Can I Update & Manage My Own Website?
Installation, set-up, training, and consulting on popular
software such as the following:
Adding and updating pages is done easily with a page layout program such as Microsoft Front Page or Adobe CS3 or CS4 (includes Macromedia Dreamweaver) (approx. $600 or more)the approach professionals use. I recommend Macromedia Dreamweaver for site layout. It is an easy, straightforward program to use, and very "clean" in its coding.
Macromedia has an inexpensive companion product called Contribute for approx. $169. This is our prefered approach.
Some new computers come with Front Page Express installed, thanks to Microsoft pushing their products. Microsoft Front Page, around $150 or $200, is the other most popular tool. It is not as "clean" in its coding, and training is a bit more complicated for the setup and uploads, but layout is straightforward and it would do the job when update of an existing site is the primary task.
With any of these robust or mini programs, you will likely need several hours of training, and you will likely be in contact again in the future as your understanding of the program improves and you want to dive into a broader range of tasks.
The choice of program is not normally a problem, but some compatibility issues would likely want to be checked IF you venture into more than just updates. They handle forms and image maps differently. You may want our assistance in setting up page templates and our instruction on what sections of pages you may alter safely.
FTP is file transfer protocolsending files to the internet. This is either available as a feature in one of the layout programs, within Windows, or as an independent program that costs about $49.00. The task is straightforward and easily taught. If more than one person, i.e. you and MRC, will be updating the site, a procedure to check for the latest files can and should be established and followed.
Custom web-based administrative console
An approach for adding and updating information to particular
sections of a site is for the developer to create a custom on-line
interface for the business to use. Although the price for this
can vary considerablygenerally several hundred but can be several
thousand dollarsa good ball-park figure is that the interface
will have a return on investment of approximately a year, i.e. you
will pay as much for the tool as you might pay for updates throughout
the course of a year. You will still need to prepare images separately
(if applicable), and you would use this tool instead of a page layout
program and FTP.
Several popular systems have come a long way. Drupal and Joomla are popular web-based content management programs, basically on-line software. WordPress was designed as a blog but serves well as a less complex content management system.
We will install these or similar packages into your site. You or we will set up the site graphics and structure. The pages of your site are created dynamically based on information you input in editable versions of your web pages once logged in.
Beware of the appeal of low-cost services that claim to be easy to use and get started, i.e. create your own website. Although this CAN be a very good alternative, with "canned" images and backgrounds available for your use, there are layout flexibility limitations and your material is not easily extracted from their server if you should desire to move to a different service in the future.
Using this approach on our servers, your information remains self-contained within your own database and relatively transportable, unlike many of the services that market this approach. The reality is that the more complex your site becomes, i.e. database-driven, or sales and inventory in a shopping cart, you are "married" to either the server or the software/system/platform. There is no way to get around this, just like the major task of moving to a different building or storefront. The key is to discuss the topic with a competent consultant before venturing into your chosen approach.
Additionally, since each of these third party approaches is different, and the web developer must use the same approach as you or work directly in the database, your support costs can increase. You can have a net savings in yearly maintenance if you become proficient at it yourself and need only minimal support.
We have seen businesses spend several hundred dollars to be ready to update their own website, and then continue to have us do the updates. Training is forgotten, practice is necessary to increase the likelihood that you will do it yourself, and you need to make the time to do all the steps. You already need to make time to take photos and write textsteps that delay many businesses from providing the materials for updates to us and steps that need to be performed whether you or we update your website. If you can accomplish these steps, don't let the website update become the bottleneck. This can be a joint effort. Most of the time it is far easier to send the updates in an email for us to do. Call on us if you need.
We have seen the do-it-yourself approach work successfully in a number of appropriate situations, generally with information that changes regularly, and that the business is already inputting into other computer programs or providing in print for marketing purposes.
Each of these businesses or organizations uses Contribute to update their body content and navigation:
Each of these businesses or organizations uses a custom admin to update particular sections of their site:
Use Our Services Please see Mad River Consulting's current rates for design, development and website maintenance. We bill in five minute increments for clients that are on a regular maintenance program (smaller time increment than most companies will bill) and charge a minimum of 20 minutes. This is not a bad price to pay to save the trouble of having to remember how when you finally make the time for the update yourself. We don't mind the detail work. We would much rather update your site for you. It is safe and speedy.
We look forward to serving your maintenance and training needs. Please do not hesitate to contact us via email or phone with questions or for clarification.
This page updated 7/27/09.