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I have an awesome URL, I've had it since the mid 90's, and up until around 2002 I was having an awesome time writing music reviews and features into static pages and adding their URL to static index pages and everything was just great.

Then things got complicated really fast, and for one reason or another I handed the site over to a very talented friend who turned it into a db based site run by cf.

Now, here I am around twelve years later putting it all back together using mysql, php and css on a need-to-learn basis and even though I'm sooo close to where I want it to be I realize, erm, it should have been written using mysqli etc etc ad infinitum.

So I'm wondering at what point do I just give in and hire a developer to take over, how much does it even cost, and how do I know I'm working with someone who is better than I am?

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how much it costs depends on where you live. you can't know you are hiring better then you (maybe references?) –  BЈовић Nov 30 '12 at 7:06
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Just use Rails and do it yourself.. –  David Cowden Nov 30 '12 at 7:11
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closed as not constructive by BЈовић, Caleb, gnat, Tim Post, ChrisF Nov 30 '12 at 11:19

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5 Answers

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When to give it to a professional

To be honest, every average chimpanzee can produce a web application that gives you 70 - 80% of the required functionalities. It is the remaining 20 to 30% that is hard to develop. When you arrive at 70% and feel stuck, it is time to get help. If you already have this feel, find a professional and ask his/her help.

How much would it cost

If you just hire a lone programmer and ask him to help you structuring the application and writing some code (that is: you will keep on writing code and administering the server) you can expect to spend just few thousands of US$ globally (most likely in a few months). If you give the responsability to design, code and style a new web site to a team of professional, you can expect to spend few tens of thousands dollars. Keep in mind that, in this second case, you will get a graphic designer that will take care of the site style and a few other professionals that will give you much more than just code.

How long it would take

Not less than 2 or 3 months, in any case. Most likely 6 - 8 months if you work with a single programmer. Most likely 4 - 8 months if you hire a team of professionals (what it is usually called a "web agency" in Italy and a "web software house" in other countries).

Best way to run alone or with a programming partner

Please, take into account Ruby-on-Rails and Refinery CMS. Take them into account even if they would require you to start from scratch. It is easier to create from scratch a document-oriented web site (like yours) with a Ruby-based CMS like Refinery or Radiant than "improving" any existing home-grown, PHP based one. Have a look here for a choice of Ruby CMSs: https://www.ruby-toolbox.com/categories/content_management_systems . If possible, do not write code. Just configure and tweak an existing CMS. Refinery is fantastic for this ( http://refinerycms.com/ ).

Please, stay away from "naked" PHP, MySQL and LAMPS platforms. Do not try to home-grew your web site in this way. There are much better (open source, free) solutions on the market nowadays. Stay away from Java if you work alone or with a single programming partner. Java (Spring, Wicket, Tapestry, etc.) can be heavy to manage, in particular for what regards the server administration and the application deployment. Java is mainly intended to be used and managed by a small-medium size team of professionals.

Best way to go with a team

Just tell them what you want (not how you want it done) and wait.

Bets way to choose a partner programmer

Please, look for a seasoned web application programmer. Look for someone who already build at least 4 or 5 web applications in the last 4 or 5 years using the best tools on the market (Ruby-on-Rails, Django, Pylons, etc.). Look for someone who can demostrate you he/she still read books and magazines and he/she still lives on the web, reading articles and partecipating in forums. You need an intelligent, well-informed, web-addicted guy, anything else. Look for someone who speak his mind and can demonstrate he/she can suggest you the best road to follow. Writing code is quite easy nowadays. The hard part is deciding which code to write.

Stay away from people who use old-school tools (like Perl, naked PHP, old LAMP solutions and the like) or who use their own, home-grown tools. You need a modern, standard, elegant tool that other programmers can maintain for you in the near future.

Best way to choose a team

Look for a small, web-oriented software house that already did something similar to what you want to get. Look for a team of 3 to 5 people including at least:

  1. One proven, good programmer (Ruby, if you will follow my suggestion)
  2. A graphical designer (someone with your same aesthetical sense)
  3. A good UI specialist (HTML, Javascript, CSS)
  4. A good project manager. Someone with good manners and a clear vision.

Best way to choose a partner programmer

Look for someone on the Net and talk with him/her. Ask to see his/her portfolio. Ask for his/her opinions and suggestions. You will quickly understand who is the guy for you. Unfortunately, in this case you have to look for someone who can physically work with you. It must be a guy who can reach your office every morning in some way.

Better a team or a single programming partner?

A team. Working with modern, best-of-the-breed tools would probably require you to start learning almost from scratch. You would be better entrust a small team with the task to develop your site.

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You should probably hire one now.

Its a site you've had for a while, so you're obviously committed to it. You're trying to do it yourself, but it sounds like you're overwhelmed. Get someone to set it up for you the way you want it set up so that you can focus on improving the site content & advertising (if you do that).

My recommendation would be to have a professional look over your site, and perhaps recommend & install one of the many Content Management Systems (CMS). This would let you add/remove pages & features without programming (though the option would still exist to customize the code as well). This way once set up, you wont need continual programming resources to do simple things like adding a review.

As for rates and such, thats really a regional thing. But in general you get what you pay for. Look around at local sites and if you find one you like, often there's a link to the developer/developing company at the bottom of the page.

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I've never met a client who could afford a developer after referring to the decision to hire one as to "bite the bullet".

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Depends how much your own knowledge is worth to you. You can learn this all yourself. It will cost you time but it will save you developer costs. Which about breaks it even, plus-minus how much your time is worth.

The added value is the knowledge you gain. You can use it for other things, it can very well start earning you money. But if you have a solid, good job that pays well, and no interest in programming, that knowledge will be useless in the long run.

Or you can hire a smart freelancer part-time as a co-programmer, a guide and someone to teach you all you need as you both write it together. (just make sure to make these terms and goals clear from moment one. I can tell for sure a guy hired to write a webpage will quit the moment he discovers he actually signed up for a teaching gig.)

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Look into Wordpress, it's very easy to setup and manage, if you need something more complicated than that and your struggling to do things yourself you should look into the services of a qualified developer.

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