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Technology: PHP, MySql
Design Note: Responsive design
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.