I just got off the phone from another person who is not happy with their new website. Now, before I go any further, no, this is not a website I had any involvement with! It was another “can you clean up the mess” type enquiry, of which sadly I receive too many!

I’m amazed at the number of people who pay developers thousands of dollars for sites which have been done to death, such as job and car sites and I ask myself “why re-invent the wheel?”. To code a site such as this from scratch is a big task requiring a complex database structure and many hours of scripting and testing and many site owners just don’t have the expertise or time to communicate their entire requirement to the developer.

One of my main aims is to deliver cost effective solutions for my clientele so my first step when I receive an enquiry such as this, which will take many hours of my time to build from scratch, is to do some research online. So why do this? Well, it is highly likely that developers have already seen the potential of this market and developed PHP/MySQL scripts tailored to this sector/requirement.

There are a number of benefits of going this route which include:-

  • A highly cost effective solution, not requiring lots of developer hours.
  • Site is ready in a much faster timeframe.
  • If the script you find has been around for some time, the developer is likely to have built in a lot of functionality that you can access, including items that you’ve probably never even thought of.

When the phrase “PHP/MySQL script” is mentioned, many people salivate and rub their hands together with glee, dreaming of a possibly totally free website. Yes, there are many free offerings on the internet but I do not recommend them in this instance for the following reasons:-

  1. Support – free scripts are often little more than a hobby to the developer with little or no support and you can’t afford to be left with a non-functioning site. In any event it is highly unlikely that the developer will give any urgency to assisting you which is the last thing you need when your site is down!
  2. Updates – you know what the computer world is like. There’s always a new version around the corner and you need to know that your script will be updated where necessary to ensure compatibility with future versions of PHP/MySQL and browsers etc.

So what do you need to look for when looking at this avenue? Here’s a few tips to help:-

  1. When you find a possible solution, look at the features carefully and check out any demo sites where the script is running. Developers realise that potential customers need to see their script in action and will usually provide various demo links. If they do not, ask them for a client’s site to take a look.
  2. Look for evidence that the script is current, e.g. dates on the page, PHP and MySQL versions supported. This will help ascertain whether the developer is still supporting and updating their script.
  3. Be certain that the script will accommodate your needs. You may be asking for something unusual which their script will not accommodate.
  4. Check on what support is provided to script owners. Knowing for example that the vendor will help you for 6 months or a year if you have any problems without charging extra will give you peace of mind. Some development companies charge a high hourly rate which you can factor in.
  5. Do a Google search for any reviews of the script, looking to see what people had to say about it. If they have a support forum you can access, look there also¬†for evidence of good service and responsiveness. You don’t want to buy something if people are complaining about unanswered support emails etc.
  6. Test the vendor’s service by asking them a question and see whether you get a reply and if it is timely.

Good luck and I hope you find these tips helpful.

Tagged with:

Filed under: Website Development