01 May 2008

Although Collaborate and Drupal were the CMSes of choice for most Uppercase projects, we were firm believers that many sites were best served with static solutions. A Dreamweaver/Contribute site has low overhead ($100 for Contribute), low server requirements (only PHP support for a contact form), and a high level of usability for basic site maintenance.

The sites listed may no longer be using the infrastructure we put in place, but they give a flavor of the size of site that is well-served by this type of solution. The combination of a stock template design with a basic setup of Dreamweaver templates allowed us to quickly launch very low-cost mid-quality sites.

The business premise behind this approach is that you capture 80+% of the benefit of a full-fledged site with CMS, 80% of the benefit of a custom design, less than 10% of the risk created by having non-static pages, and only pay 10% of what those other things cost. Round up risk and price, and you wind up with another 80/20 rule for your books... Unless they have the ability to spend several thousand up front and $1,000+ every year to maintain and enhance a web site, this is still a strong direction to go.

2012 update - The environment has changed as the web continues to mature. Approached by one of these projects today, I would probably send them directly to Drupal Gardens or Google Sites, depending on case. I am still a fan of minimizing custom development and custom design for any small-budget project -- projects in the middle ground rarely end well because of the ramp-up associated with getting to where the stock solutions start. With high quality tools and highly customizable designs coming free with reasonably-priced hosting plans, the desktop application for managing the web site will likely become something that we talk about sentimentally over drinks. In that context, I wonder how new developers and designers can start small these days without having to dupe someone into a bad investment decision -- I am glad to be well past the tiny-project phase of my career!

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