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All buyers want CMS, which is best for freelancers to use?

 6:35 pm on Jan 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

I have been bidding on freelancing sites, but it seems that anymore, all the clients want to be able to edit their sites after I am done with it.

They want to be able to change their leaderboards, logos, upload and rearrange pictures, product information, and all manner of things.

I have played around with a couple wordpress sites (other people's sites that I had to 'fix'). But had so many issues, I don't think it would be a good solution for most clients. I have heard names like Joomla, Xoops, Mambo, Drupal tossed around, but if they are just going to be glorified blogs, with really confusing UI's, I want no part (having to teach clients how to use them could be a real pain).

Is there a 'dumbed-down' cms that is easy for anyone to use, and will not cost me a lot of money? I would rather not mess with any CMS ever, because each one has a new learning curve, and I have to increase the bid $ amount in order to cover my costs, which means that I am less likely to get the job.

Would the best solution be trying out all the free options? I guess each client would have different needs, so there is no easy answer, I have read a lot about EE today, but wonder if that would be cost effective for a person who is only bidding between $500 and $1000 for each job...

Or should I just learn how to build my own custom CMS using php/mySql so that the only cost I have is my time? I feel overwelmed, since each time I think I am learning something, I find out my skills are STILL pretty much nothing in the bigger picture.

Should I just stick to static sites?



 2:52 am on Feb 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

Maybe a thing to explain for clients wanting to "change their leaderboards, logos, upload and rearrange pictures, product information, and all manner of things" is that designer can't really just set something up, walk away, and the client can then do everything simply.

If static pages, surely they'd need some fancy software, like Dreamweaver (?), as well as having at least one person learn to use it.

If CMS, as noted above, changes can be made readily; and can use open source, saving money at outset.
But over time, CMS software moves on: so not like just leaving a bunch of static pages up on the web.
Patches for security holes being especially important; but also get version changes etc.
Here, too, would seem client will need someone savvy enough to perform the upgrades.

Perhaps in bidding, can also suggest charge for teaching people, or for future work on upgrades.
Might even help show you know your stuff, and concerned you'll do a good job that lasts. (Not just setting up CMS, showing client how to change a few things, then leaving them to later learn re security holes, perhaps the hard way. Fly-by-Night Web Design?!)


 3:20 am on Feb 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

I've yet to find a CMS that I've been able to learn in a couple of days, without thinking it was overcomplicated and klunky to use. I would never let any of my clients anywhere near Joomla, or Typo. Drupal, possibly at a push for larger sites.

I stick with Adobe Contribute. It allows me freedom to design sites as I want and I can lock down areas that I just know the client is going to stuff up. For the client it's as easy as using Word usually (which has its own problems, but there you go).

My tuppenceworth.


 1:42 am on Feb 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

I've got a Drupal site which proved to be a nightmare to get right, so far as directory/URL structure and dupe content was concerned... so much so that I've been putting off the upgrade.

Got another site on ModX which was - and is - a dream to setup, maintain and customise.

Another drawback to Drupal, IMO, is both the huge learning curve and fast (major) upgrades... just as you get your head around one, another is upon you.

I had really high hopes for the platform but I fear it's become a dinosaur.


 9:29 am on Feb 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

Another drawback to Drupal, IMO, is both the huge learning curve and fast (major) upgrades... just as you get your head around one, another is upon you.

Tell me about it. I use a fairly well known directory script on one of my sites, that appears to be updated on an almost weekly basis sometimes. Minor bugs I can deal with, but when I have to update my templates each time it can begin to defeat the whole point of content management.

I am considering dumping everything that generates dynamic content and going back to good old fashioned static html files. Now there's a novel way forward. Do you think there's money in it? ;)


 9:52 am on Feb 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

As you are a developer, I'd strongly suggest that you build your own. That way you can get precisely what you want without having additional functions or features to confuse matters.

In addition, the overall deliverable will be more professional

Totally agree with Vincevince, using a CMS is not professional and is pure nightmare in the long term (too many garbage, functions, an update every month, etc...)

I suggest you build your own and do the strict minimum.


 12:17 pm on Feb 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

I think you need to ask a few more questions before you and the client head down the path of using a CMS. How often does the client need/want to update the site and what do they want to update?

If they want to update it monthly or longer, it makes better sense (for security, SEO, and quality reasons) for them to hire a web developer to make the edits.

How can I say this? A few reasons why.
1) CMSs are targets. Anytime a hack is released to the public some enterprising hacker will look for a target to try it on.
2) CMSs are easy to spot - they have an identifiable footprint. A quick search for common elements will yield a quick list of targets.
3) CMSs need to be kept up to date - the owner needs to keep them updated or they are open targets.
4) Who's going to keep the client's CMS up to date? There are costs associated with updates to the CMS.
5) If they want to keep a calendar or update the Board list or update a few pages of content it might be better for you to hire (or do it yourself) a programmer to write a custom interface. This has it's own set of issues but the footprint is less likely to be identifiable and therefore will keep a lower profile.

Just a few random thoughts before I head off to work...


 12:46 pm on Feb 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

lorax - items one to four are covered by you writing your own simple and bespoke CMS for your client (as I recommended above). For web developers to release sites without a CMS isn't wrong, it's just not the product it should be.


 1:17 pm on Feb 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

There are two types of web dynamic dev/web programmers
(Even three, using only static pages)
Back to my two dynamic types
A)Using a full blown nightmarish CMS
B)Using a “section content management” (SCM) I made up the acronym!

B) I pertain to that group, hard coding that SCM, customizing it per each different site, OOP governed, and allowing only some update, delete, add-on upon a strict template frame css driven. They cannot alter font, colors, look but image could also be updated as well as creating a new similar page if similar content per section needs to be added. In fact this remains me of another thread about “using open or closed source” it’s all depending on the coder and web dev knowledge. If you are not a coder and manage only your own site then I guess a full blown CMS might be your answer, but if you have the knowledge then forget about the heavy, nightmarish CMS


 1:35 pm on Feb 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

>> For web developers to release sites without a CMS isn't wrong, it's just not the product it should be.

I totally agree vvv.

And I should have had my coffee before I read through the thread - most of my issues were already pointed out. :(


 2:28 pm on Feb 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

We'll, I've made the decision to give things a try. But, I'm on a Windows Platform and don't have a lot of the tools you guys/gals have available to you on nix. But, things have changed recently and us Windows folks are comin' to get ya!

Graffiti CMS


 4:24 pm on Feb 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

Graffiti? Nothing like a beta to get your feet wet! ;)


 4:38 pm on Feb 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

Coming out of beta this month 2008 February. Many have already gotten their feet wet. I was a little late to the party but am catching up quickly. I feel the sand between my toes. :)


 5:46 pm on Feb 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

I've had success marketing a heavily modified version of an open-source CMS, on my server, in a shared environment that lets me easily apply updates as they occur across all of my clients' sites. My clients pay me a yearly fee for the security updates, training, and tech support as needed... and a little more for feature upgrades when they come out. Even the most time-consuming client I have still makes me money.

I save enormously on development costs since I don't have to either spend a huge amount of time creating my own CMS from scratch or update a bunch of stand-alone sites. I can apply security updates in particular very quickly... and I've found that a combination of spam blocking, CAPTCHA, Bad Behavior 2, and other security software working behind the scenes have been quite able to stop 99.99% of all attacks myself and my clients have had.

I don't think that all CMSs are "nightmarish" ... yes, there are updates that come out, but when you can apply them to all of your sites at once it is far less of a problem. The system is scalable enough to accommodate all kinds of clients, from full-blown portals to seven-page online brochures. Plus, there is an URL rewrite built in to generate search-engine friendly pages.

Personally, I don't do static websites anymore simply because I don't believe it's in my clients' best interests. I've seen many a static site perform great for a month or two, then disappear from the search engines if not maintained and updated.

I'm sure many people here would agree that SEO in particular takes a lot of tweaking to identify trends and keep on top of them. Yes, my clients could pay me a bunch more to update their website for them, but why do that when they can change it themselves and not worry about all of the stuff behind the scenes that comes with maintaining a CMS?


 4:07 am on Feb 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

True, if you can host the sites on the same server, the maintenance shouldn't be that bad.

In the past week, I helped three people set up wordpress blogs that I just host for them. Plus I have a couple. So I finally took the step of figuring out how to get all the sites running on the same codebase, so in the future, one update should fix them all... at least in theory.


 5:11 am on Feb 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

did you look at WordPressMU ?
I was thinking of trying that for this reason.


 6:06 am on Feb 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

I did look at WordpressMU but I was confused by the version numbers and how it relates to WP. For example, WP has had a few security releases in the last couple of months, but the most recent release of WordpressMU was several months old.

I didn't know if would run the plugins I want and so forth. Also, for various reasons, I wanted each blog on its own DB and figured it was easier my way than learning the ins and outs of WPMU because all the blogs are already running and already have DBs and most of them are not actually mine.

I guess the short answer is that the symlink solution seems so easy (still in testing though and am considering installing an old version of WP and then seeing how well the upgrade process works and whether a simple script can automate it).


 12:23 am on Feb 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Im a big fan of Website Baker for it's simple functionality. Its great for quick sites although it doesn't do everything. I will probably need Joomla for my next project that will require community functionality.

WB Pros: Fast, lightweight, stable and a small but helpful user group. I think the backend looks professional enough to give a client. Open source.
WB Cons: Not many add-on modules but still a good selection, not a huge user base.

It could even be a good base for a custom CMS, Im just learning PHP but had no trouble adding php scripts when a module wasn't available.

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