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Web Development Thread, Digging us out of a hole that our web developer has put us in in Coding and Web Development; ...
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    AngryTechnician's Avatar
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    Digging us out of a hole that our web developer has put us in

    We just had a new Joomla-based public facing website designed by an external company, and frankly, I'm not happy about it.

    The entire project was managed by our marketing department, which didn't particular bother me as I saw it as a waste of money and wanted to stay out of it. However, I've since had to get involved at a late stage because the external company that has put the site together for us has been pretty atrocious.

    The project was delivered 6 months late and incomplete, and ever since then they have been dragging their heels on fixing anything because we have declined to sign a £4,000 pa service agreement. We have, unfortunately, paid them for the work they've done so far (which does not meet the spec they were given).

    So here's the situation we are in: the site is a mess of about 200 extensions (is that normal for Joomla??), is difficult to update the content, and given my relative inexperience with Joomla, is giving me the heebie jeebies whenever I think about having to apply security updates underneath the melange of custom code they've written (which I don't have much confidence in). I don't want to throw good money after bad by giving the muppets who built the site a contract to ignore us like they have done for the last year. Is there anyone out there I can turn to at this stage who could take over maintenance of the site and dig us out of the plague-infested hole we've been thrown into?

    Alternatively, what would you do about it (apart from hand your notice in)?

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    X-13's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AngryTechnician View Post
    Alternatively, what would you do about it (apart from hand your notice in)?
    Personally, I'd get on to legal [LEA legal department or in-house if you have one] and get them to give some advice on where you stand legally. [A letter from legal may make them pull their fingers out and get it sorted.]

    If they ignore any requests to get it up to spec or fix problems, as for a refund.

    Depending on what they say, talk to trading standards. If they didn't do what they were paid to do, and refuse to fix it, then you should be able to get a refund. [Maybe only a partial refund. But it's better than nothing.]


    Then I'd start looking at another company. Or possibly try to find some decent looking templates I can use, so there's a decent[ish] website available.


    Did you get any documentation for the site or something saying what the extensions are for? [If not, request it.]

    And is the code commented? This custom code is all well and good... But, you need to know what it does.

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    hardtailstar's Avatar
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    Stay away from Joomla, Our school site is currently made in Joomla, I have constant issues with it and its a terrible thing to update/maintain.

    The site was made by a husband of a teacher years before I joined the school. I want to move away asap!!

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    british_government's Avatar
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    I designed our school site in Joomla, and if properly made it is brilliant. Once the site was setup no development is needed and in fact now managed by a member of admin still with limited computer knowledge. Pretty much sounds like it hasn't been created very well OR just that there has been no handover process. I would stick with Joomla, you can pretty much do anything you want with it, and the support and extensions are available is near endless.

    If you have any specific questions or issues feel free to drop me a PM and I will try my best to help out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AngryTechnician View Post
    the site is a mess of about 200 extensions (is that normal for Joomla??)
    When you say extensions, do you mean modules or plugins?
    However, to me that seems a little excessive, are they using lots of plugins to do things and using lots of modules to display content. Personally I use about 20 plugins and 10 modules to create my sites, I can't see why 200 is necessary. Or tons of custom code (which I am taking a wild guess isn't documented overly well?).

    I kinda think you have three options. Firstly, get legal advice and see if you can get them to sort it out, secondly try and get another web design company to sort it out (but to be honest I am not sure if this feasible, a messed up joomla system is not going to be easy to sort out and companies might not take it on), thirdly the marketing department have to learn a lesson about awarding and managing projects and start over.

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    AngryTechnician's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sparkeh View Post
    When you say extensions, do you mean modules or plugins?
    There are nearly 200 modules. Just looked and there are about 100 plugins listed too. We don't have any documentation for the custom code and so far I've had no luck finding where the source files are to see if they are commented. @british_government has hit the nail on the head: it hasn't been well put together AND we've had little to no handover.

    Legal isn't off the cards but marketing are not keen to go down that route as they think both the site and our relationship with the company can be rescued. I'm not so sure, which is why I'm here. It's fair to say that our project manager has to share some of the blame for not keeping on top of the external developers, but the person in marketing who is now picking up the pieces is not the same person who started us down this road 6 months ago (staff change was unrelated to this project, FYI).

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    What does the contract hold regarding specific requirements?

    i.e Website should do X, Y, Z, be of certain quality, etc

    Where have they not met those requirement? Has anyone at $school waived those by going "that's fine" in an email or other written communication?

    The downside to engaging the legal option (if you can legitimately do so) means they'll either a) fix stuff quickly or b) bunker down and only communicate through their solicitors.

    Also, kick yourself up the bum for leaving the marketing dept to their own devices, Simon Travaglia would be ashamed of you.
    Last edited by pete; 13th September 2012 at 12:39 PM.

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    200 plugins sounds like... a lot

    What are some of the plugin names? Will help to know if they're standard ones available from the community or custom code hacks that will need specific support from whoever wrote them

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    AngryTechnician's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pete View Post
    What does the contract hold regarding specific requirements?
    Very little. Turns out the previous project manager wrote a really vague spec and it was never signed off.

    Quote Originally Posted by pete View Post
    Also, kick yourself up the bum for leaving the marketing dept to their own devices, Simon Travaglia would be ashamed of you.
    Yes, I know. This happened because I was clear form the beginning I thought the project was a waste of time and money, especially if it was MY time and money. So the money was given to marketing and I let them get on with it. I'm not entirely surprised its gone pear-shaped, but like most people here I am already far too busy with my own work to be worrying all the time about what other people are doing. However, sooner or later SMT are going to try and shove this my way so I'm trying to pre-empt that by having some options lined up that don't involve me telling them where to stick it, since I have become somewhat fond of being paid every month.

    Quote Originally Posted by gshaw View Post
    200 plugins sounds like... a lot

    What are some of the plugin names? Will help to know if they're standard ones available from the community or custom code hacks that will need specific support from whoever wrote them
    I'm trying to avoid too many specifics at this stage as sooner or later I suspect the company involved will recognise themselves, and it will turn into a name-and-shame competition on both sides. As entertaining as that would be, I could do without any more drama at the moment.
    Last edited by AngryTechnician; 14th September 2012 at 08:50 AM.

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    witch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AngryTechnician View Post
    I'm trying to avoid too many specifics at this stage as sooner or later I suspect the company involved will recognise themselves, and it will turn into a name-and-shame competition on both sides. As entertaining as that would be, I could do without any more drama at the moment.
    You could pm the people who can help though - as you said, - the more info you are armed with the better.

    What happens when @AngryTechnician, whose default mood is obvious, gets cross???

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    X-13's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by witch View Post
    What happens when @AngryTechnician, whose default mood is obvious, gets cross???
    That's the last sign of the Apocolypse.

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    For a start, do you know what version of Joomla it has been built on? In terms of updating, so long as they have done it properly and not messed with the core files (that's a big but) you can update it normally. Their modifications should be outside of the core of Joomla, so when updating you only over-write the install. The issue may come if they built it in Joomla 1.5 - to update it, you can use JUpgrade which is truly awesome, but this may brick any incompatible modules or extensions and may well break your site template (which is easy to fix). Once you're on Joomla 2.5, all available updating is via a GUI!

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    Doesn't sound like the company actually know what they're doing.

    I would scrap the whole lot and put something together with wordpress. That's what we did. The whole thing looks much better and it's much easier to work with.

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    Quote Originally Posted by witch View Post
    You could pm the people who can help though - as you said, - the more info you are armed with the better.

    What happens when @AngryTechnician, whose default mood is obvious, gets cross???
    Tesco runs out of Babycham and there's strange police reports of noises in the woods.

  15. #15

    AngryTechnician's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3s-gtech View Post
    For a start, do you know what version of Joomla it has been built on?
    2.5.6. If it had been anything less I'd have a proper strop on by now.

    Quote Originally Posted by crutchfieldj View Post
    I would scrap the whole lot and put something together with wordpress. That's what we did. The whole thing looks much better and it's much easier to work with.
    Guess what I built our last website on 2 years ago?

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