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Several months ago I was approached by a small business, who had seen my work previously and asked me to create a website for them.

Since then, the website hasn't changed one bit and I haven't heard a word from them. This sucks for them as they paid for a website and haven't used it. It''s frustrating for me because I spent a huge amount of time on the website and feel that all of that effort has been wasted, furthermore, I don't feel I can use the website on my portfolio/ CV.

I was thinking of offering to go round to their office for one day, and update the website for them then and there; but I'd need their support whilst there (to get the content for the about page, to get information for on their products etc.) and I don't want to disrupt their work day, nor do I want to sit there like a spare tyre and get nowhere.

Furthermore, if I were to do this, should I expect to receive money for it? It's a day of my life, but I'm doing it for my benefit rather than theirs (but they benefit as well).

Has anyone else had experience of a client not using their product; how did you handle it?

Additional background for those who want it:

The company is a local travel agent, and the website lets them CRUD offers and locations, and has several other static pages (about, contact, etc.)

At the time of creating the website, I filled the static pages with lipsum, and the offers and locations with fake information, so that I could give the business an idea about what the final pages would look like; during the hand over, I guided them through the CRUD forms (they made notes) and said if they sent me the text for the pages, I'd update it.

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5 Answers

Call them and ask them why they aren't using your website. There might be any number of reasons: maybe they have been too busy, are going bankrupt or they really don't know what to do with it. There might have been a disconnect between what they expected you to do and what you thought they wanted done. Discuss it and new work from them might follow or else you might learn something so you can avoid the situation in the future.

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My advice is when you build a site. Make relevant screengrabs and add it to your portfolio and then move one and forget about the site. You can't go around checking up on every site you've built. It will only frustrate you. They are misusing classes so the layout isn't as it is supposed to be , the texts are old/stale/none informative. They are using text colors and different fonts than you intended.

There's a lot of things that might bother you. But once a customer has accepted your site and starts using it, well it's their responsibility.

What you did is good. If you have enough time and need some more income you can always offer your services to update and pull together the website again.

And be grateful for people messing up their website. If you did a good job in the first place you will be called upon again for the redesign ;)

Kind regards, Ryan

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I'd add that you should generate a dummy copy of the site's HTML and Code, so that you can show code samples and working HTML in job interviews. –  Graham Aug 30 '12 at 12:58
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Well, I agree with your idea that a good way to make them use your site is to somehow show-case the new site in action. I understand that you can't actually deploy it without their assistance, but maybe, if it's not a ton of work, you can set it up with some mock data? You can either do this on your laptop and pay them a visit to show them, or do it on a cloud service (like, borrow a cheap Amazon EC2 machine and set it up there). Also I'd make a point of making sure I can specifically showcase some of the specific demands they made, like if they said, we really want feature A, which we don't have currently, and the new site has feature A, make sure you show case it.

UPDATE:

Sorry, I missed the update on your question. Ok, you made a IPSUM running version of the site, but try mocking the text/data more realistically, you know, with stuff that speaks to a non-technical person.

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Any VPS or probably shared hosting would do as well; it doesn't have to be an EC2 instance. –  Eliot Ball Aug 30 '12 at 12:20
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You can use that website on your portfolio web site (if you have), display screen shots, or fill it with dummy data.

If they have paid you, you shouldn't give much of a concern. They should decide whether and when use it or not what they have paid for. You can ask them just to be polite and caring, but if there would be any problem from their part, they would definitely call you.

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From my experience of working in a small/medium company, one of the hardest parts of getting a website up and running is getting the content together. So much so that for some of the required contributors if the choice was being fired or producing some text they would have to think about it.

What you could try is offering to interview the various people who could contribute (set up appointments) and get make notes of what they think should be on each page. Then write the text yourself, this is more or less the process that I had to go through.

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