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  • 1 Post By TheGAME1264

Thread: Help for getting help?

  1. #1
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    Help for getting help?

    What is the best way to find someone that can help guide us in our web site redesign efforts? I have a loose spec of desired functionality and questions I need answered. I am now struggling with how to find someone that knows CMS and forum software and can recommend a strategy for us, based on our budget? I would prefer someone that knows various options, but I do not even know how to find designers that know both WordPress and phpbb3. I am new to this forum, so a good first question might be ... is this the place to share my questions or is there a better forum for such questions? Thanks.

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  3. #2
    Senior Member Ronald Roe's Avatar
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    One problem you're running into is that people are lazy. No designer worth working with "doesn't know" how to work with CMS and forum software. They're just too lazy to jump into the documentation and try. I've never designed a forum template, but if the pay was right, by God, I'd figure it out.

    What is your budget? That could be another problem you're having.
    Ron Roe
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    "If every app were designed using the same design template, oh wait...Bootstrap."

  4. #3
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    I don't want to pay someone to figure it out. I am trying to find the person/company that has already been paid to figure it out or is just a curious person and developed a lot of expertise on their own. As a non-profit we have a limited budget for the whole project, but maybe a few hundred for a good strategy, which includes where to get design and development help that matches our budget. At this stage we are trying to learn the functionality of each option and some suggestions for software. That also includes some insight into how much something like this should cost us. Just as an example, I am hoping to find someone that knows WP_Bridge works well between WP and phpbb, and not someone (like me) that has heard of the plug-in and could make it work if paid enough.

    I just need someone to bounce ideas off and strategize. And I am wondering about the recommended method for getting this information. I am not sure I have even found the right things to Google. If the person knows their stuff, I would expect them to be able to get this done in an hour via email or phone conversation. Feel free to reset my expectations. That is why I am asking here.

  5. #4
    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    I'm going to have to reset your expectations then...it depends on what it is that you want to do and how you want to do it. What you're asking is like saying "okay, my car is making a weird sound, and if you're a good enough mechanic you'll have it solved in an hour." Depends on what the sound is, where it's coming from, and what's broken. If the sound is your transmission, for example, it's going to probably take a lot longer than an hour to fix.

    As far as finding someone who has worked with both WP and phpBB3 and still wants to do something with both...that's going to be hard. Even just finding the first two is going to be hard. As Ron pointed out, most web designers tend to be lazy...that's why a lot of them latch onto W*rdPr*ss as their "CMS of choice" and refuse to learn or do anything else. As long as someone's willing and silly enough to pay them, I can't say I totally blame them either...they get paid to install plugins and constantly do updates that if the thing was built right in the first place would be completely unnecessary. By the way, that's something else you'll need to put into your budget if you insist on using WP...money for upgrades, as the security patches / fixes are contained within said upgrades. Being a non-profit isn't going to help you much in that regard, either...the patches are still going to need to be made, and that applies to both WP itself and any plugins as necessary. This is why I jumped off the WP bandwagon 6.5 years ago and will only come back onto it if dragged kicking and screaming by a client (I have a few that still use WP). I'm even going so far as to write my own blogging platform so that I never have to deal with WP again if I can avoid it.

    phpBB3 is skinnable to a point, but from my experience with it it's a pain to skin and I wasn't able to do all that much with it. The client I did it for ended up scrapping the forum about 4 months later as well.

    Another thing you're going to want to consider is that both WP and phpBB3 will require moderation...as in content / comment moderation...and quite a bit of it. Forums and WP blogs are major spam targets, both automated and human, at least partly because "forum commenting and blog posting = good SEO...no, really, it's SEO. It doesn't matter that it amounts to petty vandalism...what matters is where you rank in Google. Focus on the rankings, people." If you don't have anyone that's willing to devote the time to fight this sort of thing, it'll eat your site alive...and both WP and phpBB3 are likely candidates.

    What I would suggest, not knowing what you want to do or how you want to do it, is to find a developer and / or designer who can organize what you want to do into stages. Get some of the work done, and get your site generating enough revenue to pay for the other stages. I know it's a non-profit site, but you can still approach site development in terms of "financing". That may help.
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  6. #5
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    Thanks for the useful insight. To stick to your metaphor, I am not looking for the person to fix my car yet. I am looking for someone to tell me what is involved in diagnosing and fixing it, possible problems, how long it would take to fix and how much things cost. After that is done, that mechanic may come back and say you need to fix the widget belt on your transmission. If that person will do it for the budget you have, then you let him do it. If you want to find someone cheaper that fixes widget belts, then at least you know what to ask. Your metaphor works well (which is unusual any time I use them) because I am looking for a mechanic I can trust and who knows where to start and does not need days to take the whole car apart and figure it out. I think the mechanic metaphor breaks down when you think that mechanics often diagnose your car for free, although a serious problem may require a fee if they don't know where to start. It depends on the mechanic you go to. (thank you Mr Pugh for keeping my car going thru college on no money).

    As to your other points, I am finding out that experience in WordPress and phpbb is not too common. It is good to hear from you why that is. A custom design is obviously going to meet your needs much more than CMS or forum software, but they are much cheaper and you put up with the problems, knowing you get what you pay for. And I know there will be ongoing costs, but I would like someone to estimate those ahead of time so we are not surprised. We don't do much moderation and our forums are restricted to members only, with some filters on allowable email addresses. What we have now for handling spam could be improved of course, but works pretty well.

    Right now I am struggling with what and where to ask, and knowing that would make me a more informed consumer and should make life much easier for the designers and developers. Right now I have a broken widget belt and I am trying to find the best mechanic to fix that, without knowing I have a broken widget belt. I have not bought in completely on the agile methodology, which would just throw up WordPress in stage 1. Then add membership functionality in stage 2 and then throw phpbb3 on in stage 3. Working iteratively in stages is good, but we sort of want a well thought out plan of attack so we can avoid backtracking and wasting money. I don't want to find out later that we should have done membership in phpbb3 instead of WP. This also helps us with budgeting for the entire project and ongoing maintenance.

    Don't worry. Each of your responses and more Google research is resetting my expectations every day. Isn't there an app for this? :-)

  7. #6
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    Probably a dumb question, but is the Marketplace on this web site a good place to list my initial questions and get some feedback? Are there any other forums that have the experience to answer my questions? Am I correct that this web site is more for designers and developers doing their own thing, as opposed to implementers which might be my intended audience for questions?

  8. #7
    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    If you're just looking for unpaid feedback, you might as well keep this thread going. The marketplace is more for "I need help on something and I'm willing to pay for it." If you're looking to get quotes on things, then yeah, go ahead, but it doesn't sound like you're ready to do that yet.

    As far as what and where to ask is concerned, that's tricky because ultimately what and where to ask depends on what exactly you're trying to accomplish. What you may need is a project manager first...someone who can take your ideas, organize them, make recommendations on the scripts / designer / developer / whatever you need that will fit within your budget. That way, you don't talk to the developers / designers without a full plan of attack and someone with the tech background to make sure that everything runs smoothly. That in itself will be a difficult find, as there aren't a lot of freelance project managers to the best of my knowledge (as far as I know, I'm the only one who does this sort of thing on WDF, and I only do it for about 10-15 hours a week). But if you can find that, then a lot of your other problems will probably be solved.

    As far as estimating ongoing costs are concerned, that depends on if you're going to stick with something like WP. If you do, estimating ongoing costs will be much more difficult simply because WP is like an operating system in the sense that you don't know when or if an upgrade will need to be made, and when or if it will affect any of the plugins you may use. So you'll have to allow for "the unknown", although a good developer / designer will apprise you of the upgrade and about how long it will take to perform said upgrade. This is where looking beyond WP and looking at developers who know how to customize things would be an asset, without necessarily restricting yourself geographically. I'm not sure where you're from, but I'm from a suburb of Toronto, Ontario and I know of a very good developer in Vietnam that one of my clients in Virginia uses. You won't get any discounts or favors from an offshore developer, but you can get someone experienced with customization.

    I'm not sure there's a clear definition of the members on this website, other than "designers / developers of varying stages of experience and degrees of knowledge and ability." We have quite a few W*rdPr*ssers. We have a lot of designers. We have a few hardcore code warrior developers (I'm one of them). We have hobbyists. We have a lot of "Internet Marketers" (who usually get exposed and knocked down a peg). And we have a group of approx. 15-20 people like Ronald Roe who would be the core base of experts...you can usually spot the experts because they have ways of dropping knowledge into the threads that you may not have thought of otherwise.

    Hopefully that gives you a little more context.
    Ronald Roe likes this.
    If I've helped you out in any way, please pay it forward. My wife and I are walking for Autism Speaks. Please donate, and thanks.

    If someone helped you out, be sure to "Like" their post and/or help them in kind. The "Like" link is on the bottom right of each post, beside the "Share" link.

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  9. #8
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    Yes, I am looking for some project manager expertise. Thanks for all the great insights here. Once I know what I am asking, perhaps I will use the Marketplace.


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