[nycphp-talk] CMS - Estimating Hours

tedd tedd at
Thu Mar 27 20:47:23 EDT 2008

At 5:38 PM -0400 3/27/08, BAS wrote:
>Hi Marc,
>Yes, I've got 11 years of experience with static sites and I've even 
>done some simple custom CMS work, but I've never tried integrating 
>an existing CMS package with a bunch of other stuff. My PHP skills 
>are at the lower end of intermediate, so this is going to be a 
>challenge & learning experience for me.
>Your practical example and advice re testing & other possible 
>gotchas is much appreciated (as is your humor). The only other 
>dynamic site I've worked with was for a real estate agent. I used 
>Open-Realty and modifying the templates was a PITA--it wasn't 
>difficult, just (as you mentioned) mind-numbingly boring having to 
>pick through gobs of PHP code to find the template bits & HTML, make 
>a change, upload, test, try again. Ugh.
>Many thanks,


Some of the biggest problems I've had with clients is getting them to 
agree and adhere to a certain layout. Without a solid foundation, 
your site can fall apart very quickly -- especially when your client 
starts to add and change stuff.

I had one client recently who had a front page that had a static six 
item menu on the left and a variable  (0-16 items) "things of 
interest" link list on the right. The client said that he wanted the 
top and bottom of both (the menu and "things of interest") to 
line-up. The client hadn't really thought this out. So, that took 
time for me to explain the problem and I billed for it. This was an 
example of how a client can waste your time if you allow it. Bill for 
everything (including emails explaining things), but deliver what you 
say you will on time, without problems, and clients will respect your 
work and come back.

As for contracts, a letter agreement outlining what is going to be 
done for what money is good to reflect back on for reference. But, if 
you want an iron-clad legal contract so you can take someone to court 
for not paying for a $5k project, then you haven't sued anyone 
before. My last suit cost me $20k over a $10k dispute. IMO, it's not 
worth it. So, get 50% up front and the remainder when done.

If the client won't pay (been stung two times in the last 12 years), 
then just don't work for him again and move on. Simple, but effective.

If you run into problems coding, organize and illustrate the problem 
and drop it on us. Usually someone has been there before. You see, 
doing CMS and dynamic sites are really simple things to accomplish. 
Most of us have done it more than once.

Good luck.



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