creatively strategic…strategically creative

FAQ

FAQ = Frequently Asked Questions

This page is a work in progress.  Don’t hesitate to contact me  directly if you cannot quickly find what you need or send me an email with an FAQ Suggestion.

WordPress FAQ

So what about WordPress?

We are WordPress-exclusive and the types of sites are pretty limitless that can be built with this versatile tool.  We think WordPress is limited only by imagination and creative application and adaptation of tools built for virtually any type of functionality.  New plugin development occurs with incredible speed.  It’s an exciting platform that has been embraced by close to 60% of all who have an identifiable CMS in use and approximately 26% of all websites on the Internet.  Corporations and large organizations such as universities continue to expand their use, and that demand will increase new applications.

Learn more about WordPress

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Do you build on wordpress.com ?

No.  While wordpress.com uses the core WordPress software, we use the stand-alone version obtained from wordpress.org and installed on an organization’s host server.

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Isn't WordPress free?

The core WordPress software is “open source” and is therefore free in the sense that one does not have to pay to obtain a copy.  It is also available for others to “improve” or change although outside of the development project, that is never recommended.  Owning and operating a WordPress website is not free.  Make no mistake that there are costs to include:

  • hosting & domain (these are annual expenses)
  • premium theme expense, if used in lieu of cookie cutter, limited “free” themes – normally a one-time, lifetime expense
  • premium plugins, if used for improved and advanced functionality (some licenses are annual subscriptions with discounts on renewal and others may be one-time purchase cost)

There are also going to be additional costs depending upon the type of website that could include graphic design, image purchases, photography expense, additional security, CDN (Content Delivery Network), and more.  One would generally assume there would be additional marketing and promotional activities that could require budget.

Finally, with all WordPress websites comes an ongoing responsibility and expense for maintenance.  All software must be kept updated along with monitoring security, server performance and more.  WordPress maintenance is more than logging in to a dashboard and pressing the update button.

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Isn't WordPress just for blogs?

Absolutely not!  While WordPress gained fame as a blogging platform, it has since evolved into a robust Content Management System (CMS) and to date, we haven’t come across a situation where it cannot be used.

WordPress is flexible and powerful, and is well written code out of the box that is incredibly SEO friendly.  Given that over 25% of all websites are built in WordPress, the commitment to development is strong.  Therefore,  a tremendous amount of creative and technical energy (and financial expenditures) is invested in WordPress to make it incredibly extensible.

So what kind of sites can WordPress handle?

  • Blogs / Personal Websites
  • Business Websites
  • Portfolio / Galleries
  • Sophisticated Online Stores
  • Membership sites – providing access to content based on membership role or subscription purchase
  • eLearning sites
  • eMagazines
  • Job Boards
  • Business Directories
  • Appointment
  • Community Websites
  • Church or School Websites
  • Affiliate Websites
  • Auction Websites
  • Coupon Websites
  • Knowledgebase / Wiki-types
  • Forums
  • Any mixture of the above
  • Any mixture of public / private in a single or network
  • AND MORE!

WordPress is also capable of translation into other languages for anyone needing multilingual websites.

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Why use a premium theme?

Themes are the integral layer that determines design and basic functionality of a WordPress website.  While there are some excellent “free” themes, typically they are basic and have limitations on design flexibility.  Using a versatile premium theme that is highly rated and well-supported pays for itself in a short period of time.

Creative by Clark’s favorite premium themes are:

  • UDesign by Andon (themeforest.net)
  • Divi (Nick Roach / Elegant Themes)
  • Avada (themeforest.net)

While the parent theme is installed, we use a “Child” theme that links to the desired theme.  This allows us to customize the theme – such as CSS, special functions, and even templates; the advantage of using a child theme is that when the parent theme updates, customizations are not overwritten.*

*The update process is a complete overwrite that involves deleting the original files and replacing with new files.  For this reason, if we did not use Child themes, when a developer releases an update to a theme and it updates, we would lose all customizations.  Some developers build a special database entry for any custom changes to styling, but even still – drastic changes to template and other files would still require the use of a child theme.

See policies for more information.

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Why premium plugins?

As with premium themes, reputable purchased plugins tend to include more sophistication and better support.

Presently, Creative by Clark maintains active annual subscriptions licenses for:

  • Gravity Forms Developer Edition
  • iThemes
  • WPMU Dev
  • CometCache Pro

Creative by Clark includes one year of Maintenance Care with the purchase of a new website.  We then include complimentary access to all pertinent premium plugins from the list above from launch through the first anniversary so long as we maintain our subscriptions.  See policies for more information.

Other annual premium plugin licenses, such as those from WooThemes for WooCommerce websites, must be purchased by the website owner to ensure timely renewal notifications, expense proof of purchase as a business asset,  and enable access to support.

Finally, while there are an abundance of excellent free plugins through the WordPress Plugin Repository, there are no guarantees that the developer of a free plugin will retain their commitment to ongoing updates and support.  The demands can be quite overwhelming for some.  We find that in securing highly rated premium plugins the odds of this issue are greatly diminished not to mention the quality of the plugin and investment in further improvements is clear to remain competitive in this expanding marketplace.

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Why Maintenance Plans? There's an Update button...

WordPress Maintenance is a lot more than simply pressing the “Update” button.

Despite the appearance of ease, just think about what is occurring when one presses “Update.”  Literally, one set of files is going to be deleted and replaced with a new set of files.  What happens if something goes awry?

The potential for catastrophe is real.  If an error occurs in the midst of a WordPress core update – the site can go down completely (beyond maintenance mode).  Updating plugins or a theme can also result in fatal errors, broken databases, and more.

Safeguards must be taken before updating to backup the database and all site files first with a plan in place in the event of a problem.

When Creative by Clark performs update services, there is an investment in considerable due diligence to research the stability of the item whether it is WordPress core, the theme or plugins.  We investigate changelogs, support tickets and forums, and if there are any reservations, we wait for subsequent updates to evaluate whether identified conflicts or other problems are resolved.  At times, with plugins specifically, our concerns may lead to justifying the need to replace a plugin—sadly the case with one great free plugins (from the WordPress plugin repository) that have not been updated for long periods of time or when the developer won’t support their code.

Finally, Maintenance is a LOT more than simply pressing the update button!  It involves monitoring server performance (hosting), security, optimization, SEO (basic), traffic, and more.

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Pricing & Policies FAQ

How long have you been in business?

Ten years.  I started Creative by Clark in February 2007 after ending my tenure as CMO of BizCarta, Inc.  A family health emergency necessitated altering my career, and working as a freelance consultant from a home office was a perfect solution.

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How much do websites cost?

That’s not an easy question to answer.  Every project is unique, and therefore, I don’t have a cookie-cutter template for all WordPress websites.  I do have a basic set of components that I install on virtually every website, but I choose not to use automated site builder tools to ensure heightened security and best practices in setting up WordPress sites manually to include more control over the database and server settings.

We take many factors into consideration to include the size of the organization and how we envision our overall relationship.  We firmly believe in applying the pricing and ethics standards developed by the Graphic Artist Guild.  But our pricing is competitive compared to large agencies who have a much higher overhead.

We don’t build cheap websites and we only build in WordPress now.  So, while WordPress itself is open source and it’s always possible to find those willing to fast-build inexpensive websites – that’s not our model.

  • Smaller websites capable of expansion are typically in the $1200-$2000 price range excluding custom graphics, photography, hosting, domain cost, and complex applications.
  • Larger websites that include depth and numerous features to include a small online store or membership setting might start at $5000 and go higher depending upon complexity and size
  • Very large, complex online stores with many products, variations, specialized inventory control, payment gateways and shipping options can cost $10000 or more
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What are your payment terms?

With larger projects such as websites, brand identity or advertising, they are cost-based versus completed on an hourly rate basis.

Creative by Clark expects 50% of the estimated project cost to begin work.  It is entirely feasible that after conducting thorough discovery, especially on a website, that an estimate will change as more needs are identified or scope is changed by additional customer requests.  If there is a significant difference, I reserve the right to request an adjustment and supplemental deposit for a change in scope.

  • When a project includes a Discovery phase to secure full disclosure and align the project to business needs, we may return suggestions not considered with the initial estimate.  Or other requirements may come out of the wood work once we start planning.
  • We return a final Scope of Work with a revised estimate.  When there is a significant discrepancy between the original estimate and the post-discovery estimate, we can often break the changes into options and even suggest a phased approach longitudinally to get all the desired features.  We triage what is absolutely needed for phase 1 and provide additional estimates for future phases with pricing that remains effective for a year.

For smaller website projects, we expect the final 50% plus the cost of changes and expenses after the website is approved for launch.  With larger projects, we are willing to amend our standard policy slightly to defer the remaining 5-10% for final payment two weeks post-launch.

With very large projects, I may break them up differently and set up key deliverables with sign-offs and draws.  That type of model can differ a great deal, and we are quite willing to arrive at mutually satisfactory payment schedules that align with each deliverable phase.   Those projects that complete over a lengthy period must be framed with a fairly rigid schedule and mutual expectations.  I will structure our payment schedule to ensure that we obtain fair, steady income over the course of a project, and if necessary, we can demand an escrow account.

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What forms of payment are accepted?

  1. We accept checks drawn on US banks and official bank checks for foreign currency.  We reserve the right to wait to begin work with new clients until a check has cleared our bank.
  2. We gladly accept electronic payments via Chase QuickPay.
  3. We accept credit cards via PayPal with an additional service fee of 4%
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What is your Hourly Rate?

Our standard hourly rate is $80 for work expected during normal business hours (8:00am – 5:30pm Monday through Friday excepting legal holidays).   As an independent contractor, Creative by Clark has the option to work flexibly at our discretion in the evenings and on weekends.

When we are asked to work outside normal business hours, then Rush Fees apply.  See below.

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What are your Rush Fees?

CBC retains the right to choose its hours of operation as a freelance consultancy.  Standard business operating hours for the record are Monday through Friday 8:00am – 5:00pm EST.

If CBC elects to work non-traditional hours, it is the prerogative to do so without penalty to the client is such work is completed during the evening, weekend daytime, weekend evening, or evening during a holiday or vacation.  However, should client delays impact a deadline and it is required that CBC work non-traditional hours in order to meet the deadline, then the client is subject to a penalty in the form of a add-on cost.

Creative by Clark does not apologize for the exorbitant rates below, as we are very generous in the hours we elect to work to meet our self-imposed deadlines when a client delivers as promised.  To date in over 30 years of consulting experience, there has never been a missed project completion deadline due to our performance.

We will never advance work using Rush Fees without full disclosure to the client and a discussion of other options. 

Work that is required during non-standard hours because a client fails to deliver to deadline will be invoiced as an additional hourly rate above and beyond the flat project costs based on our standard business hourly rate of $80/hour as follows:

  • Weekday Evenings 6:00pm – midnight: 1.25 x $80 = $100/hour
  • Weekday Overnight 12:01am – 7:00am: 1.75 x $80 = $140/hour
  • Weekend daytime 8:00am – 4:00pm: 1.75 x $80 = $140/hour
  • Weekend evening 4:01pm – midnight: 2.00 x $80 = $160/hour
  • Weekend overnight 12:01am – 7:00am: 2.50 x $80 = $200/hour
  • Holiday/Vacation daytime 8:00am – 4:00pm – local time 3.00 x $80 = $240/hour
  • Holiday/Vacation evening 4:01pm – midnight – local time 3.25 x $80 = $260/hour
  • Holiday/Vacation evening 12:01am-7:00am – local time 4:00 x $80 = $320/hour

Two Real Scenarios when Rush Fees are applied:

  1. A rigid website launch date and a client has failed to deliver final content materials or provide feedback / approvals in a timely manner so that Creative by Clark can finalize the website by the deadline.  When the need to work outside standard business hours is not due to our performance, then we will inform the client that due to their failure to deliver by the agreed upon schedule, we must work non-standard hours to achieve a launch date goal.  At this point, the client has the option to defer launch and allow us to complete with standard rates OR approve the Rush Fees to expedite.
  2. A website that is not under a Creative by Clark Maintenance Care Plan experiences a critical outage and we are contacted for emergency services.   Certainly it is reasonable to expect Rush Fees for hours worked outside the realm of normal business operations.  However, there are times that we may require Rush Fees during standard hours when we are asked to set aside other scheduled work.  For example, we must stop what we are doing on another client’s project to fix a problem.  Doing so will take us off schedule and mean we might have to still work non-standard hours to get back on track with our other project.  We will advise accordingly and always remain fair and ethical in our standards.
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What Premium Plugin access is included?

Creative By Clark currently purchases developer level premium plugin licenses from several third-party entities.  These are typically annual subscriptions for which we pay a high price.  As active license subscribers,  we have the freedom to install individual plugins with our license key (API) on as many websites as desired.  It is fully at our discretion whether:

  • we pass the value of these installations onto the client as an up-sell, additional cost

OR

  • we provide the installation of the plugin license as a complimentary, value add

Creative by Clark normally elects to provide complimentary installation of those plugins that are relevant with new website builds for year one post-launch.  We now include a one-year Maintenance Care Plan in the cost of new websites we build.  For all other clients, they must be in good standing (no outstanding debts) and utilize Creative by Clark for ongoing Maintenance Care as a pre-requisite for active our active licenses that enable upgrades to the latest available versions.  And periodically, we may install new plugins that provide improved functionality or optimization.

Those clients who are no longer in good standing, who opt out or discontinue ongoing Creative by Clark services sacrifice access to our plugin licenses.  Depending on the nature of the relationship, we may remove the plugin entirely or at the very least, we will detach our license keys.  In some cases, the act of key removal will render the plugin a less robust, limited version.    We provide a list of plugins impacted and the URLs where the client can purchase their own licenses for ongoing updates and support.

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