After many discussions with clients, friends and strangers I've decided to try and shed some light on "Why does it take my web developer ages to do simple stuff?".
The web is a simple yet complex place and although there are millions of pre-built themes, plugins, libraries and extensions out there to help make our job easier, sometimes they end up making our job harder. Whenever you hear someone say "Oh, you just have to install a plugin, it takes 5 minutes" please slap them because this is only an ideal scenario! It's basically the equivalent of losing your car keys, having no idea where they are and then they are in the first place you look. Sometimes you can find them in the first 30 seconds, but normally you'll spend ages walking around the house, yelling at everyone until you find them in one of their "usual" spots. So why do things take so long? Well we're going to look at 3 cases over the next week. Anything to do with servers, anything to do with code and the human affect also known as "I didn't do anything and now it doesn't work".
How you know it's an issue with the server? You'll call us and say: MY WEBSITE WON'T LOAD! Other things you might say include:
These are not always server-related issues but are some recent problems we've run into, easy enough to understand, so why does it take so long to fix? This one is relatively easy to explain. In regards to servers, there are broadly 2 types that are used and these are Windows Servers and Linux Servers. Both really have the same reason why they take so long to fix, setup or troubleshoot when anything goes wrong. And that is there are a gajillion settings and combinations! For example you have to set certain settings on servers to have security but some of these security settings block functionality such as a Contact Form submission. So if we know this, why does it take so long? Well... this setting alone could be in 1,000 places and need 2 settings changed to get the desired result which could take 8 hours to find, test, secure and then make sure it works on all browsers (I'll talk about Browsers later). A lot of these little functionality issues normally happen when you launch a website and have to move the development site from one server to another. Basically, we pray that the server and required settings have been set up correctly every time we move websites from one server to another. And just because the server is setup by a professional hosting company does not mean it is setup correctly, we're all human :) There are many other issues which do seem quite simple to fix but your web developer will tend to estimate higher because more often than not, the issue takes longer. From a business perspective, it's hard for anyone to quote on how long things will take in many cases because we may say an hour and then take 10 hours to fix the problem. And as you can understand, if this happens time and time again, it becomes unsustainable for our business. Consider a hair dresser that was paid $30 per hair cut that took an hour and she suddenly had troubles and every hair cut took 10 hours...you can see the issue. Now we won't kid ourselves - there are a lot of server problems which are common and easy to fix. But (and listen carefully now!), spare a thought next time your IT or web guy tells you it took 10 hours to fix. With all the complexities of the web, networks, server and their settings, it's no wonder a problem can take some time to find, then fix, test and deploy. The other thing to remember is that as web developers, fixing server issues is by far the worst part of our job! I certainly don't enjoy trawling through thousands of lines of error log files then thousands of lines of configuration files trying to find the problem - so you have my word when I say - we get this done as quickly as possible! Even dishonest companies rarely overcharge in this area. I hope this has given you some useful insights into server issues and why they can take time to fix. In the next two blog entries, I'll be discussing coding and the human affect (also known as "I didn't do or change anything and now it doesn't work"). If you want any more information on web and software development or even just want to tell us you hate Internet Explorer as much as us, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with us through our trusty contact form