Client doesn't understand why he can't make site updates

I’m really curious if others’ have come up against this. I work with a designer who designs very elaborate, “pretty” designs. I try to make them as web-friendly as possible, but it’s tough, given how ‘designy’ they are. That’s not the issue.

The issue is this: I’ve just built one such site, and it is LOADED with all sorts of bells and whistles: multiple mouseover events, videos, tour dates, photos, etc (this is for a band). I’m a hand-coder and the site is basically html/css/javascript. (And I should mention that that’s basically my skillset- I don’t know how to build a Drupal site, don’t know php, etc. Humble little web designer, no frills :slight_smile:

He just sent an email asking how we could make the site so that the band could update it themselves…what?! Aside from importing their google calendar there’s not a lot I can do for people with no web skills.

Is that a common perception? That websites are easily “updateable?” Is it just me? It’s not like they’ve hired an engineer to build them a CMS, and it’s not a blog or a template site. I’m just shocked, and not quite sure how to explain it to them…

Any thoughts on this? Any advice?!

I can understand not wanting to invest lots of time in learning something like PHP if you’re only doing it part time but in answer to your question, yes it is very common these days for the consumer to (rightly) want to be able to update their website and add content with ease themselves. The simple fact of the matter is that these days (with the ubiquity of blogging and social networks), you don’t really need to build a CMS to give clients a general method of getting stuff onto the page. The likes of Wordpress, Drupal, ExpressionEngine, MovableType, Jooma (and their kin) have pushed past the technicalities. It’s not a perception anymore that websites are (or at least should be) easy to update - the wealth of pre-existing and easy to implement tools mean that it’s not a tall order in the slightest… sure it may require added work for the designer, but wrapping your design around an existing engine is much easier than having to build a CMS from scratch (that is unless you want too). :slight_smile:

Thanks, you guys…I know, I know…

I’m definitely in the category of “cheap, reliable” and I KNOW I have to bite that bullet at some point and learn php.

I struggle with this because I only do a few freelance projects a year- my actual day job is in marketing which pays the bills, so hopefully that would explain why I’m a little back-dated when it comes to third-party CMS solutions and that sort of thing.

It’s just so intimidating for some reason- I feel I should maybe start with an intro to programming class? I’m pretty adept at faking my way around scripts, but certainly don’t write my own.

Secretly would love to get back into web development full-tme and grow my skills, but as I live in the Silicon Valley area, competition is steep and there are many people SO much more advanced in all areas than me…reliable/cheap plus full-time employment isn’t a bad gig at this point…

As Ralph suggested it’s always good to have a few CMS type tools in your arsenal so you can deal with clients who want to edit their own stuff. You do need to do some legwork and testing a few to find the ones that will work for you, but it’s well worth putting the time in rather than turning work away.

[FONT=“Georgia”]And PHP is super easy, by the way.

It just spits out same, old HTML. It’s like dynamic HTML.

If you choose to learn PHP, the real breakthrough will be when you learn MySQL databases on top of that. Then you’ll suddenly feel all powerful, I’m telling you!


[FONT=“Georgia”]Expression Engine is good. I’ve used it before.

I’m experimenting with Wordpress now too, although knowing PHP would be a plus, to pick apart what you need from what you don’t need.

As your skills increase, you get more busy, and you start raising your pricetag, you’ll find this request becoming more and more common.

You’ll eventually have two main paths you can choose; One is to keep your very price low, be very reliable, and charge an hourly rate to do updates yourself quickly.

The other is to develop some kind of content manager you can work with, charge a higher price for the additional trouble of installing it, and leave the day-to-day updating to them. They’ll still have to come back to you for more complicated things, like changing graphics or how a menu works, etc.

Honestly, even though it’s a steeper learning curve to go with the second option, and you’ll have to deal with client-created bugs and malfunctions from time to time, it’ll be the only way to go to continue growing your freelance career. Because the less time you spend dotting i’s and crossing t’s, making fussy updates for one client, the more time you can spend seeking new work or working on new projects.

At some point you’ll have to bite the bullet, I’m afraid.


Hey thank you- I will check that out!

This client, btw, is actually the designer’s client- I subcontract the build for him and he passes along the specs. They had originally requested only that they be able to update their tour dates, which obviously I can make happen.

That’s why, when the mail came in, I freaked!

I can’t wait to check out that ExpressEngine because a lot of clients would prefer to manage their own content.

Thanks again - and the designer just wrote to say that he went back to the original emails and indeed…it was just the tour dates, so I am off the hook- commence weekend! :slight_smile:

It’s a good idea to discuss this with clients before building a site. I always ask—“are you going to want to update the content yourself?”

Anyway, it’s easy to build a site so that the client can edit it. Just use a custom CMS like ExpressionEngine, which doesn’t require you to know any PHP at all (you just learn a few tags to add to the code for the dynamic bits).

It’s better to do that from the start, though. In your case, you could easily build a little CMS into the site, making certain parts editable. Try out something like Perch or [URL=“”]SurrealCMS. That’s easy to do, requiring no programming knowledge at all.