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Client wants to do own maintenance
I code in a text editor

 1:04 am on Jan 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to handle a situation where the client wants to maintain their own webpage, but they want the initial page made for them? I like to code by hand, but the customer doesn't know html. They want to update their inventory, and possibly the layout of the site.

I've thought of using a canned php script (really more of a program) that I know of, but the design can't really change. Besides, then I'm not designing their site.



 1:15 am on Jan 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

Create a Php/Asp web page for them, and have their updates go into a database. Then code the initial page so that it always reads the most recent record of the db - their most recent updates.


 2:44 am on Jan 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

Yup. Something like MoveableType, or probably any other blog software can be configured to do this kind of duty. But you'll have to apply your noggin on this one. You have to strip away whatever code deals with formatting, and just leave the includes that drop the data in the datacells.

Charge them until it hurts them real bad and they can't take it no more.

Then squeeze them a little harder. Tell them that it's a royal pain to customize the set up and custom configure it. Thus, it's more expensive to set up, but in the long run they'll be saving bucketloads of money. But don't forget to wring as much as you can out of them. Because it can truly be a pain in the butt to configure.


 2:54 am on Jan 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

I had this come up once - did a pretty nice site for a local company and then after I charged for a few updates one of the managers decided her 12 year old daughter could handle it so they let her start making some changes. After coming in after her a few times to clean it up (which I did because I was using the site as a portfolio piece and didn't want potential clients to think I was an idiot) I finally fired them as a client.

If you're going to let them update inventory then it's an absolute must that you get a script of some sort. If you are going to let them update the look and layout then be prepared to clean up after them (and charge through the nose for it) or to let them walk away and you move on to bigger and better.


 3:21 am on Jan 7, 2003 (gmt 0)


oilman, good point.

Definitely set up the CMS so that the only thing affected is Content, and not the design. Just have the perl and xhtml fill in the table cells.

That's what I did for a client, and their web site looks like a million bucks.

[edited by: martinibuster at 4:00 am (utc) on Jan. 7, 2003]


 3:30 am on Jan 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

Strategically placed comment tags and an explanation of the <p> </p> tags>?


 10:18 am on Jan 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think a database route would be the best. You could use something such as access or excel to put products/articles into a database/csv file and show them how to upload that. Don't let them mess with the design, and make sure that any text they enter is stripped of all tags before sending to the screen (to make it difficult for them to create errors!). You can create your own tags if you need to (such as [link product27] which would be replaced in your script). This makes it look neat and follows your design and skill when showing it to future clients.

As said above, charge a lot for this service because they won't be coming back very often.


 2:40 pm on Jan 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

Ok, but here's this--they want it to be as easy to use/edit/maintain as a friend's site (he uses frontpage--he told them that's the easiest way for them...) so they think that frontpage is the way to go. Personally, I'm comfortable with everything on a Unix server, hard coded. (I really, really, really don't like frontpage!) How do I "convince" them that Frontpage is not the way to go?

I know enough php that I think I could figure the site out that way. But, is it possible for me to make a "pretty gui" for them to use that way? Can I use php and still do that? These people know *nothing* about html, let alone php.

BTW: unknownsoldier: I thought of using just tags, but, like I said above, they know nothing about html. Besides, I think that gives them too much of an opportunity to screw up the code. And I really don't want to have to clean it up!


 2:53 pm on Jan 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

Princess, if you search this site for Front Page, you'll probably find plenty of ammo as to why that might not be a good choice.

I think the solution to your dilemma depends on how much the client wants to do - if it's a straight text update, e.g., change a list of upcoming events every week or two, letting them change a text file and including that file on the page could be an easy, no-programming way to go.

If they actually want to add new content pages and have them linked appropriately, you'll need at least a rudimentary content management system or heavily modified blog.

If they want to do the full range of web editing, then go ahead and let them use Front Page (with appropriate cautions from you). Don't list the site on your resume or client list, and hope that in a few months you'll get some billable hours to make it work again.


 4:26 pm on Jan 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

Ok, that seems like a pretty straight-forward way to handle this situation. I like the three options. For some reason I had this idea that no matter what I was going to have to do some programming.

Thanks rogerd!


 12:11 am on Jan 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

Ok, one more question. I looked at MoveableType. Definately an option. But does anyone have any good resources regarding an opensource php script for database entry stuff? (Sorry, but perl scares me--it looks like my cat danced on my keyboard when I look at the code!)


 12:23 am on Jan 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

What about something like this:


Does this sound like a good solutions? Or should I keep looking?


 12:30 am on Jan 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

Or this:


This one seems to be free...


 12:38 am on Jan 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

Macromedia have released Contribute. It's a cut-down Dreamweaver (Sort of) to make it easy to make changes.

On balance if they want to change the code isn't that their problem?

If they want to use Frontpage then why don't they just do it?

Personally clients who want to do it themselves are a pain - it's not that easy if it was why are they using you in the first place?




 2:21 am on Jan 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

I actually do this all the time for my clients. I always create a custom interface for them (using PHP+MySQL usually) that doesn't require any HTML knowledge to use. That's always the best bet IMHO. I'm not familiar with an canned scripts or systems (haven't really looked).

But if all they really want is inventory management, and you don't want to roll your own, try looking at some shopping carts.


 2:39 am on Jan 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

Does anyone know of any other scripts? Maybe they could be stickymailed?

I'm very interested in this, and in affordable content management systems.


 12:18 am on Jan 9, 2003 (gmt 0)

I would either use detailed comments, telling them how to change the text and what not to touch... either that or I would set up some php includes so they would just have to type the text in a .txt document, save it, and upload it and it will format to the style that you set before the include... or you can look into a news post/blog system that will just require them to fill out a form for updates.

Or... you could set up all the stylesheets so it formats the text, and just teach them how to use the correct tag to get the style they want... then teach them about br's, hr's, alignment, and how to get images to show up... those are pretty easy concepts to understand and along with detalied comments that might just be the easiest way to go (but be sure to charge them for the lessons ;-) ).


 4:43 pm on Jan 9, 2003 (gmt 0)

The biggest problem is that they don't want to learn any html. Absolutely not (besides, they've seen how "easy" it is with Frontpage, and won't be swayed from some sort of "pretty gui" (professional term, ay? :) ).) I finally talked them into a shopping cart that I found online. It looks like a forum, and I'm going to assign them a login so they can access the inventory. That's all they're allowed to change. They're ok with that, as long as I'm available to change everything else from time to time. I don't think it will be a problem.

Next question: I have to initially put in their entire inventory. (Hundreds of items, all with photos.) Any suggestions on how (much) to charge? Keep in mind that they also sell on ebay, so they pay something like 30 cents for every item they post.

This is a complete package (web site with shopping cart, hosting, some seo, digital photography, graphics work, etc.)...


 4:47 pm on Jan 9, 2003 (gmt 0)

for typing in their inventory i would bill on a hourly basis.


 5:54 pm on Jan 9, 2003 (gmt 0)

Charge more than ebay - because theirs is a one per item charge, yours can sell many. This client doesn't have a (or possibly some) spreadsheet/database of their products already?


 6:01 pm on Jan 9, 2003 (gmt 0)

They don't have a spreadsheet or database of their inventory...

Charge hourly for inventory entry? What about the digital photography/graphics work (cropping/resizing/etc. images).


 9:32 pm on Jan 9, 2003 (gmt 0)

hi princess, got you a little wrong. i thought about text entries you have to type in and not that you have to do all the artwork, too.

doing photo-stuff should be done also hourly i would suggest. take more for this type of work then for text. i would say, 2 or 3 times more then for text.

if you create illustrations for them, that would be again something different and you can think about a fee per day like an illustrator or photographer.


 12:14 am on Jan 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

Ok, I like that idea. Now, off to do some work!

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