We get calls from others asking us to help with Joomla sites that have been abandoned by the original developer. When your techie/developer stops returning your calls, it's usually for a specific reason. This is not Joomla specific, and it's not because they lost your number or because they're too busy.
The most common reason:
You're no longer a good client and/or they don't like fixing bugs.
Don't take that personally. Well, at least don't start with that.
When a project is initiated, you're eager to see results and eager to pay. During this phase of the courtship, it's common to hear from your developer on a regular basis. They may even contact you to give you updates, status reports or just to make sure you're happy, much like the attentive waiter who keeps refilling your water glass.
Then fast-forward... your website is launched. It looks great and now it's just a matter of time before the leads start to roll in. You gladly pay the invoice and everyone is happy, especially the developer.
Then you get an email, "Hey, what's with your website? It looks kinda weird. It's messed up."
Geek-Flight: aka, "I'm Just Too Busy"
In modern web design, there are standards that should be followed. If they're not, "it's messed up" can result as not everyone views your site with the same browser. If your developer didn't try to follow standards, and your site layout is even slightly complex, there's a very good chance "it's messed up" will result. This discovery can result in what I call geek-flight.
At this point, your web person may suddenly become "very busy" with other work. Other geek-flight symptoms: Slow/no answering of emails, canceling meetings at the last minute for emergencies that aren't even urgent.
Here's how it works. Not with all developers, but lots of them -- when you ask for something to be created, they will generally do what they've done. If you ask a Wordpress developer to build you a site, you can guess what they're going to recommend. If you call me for advice, there's a pretty good chance I'm going to start sketching ideas with my Joomla crayons.
If your developer has a habit of not following standards, not documenting things, not doing multi-browser quality control, there's a darn good chance your site will end up with some problems. When these problems surface, it's reasonable for you to expect them to fix it at their cost. Was it your fault you didn't say, "My website needs to look the same in both IE and Firefox" -- well, yes actually. You should have said that.
Web pages are made up of HTML code. I'm sure you've done View/Page Source more than once to see how others are keywording their way to the top pages in Google. (by the way, that's a good thing to learn this way) HTML has strict rules, much like your copy has grammar and spelling rules. When you write new copy, you check it. If you're not a good checker, you have someone else edit/proof it. This is exactly how web developers are supposed to create websites.
Bad Attitudes About Bad Code
Here are the most common attitudes listed in order that I've heard them most often:
- Validate? What's that?"
- Validation doesn't help my search engine rankings. Who cares!"
- My site looks fine - that's good enough"
- Lots of websites don't validate - including top producers"
- Validation means boring and ugly websites"
You should care about validation if you care about what potential customers see.
You've heard of WYSIWYG right? How about WYSINWOG? What You See Is Not What Others Get happens when you don't validate. It's true, you can be on page 1 of Google and have a site that doesn't even pass a validation test.
We're All Guilty
Being the curious person I am, I checked the top brokers/mega agents around here and not a single one passed. The best had 4 errors, the worst 495. (and this is on ONE PAGE of their website) One top agent and a major broker failed validation to the point of not even being able to count errors.
Our A2WiFi directory, now almost four years old, has 183 errors. (That means it's about time for an upgrade.) I checked two prominent local web designers... one had 21 errors, the other 95. ActiveRain...117 errors.
In the 17 sites I checked, only one passed... csszengarden (which by the way, is an example of how to build CSS/HTML perfect websites)
So next time you're planning to have some web work done, make sure your developer has standards they follow. Expect documentation that explains what they created, expect them to have a written process of how they build things and of course expect their code to pass a grammar and spelling test known as HTML validation.
How many errors do you have? Check it!
PS. If suddenly your site does develop problems related to bad code, it's likely the problem was always there. Good news: Fixing flawed code is not like failing an electrical inspection. It's possible that a quick duct-tape approach might work, applying just enough to get your site looking OK in all browsers. Bad News: If your site has hundreds of errors and is visually messed up, the path to validation can be a winding/expensive one.