Philosophy, Fees and Procedures
My philosophy towards website development is really quite simple: "You are the client and you are always right" - (sometimes).
What this means is that as the website developer, I will make suggestions and recommendations to my clients based on my experience as to what works for a good website or good practice rules with regard to a good website but if the client insists on having something included or done in a specific way, then thats the way it will be done, even if it is going to affect the performance of the website and / or the way that search engines rank the website.
As always, there are exceptions to the "Do what the client wants, the way they want it" rule:
- I do not want to be associated with "black hat" SEO (SEO technques that are designed to boost the site on the search engines using "less than honest and/or ethical" methods).
- I will not be associated with websites that are pornographic in nature or that are blatantly against the law or my own sense of what is right or wrong.
- Under NO circumstances will I be in any way involved with any sort of "scam" sites.
As far as payment for doing a project is concerned, these are the rules:
- 50% up front (not refundable if the project is cancelled due to information not being supplied in time and / or payment milestones not being adhered to).
- Work to be completed on or before a set date (normally 30 calendar days maximum for a website) which will be stated in the quote.
- The balance to be paid within 7 calendar days of my notifying the client that the project is finished OR on the set out completion date should the client not have fulfilled any informational requirements.
For work that has been obtained using the various "freelance" sites, I prefer to use the methods prescribed by the particular freelance site.
All work done remains my property until it has been paid for in full and if I have not received full payment, I reserve the right to withhold the work until such time that it has been paid for.
Payments must include bank transaction fees, foreign exchange control fees and any other deductions that will reduce the value of what appears in my bank or credit card account.
I do NOT go into "joint ventures" under any circumstances - I am a developer, NOT a start-up financier - if you require funding for the website of your start-up, please consult with one of them.
All of the above may sound a little "harsh" but it works and I have many clients that have worked with me and are very happy - most of them come back to me for their new projects or to update projects done in the past.
As I am a South African citizen, my local currency is the South African Rand or ZAR.
To see the current rate, please click here.
My hourly fee is ZAR250 per hour (about US$22.00 depending on the exchange rate) for work charged by the quarter hour.
I do provide website hosting at a very reasonable cost - please use the form on the Contact page to request a quote for hosting.
Standard website development "package" are also available - please use the form on the Contact page to request a quote for developing a full website to your requirements or re-developing your existing website into a modern, functional marketing tool for you or your company.
Payment is normally made directly into my VISA Credit Card account - this can be done from almost any bank in any country but please note that should there be any extra fees (normally specific to that country and/or bank), such fees are for the account of the client.
After having had a number of "bad experiences" with PayPal, I am not too comfortable with using this method of payment.
Should a payment be made using PayPal and something goes wrong, I reserve the right to consider the work done as "not having been paid for" and the client still responsible for the payment. At that point it is then up to the client to "sort things out" with Paypal as I am not prepared to again go through (normally) more than 3 months of ongoing "nonsense" (at my expense) with them to get (for example) US$75 released to my account. It usually costs me more than 10 times that in time - not good business.
Although I believe that BitCoin is the way it will go sometime in the future, at this moment in time the crypto-currency is too volatile for my taste. However, I will be reviewing this policy frequently. It all depends on how easily I am able to convert payment to ZAR (which I need if I am buying groceries).
As mentioned above, I prefer to use the methods and procedures prescribed by the particular freelance site when the source of the work or project comes via one of these sites.
As for full website developments, I prefer to do the development on my own server. All my tools (SiteSargent development package, FTP client, cPanel, Keyword Density checker, Text to HTML Ratio checker and everything else) are set up to work on my own server and things just work better and much more efficiently for me. I always provide a link to the client so that they can monitor the development in real time.
The monitoring of the progress by the client in real time is actually important as the client is able to see exactly what is being done and is able to make requests for small changes to be made as the project progresses. Things like colors and font sizes are the most common changes that are made at this time.
ALL other work/projects follow this timetable and these guidelines:
- All work requests will have a quotation provided and the project will only start once that quote has been accepted and the deposit received by me.
- Quotations are only valid for 14 calendar days.
- Once the client accepts the quote, 50% of the project fee becomes immediately due.
- This payment is not refundable.
- Once such payment has been received, the project starts and the clock starts ticking.
- All projects have a maximum of 30 calendar days in which they are to be completed.
- Should layouts or designs be required, these will normally be submitted to the client on the first day of the project for approval.
- The client has the obligation to make any choices and / or design changes within 48 hours of being requests to do so.
- As the client knows what the project / site is about far better than I do, it is up to the client to provide notes and documentation as required so that I can generate content for the various pages which is relevant to the site and to do SEO efficiently.
- This includes the code required for things like Facebook feeds, Trip Advisor feeds etc (the client has access to these accounts and is the one that has to get the required code) as well as the information field requirements for any "inquiry" or "reservation" type forms that are needed.
- The maximum time allowed for this process is 7 calendar days. Non-compliance may result in the project being cancelled.
- The entire project / site is normally done by day 21 although often this happens much earlier if the necessary approvals and information is received quickly.
- The client is notified of completion and asked to check that everything is to their satisfaction. The balance of the project time allowance can be used to make small corrections and adjustments as per the client.
- Please note that major changes from the initial quote and / or layout NEVER become part of the project. These get handled as updates after the project is completed and paid for.
- Once the client is happy, the balance outstanding on the project / site is paid and I start the implementation process.
- I immediately upload the entire site to the client's server, plug in the Facebook/Trip Advisor/whatever code required, make sure that the sitemap is correct (yes, one of those is included as standard when it is a "full site" project) and the client site is live.
- At this point, the client needs to do the following :
- Register the site in their Google Webmaster account.
- Submit the sitemap to whatever search engines may be required.
- Should Google Statistics be required, the client must provide me with the necessary code (obtained from the Google Statistics page for the site) and I will ensure that it is placed in the proper location within the site code.
- And that is another happy client.
This may seem like a "bit of a mission" but having been involved with well over 1000 sites in the past, this procedure is what works the best, both for my self but more importantly, for my client.
The "standard" procedure that I use when developing a site
All sites are "template based"
A template is a structure in which other "things" are placed.
The purpose of the template is to provide a common "wrapper" that is used by all pages so as to easily make each page look the same overall.
This makes the browsing experience of the visitor more comfortable because after viewing a small number of the pages on the site, the visitor starts to recognise where the information that they are looking for will most probably be found.
It also makes the task of changing something on all pages in the future far easier and therefore overall less costly.
All templates use HTML5 and CSS3 to get the job done
HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) is the programming language that is used to "tell" the browser what to place on the screen.
HTML5 is the latest version of that language and is supported by all the major browsers out there with the notable exception of some of the outdated Internet Explorer versions.
CSS3 (Cascading Style Sheets version 3) tells the browser what to do with the HTML defined display object.
Positioning, colors, fonts and font sizes and much more are controlled using CSS3 which is the latest version and is supported by all the major browsers out there, again with the notable exception of some of the outdated Internet Explorer versions.
The advantage of using JQuery is that (for the most part) the various functions have been tested by thousands of developers using all the major browsers which has had the result of ensuring that JQuery is about as bullet proof as it can be.
In addition, there are numerous other function objects that have been written to use the JQuery library to do many other things.
In short, JQuery is a time saver and therefore a cost saver.
Originally written by Linus Torvalds in 1991, LINUX is a Unix based operating system that is extremely robust and reliable.
By far the majority of web servers use a version of LINUX.
Various versions of LINUX are also used on many embedded systems, supercomputers, netbooks and even the Android operating system which is used in so many smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices.
Apache is the web server software and without it there would be no PHP pages and therefore everything would be "static" (hand coded pages with no content automation).
Apache gets its name from the fact that it consists of some existing code plus some patches. The programmer world thinks that this is cute; others may think it's the sort of joke that gets programmers a bad name.
It is the "go to" server software used on (almost) every LINUX web server in the world.
PHP is a "server-side scripting language" (which means that it runs on the server, not on the browser) and was designed for web development but can also be used as a general-purpose programming language.
Officialy the first release was in June, 1995 and it was called "Personal Home Page Tools (PHP Tools)". This is the first use of the name "PHP".
It works well, is extremely robust and fast and is the scripting language of choice on more than 99% of all LINUX servers as well as more and more Microsoft based servers.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
SEO has gotten the reputation of being a magical (and expensive) "thing" that needs to be done but will cost you a fortune.
The truth is that by doing things properly, when they should be done and how they should be done, it all happens without any fuss.
There are 2 types of SEO, White Hat (the good kind) and Black Hat (the bad kind that will get the search engines to ban your site).
There are any number of people and companies out there that make all kinds of wild promises about how they will boost your site (for large sums of money) and for the most part these guys use Black Hat SEO in some form or another to get the job done.
The fact that your site will be penalized at best and totally banned at worst some time in the future does not bother them because by that time they will have received payment and have moved on to the next "sucker".
I do the SEO for a page at the time that I am writing the content (normally based on information supplied by the site owner) and this is done by using my experience and simply following the rules for creating a well formulated web page. These rules (and some "suggestions") are all available at the W3C site and are not very complicated once you understand the importance of each element being talked about and how they all fit together.
If you write your content well and stick to the rules your page will perform relative to the content and in reality, that is the best you can expect without "going over to the Dark Side".
"Content Is King" is a phrase everyone knows and it is very true BUT it is not the only thing that must be considered.
Header text, image names, titles and alts, link display text - the list goes on and on...
Some search engines take the following into account: The URL of the page (its called "user friendly url's" - this page has one)
How long it takes to load the page:
Too many images = slow
Large images = slow
Too much text = slow
500 to 700 words per page seems to have the best performance and if you have 3 times that number, consider 3 pages - more pages on your website for the most part gains you more "points" as far as the search engines are concerned)
Other "Very Good Stuff" to have on your site
Many visitors to your site will be doing so on some sort of mobile device so if you want your visitor to have a good experience on your site, you better make sure that your site is able to adjust to different screen sizes.
This is called "Responsive Design" and unless specifically told not to do so (believe it or not, some site owners dont want it), I include this capability in all my full development web sites.
There are also other SEO requirements such as robots.txt and sitemap.xml files, 404 (also known as "page not found") handlers and many other things - it is quite a list.
Each site gets a checklist and each page on the site also has a checklist and as I develop the site, things get marked as "done" so at the end, a quick look at the checklists will show me if everything is done or what still is required.