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Template site operation


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#1 bartlebee

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Posted 08 November 2010 - 10:38 PM

To preface, I literally know nothing about web development. I started a company over a year ago and paid a programmer to build my site, which unfortunately he did not finish. I am now in the predicament of trying to find a PHP developer who would be willing to partner with me as my technical partner. My expertise is sales/marketing.

My question pertains to understanding how my site will run once it is completed. I have received conflicting statements that all seemed overly complex to me. My site is a subscription template system. My customers will pay me a monthly fee and they get to choose a template and customize their site. It also contains industry specific programming that will aid them.

The current workflow is: A new site request ticket is completed by the customer with all of their information along with which template they have chosen, they also indicate whether they would like to use a subdomain or they have their own domain; the site is set up with their basic information and an email is sent to them with a link telling them to login to their site; once they login there is a setup wizard which guides them through the additional customization; once completed they are up and running (somewhere in this process I will need to get their merchant account info to set up their cart).

I was told that in order for this to work I would need to immediately get a server, not quite sure why. I was also told the maintenance of something like this would be a nightmare, security would be a nightmare, and upgrading all the sites would be a nightmare (if new services or changes were made). I was told I would not be able to hide my code from the actual customer, again, not sure why. The gentleman I talked to told me I would have to set up a full scale hosting shop to make it work. I am more preferable towards outsourcing.

Not sure if anyone on this forum has any experience with anything similar, but any feedback would be appreciated. I just want to have an understanding of the additional hardware costs (if any) as well as an idea on what type of support might follow this type of service. I understand I should have understood this up front, but my original partner was supposed to handle this and it turns out he wasn't all he said he was.

Thanks in advance

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#2 groovicus

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Posted 09 November 2010 - 10:13 AM

I can answer a few of your questions.

I was told I would not be able to hide my code from the actual customer, again, not sure why.

If we are talking about web pages, once the page is displayed in my browser, I have access to the HTML, CSS, and Javascript used to make the site run. You can't hide it. Without knowing what sort of templates you are talking about (whether they are HTML or PHP), I can't give you a good explanation.

I was told that in order for this to work I would need to immediately get a server, not quite sure why

Well, where are your customers going to get those templates? Where are their sites going to be hosted? How are the templates going to be customized?

At any rate it is pretty clear that your developer was unable to provide you with a good business model. There is no need for it to be a 'nightmare'. I can't actually comment any more on this right now because I am at work, but I would be glad to discuss it further when I am not on my boss's dime. :)

Edited by groovicus, 09 November 2010 - 12:44 PM.


#3 bartlebee

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Posted 10 November 2010 - 01:04 AM

Thanks for the response.

He made it sound like I would actually have to give them all of the code to allow them to find their own hosting unless I did the hosting. This is the case that he said I would have to setup as a "full scale hosting shop" which would be extremely cost prohibitive. I would like to host the site for the customer, but I would like to actually outsource the hosting. He said something to the effect that hosting services won't let you do things like this. It seems like he said if they just used one a subdomain of ours that would work, but the customer would need to be able to use their own domain.

(Man this is frustrating not knowing what any of this means.)

To answer your questions: We have created the templates and when they get their initial login a template will already be preloaded. Part of the programming gives them the ability to change the template and have it immediately change. Once they get access to their site the programming has a setup wizard that walks them through customization. Yes, he didn't give me a great business model, and this is exactly what I need. I need to attempt to understand the best way to implement this to avoid potential pitfalls. Quite honestly he was a pessimistic kind of guy that liked to pick everything apart. I have seen similar business models as mine online and I would love to figure out how those businesses are structured.

I would be extremely grateful if you could help me sort out what type of model would work with this. Before I find another programmer/partner I need to gain and understanding of how this would work.

Thanks again

#4 groovicus

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Posted 10 November 2010 - 08:42 AM

You have basically three choices for distributing templates. One, you give them the template and they host their site wherever they want. In that aspect, they get all of your source code. Two, they rent webspace on your server (either one you own or one you rent), and they generate their website using templates hosted on that server. This way they don't have access to the PHP code that takes care of template generation, but then you have the expense of maintaining a server. Third, they log on to your website, create a website template of their own using tools you provide, and then are free to take the generated web pages anywhere they want.

That choice sort of dictates the rest of your model. No matter what, you are going to need some sort of web presence, ie, hosting.

We have created the templates and when they get their initial login a template will already be preloaded

When they log in where? If you don't have your own server space, they will not have anywhere to login, and you certainly will not be able to install a template on their web space.

Quite honestly he was a pessimistic kind of guy that liked to pick everything apart.

I have found that anybody that uses the word 'nightmare' to describe anything other than a bad dream tend to be overly dramatic and a pain in the ass to work with.

#5 bartlebee

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Posted 10 November 2010 - 11:21 PM

I agree. I'm not sure if I mentioned or not, but I was going to partner with this guy, so I think it was probably actually a blessing in disguise that it didn't end up working out. It's amazing how a mindset can really ruin a good opportunity.

The second option you mentioned is exactly what I need. I actually called Godaddy today after reading your post and they told me I can rent a dedicated server for $70/month. He mentioned that I would have to set up some scripting (not sure what that means) to automate some of the setup, but otherwise I would have no additional expense. Does this sound about right?

This is just another great example of someone trying to make everything else the problem except for themselves. Unfortunately, most people don't know how to take accountability for self-doubt and instead find excuses.

I really appreciate your help.

#6 groovicus

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 08:41 AM

Scripting means that someone is going to have to write some light weight programs to carry out some routine tasks. I don't know the context of your conversation so I can't speak as to what the salesperson was referring. Logistically speaking this is where you need to consider a paid consultant to talk you through different aspects; you are going to want to discuss proprietary information that is not really suitable for an open forum. You may be able to just solicit bids for the work since you have sort of a rough idea of what you want done. A good developer should be able to discuss available options, as well as explain to you how things should work in such a manner that you at least understand (at a high level)what is going on.

#7 bartlebee

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 10:07 AM

This is exactly the conclusion I came up with last night. I know I've either got to find a proficient developer or pay a consultant. This leads me to my biggest dilemma. I have been trying to find a good programmer, but I have no clue what to look for. Do you have any suggestions on what and where to look for a good developer? Also, do you happen to know a good place to find a consultant? Would this be more of a local search, or are there some internet sources that provide this type of service?

Thanks groovicus

#8 groovicus

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 10:32 AM

My best advice would be to ask around. You could try to find someone online, but my preference would be someone that I could actually speak to face to face. I can tell you in an email that I know how to do x, y, and z. It is another thing entirely to tell you the same thing face to face, especially if I am stretching the truth. I have been in meetings with a room full of people where it takes an hour just to figure out what the label on a button should be. Can you imagine how long it would take trying to do it by email? English is hard enough when two people are face to face. Most people do not write deliberately enough to properly convey their intent or meaning.

You are going to want someone with development experience. There are crap-loads of people that call themselves web developers, and in reality all they are able to do is slap together some sort of web page (any 12 year old can call themselves a programmer/ web developer). This project is much more sophisticated, and only an experienced developer would be aware of the nuances.

My other suggestion is to see if there is a local university that offers a computer science curriculum, or a software engineering curriculum. If there is, contact the secretary of the department and see if there are faculty that moonlight, or if faculty can give recommendations. They might even have a star grad-student capable of helping with some of the programming aspects.

Of course, none of this is to say that you can't find someone on line that can help. It just makes the task a but harder. If you have more questions about specific aspects of your project, please send me a PM. This thread has been useful to expose some of the problems with joint development of a project, but any other questions you have, unless very generic, will not serve to further this thread any more.

#9 bartlebee

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 12:25 AM

Thanks for the great response. Being an outside sales person I always prefer face to face. I've thought about the overseas outsourcing sites, but like you said, having a language barrier as well as all email/phone interaction would stretch me out of my comfort zone. I'm going to try the university route and keep searching here locally. I will take you up on the PM offer if I have any more questions.

Thanks again groovicus




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