An elaborate setup and eye-catching graphics may draw visitors to a Web site, but a site that provides useful information will always keep them coming back, regardless of how many bells and whistles it has. A good example of this is Realrates.com. The site looks very average, but it provides a range of useful data any consultant would want at his or her fingertips.
The site is split into three long and in-depth sections: the site map, a section of Resources for Computer Consultants, and Computer Consulting News & Notes. These sections are in columns down the page. While the site does carry many links and sources, it does so successfully, creating a rich resource site for computer consultants.
It’s all mapped out for you
If you want to know what is going on with consultants from around the world, you can find data about them in the surveys that are provided in the site map. You can download these surveys, which gather information about topics like salaries and rates, and use their findings to see what your competition is making and charging. The site map also features a Consultants Directory that allows you to search a database of consultants and add your own information to the pool.
In addition, the site map has a message board you can read or post to, a contract database, and reviews of the latest books and tapes for computer consultants and contractors. One of the more interesting features on the site is the site map’s Tips and Gotchas section. It includes, among other things:
- Tips sent in by other consultants.
- Ways to protect your software rights when negotiating contracts.
- A consultant “Hall of Shame.”
- Overseas contracting tips.
News for you
The Computer Consulting News & Notes section of Realrates.com lists various news items, commentaries, and editorials that are solely focused on issues important to consultants, prepared and presented by consultants. The section could provide information about issues you might have always been curious about, or never even thought to ask. It’s an excellent way to stay up to speed with the competition.
Behind the scenes
The site is the brainchild of Janet Ruhl, author of several consulting books, including The Computer Consultant’s Workbook.
Ruhl originally started the site in 1995 as a home page, wondering if it might help her publicize The Computer Consultant's Workbook. “I posted several excerpts from that book on the site and a rate survey that was a part of the book, along with a form where visitors could send in more rates.
“I got so many rate contributions over the next couple years that I set up a dedicated site, Realrates.com. I also added the Computer Consultants Bulletin Board to the new site, at first using my own scripts, and then when we started hosting over 11 gig a month in transfers, moving it to a special BBS host, EZBoard.com. This past year, we hosted 25,000 messages on the board!”
Realrates.com continues to grow, and after perusing the resources it has to offer, you’ll understand its popularity.
Have you ever visited Realrates.com? What was your impression of the site? Are there any other sites you would like to see reviewed? We want to hear from you. Post a comment below or send us an e-mail.