To show you just what can be done cheaply and easily I wanted to show you the latest site we have developed for a client that is just going through its last tweaking stage: Foto-Baja_Mex.com. Owned by Byrle Moore, the site is used to sell his photography of off-road racing that takes place in Baja, Mexico. It combines a blog so he can write about the events, with a gallery of event photography and a shopping cart system for people to purchase either downloads or prints.
As is a common story, attempts to self create a site led to a longish period with a working site, but one that did not do all that the owner wanted or needed. So the decision was made to get it done by someone else. In doing the site we took as long as Bryle needed, building the site under another domain name so he could test it and get familiar with the ways of adding images, etc. This left the existing site undisturbed for as long as possible. Training took some time and most of this was done with the test site. We then moved the site over to the proper domain so that, within an hour, the site changed from the old to the new. We then added features and made final adjustments until it covered all of Byrle’s present needs.
The result is a site that is flexible and can grow to a massive size as events are shot. By using open source software for the blog and gallery we were able to develop the backroom side of the site quickly and with the backup of all the developers supporting these programs, multiplying his support staff effectively by thousands.
This illustrates a good way to do a site development: use a spare domain name, develop the site which allows the client to interact with and fully test the site while the existing site continues. I would recommend this approach to anyone doing a major site redevelopment.