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SacramentoRob
October 16th, 2007, 02:28 AM
hi Folks,

First off, I'm sorry if this is not the right forum. Please re-direct me if you need to.

I work for a smallish not-for-profit that is trying to contract for development of a website for our organization. Before I sign a contract for this, I'd like to know just how big a rube I might be.

We have a bid from a developer that seems pretty good, but the more I've thought about it, the more concerned I am. His package requires that he host the site on his rented server and that he owns all the code for the site. He has proposed that we pay extra for a content management system that will allow us to make limited updates. He has also proposed a monthly retainer of sorts and that we would need to contract with him for any changes we want in the future at whatever his hourly rate is at that time. When I pushed him a bit, he said that if we fell much behind on retainer payments he would kill the site.

This feels a lot like buying a car and being required to have it serviced exclusively at the dealership--a deal I would never take.

Can anyone offer me some advice about industry standard practices? If this is the way it is, ok...but I'd sure never put up with this in any industry I'm familiar with.

Thanks Folks,

/Rob

p_quarles
October 16th, 2007, 02:39 AM
I don't have a vast amount of experience with this, but to be honest this sounds like a terrible deal. I mean, earlier this year I worked temporarily at a company that got absolutely bilked for a web site (my job to fix it), but even the scoundrel who developed it didn't demand these kinds of terms.

I'm fairly certain you can get a better deal by breaking this task into parts. Hire a developer to put together the architecture of the site, hire a couple temps for short-term data entry (the content part), and then rent your own host. They'll still kill the site if you fall behind in payments (just like the phone company), but they're not going to tell you what you can and can't do with your site (edit: or what kind of software to use to maintain it/edit).

frup
October 16th, 2007, 03:19 AM
What are you paying also?

SacramentoRob
October 16th, 2007, 05:36 AM
The web development company wants about $30,000 for the website and about $100 per month for retainer and hosting fee. This would include about 30 pages of information at an educational site.

50words
October 16th, 2007, 06:35 AM
That seems pretty high to me. Why not sign up with any old hosting provider and install Drupal or Joomla yourself. If the site does not need to be interactive, just a bunch of pages that need to be updated from time to time, it'll be a cinch. If it needs to be a bit more complicated, it will still be fairly easy to install the necessary modules.

The only reason you should be paying $30,000 for a 30-page site is if you want a lot of custom graphics or code. If you just want a functional website, hire a designer to put together the main image (if you don't already have one), and just use one of the ready-made templates.

southernman
October 16th, 2007, 06:36 AM
hi Folks,

First off, I'm sorry if this is not the right forum. Please re-direct me if you need to.

I work for a smallish not-for-profit that is trying to contract for development of a website for our organization. Before I sign a contract for this, I'd like to know just how big a rube I might be.

We have a bid from a developer that seems pretty good, but the more I've thought about it, the more concerned I am. His package requires that he host the site on his rented server and that he owns all the code for the site. He has proposed that we pay extra for a content management system that will allow us to make limited updates. He has also proposed a monthly retainer of sorts and that we would need to contract with him for any changes we want in the future at whatever his hourly rate is at that time. When I pushed him a bit, he said that if we fell much behind on retainer payments he would kill the site.

This feels a lot like buying a car and being required to have it serviced exclusively at the dealership--a deal I would never take.

Can anyone offer me some advice about industry standard practices? If this is the way it is, ok...but I'd sure never put up with this in any industry I'm familiar with.

Thanks Folks,

/Rob

I am no expert, but I do have some experience with web development... just not in the 30k price range. My points/arguments are listed below:

1- Contracts are usually negotiated. I would counter his offer and see if the developer will meet you in a comfortable zone. Not saying to do so with this guy, but in general. The contract is basically a first offer, in some sense.

2- If the developer *demands* you to host it on a server of his (rented or owned)... I'd tear the contract up in his face. The wording of this portion of the contract should be analyzed further... with a fine tooth comb. At the very least, the developer should give you the option to do so... but make it so hard to pass up, it's almost a given you all would sign off on it.

3- It isn't all that uncommon that a developer of a web site, will not sign over their rights to ownership... unless you are paying extra for this.

4- The proposed CMS, is this something they will write from scratch? A one off sort of thing, or a viable commercially available product they will customize?

5- What is meant by "will allow us to make limited updates?"
5a- Does this mean, limited to updating of content?
5b- Does it mean limited to a set number of updates you can do yourselves... in house so to speak?

6- The retainer thing is kinda stand-offish, to say the least! NORMALLY, these type of services and fees are built into the original contract for a set time frame. It benefits both developer and customer alike, with the developer being able to count on the income, and the client knowing exactly what it will cost for this time period. After expiration, it's time to renegotiate if you like the service provided to date!

I am not saying the monthly hosting/maintenance should be built into the base contract price! It is very common that these fees are billed on a monthly basis. I am saying the tone of how you relayed the information is cause for concern!

7- Pulling the plug on the site: While it's certainly reasonable for these types of clauses in web development contracts... wording is critical. Go over this section with a fine tooth comb too!

8- You have not mentioned but, does the developer add any clause that gives you, the client any means to escape the contract if they begin to breech the contract?

9- Are you telling us the developer has quoted you @ 30k for a 30 page website? That sounds awfully high to me. I would assume for that money, you would get:

a- Very nice graphics, with little or no stock photos.
b- Some flash, if your NFP is into that sort of thing (I don't suggest it)
c- A complete CMS, built from the ground up with no (nada) existing coding used.
d- Once the site is completed, tested, and signed off on by the NFP... a 90 day period whereby updates are (within reason) included in the contracted price. It's unthinkable, that the first time is a charm, the first go round.
e- A little more catering to the client, than what's been presented to us here.

Regardless of the advice given here and the amount of experience the giver may have, take this contract to a reputable net contract lawyer! It's crucial that you do so!

Without hearing from the developer here or actually seeing the contract, based solely on what you have presented us... I would seek other development firms for their quotes. Stall this developer if need be but be forthright about either seeking other bids and/or seeking advice of counsel!

Let us know how this turns out... Best of luck!

popch
October 16th, 2007, 08:02 AM
If you accept that contract, you are being had.

The bit about the content management system (CMS) being written/adapted for you is the worst part. Should you ever change your mind and seek to use another server to host your web site, you will start building your web site from scratch if that other server uses another CMS.

Insist on a hosting service which uses an open source CMS. If that particular 'provider' does not offer one or does not have any experience in using one, don't do business with him.

His 'threat' to pull the plug if you do not pay the bills is about the only acceptable part you have described.

PartisanEntity
October 16th, 2007, 09:17 AM
The offer sounds terrible. A friend of mine works in the web development business, granted, not in the 30k range, but this is what he does which I think is the industry standard:

1. He makes the site for you, once you pay, you own it.

2. He can find you a host and set it up for you, once done, he gives you your hosting account access codes and info.

3. He can offer you a service contract, which means he can maintain the site for you, update it or upgrade it when needed. This is what most web developers do anyway.

I would say, either do some hard core negotiation with this guy and get rid of these clauses that bind you to him, allow him to own your site, and force you to use him as host or get someone else.

Why on earth should you accept him as your site host anyway?

Why should you not own the code to your own site?

Why should you be limited to making minimal changes on your own site?

The project I work for owns its website. We paid a webdesign company to make it, but its ours. We pay a webmaster to maintain it, update it and add content. It is hosted on a dedicated server we pay for.

The more I think about it the more annoyed I get at merely hearing about such a bad offer :)

My advice, find someone else, this guys sounds like he is a control freak trying to milk customers down to the last cent. Bad business approach.

Also why such a high price? Will it contain a massive db of products? Will it have a CMS? Will he have to employ an army of developers to write customised code for you? Is there any component of the site that needs to be developed that does not exist out there?

southernman
October 16th, 2007, 09:34 AM
The offer sounds terrible. A friend of mine works in the web development business, granted, not in the 30k range, but this is what he does which I think is the industry standard:

1. He makes the site for you, once you pay, you own it.

2. He can find you a host and set it up for you, once done, he gives you your hosting account access codes and info.

3. He can offer you a service contract, which means he can maintain the site for you, update it or upgrade it when needed. This is what most web developers do anyway.

I would say, either do some hard core negotiation with this guy and get rid of these clauses that bind you to him, allow him to own your site, and force you to use him as host or get someone else.

Why on earth should you accept him as your site host anyway?

Why should you not own the code to your own site?

Why should you be limited to making minimal changes on your own site?

The project I work for owns its website. We paid a webdesign company to make it, but its ours. We pay a webmaster to maintain it, update it and add content. It is hosted on a dedicated server we pay for.

The more I think about it the more annoyed I get at merely hearing about such a bad offer :)

My advice, find someone else, this guys sounds like he is a control freak trying to milk customers down to the last cent. Bad business approach.

Also why such a high price? Will it contain a massive db of products? Will it have a CMS? Will he have to employ an army of developers to write customised code for you? Is there any component of the site that needs to be developed that does not exist out there?

hear hear!!! I tried to be somewhat reserve with my reply... but your almost entirely correct.

IF this website needs a CMS built from scratch, is the only reason I would CONSIDER allowing the developer to retain at least partial ownership of the code. I did state however, if your paying dearly for that code to be written... such as it sounds in this case, then the developer would have to get over himself.

If this same question was asked at sitepoint's forums... developers would be falling out of the chair. They may even demand to know whom offered such and form a lynching party... film at 11!

curuxz
October 16th, 2007, 09:42 AM
I have to say a few things on this, first the guy your getting it from sounds like a rip off merchant...but....

I do use some of the same conditions with my clients, for instance in order to make costs much lower I don't charge for the site but rather rent the system out to them which is fair enough if your a good business and wont screw them over for more money. This means instead of paying 5000 up front they pay more like 35 per month for as long as they use it, this is how the mobile phone compaines make their money and its better to have a sustained small income than big pay days that are risky and far between.

I also demand that both it is hosted on my servers and that they DO NOT have ftp access, this is because every one of my clients is on full CMS sites and do not NEED ftp. It prevents them from messing up the website by mistake and protects my custom modifications to the cms systems I use. I think again if you trust the host this is also ok.

The key point is trust, you should only do this method if you trust your host and they are clear and open about costs and what happens if you dont pay/terminate.

This guy sounds like he has taken it way way too far and I would not buy from someone who can not look you in the eye and explain clearly what the contract is.

popch
October 16th, 2007, 09:56 AM
I would not buy from someone who can not look you in the eye and explain clearly what the contract is.

Looking you in the eye and explaining about the contract has absolutely no relevance. Relevant is only what you sign or - in case of a non-written contract - what you can prove what the contract was.

If in doubt, don't buy.

curuxz
October 16th, 2007, 10:05 AM
Looking you in the eye and explaining about the contract has absolutely no relevance. Relevant is only what you sign or - in case of a non-written contract - what you can prove what the contract was.

If in doubt, don't buy.

I could not disagree more, of course the contract you sign is the binding document but if you are looking for signs of a bad deal (like he is) then someone who cant explain the contract is a much quicker way of finding out if your time is being wasted.

Con artists never want to discuss the contract or for you to ask detailed questions about it because they know flaws will be found, people that are open and honest will be able to clearly explain what the charges are, why they are that much and what the terms mean in real life.

Being able to look you in the eye and explain why you should make a deal is an opening requirement in any business deal, why waste time reading a contract before you have found out if they person at least seems legitimate. THEN take time to read it, twice.

Samhain13
October 16th, 2007, 10:28 AM
The web development company wants about $30,000 for the website and about $100 per month for retainer and hosting fee. This would include about 30 pages of information at an educational site.

That's expensive! Can I make a counter offer? (Kidding! But seriously...)

As to the original question and issues:

If your organisation provides the content, then your organisation MUST retain ownership of that content. This is regardless of whatever applications/scripts the developer writes to process that content. Conversely, the developer retains ownership of those applications/scripts. Website content and the collective back-end are two separate entities.

Regarding the additional fee for the CMS and the monthly retainer's. Just ask yourself: if I'm already paying for the use of a CMS so I can manage my content on my own, then what do I need a retainer for? Or, if I'm already paying a retainer to do the content management for me, then why do I need to pay for using a CMS? I think that's an "either-or" situation and you shouldn't have to pay for both.

Regarding the lock-in hosting services. I (as a web designer/developer) prefer it that way because it gives me more control over the website. This is provided that I am to maintain it. However, if the client prefers to have their website hosted elsewhere, then it should be up to them-- they should have that choice. Although some form of waiver should be signed saying that I am not responsible for whatever fumbles the hosting company makes since we (the hosting company and I) are not connected.

Just a few thoughts. :)

curuxz
October 16th, 2007, 12:35 PM
Well I would gladly match what ever he is offering for $60 Per month, upfront costs are only domain charges and small setup fee (around $50)

Upfront saving of about 29 thousand dollars lol

PM me if you would like to see samples of my work or discuss your needs :)

Samhain13
October 16th, 2007, 01:25 PM
Hahahaha! :D

But just for kicks:

I offer $650 (US). No other fees.
Hosting and domain name services included.
Maintained for one year.
Standards conformant pages.
Accessible.
Search engine friendly.

Visit the link in my signature for samples.

lyceum
October 16th, 2007, 02:42 PM
As a webdesigner, I make the site, and give it to the customer. It cost extra to load it on their web space. You can get some great deals for web space & a domain name for around $200. The site may cost a few thousand, being over 30 pages, but I can see no reason for $30,000. Shop around and get a better deal!