Review: PSD2HTML

I got the opportunity to try out the services of PSD2HTML. They're one of the larger design slicers around and was interested to see what I would get.

Full disclosure: PSD2HTML advertises on this site and offered up their services in exchange for this review.

I'm always hesitant to outsource work but luckily when it comes to HTML/CSS I've had one or two people that I can rely on. So I was a little nervous to see what kind of code I'd get back from PSD2HTML and how much extra work I'd need to put into it.

The Code

At it turns out, the code I got from them turned out to be quite good and actually closer to my own coding style than any other service I've used. It wasn't perfect, mind you, with an over reliance on extra DIV tags to pull off some elements of the design (you know, rounded corners and all that). I, personally, would have tried to work with the existing elements to pull off more of the design.

There are certainly plenty of slicing services around and one thing I've found is that you often fall victim to the coding approach that the developer has taken. With the plethora of CSS techniques, people are bound to use different solutions to achieve the same goal. One thing I'm learning over time is to be very specific about what my requirements are including whether CSS resets should be used.

With any service that you use, share your thoughts on how the design might come together such as using transparent images (including IE6 transparent PNG support) or particular CSS techniques for certain design elements. In the end, you're more likely to get a final product that you are happy with.

The Service

PSD2HTML has an online client area that all communications go through. I felt this was both good and bad. It was nice to have everything documented in one place, much like Basecamp but it felt impersonal. The project manager's name was never shown; just a generic title was displayed. Communication was direct and to the point. An email was received every time a new message was posted. I didn't like that I had to log in just to read any reply. I suppose that's good for security reasons but I'm getting tired of services that email me, forcing me to go to the web site to read what has been said.

The turnaround was nice and quick. I had a single page design with 4 slight layout variations and I received the final results within 2 business days. This was on par with other services that I've used, maybe even a little faster since there wasn't a need to go through revisions.

Overall

Overall I was quite pleased with the service and would definitely use them again.

Published March 18, 2008
Categorized as Business
Short URL: http://snook.ca/s/882

Conversation

38 Comments · RSS feed
Voyagerfan5761 said on March 19, 2008

I don't know if you use StumbleUpon, but they have a similar deal with emailing you. If someone sends you a message on the StumbleUpon site, they send you an email message letting you know. But that's as far as they go.

Not only is the message text not included, but they omit the sender and even (the worst!) a link to your StumbleUpon inbox. SU gets an F for message-via-email usability from me.

PSD2HTML at least gives you a direct link to your inbox on the site in the email, right?

henrah said on March 19, 2008

They have flash-based music playing automatically on the front page of their site.

Q-Zma said on March 19, 2008

ouysource it to me, it will be cheaper :)

Jonathan Snook said on March 19, 2008

@Voyagerfan5761: yes, at least they link you to your inbox.

@henrah: indeed they do. I don't love it but at least they produce good work.

Q-Zma said on March 19, 2008

I'm not joking, also if you interested to know more about PSD2HTML, I can help you with information... if you interested you can contact me: denis.kuznetsov@gmail.com

Alex said on March 19, 2008

Hi Jonathan,
Very nice review of an indeed respectable xhtml service provider.

We would like to note that in our company we always use direct emails to communicate with clients.
It is beneficial in both cases:
- you do not need to go somewhere else to read a reply;
- if you are using GMail or any decent email client you can get a thread of replies easily.

We also have a very simple pricing policy and order-now form.

Feel free to get in touch! (Order-Now page)

Aurelijus Valeiša said on March 19, 2008

Used their service twice. They are amazingly good ;)

MumBu said on March 19, 2008

I've always been interested how slicing services return the templates, since I occasionally build some myself.

Was it broken into Server Side Includes for easy template/navigation changes, or did they employ some fancy dynamic system? I try to return a template that only includes the necessary areas for the client to make content adjustments.

Kevin Crawford said on March 19, 2008

Could we see the pages they sliced? What would have been the cost break down if they were to charge you for it?

Jonathan Snook said on March 19, 2008

@Mumbu: each template was provided as a static file. I prefer it that way. I can break it down if I need to. Templates are usually for integration into one CMS or another and I don't expect the slicer to know the intricacies of the CMS I may be working with.

@Kevin Crawford: The work is for a client project still under development so I don't want to reveal the design just yet. When the site is launched, I may post about the project at that time and I'll be sure to link back to this article for reference.

Jonathan Snook said on March 19, 2008

Oh, and to answer your question about price: It would have been 2 pages: 1 home, and 1 inside — the inside page variations were extremely minor and had they not been covered, I'd have done them myself. 2 pages should come to $230, I believe.

leveille said on March 19, 2008

Thanks for sharing. I think I'm going to give this service a try in the near future. Or at least I'm going to talk to my employer about it. If I spend one day taking a PSD design and converting it to HTML/CSS it costs the company a lot more than ~$200. If you say they produce good, clean work, than that's good enough for me.

Mislav said on March 19, 2008

Excellent review, Jonathan.

There is another, relatively new HTML & CSS service in the same price range. It's called XHTMLmagic and, based on their work and a very quick turnaround time I guess they're worth checking out.

Adam said on March 20, 2008

Jonathan, Does this not eat away greatly at your proffits? $100 per page? Isnt this just the average cost for a Static HTML Page anyway?

I am quite interested, how are the slices? I'm always objective of people who design websites in PSD and then slice 'n' dice up the design, rather than doing it "Normally".

However I do see the timescale differences, You make a PSD "Design" in Photoshop, Your customer likes it, but wants a few mods, the mods are made, and then you go ahead, slice'in it!

I will be very interested in seeing the end result Jonathan, Are you so busy now that you have to, in a way Contract work out?

Whats their words on HTML 4.01 Strict?

amfis said on March 20, 2008

Adam, what do you mean "Normally" ?

Terry Apodaca said on March 20, 2008

Nice review! I've used a few friends before but have never used a service like this. I have always been curious how they would turn out and how critical I would be of the actual work. Even when I am so swamped that I have to get help, I usually have to make my own changes to the final markup/css...so I pretty much just do it myself anyway.

BTW, Snook, you mind if I use your list? I have had a habit of creating lists for myself for such things...and posting them to my blog for later reference (and for others reference as well)

Jonathan Snook said on March 21, 2008

@Adam: the images seem reasonably optimized with consideration for file size by using different file formats where appropriate and even using CSS sprites.

I am quite busy, saying no to a chunk of work but I believe these services have gotten to the level that it's simply more economical to outsource it. I don't have enough work for a full-time employee so contracting out is my solution for the time being.

As for HTML 4.01 Strict, if that's what you want, just ask for it. I usually forget to mention it so I tend to get XHTML 1.0 Strict (as I did in this case) but that's not a deal breaker for me.

Jonathan Snook said on March 21, 2008

And Terry, it might be more practical to link to the list as it does get updated from time to time.

Josh Stodola said on March 21, 2008

The day that I start out-sourcing the fun part of web development is the day I start looking for a new industry.

Dan Rubin said on March 22, 2008

Good review, Jon - I've used XHTMLized on about half a dozen projects when I've needed to for time reasons, and been very happy with the output. That said, I'm also very specific about what I want to see, and I make sure to include every detail I can think of about styles, text, images, and even ID/class naming, and that certainly helps.

Outsourcing is a tough choice to make for those of us who really love what we do, but when things get really busy, or when clients delay schedules but you still have to meet their deadline while working on other projects, services like these become much more valuable than their current cost.

Jake said on March 24, 2008

Jonathan could you please give me some insight into some key points they didn't hit in service and product that you wish could be improved upon?

cjp said on March 24, 2008

I have had the complete opposite experience with PSD2HTML . We used them a lot at one point and everything was below standards to us. Absolute positioning everywhere, IE hacks, countless pointless divs, misspelled tags and content, wrong use of z-index, the list goes on. Too many times we had to redo the code anyway, we will never use them again.

Johan said on March 25, 2008

I do have one concern ... what if the client wants a different design/ or wants to change some things about the initial design... I work as a designer, and know that even when I do what the client says, sometimes the client wants changes that reflect upon what I saw as appropriate for the design. Or does the slice job is just after the design has been approved, who does the change safter the slicing was executed

Q-Zma said on March 26, 2008

remove all my comments, PLEASE

Ross Johnson said on April 01, 2008

@johan - your contract and agreements should say that any changes to the design after approval incur additional charges. That way either you can take the time to learn and edit the markup, or simply pay to have it recoded.

Robert said on April 07, 2008

Cheers for this, been looking into this for a while, this does help me out a bit!

Christopher Hiester said on April 07, 2008

if they gave you the service for free and they're an advertiser on your blog, don't you think your objectivity is little bit compromised?

Jonathan Snook said on April 07, 2008

@Christopher: my objectivity wasn't compromised but rather your perception of it, hence the disclaimer. I've reviewed other services whom are not advertisers and link to a number of their competitors. If you feel there's still no value in the review then take it with a grain of salt and I respect that... my experience may not be the norm and may have simply been "preferred service" knowing they were reviewed. It's like a food critic hitting a restaurant. Generally, they'd want to be anonymous to get an impartial and more accurate test of the product.

Anonymous said on April 10, 2008

I think the tool is really useful, but I am going to be honest here, I really don't like people who just photoshop work and slice it up, and call it a design. With that being said, it is the designers who have no actual text on the page, it is just images. These sorts of plugins help those guys flood the design job market, and its ewwwy.

Ryan Blaind said on April 10, 2008

Jonathan,

Just curious what your thoughts are comparing PSD2HTML vs. XHTML Genius, which I see you have used in the past. I also see your testimonial on their (XG) homepage. Great post though, cheers!

Adam said on April 10, 2008

Jonathan,

I shall be trying this service myself shortly, I have made contact with one or two, and they actually for the same price will PSD > CubeCart Skin, which for me would be a massive time saver, allowing me to focus on the SEO of the products and so on whilst someone else does the design.. and for about £150 it's a rather minimal chuck gone from the profit..

However I am still certainly unsure about their turnaround times, so until I have a job that does not require a "DO IT NOW" Timescale, it'll have to wait.

Interesting fact, seems to make me feel like more a of Graphic Designer than a Web Designer having a PSD>HTML Company in the loop, however I am really seeing the potential, especially towards the ecommerce area!

Good Writeup as always! - Thanks

Jonathan Snook said on April 10, 2008

@Ryan Blaind: XHTML Genius has really good HTML but has a verbose style to his CSS (including a CSS reset stylesheet, which I don't like). PSD2HTML had nice CSS but I felt the HTML suffered from a case of div-itis. Six of one, half-dozen of the other as they say.

@Adam, these services deliver to the point where I feel comfortable enough to offload that task while still knowing I'll be able to maintain some profitability on a project.

Adam said on April 15, 2008

@amfis

Normally = PSD Per image, rather than a sliced set.

They've said they can do the PSD - CubeCart skin for roughly the same price, this would not effect the budget at all, as you have to PSD a draft anyway, It would save time, money and stress.. I have a job coming up and may decided to take this route as they lady wants it done yesterday, and about 1,000 products added!

Ted Nonemaker said on November 05, 2008

Good review Jon. However, my experience with PSD2HTML has not been as pleasant.
I had been a long time PSD2HTML customer until recently when the delivery started getting late and the code quality started being sloppy. Let's face it - they are over-burdened (even though they specify that they have a team of over 100 slicers).

I've now moved on to another provider (xhtml.pixelcrayons.com) and am very pleased their services.

Any experience(s)?

Jonathan Snook said on November 05, 2008

@Ted: your experience has been consistent with what I've been hearing from other people, which is unfortunate. I've been using w3markup.com recently and have been happy with their service.

cagatay said on December 08, 2008

Does anyone know a markup service who can code html suitable for .net development? I.e with inline styles and suitable construction to be used in user controls etc ?

cheers

c

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