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  1. #1
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    Is putting 30-40 hours into a 10 page website too much? I've been told that I take too long with the coding, but I am a stickler for detail and I will edit everything down to the last pixel, and I will cross-browser test until everything is perfect. Bottom line, I try to think of myself as the client and what would I be happy with- a cheap, sloppy design or a more expensive, professional design? Naturally, I tend to gravitate towards charging extra, because I know in the end it will require less updating, less fixing. But, the people I work for will email me every day inquiring about my project status and if I take more than a couple days (I work 6 hour days), they start pushing me and telling me I need to speed up so they can send something to the client.

    And this 30-40 hours is just for going from PSD to HTML- filled with content and everything. In other words, when I'm done, the site is ready to go live. Is that too much time? I just want to make sure I'm not charging too little for my work, or too much. Currently I rush, rush, rush to get the work done and I'm never happy with the end product. As a result, I'm generally asked to make half a million changes that could have been avoided if I had just put in the few extra hours initially. Plus, I'm getting stressed out because I feel uncomfortable working under such constraints. I feel like asking for a finished site in less than 12 hours is absolutely nuts. I'd feel much better knowing that putting in 40 hours is not unusual for a project- my stress levels would go down and I'd be far more productive.

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  3. #2
    WDF Staff mlseim's Avatar
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    Here's the deal ....
    There really should not be any need to make a physical site with 10 pages.
    You should be making one or two PSD/HTML templates that are used for
    the scripts to dynamically render as many pages as they want. The
    content on all pages is stored in a database, and they have the ability
    to add/edit/delete the content.

    That's what a CMS (content management system) is.
    The main reason a lot of people are now using WordPress or Joomla for
    their sites is because the development is pretty much already done.
    The work is in the theme design ... the templates, the plug-ins.

    I know very little about photoshop, or graphic design for that matter,
    so I can't say what the graphic part takes, but the development side
    could take 16 hours easily ... it all depends on the features needed.

    It sounds like you might have a situation where you do the graphics,
    and someone else (you hire) does the scripting, PHP, MySQL, JQuery, AJAX, etc.


  4. #3
    WDF Staff smoseley's Avatar
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    I agree and disagree with mlseim. I think CMSes and templates are an excuse people use to get lazy with design work. You should definitely use them to eliminate redundant coding work, but you should still be spending effort in designing each unique page of a site to be laid out beautifully. 30-40 hours isn't too much time for a 10 page site, but if you're spending 3/4 of that recoding the same **** in HTML, you're wasting your time.

    FYI, I once had my team put 300+ hours into a 10 page site for FedEx. The total bill came to around $20k. But the site was fantastic.

    Websites are like watches. A CMS is like a robot that will stamp out $10 watches for you with virtually no effort from you, and you can sell cheap CMS sites like hotcakes. Or you can use that robot to stamp out parts and hand-assemble a Rolex for 1000x the price. Neither is right or wrong.... it's a question of what type of product you want to deliver and what type of business you want to run. But even if you're making Rolexes, you're not going to hand-make the gears. Thus, you should always use a CMS in web development.

  5. #4
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    Hi mlseim- thanks for the response. I don't deal with any databasing at all. I use PHP includes to organize the site and make it faster to load, but that's as far as I go with my PHP. I don't write any of my own PHP (as I have no idea how to do that), I don't know how to manage a database... I am strictly a designer. My boss will come to me and say, "John Smith wants us to redesign his website. This is what he's looking for. Can you create a mock-up please?" And about 5 hours later, I have a single .jpg mock-up ready to show the client. Once the design has been approved by the client, I am then asked to go ahead and code the mock-up and add the content.

    Most of my projects are divided into 4 parts: header, navigation, body/content and footer. Each of those can take me anywhere from 2-3 hours because I need to test and retest and retest again to make sure the design works in all browsers. If it doesn't, I need to debug and figure out why. Then I need to find hacks for IE, I need to make sure my design works in all resolutions.. so while an "About Me" page might look like it's just a couple paragraphs and maybe a couple pictures, the execution does take some time.

    I don't use a CMS, either. I know how to, I have tons of experience- I've just never been asked to use one. Basically what I'm doing is going in and hard-coding everything by hand from scratch. No Dreamweaver or anything like that. Just Photoshop, Notepad and my browser.

    smosely: No, I don't recode the same stuff. That's where the PHP includes come in handy. I only have to design the header, navigation and footer one time and that's it. The majority of my time comes in designing each page such as "About Me", "Contact Me" (it's the one PHP script I've ever written and it was done years ago when I was young and ambitious, haha), Product listings/descriptions, photo galleries, etc. Each page needs to be designed individually, the content laid out and customized for each page. An "About" page is not going to have the same layout as a photo gallery page, the contact page won't be laid out the same as the product listings page, etc.

    I guess that, no matter many pages a site may have, I'm just curious if it's unrealistic to spend 2-3 hours on each page. I've been doing some research and more and more I'm finding that the answer is no, it's not unrealistic and it's pretty much standard when designing sites for small businesses.

  6. #5
    WDF Staff smoseley's Avatar
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    Server-side includes === CMS. For a simple site, that will do the trick. Sounds like you're doing the job right. Your boss may be getting frustrated because you're doing too good of a job on a product that he's selling too cheaply. Have you considered that you may be working for a company that has different design ideals than you? i.e. you want to make Rolexes and your boss wants to sell Seikos?

  7. #6
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    That's what I fear- I have no clue how much they are charging these clients per design, or if the client's have simply agreed to pay by the hour. I know I'm good at what I do because I pay attention to detail and I know that if I'm not satisfied with my work, the client won't be satisfied- I am a stickler for perfection basically. I just fear that I may be charging too much and it's not able to bring in any profit for the company and I'll ultimately be let go.

    Yes, I have considered work elsewhere, but not right yet. My portfolio is extremely limited- I have tons and tons of personal experience but little-to-no professional experience, and that's what this job is doing for me right now, it's giving me that professional experience I will need in order to move onto a better job. I already have been telling myself I won't be with these guys forever. Just long enough to build up a decent looking portfolio.

  8. #7
    WDF Staff mlseim's Avatar
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    Steven, Good points on the cookie-cutter CMS systems.
    Not being a graphic designer, I guess I don't put much effort into design.

    @spyce ...
    Is it possible to see one of the sites you've done recently? Maybe a graphics person on WDF
    might have a better idea of the time it takes to do some of the photoshop stuff.


  9. #8
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    Absolutely: http://www.419design.net/sandbox/Gre...it/Feb16-2012/

    This is the design I'm currently working on that's causing me a lot of stress. Their current site can be found at http://www.greenharborbait.com.

    This design is actually about 17-20 pages. You have each individual page (such as about, contact, directions, etc., of which there are 17 of those. Then you have the header, the navigation menu, the CSS, etc.)

    The part that's taking up the majority of my time is the "products" section. I have to take everything from here (http://greenharborbait.com/products.html) and implement it into my design. The design from the original layout is just so bad. I have no clue how to lay out this content. And I'm already a week behind on this.

    I, actually.... the Photoshop part doesn't bother me. I know I can get my work done in Photoshop in the time frame they want. The part that I struggle with is all the coding. It takes me so long and I'm just curious as to whether or not that's standard in the industry. Each page you see (About, Contact, Gallery, etc.) each of those page took anywhere from 2-3 hours. I know that looking at it, it looks pretty simple and looks like it shouldn't have taken much time, but what you're seeing is only the end result. I spent so much time arranging elements, playing with colors, playing with fonts, etc.

  10. #9
    WDF Staff mlseim's Avatar
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    Certainly looks much better than the original site!
    Maybe the only way to get out of the products page issue is to use a white background
    like they used. At least those item photos won't stick out too much. The problem is,
    I don't think the background in those photos are really "white", but close enough?

    I wonder if you could get better photos directly from the product manufacturers?
    http://www.avetreels.com/img2008/Most%20recent/

    Anyhow, the products catalog is really the place to use a database of some kind.
    You upload all photos into one directory, then have some sort of simple database
    that lists everything with a category (for reels, lures, etc.). A PHP script loads
    the items it needs for the "reels" page and displays them each in a <div> with
    the photo and description.

    You could even use Google Docs Spreadsheet as your database.
    One row for each item. That would make design easy, because the content would
    be done by PHP ... looping through the rows and displaying a <div> section for each item.
    Let me know if you might be interested in doing that.

    I'll let someone else make comments about graphics... that's not my thing.


  11. #10
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    That's the problem, I have no idea how to create a database. I would like to learn because I think simply having the knowledge is beneficial, but I know nothing about how to create a database, how to call a database for use. I plan on re-activating my Lynda.com account, but that won't be until I get my next paycheck at the end of March :-/ But I definitely think you're right. Using a database would be the best way to go.

    As for my graphics- I'm fine with that. My employer has told me more than a dozen times that they love my work, haha.

    I also want to say thank you to you guys for offering me your ideas and suggestions. I'm already feeling more confident than I was when I created this post last night. I'm just searching for re-assurance is all. I got burned pretty badly on a project a few years ago and it really shattered my confidence. I've been trying to re-build my confidence ever since, but it's been a long journey.


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