require the skills of a reliable, knowledgible programmer or two.

    We're tempted to hire someone full or part time to handle our programming needs. However, this could create a liability issue for us. If the person we hire quits, for instance, we'd be left without someone to manage service calls. Obviously we could hire someone else, but that person would need to possibly struggle with the previous person's code. And working with someone on a freelance basis would seem to make matters worse, even though it might be the preferred arrangement

    I'd love to hire a freelancer to handle our CMS needs, but the downside seems too unpredictable.

    Is this a common problem facing web designers? What are the solutions for overcoming these obstacles?=

    Cheers!

  2. #2
    SitePoint Addict miggl's Avatar
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    The success of this will depend on how the person(s) you hire will set up the code. You definitely want to get someone worth their salt for this, so that they set up the code in a way that will let your designers dabble in the layout and presentation of the site, without affecting his code.
    There is some major planning ahead that has to go into this type of development, and through careful utilization of existing frameworks you can theoretically be up and running in a few days.
    Key here will also be that your developer is constantly on par and on the same page with your designers, so that he/she can anticipate their requirements and accommodate for them while architecting the design of the project.

    There are a lot of buzz-words that can be thrown around to describe good practices that will assist making this development model more successful (like MVC in combination with OOP, inline documentation (something like phpDocumentor), templating (using something like SMARTY), and so on). A few ready-made frameworks exist that have all these systems already set up and integrated, just waiting for the developers and designers to create content.
    The obvious benefit of implementing such a framework is that there is a minimum of foundation work that the develop needs to do for a project; they can get right into building content in most cases.
    The downside to using a framework is that the develop must first be familiar and proficient with the respective framework to make the most out of it, which can take some ramp-up time.
    Celebrate Liberty, Freedom, and Rights at The Constitutionalist.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the great response. Can you give me a few examples of the ready-made frameworks you mention?

    Out of curiosity, do you know of an online portal where employers can search freelancers' portfolios and do so by region? I'm thinking og the programming equivalent of:

    http://www.aigadesignjobs.org/public...ual_browse.asp

    Cheers.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Addict miggl's Avatar
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    Some common frameworks include symfony, CakePHP, Zend Framework. A framework would be a great starting point for a larger project like you link to there.
    Not sure about the portal question, I haven't been in design for years...
    To create flexible content you want a good framework that lets the developer be flexible in their methods and practices, yet be robust enough to create some heavy-duty web sites that can have alot of complexity and usage without bogging the server down.

    I am currently reading up on the symfony framework, the site has great tutorials, developer videos, and forums where you can get up and running very quickly. However, I have found that many concepts are not intuitive and require that the developer sit down and get their head around the advanced concepts implemented. The good side to that is that once the developer grasps these concepts and masters them as intended, then the framework really becomes an incredible asset, allowing the developer to whip out content in no time. Most of all, maintenance is a snap and you have code separated from design, lending itself beautifully to your requirements.
    Celebrate Liberty, Freedom, and Rights at The Constitutionalist.


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