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CMSs and best practices



8:02 pm on Feb 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Lately I've been tormented by the fact that I don't want to use any kind of CMS on any of my websites nor any websites I might get in the future.

Is this bad or will I be left behind someday just because I don't want to do this or is it perfectly normal to do everything yourself?

There are several factors that are affected by this, for one without a CMS you don't provide your client with the option to make changes on his own and he/she would have to come to you to get this done.

I've had clients for a long time, which pay monthly fees that cover maintenance (changes, repairs, new pages, redirects, whatever they want) and SEO (which I constantly monitor to maintain good rankings) and they are happy with the results of both maintenance and SEO.

I guess the reason of this post is about best practices, I don't really have a point of comparison nor colleague developers to know what the trends are.

What do most companies/freelancers do?

Develop a site with or without a CMS, charge a onetime fee for design/development and then charge the customer for changes etc based on the hours worked per request?

or is it also a normal practice to charge monthly fees which include extra benefits like I do?

Thanks for any answers on this topic.


3:48 am on Feb 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator httpwebwitch is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Yeah, a lot of your competition are selling web packages that include CMS self-serve. But so what.

There are plenty of companies who want dedicated service like yours, companies who want a pro to handle their web stuff, instead of delegating it to staff internally. You could offer them a CMS, and they'd still ask if you could do it for them. They want to concentrate on THEIR business, not fussing with Drupal and optimizing GIF's.

Those are your customers.

When I worked freelance in the agency circuit, a monthly maintenance package was normal. I don't know if that's still typical these days


5:11 am on Feb 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hey httpwebwitch,

I gotta admit I really like your answer, I was probably drowning in a cup of water but you are right, some people like to manage their site themselves, others don't even have time to do their own duties...

I think the reason I don't like CMSs is that I like knowing what's in there and that I fully understand it and anyways I've been thinking that with just some PHP and some databases you could provide the customers with small areas that they could tweak here and there as an option,

Thank you so much for the help :)


6:11 pm on Feb 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member rocknbil is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Most of the people entering the "big bad Internet" don't really understand the technology. Worse, they don't want to understand it. They know what htey know, and anything you say will only be discounted as negativity. Most of the directives of new customers entering the web go something like this, and roughly in this order.

I want to build a web site (that makes me money.)
I want it cheap.
I want it at the top of all the search engines. (keywords? Well, of course, any keyword, type in "duh" and I should be first for that too.)
I want total control over it. I don't know how, I just do.

I was aligned with the "plenty of fish" idea as well, but the more I work at it, the more I see, a "CMS" is almost a given, along with a big bad bucket of SEO, cloud computing, social networking, and all the other buzz words that if not effectively applied are just that, empty words.

Another example, a Perl coder from waaaaayyyy back - I don't even flinch now when some hotshot comes along and proclaims, "this is all wrong. It needs to be in PHP, Perl is so 1995." It doesn't do any good to argue the point. So I just build it in PHP.

I say yeah, we need to re-align our development directives to survive, see Darwin. :-)

The saving grace: Most of the time you do this, give them everything they want, seemingly cutting your recurring income by giving them a CMS - and they are clueless to maintain it. They wind up having you do it anyway. So it's not that you lose income, you're just doing different things than you thought you would.

[edited by: rocknbil at 6:13 pm (utc) on Feb 16, 2011]


6:11 pm on Feb 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator httpwebwitch is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

caveat: when you do full-service web maintenance, precious little of your time is spent coding new features, fussing with the servers, or doing interface design & CSS. Much of your day is converting Word Documents into HTML and touching up bad photography. In other words, a waste of talent.

The solution at most agencies is to delegate content prep to a junior employee, co-op student, etc. Let the talented experienced staff do what they do best, and let the content prep work be done by a lower-paid worker.

There's nothing wrong with that - I got my start in this business scanning and touching up photos of cars. Grunt grunt grunt


7:07 pm on Feb 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

There are ups and downs for everything, I guess the key is to stick with your option of choice and be good at it.

My goal is to have this as my main source of income someday and there have been, there are and there will be obstacles in the way (boy there have been many) but this is what I like and I'm sticking with this (I just wish someday I became good at designing because looking for a good designer has been quite a problem).


2:05 pm on Feb 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I agree stick with what works for your business while it works, and hopefully for solid business reasons. In terms of best practice choose the solution that delivers the most customer benefits for the lowest cost.

If I were you I'd keep a very close eye on changing attitudes. Most companies would opt for a CMS if sold the medium term benefits and they aligned with thier own plans. If done properly the build stage of the frontend should be identical for for CMS and bespoke

You just need to be credible, if someone asks about CMS or Cloud you need to give a credible response based on an understanding of thier needs.


7:03 pm on Feb 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator ergophobe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Sub_Seven, don't for a second think that a client on a CMS doesn't need you for regular changes. They can handle content changes, if they are motivated and savvy.

But are they going to do security updates? Regular back-ups?


3:58 pm on Feb 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Thanks aspdaddy and ergophobe for the latest replies and thanks to everyone to help me get things clear, I am definitely maintaining my way of doing things and I will keep an eye on new things as they come along, till next time :)

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