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A friend of mine is starting a business. The business model is that his website is the medium through which businesses compete with each other and bid to provide a service to members of the public. He has no technical background but he knows the industry he's servicing well. He hired a web design company to create the site and the idea is that once everything is up, the site will kind of manage itself in that consumers will put up requests to be bid on, businesses will bid to provide the service and consumers will accept bids.

Given that he has no technical background, it's unlikely that he will be able to resolve any technical issues. What kind of support should he seek from the web design company post-launch? He can't afford to have a full-time technical person on the payroll right now. what are the likely problems he can expect to run into? I'm thinking things like browser incompatibility as updates come out. Potentially performance issues as traffic ramps up if it takes off.

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Future browser compatibility isn't so much of an issue provided the website is designed to be future-proof (within reason) from the off - by that, I mean valid html/css that displays properly in a range of browsers on a number of devices.

If your friend were to experience an influx of traffic, it is merely a case of upgrading the server or data transfer allowances with his/her web host - obviously with your friend being non-technical, this may be something they will have taken care of, which means they would be his first port of call either way should this become an issue.

Provided the site is programmed and put together well, there is no reason why it shouldn't stand the test of time (as far as intended functionality goes), though a lot of the best websites are updated with both features and content over time to keep things interesting and continually optimize whatever they intend to serve as.

It sounds like there will be a customer support role (it also sounds like your friend will likely be taking care of it) - and of course, you never know what people might ask. That being said, if someone did have a technical issue he couldn't answer the chances are the source of the issue is either local to that user - or as I keep saying, the site was designed to be expandable in the first place.

tl:dr; Provided the website is designed to display properly on a number of browsers and devices as well as being optimized for performance and his web design company are also taking care of the hosting, he shouldn't have any worries until the point where the business has scaled to probably requiring full-time technical support anyway.

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"the site will […] manage itself" Yeah, sure. I hope that too for all my sites, but they never do anything alone.

If you run a web-centric business, you need a permanent webmaster, who can fix bugs or help you if you suddenly have much more visitors, that your allowed via your hosting-contract and so on. He will at least need some maintenance contract with the web design company.

To your question: what to be aware of? I think there is too much that may come over the time. Your friend may also want some new features in a few months—so it's hard to say.

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Yeah, I know that the site won't manage itself, that's more his thinking than my own and there are bound to be teething problems and then the occasional issue. –  conorgriffin Aug 16 '11 at 20:58
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