19 January 2022

I spent 35 years in the IT industry much of it as a software consultant. I worked for Microsoft and IBM and used a number of different products to build websites. A great deal has not changed – web pages are still built with HTML and the look and feel is controlled through Cascading Stylesheets (CSS). To do anything fancy you had to know JavaScript.

But I learnt about the other technology around websites including Domain Names Services, SSL certificates, caching as well as deployment, backups and support.

That gives me a huge advantage with platforms used today like WordPress. While a lot of the technology is deliberately hidden from the website administrator it is very useful to know how to do some customisations using HTML snippets, CSS and JavaScript. It also means I am fairly comfortable with moving domains and adding SSL certificates. While many hosting companies try to make this easy, inevitably things don’t always go as planned. So my background knowledge comes in useful.

Building Trust

I built a successful career as a software consultant and attribute that success to being open and honest with clients. If something is easy to do (and it often is) I say so. If you are unfamiliar with the technology then you just don’t know what is hard and what is easy so I always try to make that clear. It is an approach that builds trust. When I do get asked for a something that is difficult to I am able to explain why and discuss alternatives.

Learning To Say No

I belong to a number of Facebook groups and occasionally see new developers asking how to do something for a client that is considered really bad practice. It invokes a flood or responses from more experienced developers saying that its a terrible idea and the original poster should explain to the client why it is a bad idea. The approach of “give the client whatever they ask for” is fundamentally unsound. As a developer you are being hired for your expertise and it would be a dis-service to the client to do something that you know is a bad idea. Over the years, I have learnt to say no on those rare occasions this comes up. I explain carefully why this is so and discuss alternatives. If we cannot find a compromise I politely tell the client to hire another developer because I just won’t do it. I am proud of every website I build and I never want to be in a position where I have to apologise for something I built.

Looking Forward

Most people I speak to about building websites focus on the final product. I like to remind clients about “the cost of ownership”. There are annual charges for the hosting services, for the domain name, the SSL certificate and any paid-for plugins. I insist clients own these subscriptions because if anything were to happen to me the client owns the website and can hire someone else to help out.

There will inevitably be changes to the website as your business evolves. I want my clients to be self-sufficient so they can make changes to the website easily without me having to be involved. For example changes to text, adding new products or posts , creating new pages. Images are more difficult as they need to be optimised for the web page so I normally offer to do this for a small annual support charge. This also covers a monthly health check so I can ensure the plugins are up to date.


If you need some consultancy or advice on building a website please feel free to contact me. Don’t be concerned over cost – I will let you know when we reach the point where I need to start charging. I just want to be sure you make the right decisions to begin with.