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View Poll Results: is it fair

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  • yes

    60 75.00%
  • no

    13 16.25%
  • not sure

    7 8.75%
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  1. #1
    SitePoint Addict mari's Avatar
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    Is it fair for Web designers to use CMS's?

    A lot of web designers/developers these days seem to be using content management systems for clients, and the clients often don't exactly know how this works but are charged the same as developers would when creating a website from scratch

    some people think its okay to charge them since they took the time to learn how to use the CMS and uploaded all the content etc

    some are even just tweaking ready made templates for the CMS

    is it fair to charge people for that

  2. #2
    SitePoint Guru htpc's Avatar
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    Good point. I think people who pay designers/developers really have no idea how easy it is to build a website themselves. I know somebody who paid £2000 for a five page, poorly designed site. I felt like phoning the company myself and giving them a mouthful.

    is it fair to charge people for that
    To answer that you'd have to look at each individual case, but I think if designers and developers are up front and willing to answer questions on how they will build the site I think it is fair enough. Sadly, many of them try to make out they're the secret keepers of some hard to gain knowledge.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by htpc View Post
    I think people who pay designers/developers really have no idea how easy it is to build a website themselves.
    It may be easy to build a website but it's very difficult to build a good one. I wouldn't be willing to work for a company or be involved in a project that involved ones of those second-rate clunky CMSs. It's not really the sign of a credible business is it?

  4. #4
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    I think CMS is great, as long as there are strong parameters. The CMS should be easy to use, and should make it almost impossible to mess up the website accidently.
    A good CMS is great for the client and the developer, a client doesn't like contacting the web company every time they want to make a change, and the web company doesnt like having to keep making minor changes here and there for tiny money. Time is far better spent making the next website for the next client or making a significant change to a current clients website.
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  5. #5
    doing my best to help c2uk's Avatar
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    I'm not really following you here, any web developer that is not using a CMS shouldn't have a job or clients - I know exceptions exists but seriously, a CMS is a nice tool for the client as they can update the content as they like without having to ask and pay the developer/designer for that work, just like ro0bear said.

    Developing your own CMS is a major task, mind you, many things can go wrong and not many have the resources to do this, here come the Open Source CMS, which I think you are really referring to.

    The client pays for the service provided of getting their website up and running, having a nice layout, and hopefully also training in managing the site themselves. I don't see how charging for these kind of services isn't fair.

    I make it very clear to my customers that I'm using an OSCMS, highlighting the many benefits compared to a custom solution, and they're fine with that.
    Dan G
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  6. #6
    Theoretical Physics Student bronze trophy Jake Arkinstall's Avatar
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    I think guys are getting the wrong picture here.

    AFAICT, Mari is talking about the use of Joomla etc to create a website in minutes.

    The problem is that we are a world of Open Source - and I'm afraid where Open Source goes, money flees. People volunteering their worktime to create a free system which makes life a living hell for developers.

    My vote is a firm and clear no.
    Jake Arkinstall
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  7. #7
    doing my best to help c2uk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arkinstall View Post
    I think guys are getting the wrong picture here.

    AFAICT, Mari is talking about the use of Joomla etc to create a website in minutes.

    The problem is that we are a world of Open Source - and I'm afraid where Open Source goes, money flees. People volunteering their worktime to create a free system which makes life a living hell for developers.

    My vote is a firm and clear no.
    I'm not really sure I understand what you're trying to say, I don't even get whether you now think OS is good or bad for web developers
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  8. #8
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    I think it is fair to charge for your work even if you use an open source CMS. What you charge depends on many things, including how you value yourself as a developer, designer, etc.
    What it is not fair is to charge a ridiculous amount of money because you led your customer to think that the CMS was your creation, and not a tool that already existed.

  9. #9
    SitePoint Addict Romuba's Avatar
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    This is an interesting question and has been dealt with at Sitepoint before, although I can't remember where. I can argue this from both sides but want to raise a scenario.

    I have been asked to develop a site for a client. They give me a rough idea of what they want and then ask for a costing. Now comes the interesting stuff.
    1. I happen to be a brilliant coder and know ever (well just about) feature of every technology available on the web and can build just about any site in 30 minutes flat - say up to about 20 pages with flash and whatever else you prefer.
    2. I have been building websites for a couple of months and I have learnt some stuff but really am not all that hot, and then I discover Joomla or Drupal or whatever and find that with a little effort I can get the site sorted in a couple of hours.

    Both of us deliver a site that the client is VERY happy with and willing to pay the settled upon cost. Is it wrong for 2. to charge as much as 1. or should 1. really charge more? Surely it all comes down to what one is able to produce and if the client is happy with it. If the client is happy, does it really matter what technology was used?

    I hear that the jury is still out on this one. Interesting it is though.
    Ross Bartholomew
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  10. #10
    I <3 Internet Tekime's Avatar
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    If another developer is delivering the same value and satisfaction to customers as you in a few clicks, you can stand to learn something from them. It's fine to charge whatever you want as long as the customer knows what they're getting, who they're getting, and is willing to pay for it.

    Lying to or misleading a client is obviously not ok.

    Quote Originally Posted by Romuba View Post
    1. I happen to be a brilliant coder and know ever (well just about) feature of every technology available on the web and can build just about any site in 30 minutes flat - say up to about 20 pages with flash and whatever else you prefer.
    2. I have been building websites for a couple of months and I have learnt some stuff but really am not all that hot, and then I discover Joomla or Drupal or whatever and find that with a little effort I can get the site sorted in a couple of hours.

    Both of us deliver a site that the client is VERY happy with and willing to pay the settled upon cost. Is it wrong for 2. to charge as much as 1. or should 1. really charge more? Surely it all comes down to what one is able to produce and if the client is happy with it. If the client is happy, does it really matter what technology was used?
    The price is irrelevant, but it matters very much that the customer understands your skill level. If they think you're a pro they will be surprised (in a bad way) when it takes you two weeks to do a simple change to their site a month later. This doesn't violate my previous statement.
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  11. #11
    Theoretical Physics Student bronze trophy Jake Arkinstall's Avatar
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    Basically, (as far as I can tell) the OP is talking about people earning easy money from open-source packages such as Joomla and Drupal.

    Whilst I agree that open-source can be beneficial, that's only in the right places.

    For example, open-source forum packages are great (if they're paid for), and give valuable advancements to communities.

    IMO, however, when it comes to building entire websites in a few clicks - I think that is past the line. Maybe for small personal sites, but if you're selling your services as a webmaster, you should put your work in and make a unique site.

    So really, where there's no real profit anyway (forum systems - although the decent packages such as vBulletin have the right idea) Open Source is OK.

    When it comes to getting a fully-fledged website for unzipping a file and clicking a few buttons, I think it gives a bad name to real web developers.

    Whats even worse, is that I've seen front pages of company enterprises in joomla. Cheap.
    Jake Arkinstall
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    Sometimes its enough to make that wheel more rounded"-Molona

  12. #12
    doing my best to help c2uk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arkinstall View Post
    Basically, (as far as I can tell) the OP is talking about people earning easy money from open-source packages such as Joomla and Drupal.

    Whilst I agree that open-source can be beneficial, that's only in the right places.

    For example, open-source forum packages are great (if they're paid for), and give valuable advancements to communities.

    IMO, however, when it comes to building entire websites in a few clicks - I think that is past the line. Maybe for small personal sites, but if you're selling your services as a webmaster, you should put your work in and make a unique site.

    So really, where there's no real profit anyway (forum systems - although the decent packages such as vBulletin have the right idea) Open Source is OK.

    When it comes to getting a fully-fledged website for unzipping a file and clicking a few buttons, I think it gives a bad name to real web developers.

    Whats even worse, is that I've seen front pages of company enterprises in joomla. Cheap.
    I think you're generalising here far too much to be honest. I've seen top notch, unique websites being built with Drupal, and well-known companies, web development agencies and NGO organisations have used it to great extend and very successfully, though, those aren't one click websites any more, check out http://buytaert.net/tag/drupal-sites for some examples.

    Utilising OS in this way is more efficient and economically sound than developing all the tools yourself. Not speaking of the nightmare of making sure that your sites are up-to-date with all the security stuff.

    Just for reference, I've developed my own CMS before I started using OSCMSs.
    Dan G
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  13. #13
    Function Curry'er JimmyP's Avatar
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    This is a massive issue when it comes to the web development industry. The extremely low barriers to entry allow the average Joe Bloggs to walk off the street and start offering "web design services" within a couple of days.

    The amount somebody charges should be based on the amount of effort/time that has been spent. So if Joe Bloggs has knocked up a highly polished Joomla website within 20 minutes then he should certainly not be able to charge the same as someone who'll do it properly.

    On the other hand, it is all about the client! If you take the two scenarios presented by Ross (#7) then I'd say that if the client finds that both solutions fit their needs then it makes sense for them to choose either of them. Most clients and most users of the web cannot tell a uniquely developed website from one which has been built on a generic package such as Drupal or Joomla...
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  14. #14
    Theoretical Physics Student bronze trophy Jake Arkinstall's Avatar
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    A good thing to pay attention to, however, is service.

    If I can offer any needed upgrades for the next year for a relatively low cost, I can easily make them.

    If Joe Bloggs is asked to do an upgrade, they wouldn't know where to start.

    I like to find exactly what the client wants, and build a system to their exact specs (within reason, some clients are better off not having their say with some aspects). I build said system, and give them a better CMS choice than Joomla could ever offer (Java desktop/mobile application). Suddenly the $24 site Joe Bloggs could make seems almost insignificant.
    Jake Arkinstall
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    Sometimes its enough to make that wheel more rounded"-Molona

  15. #15
    Theoretical Physics Student bronze trophy Jake Arkinstall's Avatar
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    I think I phrased it badly.

    I have no problem with websites which have alot of effort in them, including proffesional Drupal ones.

    What I do have a problem with are people getting away with the same prices as I do, but for a simple-click website.

    Luckily, most of my business comes from fixing and developing code rather than full websites, however the annoyance still exists.
    Jake Arkinstall
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    Sometimes its enough to make that wheel more rounded"-Molona

  16. #16
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    That is a good question.
    I guess as they say.. as long as it's legal, then why not.
    I don't know much about CMS, so I wish I could add more to it..
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  17. #17
    Internet Toughguy Kevin Boss's Avatar
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    Yes it's fair because the client is paying for my time. If it takes me 20 hours to complete a site I'm charging for 20 hours. Whether I was setting up a CMS, coding the theme, offering support or transferring a database, I still used my time and expect to be reimbursed for it.

  18. #18
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    Of course it is OK to charge. Open source content management systems like Joomla may be very easy to install and use but customising and development requires significant skils and expertise. CMS platforms like Joomla are more like web application frameworks and it is not easy to master. IT really depends on how professionally the project is handled and how the service is provided. We are web design company who often use Joomla for client websites. All templates are designed form scratch and we write bespoke modules and components for most. In one instance it took me 3 months to develop a fairly large and complex system using Joomla. Plus we employ a fullt ime team of 6 to ensure we work professionally and can offer a good service level agreement to customers. This includes 3 hour resolution of any problems reported and well defined support procedure. Surely we cannot be expected to offer this for free. Lately many large companies have stated using open source systems Like Joomla. These companies employ professional Joomla developers to work within their team. Should they work for free as well as opposed to being paid programmer's salary's??

  19. #19
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    There is nothing wrong with using an open source solution for a client. In fact if you were to custom code a similar CMS you are talking about a year or more of work. Try making a drupal from scratch with ALL of the features and plugins.

    The client is paying for a product with a number of features. Using the open source solution lets them get a lot of core functionality for free which leaves developers with time/budget to spend on other things such as SEO, promotion, development of custom modules, more money for design, more money for testing.

    The client wins as they get a very fully featured application and the developer wins because they have products that can be rolled out then enhanced, rather than coding numerous custom sites from scratch and gradually improving the source code but never matching the features of the larger open source projects.

    The only area I might hesitate in using a large open source content management system is :
    a) When scalability is essential and a basic lean system is required (drupal/joomla appear to have scalability issues unless customised)
    b) The client has highly unique requirements, which mean that an open source solution would take as long to customise as the project would take to code from scratch.

    In the commercial world I think the project just needs to get done. In most companies there isn't time to custom code everything.

  20. #20
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    Some of you guys are completely missing the point here. Clients don't really care how much 'work' you put into their site, all they care about is the end result. With a CMS based site, that includes the ease in which they can update the site and the kind of support you can offer them on an ongoing basis. Whether you use open source, commercial or in-house solutions is irrelevant as long as the total solution provided meets the clients' needs, is stable and secure and well supported (either by the developer or by third parties).

    As for pricing, again, irrelevant. You charge whatever is suitable based on the market you are targeting and your position in that market.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowbox View Post
    Some of you guys are completely missing the point here. Clients don't really care how much 'work' you put into their site, all they care about is the end result. With a CMS based site, that includes the ease in which they can update the site and the kind of support you can offer them on an ongoing basis. Whether you use open source, commercial or in-house solutions is irrelevant as long as the total solution provided meets the clients' needs, is stable and secure and well supported (either by the developer or by third parties).

    As for pricing, again, irrelevant. You charge whatever is suitable based on the market you are targeting and your position in that market.
    Well said (as usual) Shadowbox. This is something I have learned along the way - it's all about adding value for the client.


    Quote Originally Posted by arkinstall View Post
    I like to find exactly what the client wants, and build a system to their exact specs.
    Curious to know what happens when your client's "exact specs" describe a Joomla/Drupal solution to a tee? Do you still go to the trouble of avoiding the obvious (an off-the-shelf CMS) and provide a "custom" solution?

  22. #22
    SitePoint Enthusiast christopherslost's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowbox View Post
    Some of you guys are completely missing the point here. Clients don't really care how much 'work' you put into their site, all they care about is the end result. With a CMS based site, that includes the ease in which they can update the site and the kind of support you can offer them on an ongoing basis. Whether you use open source, commercial or in-house solutions is irrelevant as long as the total solution provided meets the clients' needs, is stable and secure and well supported (either by the developer or by third parties).

    As for pricing, again, irrelevant. You charge whatever is suitable based on the market you are targeting and your position in that market.
    Yeah, agreed. A silly poll in my opinion.., no offense.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowbox View Post
    Some of you guys are completely missing the point here. Clients don't really care how much 'work' you put into their site, all they care about is the end result. With a CMS based site, that includes the ease in which they can update the site and the kind of support you can offer them on an ongoing basis. Whether you use open source, commercial or in-house solutions is irrelevant as long as the total solution provided meets the clients' needs, is stable and secure and well supported (either by the developer or by third parties).

    As for pricing, again, irrelevant. You charge whatever is suitable based on the market you are targeting and your position in that market.
    Well said. I failed to mention support as well being a critical factor.

  24. #24
    ✯✯✯ silver trophybronze trophy php_daemon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowbox View Post
    Some of you guys are completely missing the point here. Clients don't really care how much 'work' you put into their site, all they care about is the end result. With a CMS based site, that includes the ease in which they can update the site and the kind of support you can offer them on an ongoing basis. Whether you use open source, commercial or in-house solutions is irrelevant as long as the total solution provided meets the clients' needs, is stable and secure and well supported (either by the developer or by third parties).

    As for pricing, again, irrelevant. You charge whatever is suitable based on the market you are targeting and your position in that market.
    Pretty much sums up my thoughs, and I wouldn't have said better. Good thing I read before posting.

    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.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by php_daemon View Post
    I would also add that enormous and blatant overpricing is fraud. So if you charge $2k for 3 static pages...
    To use your example, surely it depends entirely on the value that those 3 static pages gives the client.

    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.


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