Exactly as much freedom as you need.
What we want to do
One of the things that makes us different from other design and development companies is that we believe in giving our clients a fair deal. Too many website design companies charge their clients each time they want to change even a couple of words on a page - we disagree with that practice, lucrative as it may be.
We believe that the owner of a website should be able to change, alter and update it themselves, as much and as often as they wish, without having to pay us or contact us every time.
But, of course, then we're faced with a very difficult problem.
We want to give our clients freedom to edit whatever they like. But, editing a static HTML web page requires the client to either learn HTML or buy some specialised (and often very expensive) software, both of which are very daunting tasks.
We've also learned through years of experience that most website owners are worried about having that sort of power - after paying a few hundred quid for a site, they're rather tentative about messing with it in case they break something.
It's a thorny problem. We want to give our clients the power they need to handle their websites themselves - we want to give them freedom, and power. But in this game, having too much power can be kind of scary.
Truly empowering our clients, therefore, can't be about giving them full FTP access and saying "There you go, try not to mess it up." To someone unversed in these practices, that would be absolutely terrifying! So, some measure of restriction is appropriate - if only to introduce a degree of comfort and confidence.
That's why we're now starting to encode our sites with special editable regions. What this means is that you, as a client, can update your website yourself, without fear of messing up any HTML code or breaking formatting.
I'll try to explain in more detail: take, for example, the page you're looking at now. If this were your website, you would simply go to a special web address (like stainless-design.co.uk/editor - don't really try that, it's just an example), enter a username and password, and you would be able to edit the text in this box - everything from "Self-Update" to the end of what's inside this box would be open to you.
Everything outside of this box, including the site's CSS, filesystem and link hierarchy, would be locked up tight. Thus, you have the freedom to edit what you need, exactly when and how you see fit - but the comfort of knowing that all the "Dangerous" bits are safe from accidental editing.
If you want to edit bits outside of this box, then all you have to do is call us and ask us to disable what we affectionately call the "Safety Catch." Thus, as you learn more about how your website works, you can choose exactly the amount of power and freedom that you're comfortable with.
And as for how easy the system is to use - well, it's so easy that an adult could use it. It's so easy that we've never even had to create a manual for it, or even show people how it works - it uses an interface very similar to most common desktop programs, so when you log in, you immediately know what to do.
If you've ever used Word or OpenOffice, or typed a post on MySpace or LiveJournal, or sold something on eBay, or even just sent an E-mail, you'll instinctively know how to edit your website.
You don't need to know HTML, CSS, PHP, FTP, or any of those curious abbreviations. You don't need any special software, since it's all done through your Web browser - which also gives you the benefit of being able to update your website from any computer, no matter whereabouts you are in the world.
It's literally as easy as "Go to this address, log in, select a page to edit, type in the box and press Save."
By encoding our pages this way and giving you access to a page from which you can edit them, we can make even traditional static HTML pages as easy to update as blogs or gallery websites - if not easier.
How to begin
If you commission a website from us, from June 2007 editable areas will be included in your quote as standard. Customers who commissioned websites prior to June 2007 will be able to have their sites upgraded at a very, very small charge. Really, it's peanuts.
We can also liberate you from oppressive designers by applying our special system to pages that someone else has built.
Integration of editable areas in static HTML websites made by other designers costs £30 for setup and £10 per page (each page has to be individually altered to support the system - it's a hassle to set up, but the end result is worth it a thousand times over), and includes a quick (and probably completely unnecessary) tutorial on how to use the system. Compare that with the ridiculous amount that other design companies charge to make updates - every single time you want to do so - and we think you'll agree it's worth every penny and more.
A Final Word
Our clients are satisfied because they have the power to update their websites themselves, without the threat of accidentally breaking anything. That's a very rare and beautiful form of freedom - a freedom without a corresponding responsibility. And that's gotta be worth a few quid.
To commission a self-updatable website, to upgrade your current website, or to discuss this wonderful new technology in greater detail, please don't hesitate to contact us.