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  1. #1
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    How to make website editable by customer?

    Hello everyone. I've been planning on creating websites for other people, and I have a few questions.

    First off, what's the best way to create websites for other people? What I mean is, how do I make it editable by the site owner? I don't want that person to keep calling me later and asking me to update the site for them, which would be tedious.

    My second question is, how do I make the website secure, for instance, if it's a shopping website? How would I make it HTTPS and not HTTP? Because I've gone to a few websites where they say "HTTPS" and yet a popup message still shows up saying that it's not secure, which means the creator probably didn't do something right.

    My last question is, if you're a freelance web developer, and you have NO GRAPHIC ART EXPERIENCE, how would you go about telling that to the customer? I want to be a web "developer" and not a web "designer". Would I say, "You must provide your own images for the website"? How would I make the colors without the images? I'm so confused.

    Please note (if you haven't realized it already) that I'm fairly new at freelance web design knowledge, so I would greatly appreciate answers that aren't rude, or look down on me like I'm silly. Thank you.

  • #2
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    wow ... that's a heavy set of questions ...

    Let's start with the "designer", "development" part first. You're right, it's difficult
    to be proficient at both. You can look for a good graphic artist to partner with. It can
    be someone anywhere, but you'll have created some sort of written agreement.

    HTTPS is a server issue. A webhost can offer you a "secure server" to host your site.
    It costs more money, and there are some rules you need to follow. Ask your webhost
    about that.

    Making a site editable ... called a CMS (content management system). Many sites are
    now pre-based using Joomla, Drupal, WordPress, ASP.net, and other systems that have
    CMS capabilities. The webmaster installs, configures, and customizes a site for the
    client using the framework provided.

    The same thing applies to an ecommerce site .. (online store, shopping cart, credit cards).

    You can create your own CMS as simple or as complicated as you wish.

    ===================

    Now the answer to ALL of your questions together ...

    You need to be proficient at: PHP, MySQL, AJAX, JQuery, javascripting, XHTML, HTML5, CSS, and maybe ASP in some cases.

    It sounds like you might be starting out. Use all of the free tutorials online that you
    can find by searching Google. It's really great that you're trying to learn this stuff,
    but don't expect to be proficient for many months. If you have previous programming
    experience (C++, Perl, BASIC, Java, etc) you'll have a good foothold on this stuff.

    I wish you lots of luck, and don't be afraid to hire some help. If you can find a good
    scripter/programmer near you, see if you can hire him/her for lessons ... just like taking
    piano lessons. Lots of tutoring and practicing.

  • Users who have thanked mlseim for this post:

    Twiddli (02-27-2012)

  • #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by mlseim View Post
    wow ... that's a heavy set of questions ...

    Let's start with the "designer", "development" part first. You're right, it's difficult
    to be proficient at both. You can look for a good graphic artist to partner with. It can
    be someone anywhere, but you'll have created some sort of written agreement.

    HTTPS is a server issue. A webhost can offer you a "secure server" to host your site.
    It costs more money, and there are some rules you need to follow. Ask your webhost
    about that.

    Making a site editable ... called a CMS (content management system). Many sites are
    now pre-based using Joomla, Drupal, WordPress, ASP.net, and other systems that have
    CMS capabilities. The webmaster installs, configures, and customizes a site for the
    client using the framework provided.

    The same thing applies to an ecommerce site .. (online store, shopping cart, credit cards).

    You can create your own CMS as simple or as complicated as you wish.

    ===================

    Now the answer to ALL of your questions together ...

    You need to be proficient at: PHP, MySQL, AJAX, JQuery, javascripting, XHTML, HTML5, CSS, and maybe ASP in some cases.

    It sounds like you might be starting out. Use all of the free tutorials online that you
    can find by searching Google. It's really great that you're trying to learn this stuff,
    but don't expect to be proficient for many months. If you have previous programming
    experience (C++, Perl, BASIC, Java, etc) you'll have a good foothold on this stuff.

    I wish you lots of luck, and don't be afraid to hire some help. If you can find a good
    scripter/programmer near you, see if you can hire him/her for lessons ... just like taking
    piano lessons. Lots of tutoring and practicing.
    Wow, thank you! That really helps. I have some background in JSP and a few others, so it shouldn't be too difficult for me to understand. I will also look into the Joomla and other things for the site editing.

  • #4
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    Twiddli,

    I just wanted to give you another perspective on things. On many points I agree with mlseim but I do have a little bit different view of certain things. I've been creating websites for a living for around 14 years so I'll share a few things I've learned.

    I think one of the most important things to consider first is, who exactly will you be creating websites for? Sometimes that's difficult to answer before you start, but it's good to have a good idea who your clients will be. There are a couple main reasons.

    First, you need to know that there is a market for your services and how to reach those people. Second, once you know who your potential clients are, you can identify what it is they need. Once you know what they need, then you know what skills you need to be of value to them.

    Let me address your question about the best way to make websites that the owner of the site can log in to and make changes themselves.

    For me personally, the answer to that question is WordPress. I started out creating static websites, but have gradually shifted to using WordPress. It's free, open source, and there are millions of users, which means there are tons of resources available for it. That last point is hugely powerful.

    To put it simply, you have WordPress, which is the platform or structure for the website, then you have "Themes", which are the design for the site, and then there are "Plugins" which add functionality to the site.

    Because WordPress is very popular, there are tons of pre-made themes, or designs available which can give you a great looking site, or at least a good starting point, without having to be much of a designer. The same thing applies with the plugins. You can add just about any functionality to your site you can imagine without having extensive coding skills.

    Again, WordPress is my personal choice. I don't care for other Content Management Systems I've tried. But you may find you like something else better.

    One thing to consider with using a CMS is that you shouldn't really approach it from the perspective of just setting up the site, giving the client the login details, and leaving them on their own. Most people won't have a clue what to do when they log in and will either give up or screw up their site and call you, which I think is what you're looking to avoid.

    So it would be wise to provide some training to the clients on how to use their website. This could either be an additional service you charge for, or you could set up tutorial videos that you give your clients access to. If you don't want to create tutorials yourself, you can also partner with someone who provides training and refer your clients to them, or find tutorials other people have created and send them to your clients. One of the services I provide is actually WordPress coaching and support. I teach people how to use WordPress.

    Do keep in mind, though, that repeat business can be a great source of income. You mentioned you don't want clients bugging you every time they want to make a change to their site. So even if you give customers the ability to work on their own sites, you could have maintenance/update packages available where clients who don't want to manage their own sites can pay you to do it for them.

    From a business perspective, it's generally much better working with existing clients where you already have established a relationship and they trust you versus trying to win over perspective clients who don't know you. So if you can find ways to keep existing clients coming back to you, it can be a wise move.

    Regarding making a website secure, you can purchase SSL certificates and have them installed by your hosting provider. Having products for sale on your site doesn't mean you necessarily need a secure site though. You can use a third-party shopping cart/payment processor in many cases and let them handle all the security stuff. For instance, I've used 1ShoppingCart, PayPal, 2CheckOut, and others and these don't require your own site being secure because all the payment details are entered on the websites of those services, and they take care of security on their end.

    You asked about how to handle the fact that you're not a "designer". You have to think about it from the customer's perspective. If you're dealing with a small business owner, for instance, and offering them a website, they don't want to have to deal with any of the technical stuff. They don't understand it and they have plenty of other things to worry about. So it doesn't make sense to try to push off all the graphic design on them.

    As mlseim pointed out, you can find a graphic designer to work with. It can be tricky because you need to know what they're going to charge to know what you need to charge, but you could work out some standard rates for logos, header images, etc.

    If you're working with WordPress, you can get themes where most of the graphic design has already been done for you. For instance, I have a membership at WooThemes and they provide lots of beautiful designs. For many of them, there isn't much graphic design work that you'd really have to do. Many of them come with multiple color schemes included. You just select the color scheme you want from a drop down list.

    Many customers already have a logo, so if they can provide you with that, you can plug that into the site and that could potentially be all the design work that's needed. If they don't have a logo and want one, you could either partner with a graphic designer who could provide that, or even post the project on sites like Elance, Guru, etc. You could actually do that with any graphics you need. Once you find someone you're happy with, you could use them every time.

    If you use a service like WooThemes, if you want you can set up samples of the different designs (either online, or if you're working with people in person you can have printouts) and just tell your potential clients that these are the design options available. You could let them know custom designs can be created but are much more expensive (in which case you'd work with a designer).

    While I agree that it's good to learn as many skills as you can, and that being proficient in them is a good goal, it's not absolutely necessary for getting started, especially when you're working with something like WordPress where most of the coding is already done for you. You can set up a really nice website with only basic skills.

    Besides free tutorials, another good source of training I've found is Lynda.com. You have to pay for their training but it's excellent and well worth the investment.

    I hope this helps.
    Last edited by VIPStephan; 02-29-2012 at 05:30 PM. Reason: removed self promotion link


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