10 Hours I Will Never Get Back

10-hours When we manage websites for a living, specifically WordPress websites there are a lot of tasks that come with it.  Plugin updates come in all the time.  These can be an absolute nightmare, breaking functionality and sometimes even taking down a website. Good webmasters/site managers have backups and can repair any damage the updates may cause. But these updates are part of normal updating process.  This post is more about a case that doesn’t fall within the normal bounds of managing a website.

A few years ago a client came to me.  I won’t mention his name, but will tell you a little bit about the project.   He is an artist and wanted a site to display his works.   Great, I could use WordPress and one of the many gallery plugins.  BUT, he had very specific needs.   He really wanted to have the images speak for themselves, and didn’t want any of the normal features of most galleries (and the things most people ask for).  For instance he didn’t like light-box effects. He didn’t even want any borders around his images. Make a long story short, we built him a custom theme and fulfilled all of his needs.

Problem:  We really had to re-write a lot of the gallery plugin.  So we really couldn’t upgrade the plugin or we’d lose all the customizations.  This wasn’t an issue for a couple of years.  But then changes to the WordPress core messed up the file upload. We could no longer upload 40-50 files at a time which is the main functionality we needed. Adding images one at a time wasn’t an option.  So what do I do?  Should I bill him for 8 additional hours to bring his site up to date? (his maintenance plan included 2 hours and the project would take 10.)

Solution: Sometimes you just have to suck it up. I didn’t want to bill the guy $1,000 dollars, and not sure that he could afford it. So, I did the work myself which required me to set up a staging area, update the plug-in and then go through the process of again customizing the functionality and CSS. Fortunately, now the plug-in is improved to the point where my customizations would be stored in a separate area that would allow me to always upgrade the plug-in as needed. So the client would be much better off for years to come.

Bottom Line: I won’t get back the 10+ hours, or make any money for my troubles.  But I know I did the right thing, and karma is definitely on my side. Going the extra mile has to be your normal behavior if you are managing websites if you are to stand out in the crowd.  I believe we do.






Just say no


just-say-no When you are in business, pleasing customers is job one.  We all know this, right?.  But is it ever ok to say no to a project that someone is willing to pay for?

I say yes if a client is asking you to something you know will fail.

Granted, I am not the arbiter of all things web, but some things I know will fail. I know as sure as I know the sun will rise in the morning.  I recently ran into this very situation.  Someone I have known for a while wanted to modernize their site.  I won’t go into specifics as my goal is not to insult the man.  Lets just say the idea wasn’t good 10 years ago and has even less value today.  Much less….

I don’t like to insult people but if I am hired for my expertise, I need to operate with a my conscious in tow. That is, it is my job to ask the question, what value does this add, can this succeed?  In my case I try to steer people in a direction which will be more profitable. In the situation I mentioned, I did propose an alternative, one that I think would work better and actually have a chance to make money.

I think I hurt the guys feelings, as I got a terse response back and don’t imagine I will be hearing back from him, probably ever.  Though I sincerely felt bad, I know I did the right thing trying to save him from himself.  As I said earlier I can’t go into details.  Lets just say if I called you up an ask if you wanted to invest in the Edsel, what would you say? Or how about a dial up internet service?  (no, neither were his idea, but it is almost as bad) Worse, he wanted to try and sell something you can get for free. (No, not that ;))

One things is guaranteed, he will find someone to take on the project, no matter how poor the idea is. His money is green and not every web company will be as honest as I try to be. Also some feel it isn’t their place to tell a potential their idea is bad no matter how asinine. I disagree.

While I am a for profit entity, I thinks grabbing the quick payday is a poor strategy as your clients fail and repeat business is not coming your way or are referrals.  I think my strategy works, as I have a 98% client retention rate.

Honesty pays, period.