If you’re like me, you have probably wasted hundreds of hours of your life trying to fix glitches in your CSS-based designs. Cross-browser issues, alignment issues, and various CSS bugs like the IE peekaboo bug, make standards-based design a massive headache.
Some time ago I learned about two new services that offer outsourced CSS/XHTML coding. This was a pretty interesting concept and so I took both for a test drive. They both essentially convert your design from a PSD (Photoshop), Adobe Illustrator, JPG, or any type of “flat” file into standards-based CSS and XHTML. If you’ve ever “sliced” up a design into tables (back when that was the norm) – you get an idea of what these services do. But proper CSS/XHTML is quite a bit more complicated than slicing a design into tables, so it’s imperative to know what you’re doing to get cross-browser compatible, valid, accessible code.
Basically these services take the economies of scale approach to outsourced semantic coding. Since these people are pros and do it full time, they can crank out very good code in a lot less time than it would ordinarily take you.
Here’s an overview of the two services:
XHTMLized is a network of 12 coders from 7 different countries who share the workload for the service.
- Time to completion: 7 days.
- Support for all major browsers – IE, Firefox, Safari, Opera, Mozilla, etc.
- SEO-friendly code
- Accessibility compliant
- Pricing: $149 for 1 page, $259 for 2 pages, $359 for 3 pages, $439 for 4 pages, $499 for 5 pages, etc.
- Payment terms: Pay via paypal or moneybookers once work is completed. If you’re not happy with the quality of the work, you don’t pay.
My experience: The process took 1.5 days or approximately 36 hours from the time I submitted the work to the time it was emailed back to me. I needed a few tweaks that I had not specified originally and they were happy to oblige. Once again the work was delivered back very quickly – within hours. Total cost was $149 for one main page and another slightly modified version of the same page. The code was everything they promised (seo, cross-browser, lightweight, etc.) and worked well in IE6, IE7, Firefox, Opera, and Safari. The CSS was well commented.
PSD2HTML is a single company (as opposed to a distributed group of coders) that offers 3 different levels of markup: basic, professional, and high-end. They offer a menu of options in addition to the three levels such as “optimize for load speed” and “implement dynamic menus”. They make it very easy to contact them via email and every type of instant messaging service available and offer expedited and weekend work options (at a premium, I’m sure).
- Time to completion: 8 hours, sometimes longer depending on workload (12-16 hours)
- Varies depending on level. See site for details. All include IE and Firefox compatibility.
- Pricing: $117 for basic, $153 for professional, $211 for Hi-End. Each additional page is 50% off.
- Payment terms: Work is paid up front via 2Checkout.com. There is a money back guarantee if you are not satisfied.
My experience: The process took 24 hours from when they received the order, 36 hours from when I actually placed it (which was in the evening at 8PM EST). The communication was good during and after delivery. The CSS/XHTML code was lightweight and efficient and worked well in IE6, IE7, Firefox, Opera, and Safari. I opted for the professional level of markup and received everything as promised. My total cost: $243 for 2 pages.
Overall, I was very pleased with both services – they both produced excellent code and delivered everything they promised within a very short amount of time. Personally I think PSD2HTML offers too many options and levels, but some people might like that. Also, on the business end, I think the XHTMlized business model might do better since it’s distributed and can scale a bit more as needed. I for one am very happy that these services are available – they will help me save a lot of time and avoid all the aggravation that comes with trying to create valid, cross-browser-friendly, accessible code.