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I read this post which would answer part of my question: How to setup client ownership of domain name and hosting

In that question, the asker wanted to know how to make sure ownership of the domain/hosting is handed off to the client so that person wouldn't have to manage it indefinitely. I have a similar question:

I mostly work for organizations having at least one or two IT departments of their own. Oftentimes, they have their own servers. However, not all clients have their own infrastructure. For instance, let's picture the following client:

  1. The client is a very small business or non-profit organisation, or is a standalone person
  2. The client is non-technical
  3. The client has no server infrastructure.

In this case, if you create a Drupal/Wordpress/etc site using a panel, it will be fully managed after server downtime or hardware failure. It will just restart and work. The backups are taken care of by the hosting provider.

But what if, lets say, you'd rather use Django or Play Framework? This requires more complex tooling. For instance, I'll need the following items:

  1. Console access, with sufficient privileges to set up the server.
  2. I'll need to take care of inittab setup, so the application restarts in case of trouble. I'll need to be root.

Questions:

When using something like Django or the Play Framework, will using something like inittab be enough to allow me to disengage from the client and not have to maintain the system? If I want to disengage, must I use a major panel created CMS or will the above plan work?

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    What do you mean by "Panel"? Are you referring to something like cPanel? Also, what do you mean by "get rid of the client": refusing the work or to deliver the code as you would normally do such? – Chris Forrence Aug 21 '14 at 15:44
  • Like cpanel yes. no I mean, I deliver what was agreed. I set up the platform, If bug there is I correct it. But otherwise, contract is over. I'm neither a sysadmin nor a support team! – user2346536 Aug 21 '14 at 15:57
  • Not trying to sounds harsh, but you don't sound like the right person for the job. A non tech person is going to have a hell of a time with a simple wordpress site. Hell, non tech people have a hard time logging into Facebook. You'll either need to support the client after (and charge for it) or decline the work. – Paul Dessert Aug 22 '14 at 6:12
  • @PaulDessert A while ago, the guy made his own site himself with HTML and CSS on a notepad reading "for dummy", I'm pretty sure he would be fine with WordPress. Though I found my answer. A fully managed plateform that is django friendly: djangofriendly.com/hosts . English is not my mother tongue, so maybe I misused the word Client. I differentiate Client (providing specifications) from Customer. I work for companies where platform are managed, the guy asked me if I could CMS-ify his site. I do not even plan to make him pay for that. I just do no want to have his site on my VPS. – user2346536 Aug 22 '14 at 7:23
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    @jmort253 thanks, I understand my own question better now! English is not my mother tongue so sometimes it is a bit hard to be sound. – user2346536 Sep 9 '14 at 7:23
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If you're trying to set this thing up without having to do further support, then you need to skip the VPS route entirely and find a service provider that directly supports the CMS you're going to use. Specifically, a provider that allows you to provide only your email and a payment, and POOF, there's a blank version of the CMS for you to modify. You specified that you'd need root access, but sometimes you can work with an online file manager instead. The online file manager is a better option for handing-off the work product to the client because you'll burn a lot of time trying to train your client how to use the command line.

Make sure the CMS that you choose is well documented, even if it's not the "best" one in your opinion. As a matter of fact, you can have a copy of the manual printed and bound and SEND IT to the client. This way, when the client calls asking stupid questions, you can respond with some nice version of "RTFM"!!! (I'll let you Google this term. It is powerful.)

How you hand-off your work is just as important as the work itself. I'm seeing that you feel you need closure with this client, and to accomplish that, you need to specifically make an appointment with the client to discuss what you will do after finishing the work and what you won't.

I'm even sensing that maybe you've been burned before by clients who keep coming back forever and ask for little changes without offering to pay for them, and maybe it's put you in a bad situation. You can defeat this by writing better contracts. In order to write better contracts, you need to READ a lot of contracts to see what can be done and what cannot. You may say, while reading this, "But I'm not an attorney. And reading a bunch of contracts doesn't earn me any money." The first part is true -- you're not an attorney. But the second part is vital for conducting business, no matter what kind of work you do. The more you know about possibilities, the better you can adapt.

Best regards!

P.S. Little details such as described above always need to be written.

  • fair enough for me. DjangoEurope has a django installer, but i'd still need to use console for some setup. Even so it would work on its own after setup. Whatever CMS i'll choose, I'll only have to override a few templates and I'll be done, so maybe I should just choose wordpress. I'll probably not charge the guy (who is an acquaintance) for such little work. Hopefully it will prevent maintenance. – user2346536 Aug 25 '14 at 20:02
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Generally speaking, looking at how other large organizations that provide products that can be self-installed (e.g. Automattic provides WordPress self-hoster; although it's open source and not a paid product, the idea behind it is still the same):

  1. Provide the product in a working state on the server. Once both you and the client agree that it's in a working state the initial contract is over. Make sure you clearly state this in there.

  2. If support is needed after the initial deployment, e.g. the customer is unable to install plugins on his own, or needs small changes to the template, or wants to move the product completely to a different server, etc; work by the hour. Either extend the initial contract to state your hourly rate for after-deployment support or sign a new contract as needed for the support part only. In all cases, make sure you are paid your worth.

Also, going the above route you have somewhat discarded the possibility for scope creep and endless comebacks from the client for small (unpaid) changes. Also, you may easily discard support requests in case you are busy with another client, although I wouldn't recommend this practice, because it can get you bad reputation.

Once you deploy the product, your job is done and you are paid it is not your problem to manage the client's infrastructure and maintain it. You are not his IT guy or IT department. You are not paid for this.

  • Thanks, I can't upvote because I'm new. Although the question was mostly about: "Is there any host which would actually allow me to say 'the initial contract is over.' if I do not use wordpress but django/play framework ?" I ended up with a yes after some research but such providers are very few... – user2346536 Sep 11 '14 at 20:29
  • @user2346536 Actually most web hosting companies provide advanced support (paid) such as small modifications to scripts and custom development (beyond just managing the server architecture). So you can direct your client to those companies. – Dzhuneyt Sep 12 '14 at 12:43
  • Ok . Good point. Though support included is better! – user2346536 Sep 12 '14 at 12:54

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