Posted April 1st, 2012 11:45 by Bob
Hosting, much like air and water, without it we would shrivel up and die, and like water going to the wrong supply will make you sick.
Actually the analogy above doesn’t really work because I want to talk about the responsibility of hosting rather than choosing a supplier. Hosting is one of those awkward requirements of the web industry that doesn’t get the attention it needs. It’s a necessity, without web-hosting we wouldn’t be able to put our websites online, every website has to be hosted somewhere. It’s an incredibly important aspect of our industry and if you are involved in the creation and deployment of web media, you should have a strategy in place to deal with it.
The problem is, it’s an area with a few potholes. Often a client will have absolutely no idea of what hosting is or why they need it. This is fine and understandable, I wouldn’t expect them to any more than a plumber would expect me to know what sort of valve connects my boiler to my water supply. We could just include the hosting costs along with any other build and support costs, but, I believe that a greater degree of transparency is required. With hosting (and certain other support requiring services) identification of responsibility must be clarified up front.
There are sometimes issues with hosting, sometimes minor problems, sometimes major outages. This is where you need to have identified clearly to your client what hosting is, where your responsibilities lie with regards their hosting and ensured that their expectations with regards level of service are reasonable. Without these concepts clearly agreed between you and the client, things have the opportunity to get pretty messy.
A nice simple solution is to set yourself up a reseller account with a hosting company, that way you can supply hosting neatly bundled up with your branding. All lovely if you have the resources to manage this properly. Depending on your supplier’s set up you may have to deal with every support request from your clients and in some cases handle assorted administration tasks as well. I’m uncomfortable working on this basis, with the best will in the world, no amount of small print T&Cs are going to convince an irate client that their hosting going down is outside of our control if their control panel comes with our branding.
Handing the responsibility for their hosting back to the client can be considered. Yes, there’s the positive that you won’t have to deal with support calls, it’s up to the client to sort out the billing and, worst case scenario if everything falls over it’s someone else’s problem. The cons far outweigh the pros. Primarily it’s just unprofessional, I like to think a client can come to us for a web solution and we can make the process as simple as feasibly possible for them. Sending them off to set up an account they may have not even been expecting to require is just going to make the process frustrating. There are some technically savvy clients out there but the majority are not (and nor should they need to be). Realistically you are going to either spend half your life detailing what sort of package they need to purchase, or trying to work with a hosting package that’s not quite fit for purpose. The issue I have run into most with this approach in the past is that hosting companies tend not to have the flexible billing practices of a freelancer or agency (for understandable reasons) and often a client will just forget to pay their hosting, at which point their website ceases to exist (worse still with domain names).
With Shinytastic, by default we organise the hosting for the client and try to be as transparent as possible. We make clear that our responsibility is to ensure the hosting account is paid up to date and continues to exist, but the responsibility for the servers themselves lie with the actual hosting company. We always tell the client who the hosting company is and give them a copy of any sign up emails, agreements, logins or anything relevant to their account for their own records. We do add a markup to any hosting we purchase to cover administration costs, but we make the client aware of this and will give them the costs of setting up the account directly themselves should they wish to. I believe we’ve only ever had one client opt to purchase the hosting themselves, most are happy to not have to deal with it.
We do give clients the option to choose their own hosting company if they prefer, although there are certain hosts (who I shall not name) who if the client wishes to use we will insist they purchase the account directly and indicate that they understand they are opting for a ‘cheap’ solution which may cause problems down the line. We have run into problems in the past when a client has opted for the cheapest hosting solution they can find, which has caused us substantial additional work.
The hosting company (EvoHosting) we use are set up such that we can purchase multiple hosting accounts under a single client account. This massively simplifies the management of multiple hosting accounts without resorting to a reseller account. This is also set up so that should a client decide to part company with us, we can quickly release their hosting account to another agency preventing them needing to set up new hosting to move away. We don’t hold accounts hostage and do not charge a release fee, the only stipulation we have is that a client must have all invoices up to date before we will release their account.
We use EvoHosting as our preferred hosting provider. As a full disclosure, I’m good friends with the directors of the company, but my decision to use them is based on the reliability and quality of their service.
Let me know your thoughts, how do you deal with hosting?
Posted March 30th, 2012 11:01 by Bob
Hello! We’re a small web design and technology studio based in the Thames Valley area with a wide range of interesting clients and projects. We’re currently expanding, so we’re looking for reliable freelance developers who love what they do!
You must be based in the Maidenhead/Reading/Slough/Wycombe area and have the following skills:
Preferred, but not required:
If this sounds like the right position for you, then drop us a line! firstname.lastname@example.org
We’re currently looking for freelancer developers, but we will be able to offer full-time employment to the right people in the future.
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Posted January 26th, 2012 18:22 by Bob
Excellent new prints just arrived in the post for the office wall. I found these lovely Star Wars/Day of the Dead illustrations by John Karpinsky on Etsy.
Looking for more artwork (we have a lot of wall space), there’s currently a selection of prints and posters by Tara McPherson, Jeph Jacques (Questionable Content) and The Oatmeal. Any suggestions on artists and illustrators that might brighten up our working day would be welcomed.
Posted September 4th, 2010 17:43 by Bob
A quick demo of using jQuery for parallax. This example just creates a nice visual effect but it could easily be converted for more constructive purposes but I’ll leave that up to you.
Parallax (for the sake of this post) is the effect whereby things at different distances move at different rates, for example looking out of a train window the closer items are the faster they move past you. This is as horribly simplified and inaccurate description but will suffice for the sake of this example.
I’ve used three transparent PNGs for this but you can use as many layers as you like or easily replace the PNGs with div tags containing whatever content you need.
This is very simple. The html you need is as follows:
See, told you it was simple. The div is the outer container into which the layers belong. Add the images in order of the bottom one (smallest) first. Job done.
The images (or layers) you use should each be a different size, the bigger the image the more movement. Each image must be at least as big as the viewer, if you set one side of it to be the same size as the viewer and another to be larger it will only move on that axis, which is a nice effect in itself. So if your image is the same height as the viewer but wider it will only move horizontally.
This may be stating the obvious, but I’ve used transparent pngs, you must be able to see the lower images through the upper ones. To create them I used a photoshop file with a group for each image. This meant I could check how they would look before I output them. You can view the three images here:
You can view the entire CSS file here. The important parts are as follows.
The background color can be whatever you fancy. Bear in mind that if all your layers are transparencies the background color will show through. Of course you could make the bottom layer fully colored, patterned or whatever you fancy. You could also give the #Parallax div a background image if you wanted.
The width and height are important, remember your images should all the same dimensions or bigger than this div. Overflow must be set to hidden to ensure that tags within this div will not cause it to change it’s size and will not poke out of the sides.
The relative position is required as we will be setting the tags within the div to absolute and we want them to be positioned relatively to this div, not to the document.
Each of the images within the div (or whatever you use for layers) must be set to use absolute positioning so that we can move them around with jQuery. I’ve set their initial positions to the top left corner but you can set them to wherever suits.
This uses jQuery for the heavy lifting. It could be converted into a handy little jQuery plugin but I wanted to keep it as simple as possible for the sake of the example, plus others have already done that.
What this does is whenever the mouse is moved over the viewer (#Parallax div) it calculates it’s position over the div (as percentages) then moves each of the inner images by that same percent of their overflow.
Firstly work out the xPos and yPos. To do this we subtract the viewers x and y offset from the x and y mouse position. This is because the mouse positions returned are relative to the document not to the viewer. The offset values give us the viewers position relative to the document.
Next, work out the horizontal and vertical position of the mouse pointer as a percentage (0 = the top of the viewer, 100 = the bottom).
Loop through each image, for each one work out the difference in width and height between the image and the viewer. The image’s new position for each axis is the percentage calculated earlier for that axis of the difference for that axis. So if the mouse is dead center on the viewer the horizontal position is 50% of the difference between the image width and the viewer width.
Finally, we create an object containing the new CSS settings and apply it via a very short animation which gives the effect a nice smooth finish. You can just jump to the new position but it looks a little too rough for my tastes.
Posted August 6th, 2010 14:08 by Bob
We just had a quick friday lunch to celebrate Tim’s birthday and had a look at Claires Court’s Sixth Form Art Gallery in Maidenhead town centre. Hugely impressed with the quality of work, the photography is especially outstanding. It’s work a look, check out the Claires Court website for details or just wander into Maidenhead town centre, it’s opposite Marks and Spencers.
Here’s a few shaky cameraphone pics…
Posted May 4th, 2009 19:14 by Bob
We’ve just rolled our the first version of the new file browser/selector for our in-house CMS (Content Management System) ShinyCMS.
The file browser makes it so much easier to browse and select images (and other files) when you are editing pages of your website through the CMS. Files can be viewed as thumbnails or as a list of filenames available, with additional information on each file available as a popup, image previews and filtering.
You can view a demo of the new browser here, do bear in mind this is a first release and as such we are still bug-fixing and making improvements. We’re just about to start planning version 2
Posted May 2nd, 2009 15:25 by Bob
Hello and welcome to the Shinyface blog. Wherin we shall be commenting on the state of the web industry, exploding myths and hopefully being informative and interesting all at the same time.
We’ll be posting up information on current Shinytastic projects where we can and giving a bit more in-depth information that we would on our official portfolio site.
As well as commentary on our own work we’ll be inviting our regular associates to comment and contribute with their own viewpoints on the industry covering design, PR, hosting and other aspects of this marvellous industry we work in.
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