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Thread: Small developer with Big Client NEED HELP!

  1. #1
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    Small developer with Big Client NEED HELP!

    I have just started freelancing web sites and wanted to start off small but lo and hold, my first client is asking for the biggest project I have ever faced. In short here are the parameters of the project:

    1.) Client needs redesign for existing website which is 200-300 pages in size
    2.) Client is at top of google search for a pretty general search phrase and wants to keep his high ranking
    3.) Also wants CMS functionality on a few select pages.

    I can code in html, css, and php
    My questions are the folllowing:

    a.) In general, for a average web designer, approx. how long would it take to convert 200-300 pages of html to a newly coded design.
    b.) any ideas on professional ways to charge for this
    c.) any ideas on how to accomplish this with out affecting google rankings
    d.) any ideas on how to integrate CMS functionality on a few select pages without having to redesign entire website in, for example, Joomla

    I would really appreciate any suggestions as I feel like I;m about to have a heart attack.

    Thanks
    Matt

  2. #2
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    I'd grab an off the shelf CMS (WordPress has been my flavor of the month for the past while) and build the client's site on it. Seriously, this is probably the only reasonable option that won't take you quite a while of tediously weeding through the code of each individual page and changing it.

    You won't change any google ranking as long as the content and links on each page aren't changed, the design has minimal effect on google ranking.

    And finally, the best advice I can give is that if you are a freelancer just starting out and you feel like you're in over your head, don't take the job. You want to have a trail of happy, satisfied clients whom you can use for references, not a couple of massive, yet moderately disgruntled ones.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by aj_nsc View Post
    the design has minimal effect on google ranking
    In general I'd agree with that, but a design can have a negative impact on your HTML source unless you're careful with how you code the markup, and that can affect your google ranking. You just need to be careful to ensure your design uses good markup practices.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mindzai View Post
    In general I'd agree with that, but a design can have a negative impact on your HTML source unless you're careful with how you code the markup, and that can affect your google ranking. You just need to be careful to ensure your design uses good markup practices.
    Haha, I actually knew that which is why I didn't say that it doesn't have any effect on your google ranking, just minimal (e.g. semantics, massive overuse of markup compared to content, etc). I am surprised, however, how fast someone pointed that out after I replied.
    I've switched careers...
    I'm NO LONGER a scientist,
    but now a web developer...
    awesome.

  5. #5
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    I really do appreciate the advise. I have been mulling over the idea of turning the project down. The only problem is the client is the link to a steady stream of referrals. It is really tough to decide what to do.

    I have been playing around with Joomla, do you have any advice on which CMS is better? is one or the other make a difference with SEO?

    Ok, dumb question of the day! In order to convert say 250 pages of html to Joomla, Drupal, or Wordpress, am I looking at copying and pasting each individual page into 250 newly created CMS pages or is there a more automated approach?

    Thanks

    Matt

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by pixelsandbits View Post
    I really do appreciate the advise. I have been mulling over the idea of turning the project down. The only problem is the client is the link to a steady stream of referrals. It is really tough to decide what to do.

    I have been playing around with Joomla, do you have any advice on which CMS is better? is one or the other make a difference with SEO?

    Ok, dumb question of the day! In order to convert say 250 pages of html to Joomla, Drupal, or Wordpress, am I looking at copying and pasting each individual page into 250 newly created CMS pages or is there a more automated approach?

    Thanks

    Matt
    Most of those questions will be specific to your current and future architecture. Really this looks like you are way in over your head. I would recommend either hiring some help to make sure you have a good impression (as you said they might bring future business) since they will probably not return if they aren't satisfied or just flat out being honest with the client and turning down the project gracefully before it gets messy.

  7. #7
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    Yeah, As much as it is no fun turning down a project I guess I am have to give it heavy consideration.

    Thanks,
    Matt

  8. #8
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    In my opinion you shouldn't have accepted the clients offer unless you were confident that you could handle it. So i am with the others on this, its best to quite while you're ahead. You could very easily kill their seo efforts if you're not careful. Since they're html and all cms's are server side you'd either need to do a 301 redirect or even better create a url rewriting scheme that seamlessly transitions from the old backend architecture to the new. If you don't do that properly, their rank will plummet.
    I also disagree that design minimally affects seo. The key with proper on page seo is keyword density, and this density figure is affected by items such as bolding text, header tags, design and order of the page title tags, as well as other misc items like breadcrumbs (which often repeat the same text as the page heading). If you change these you can easily change the keyword density for every page operating within the new cms architecture, which of course can then affect your overall seo.

  9. #9
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    CSS = design
    HTML tags = markup

    Also, for the record, nobody originally disagreed that design minimally affects seo.

    Also #2 keyword density is content, not design, and not markup (which are indeed separate things, check out csszengarden.com for the ultimate example of this).
    I've switched careers...
    I'm NO LONGER a scientist,
    but now a web developer...
    awesome.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by aj_nsc View Post
    CSS = design
    HTML tags = markup

    Also, for the record, nobody originally disagreed that design minimally affects seo.
    Oh i see, you're correct and if you're using the developer strict definition of "design". As a designer/programmer myself, design is the entire package taken in, which includes the markup (though i separate the two when i program).
    As for this:
    Also #2 keyword density is content, not design, and not markup.
    I'm sorry, but if design and markup affect keyword density (based on the fact that most of the algo's used, use the markup to vary the importance of words, and thus affect density) then that is quite incorrect to say. Keyword density is thus a measurement of all those items.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by aj_nsc View Post
    CSS = design
    HTML tags = markup

    Also, for the record, nobody originally disagreed that design minimally affects seo.

    Also #2 keyword density is content, not design, and not markup (which are indeed separate things, check out csszengarden.com for the ultimate example of this).
    Where I work, the "designer" creates both the markup and the css, and this seems to be the case in most places. The "developer" (me where I work) pretty much only works on programming and the deeper technical side of things. Freelancers such as the OP more often than not do both jobs.

    Also there is no need to get so defensive! Nobody was suggesting you were unaware of the impact of markup on SEO, these comments were intended to clarify your point for the OP not to make you look bad!
    The first rule of Tautology Club is the first rule of Tautology Club.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by pixelsandbits View Post
    I have been playing around with Joomla, do you have any advice on which CMS is better? is one or the other make a difference with SEO?
    You say you only require "CMS functionality on a few select pages".
    Why use a heavyweight CMS, look at CushyCMS
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  13. #13
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    These are all great ideas. Thank you. Jarrod, I believe I mislead you, nothing has been signed with the client and everything is just relaxed talk right now. As I do want to to keep in mind that turning the project down is a realistic option, I do want to dig deep and see what I am capable of. Not claiming to know more than anyone in the chat, but I have kept up with everything you have said. Everyone starts somewhere, right? If I were to take this on, I would love to have suggestions of things to keep in mind, and thus far its been helpful!

    301 redirects
    Keep keyword density intact, with respect as well to mark up

    Any comments about link structure, page titles, and page names?

    Cushy CMS looks like I might be able to use it. The potential client clarified the size of the site yesterday and said it was closer to 150 pages. Out of these he would like CMS functionality to just a handful pages.

    Plus, the potential client is looking for a more conservative look, and most Joomla templates thus far have seemed very web 2.0. (The client brought up using templates)

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