I had the privilege of being interviewed for a large article published over the summer on the IT Business Net site. The article is by Edith Schindler and is entitled “Becoming Clueful: What You Should Know Before You Redo Your Web Site.”

This is a big one, but it’s something I recommend that all my clients read if we’re doing a web design makeover. It’s a discussion among designers and developers about what to ask, what to expect (and what not to expect), and what they wished clients understood about our business.

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I’ve been using my Dell Inspiron 9300 laptop as my main business machine since I started my company. It’s pretty good, pretty fast, but I’m now planning to move one of my other desktops to my office and use it as my primary machine.

It’s a Dell, about 2 years old, but was purchased as a game machine so it’s still much faster than the laptop. However, it’s got an enormous old-style 19″ monitor. Huge. Looks like an old TV. I’ve been dreading carting that thing up the stairs.

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We have a retail website, Silver Fantasy, that’s been around since 1998. It’s well-ranked for its top search terms in the major search engines, has a good client base and has been very successful for us.

The problem was that it was a static site – with over 1,000 items. Keeping track of prices, out-of-stock and discontinued items was a huge pain in the neck. So this summer we rebuilt the site using a nice PHP and MySQL database.
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Well, my outsourcing experiment is over – here’s how it went down.

I chose one of the programmers (I got five bids of $12-20) because he/she had four good reviews, but they never responded. So I chose the second respondent and he got back to me in about a half hour.

We talked twice via email – he was fast, his code is clean and it works. That’s all I needed, and it was well worth the negligible amount of cash I had to spend. I’ll definitely consider doing this again the next time I get stuck with a programming task I can’t figure out quickly.

…that might sound silly for a small company like mine, but yesterday I spent two hours trying to figure out why external Javascripts aren’t working in IE6 but are working fine in FF and Opera.  I even went to Barnes & Noble and bought ‘Learn Javascript in 24 Hours,’ which I think will be a smart move in any event, but I just don’t have 24 hours to read it today, oddly enough…
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I’ve used OptionCart for a number of websites in the last 14 months. It’s an administrative front-end for Mal’s E-commerce, a cart provider I’ve used since 1998 for my retail website.

OptionCart is inexpensive, works quite well and as open source software has a LOT of potential for customization (all written in PHP using a MySQL database).

But what really sets them apart is their outstanding tech support. Susan and Sherri have sent me many lines of custom code to accomplish some pretty demanding requests from clients… They are always exceptionally helpful, timely and polite and go way beyond the call of duty.  No other company I’ve dealt with as a web designer even comes close.

If you’re a user of Mal’s cart system (which I also highly recommend) and need more functionality for your clients, really consider checking out OptionCart. They offer a reseller program for web designers and developers too.