Dreamhost vs. others for a tech support client

wordpress

#1

Hello. I am Gary. This is my 1st post, here. Thank you in advance.
Situation:
A valued client wishes to go live with a website. He’s a pawn shop. I have been tasked to detail options for him. He’s not very tech savvy. I crack passwords on pawned gear and chase the boogies out of his systems.
He wants, what sounds to me, to be a content management system that he can load jpgs himself. Maybe link his Paypal or Square.
Me? I have a degree in Graphics Design. I learned HTML and CSS, not PHP and SQL. I’ve played with Concrete 5 on my server and am attempting to learn to do a basic database from scratch (training purposes - not insane).
He can’t afford both DP and me.
Q: Anyone think he can manage DreamPress alone if he can’t set up a homegroup?
Q: Should I steer him to FaceBook or Microsoft for his website needs?
I don’t want to lose his tech business or become a permanent site sitter and a bane to his budget. I wouldn’t mind the commission, though.
How do we steer noobs? Can DreamPress coddle the inhibited, uninitiated customer?
thx,
gdp


#2

All depends on what this website needs to do and what kind of traffic it will get. WordPress is fairly easy to use but YMMV, as they say. The hard bit is where you say

Does he want a website to show and sell pawned items? If it’s only for showing the items he has in store, then you can get him started quickly with a basic WordPress on shared hosting and see where that goes.
If he wants to also sell those items, you have very inexpensive options like setting up an eBay or Amazon store. Your client can snap pictures, upload them on his site and on ebay, add a link to each other.

This way, you can help him keep the fixed costs very low and you keep a good chunk of the customer’s IT budget. Over time, if this online business takes off, he may be able to afford you to develop a full online retail business for him.


#3

Thanks. This is kinda what I’m trying. You know the drill. 1st it is “Can you do websites?” Yeah, I have that degree. But then it turns out he meant a CMS. Yeah! It can be done. Then, mission creep sets in and a good client for tech support wants a e-commerce site, for almost nothing. He’s got “Square” and I’ve corrected his G Map. I’ve suggested facecrook and helped set up G Biz. Today, I’ll gather data on Amazon. I want to break into this biz, so, I’m doing everything I can. I’m glad to see my hosting choice has proven solid.

The part that sticks is with the other options, SEO really doesn’t kick in. He really wants to use the domain I’ve secured for him. I could do an HTML site that point to his other semi-store fronts and links to his G-stuff/other stuff. Or deliver the bad news that if he wants a site like his competitor down the street, he may have to lay out some cash. Another, shop has a pretty good looking WP w/ premium add-ons.
Thanks again,
gary


#4

Gary - Our backgrounds may be similar. I write business applications and communications but have only gotten into the CMS thing slowly over a period of years. I find I have various needs which require a site, and a couple friends with small businesses who want a presence.

Over time I’ve been through a lot of CMS and have standardized on WordPress. It’s not perfect, needs an ongoing education, but the info is out there, the audience huge, and it’s fun. All of the others are either not popular enough or too cryptic. You want a platform with a lot of community buy-in and a lot of plugins (which tend to come and go over time). That all minimizes buyer remorse … been there, got the T-shirt.

Your client would do fine with a simple shared account here at DH. I’ve been with them for over 10 years after trying a couple others.

If you think about it, your new challenge is no different than any other tech/business challenge. You want to solve a problem, but the problem hasn’t been well defined. It’s easy to jump from “I just want a website” to a related “solution”, but it sounds like your client is on a path that might lead to other solutions quickly. My advice is to just talk with him about his long-term goals. Does he want to just post pics and not deal with the issues and competition associated with a full website? Unless the website has some special value, you might as well host him at EBay + Amazon like other people in that position. But if he does want to try to entice people back to a regular “experience” (kinda like what Facebook is doing with their marketplace, then yeah, WP is great and can grow with you.

My recommendation for that, after discussion about longer-term goals, would be to consider DreamPress as an entry-level WP solution. Load it up and see how it flies. Then, perhaps simultaneously, load up WP in a separate environment. It’s VERY easy and fast to do so. Get your feet wet with the application and the community, and then you’ll be in a better place to make recommendations and perhaps migrate the DreamPress site to a different space.

Not to be too “pie in the sky” here, WP is easy to use but when you want to take that next step, you’ll need to use plugins and deal with some authors not maintaining their software - this is true with the entire FOSS industry. From there you may want or need custom code. There is a ton if info on that topic - but once you have info it’s either DIY or get a contractor to help (not offering here). So be prepared for complex solutions to increasingly complex problems, but WP is a good base platform to build all of that.

HTH

(Gratuitous affiliate link in case you do sign up here … I’ve never actually used it. :smile: )


#6

Thanks, Starbuck. I have the affiliate button, too. I hope it is not influencing my desire to be helpful. I’ve been trying to set up Apache servers on a couple of local linux boxes to practice the CMS thing. It is not coming easy, yet. Concrete5 is rather clumsy, so I’m not live with that. I might pull in an e-commerce plug-in for training. So much continuing education, by the time we “know”, things change. Just working with my own WP site, the UX seems rather clunky, limiting. I will try to get a store front working. Today, the weather sucks. I’ll try to redirect one of my domains to one of my local stacks to try and experiment. The client is anxious, in too big a hurry. Complex store fronts are a collaborative process. That’s why the “real” shops charge thousands for a site. My thrust will be to manage expectations via information. People are sensitive and easily discouraged by, what seems to be, an insurmountable amount of ever changing “knowledge”. Me? I’m just trying get one hobby to pay for another, while trying to help others without hurting them.
Q: Will WP coexist with Concrete5 in a shared server domain?
thx, gdp


#7

Thanks, realdreams. Your opinion is appreciated.
gdp


#8

I’ve been trying to set up Apache servers on a couple of local linux boxes to practice the CMS thing. It is not coming easy, yet

I’ve been doing the same with DreamCompute, just trash the instance when done and start over. For a penny per hour, $6 max per month for an instance, it’s a huge convenience. My alternative has usually been to fire up a Linux VM on my Windows box and then deal with local resource issues.

Concrete5 is rather clumsy

Ergo my evolution to WP. :slight_smile:

So much continuing education, by the time we “know”, things change.

With everything these days.

The client is anxious, in too big a hurry. Complex store fronts are a collaborative process. That’s why the “real” shops charge thousands for a site. My thrust will be to manage expectations via information.

This is where we as “consultants” really need to ensure our clients value our input. Otherwise we’re just grunts for hire. My hourly rate is $100/hour because I’m not just providing grunt programming for whatever the client thinks/says they want, and I don’t want to fall into that category of “oh, do you do websites?”. I’m guiding their usage of technology as an assistant/surrogate for a CTO or CIO, and coding is implementation of the plan. There’s a huge difference there in perceptions.

This is also the point where, rather than them hiring you as the developer, when this isn’t quite what you do, they can pay you to be their IT manager for these purposes, and you can commission developers to do what’s required. That takes the burden off of you to get deep into syntax - which at my/our age I’m tired of chasing syntax, just want to deliver good business solutions.

I know the client just wants a website and might choke at this idea of sub-contracting, but again, the bottom line is that they’re asking you for Solutions, not code … you’ve taken it upon yourself to get into the code (and Concrete5 nuances, etc). Consider an alternative approach to serving your clients.

People are sensitive and easily discouraged by, what seems to be, an insurmountable amount of ever changing “knowledge”. Me? I’m just trying get one hobby to pay for another, while trying to help others without hurting them.

Same here: My goal is to get enough advertising/sponsorship revenue from one project to pay for the DreamCompute servers that support my other hobby projects. :slight_smile: I just don’t want financial pain on top of the pain you describe with having to learn and experiment with all of this stuff.

Will WP coexist with Concrete5 in a shared server domain?

Absolutely - my single shared account has all kinds of software, including C5, WP, Mantis, Drupal, and a bunch of other FOSS. We can create sub-domains and domains that point to different web root folders, completely independent from one another. I have had something like 20+ of these until recently. Of course shared resources are limited, and as seen in my posts over the last several months, I’ve felt the pain of going overboard, which has led me to DreamCompute, OpenStack, etc.


#9

Thanks, Cap! Your a big help to a isolated tech. I ran, screaming, hair on fire, from the real world, 20 years ago. Now, feeling better, we live in a county of 8K, devoid of technical expertise. I’m the only certified tech here. South of here, cross state lines, where I’m a student, is a town of 12K. There is opportunity for a freelancer to compete with the 2 shops charging thousands for sites, holding domains hostage when they can. Simple sites for small shops with country owners.

I’ve just loaded “ZenCart” into my server. WP wants $25/mth to do plug-ins like “woocommerce”.
I could write a responsive site and link to a payment system with Dreamweaver, using Ai and Ps for content. The hard part is the client’s desire to load content. Some may find it difficult to learn, even canned CMS. It is not intuitive. In metro areas, across the digital divide from here, the terminology is common. Here it is foreign. My fee is $25/hr, even though I graduated summa cum laude with a graphics design degree. No one pays full price, everyone wants to talk too long, and billable hours are hard to decipher. I feel guilty for charging my neighbors, friends, the elderly, relatives, or the poor. That describes most of the county.
Still, this digital fool will keep trying.
thx, gdp


#10

I went through ZenCart some years ago as well. After a while I realized that I had a whole site dedicated to that application but that I would need another site and tools for other applications - which for me that included offering support, forum, blog, etc. WP evolved years ago from being a blog to a full CMS, and after going through Drupal, ModX and C5 along the way, I decided to stick with WP. YMMV - you probably don’t need anything more than to support shopping cart apps.

WooCommerce is free. There is no “WP” organization that can charge for it. That said, as with most plugins available for all of these CMS, there are services and add-ons which you can choose to use which have fees attached. Last year Woo kinda ticked off the world by raising their rates for some services that a lot of people depend on. See this article. In addition to Woo there are other product/cart packages, as seen in that article. (BTW, for anyone who advances with WP, that article is posted at WPMU DEV, to which I am now a really happy subscriber.)

The hard part is the client’s desire to load content.

It’s funny you should say that. I don’t do this website thing for a living but have done so for free and for fee a few times, just cuz. The hardest problem I have is that people expect a website to somehow magically appear without content. They don’t want to provide any info for an About page, no pictures, no news, nothin. I set up a site last year for a lady selling jewelry, she wanted to avoid one of those shops you mention that charge a lot and do very little, and she wanted to setup her own products. In a year she hasn’t logged in once to create a WooCommerce product or upload product images. People must be educated to understand that a website requires content - you as the developer can’t provide that. A CMS facilitates all of this, so the best thing you can do is to create a user for them and guide them through the process of creating their own content, somewhere between front-end and back-end, without giving them the ability to destroy the site.

As to the grief that everyone wants stuff for cheap - as long as you’re doing things locally, consider some sort of barter system. Heck you could even host a site for it. (That just gave me a ton of ideas for which I have no time.) Like maybe the guy at the pawn shop will give you a trinket or discount, or some relative might get you a Pandora account, or a neighbor will let you pick their tomatoes, or someone can get their grandson to shovel your snow. People are generally liberal with whatever they have to give, but cash is always hard to give up.

HTH


#11

Hey Cap,
Yes, that what occurs. We got a GPS for hacking a password. I just got a Pixma for helping set up a new printer (I probably would have had to haul it off, anyway). I got an iPad Mini for rewiring a Ford 8n Tractor. I can do that, too. Easy peasy.
I’ll present the options to the client. He’ll be disappointed, no matter what. Then, I’ll go fly. After that, 1st day back to class.
Thanks for all your help. I will have to finish my PHP course and learn to manipulate the CSS. Doing a community site in March. Probably, volunteering for a campaign later.
Thanks,
gdp


#12

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