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While I am not a designer (Iím a software engineer), I think that I have an understanding of some of the issues faced by web designers. My idea is to provide a Content Management System (CMS) as a hosted service for web professionals and their clients. The service would allow a designer to assemble new sites with new content from a catalog of design elements (theirs and perhaps other designers). The designer could build the skeleton of the site and then let their clients put in the actual content. The service would publish (using WebDAV or FrontPage) HTML to the server hosting the actual site. I would charge on a per published page basis or on a monthly subscription basis. Also, I would take a percentage of the fee charged by designers to other designers or new clients for the use of their design elements. Basically the idea is to create an interactive, collaborative web design marketplace.
I've seen several sites selling templates (most looked pretty lousy - anyone know of quality sources?), but none offering the ability to interactively build sites from these templates.
Any feedback and constructive criticism would be appreciated. Any info on similar services offered by others would be great also.
I think this seems to be the way forward. I use this idea very partially where the client can update his stock online. In regards to the rest of the site, well, I don't think he is competent enough with a computer never mind a website to be doing any alterations
Also, you have to bear in mind that since the guy is paying me to do him a good job, I would not want to do a good job then offer him the chance to edit/ruin it! :)
I had that dizzy idea a while back, then next thing I know, there were 101 sites offering pre-made templates for "your home site". Basically, the all must suck......who wants a web site that looks the same as a million elses? Yeah, in my opinion, "content managaement systems" would be a whole lot better than "templates" :)
I guess its a question of how much work on the website can you offload on your client without them making much of a mess (or a worse mess).
But I agree with the concept entirely, design now so you dont have to redesign later :)
In response to your comment, Nick, I am not suggesting that designers change the tools they use for design. What I am suggesting is that in production that the design be separated from the content. This would allow the client to self-administer their content.
A big benefit for designers who participate is that they get paid just by having their designs online. Because if they are good, there will be people building sites based upon these designs. And the designer gets paid when this occurs.
In response to Brotherhood of LAN's quetion of how much work you can offload to the client, my objective it to have it limited only by the client's initiative - there will be no limitations resulting from my tools.
I don't know how large a community of designers wit would take to sustain such a venture, but if I could get around a dozen I could probably justify setting up and hosting the environment. I'll setup a sample site next week so that you can get a better idea what I'm envisioning.
I'm not really certain, with that factor taken into consideration, that it's such a good idea to have it off-site. Having content on another server could also present a navigation problem, and if it's not done right could end up with cross-linking between the two that would be less than advantageous.
Clients can easily add content to their own sites through any number of Content Management Systems; there many of them that are Open Source. It would probably be worthwhile checking out the competitive options that are available before making any substantial investment of time or capital - just to make certain it's a sound business model.
Check out this thread, which is touching on a number of pertinent issues related to Project Management:
>I'll setup a sample site next week so that you can get a better idea what I'm envisioning.
You might want to clear that with the forum Moderator by StickyMail (link at top of the screen) beforehand.
I will follow the guidelines and not post promotional material. I consider the constructive feedback to be more important anyway.
I checked out the thread you mentioned. Some of this stuff is new to me. I assume that SEO stands for search engine optimization.
Let me clarify what I'm thinking. My service would not replace the client's site. I am talking about a browser-based CMS geared towards designers/webmasters who don't want to invest themselves in learning this technology. My server would use WebDAV or FPE to publish the site to the client's or designer's server. We could also publish search engine submissions, perhaps on a periodic basis.
What I am really interested in discussing is the idea of an interactive design marketplace, where you could prototype your site based upon the design templates which are present. For a small fee (< $1 per page) you would be able to publish these pages to your own server. What would make this service attractive to designers? The designer would get half the take (~ $.50 per page). And this is recurring since every edit requires a republication. I really think that good site design templates could result in the designer engaging dozens of new clients with very little effort. And of course any custom design work would be done between the client and the designer - I am not looking to intermediate in that relationship but only in the hosted CMS part.
Here's the url to a free site for free software. "Fullxml is an instant Web Portal System. The goal of Fullxml is to have an automated web site to distribute news and content" quoting that site.
It include the content framework, forums, surveys, news, guestbooks etc. It has easy multilingual support for about 20 languages.
The code is Open Source and free.
The software comes with 6 skins that change the appearance of the site. Information is given on how to produce your own skins and links to sites with different skins allow you to see the things that can be done.
The site requires no database and allows for content to be displayed from other sites.
I know of two companies now using fullxml but the are still in pre-production.
While this may not be directly applicable to your project, I think you will be interested in how FullXML approached the problem.