I’ve been building websites and building apps since the early 1990’s. In that time, I’ve learned many different languages, and explored many different strategies when it comes to writing good code.
This is going to be my first blog post on the business of coding. In this series, I will not be getting into the finer details of writing code (I cover that easily in my courses,) instead, I will talking about things that only 20+ years of development experience can teach you. But if you follow this series, you will learn these useful tips much more quickly!
Tip #1: Giving time for your mind to rest will pay dividends in your coding and business career.
I’ve been building websites since 1994 and commercially providing web design services since 1995-96. As you probably imagine, I’ve picked up a few things along the way!
My number 1 tip for web designers?
At the end of the day, what you are providing is a service. When I was web programming and designing, the consistent compliment I got was:
“I really like the fact Stef, that you deliver on time.”
Strangely, being flexible for your clients, showing up when you say you will, and delivering when you say you will is HUGE! This goes beyond meeting deadlines …
Show up 5 minutes early!
Never show up late and never show up too earlier – you need to show up just on time. If I have a meeting to get to at 2pm and I know traffic could delay me 20 minutes, I would give myself an extra 25 minutes to get there … just in case. If I actually got there early, I would just sit in the car and wait until it was time.
… I’m sure you can find something to do for 25 minutes!
Clients typically don’t like people showing up late and they don’t like it if you show up early too. Just be on time.
A lot of people still believe that a domain name has some sort of a great value in of itself – this is wrong, and so I keep writing about it.
Check out these domains:
These two domains seems very valuable (like some piece of real estate by the sea) … and a couple of suckers have paid huge money for them. Why do I call the people who paid millions for these domains suckers? Because these domains will bring you no extra traffic, no more than any other domain … the following names are arguably just as valuable:
When are domains ACTUALLY more valuable?
The only time to pay up for a domain, is when the underlying website (that sits on the domain) has a lot of traffic and/or makes good money. It’s kind of simple if you think about it!
Is there a difference in value between:
… etc. No difference really. Maybe .com domains are a touch/hair more valuable.
How to choose a good domain for your website?
That all said, it’s a good idea to choose a good domain – it can help. So what are the key factors of a good domain?
Keep it short.
Make sure it is easy to spell.
If it can have some reference to what the site is about – that’s better, but not crucial.
Consider some of the biggest sites in the world:
… Do any of these names tell you anything about the underlying website? No. But, they are easy to remember and spell.
I was meaning to write this in January, but things got in the way! Anyway, here are the web design trends for 2013 …
1. HTML 5
It think this one is a no brainer … everything and everyone is going HTML 5 and CSS 3:
iOS / Mac OSX (Apple)
… This includes all the major web browsers of course.
When people talk about HTML 5, they are really talking about a group of technologies that work together:
HTML 5 and CSS 3 are basically very powerful extensions to HTML and CSS … and so if you understand the basic principles and techniques of these two foundation web languages, HTML5 and CSS3 should beÂ approachable. That said, the added power does present some head scratching challenges a long the way. No worries though, we have the easy to follow training for you.
The one great fear any nerd has is the specter of outsourcing – will my job be outsourced to some cheaper part of the world?
Yes, free trade is really not free trade, it’s actually opening up barriers to allow big American, Canadian and European companies to ship jobs to much poorer countries so that they can save money on cheap labor.
The people who benefit are:
The executives of the big companies, since they can pay themselves big bonuses. Of course, they are the few who WILL NOT have their jobs outsourced!
The hard working people in the poorer countries – people of the west should not bear them any ill will. They are simply trying to earn a living like anyone else.
Bankers – who see the stock prices rise in the publicly traded corporations. In fact, it seems the big Wall Street banks were the major force behind outsourcing.
… But it is not all bad for SMART web designers and programmers working in the crumbling west. Read on and learn how!
One of the early lessons in my business life was that to make money, you had to figure out the trends going forward.
… You can’t be looking at what was popular last year and you shouldn’t pay too much attention to what might happen 5 years from now – you need to figure out what will be the in thing within the next 12-18 months.
Web Design Trends of 2011
My predictions are as follows:
Android development – this means HTML5 and CSS3
iOS development – this means HTML5 , CSS3 and for programmers: objective C.
So there you have it. Concentrate on learning one of these and you should do well this coming year.
I recently got an email from someone asking about the skills needed to start a web design business:
1. Is it essential to know how to build DATABASE DRIVEN WEB PAGES to become a web designer?
2. Can I start my own simple web designing business without it?
Also take into consideration that knowing how to program will allow you to get more jobs and charge more for your time.
Once again, an article derived from a question put to me:
What do you offer unemployed 75-years old geezers doing a Flash self-learning approach, to maintain my sanity knowing no company, at my age, will ever offer me gainful income employment ???
Translation: Can old geezers make a living in web design?
Short answer: yes.
… If you train properly.
The best thing about the web design field is that it is very open and not hindered by regulation and formality that we see in many other professions.
In fact, the professional web world is one of the few meritocracies left on this planet – imagine that, skill and talent count!
… It never fails to baffle me why economists and professional stock pickers still have jobs!? Oh yea, they don’t need to produce results!
Flash though, may not be the best route because it is a marginalized aspect of web design and I think with the added pressure from Apple and HTML5 (that supplants some important aspects of Flash) … it will fade even more so. I am NOT saying Flash will disappear, but I think it will be used that much less.
So what is the solution?
First thing, you may want to consider being self employed web designer, start taking on web design jobs. It much more fun anyway! And 2nd, you need to learn the skills of a modern web designer … skills that are used everyday:
The last two on my list may scare you (programming for web designers?), but in fact, it is the key to you getting more jobs and earning more money than the next guy.
I believe that the open nature of the web design profession and the growing demand for websites, combined with some strategic web design training … and yes, geezers will not just make some extra cash, they can make a good living and on their schedule. Remember, with web design, you don’t need to go work for a company.
A common question that is put to me by aspiring web designers is:
What are the job prospect looking forward, for web designers and web programmers?
Oftentimes, they will mention web templates and other tools/technology that speed up the process of web design, seeing them as potential roadblocks for the profession:
… if these tools keep getting better and making web design easier, who’s going to need web designers?
Let me first start by saying that web designers, programmers, market specialist and all other web professionals are going to become even MORE SOUGHT AFTER, over the next many years.
Why? Simple young nerdlings, everything is jumping onto the Web. Radio stations and newspapers are going bust, magazines and books are going digital … even TV is fragmenting, where video sites like Youtube have huge audiences that rival many traditional TV networks.
But wait, there’s more!
Besides traditional media business having to go online, just about every business (large and small) NEED to have a Web presence. Today, a business without a website is like a home without electricity.
So it’s pretty clear that business needs to be on the Web and so the Web is growing like crazy. But how about them pesky templates and blogs that make putting up a website easy? Well, let me ask you, do you know how to install a blog, set up a database? Do you know how to choose a good domain name, structure a website so that it is search engine friendly? Do you know how to add sound, video, contact forms, forums …. e-commerce systems to a site? Do you know how the design a custom theme for WordPress or Drupal?
… Now, as a web professional you may know how to do some of these things, but what I can tell you with great certainty, is just about all non-web designers no nothing about how to do these things. That’s where a web professional comes in:
– installing that blog.
– customizing the theme.
– adding the forum.
Now the article doesn’t mention web designers or programmers specifically, but you can be sure they are a serious part of the mix. One thing the article does mention though, is that the more skills you have, the greater chance you will get a job and the more money you will make – something I’ve been pushing for years: web designers need to evolve into 21st century web designers and learn: