What makes a web app successful? The development process and the realities of real-world coding.
You’ve probably seen or heard a lot of stories about a businesses’ web project (or projects in general) failing. Heck, if you’re a freelancer chances are you’ve witnessed it firsthand! It’s a more common occurrence than you think, especially with small businesses. “…You do all kinds of work, you put out a beautiful website or you put out a beautiful web app, and then you link to it in your portfolio from your own website, and the next thing you know -bing, bing, boom- the client instead of calling you up to try and make updates, they try to tweak it themselves of they hire their kid; they get the kid to come in there and they try to fix it and they mess it up, and in a short period of time the site looks terrible.”
So why does this happen? Well, believe it or not, it doesn’t come from a purely bad place in terms of the intention. That is to say, your client isn’t trying to ‘F#%$’ you or your work, or your livelihood for that matter. It actually (for the most part) comes from a place of ignorance: they just don’t know…anything, really…including how much it actually costs. “A lot of people who jump into the game of building a website or building a web app -any app- they don’t really realize how much work it really is to refine the product, to get it to the point where it’s really ready for market.”
Sound familiar? Here are some pitfalls that have unfortunately cut down many a project in the prime of their lives (and some even before that).
Versions and Iterations: Microsoft has Windows10, so what happened to windows 1-9? Yup, they were previous versions that were replaced by (theoretically, arguably, etc.) newer, better, faster versions. Products and projects must evolve or improve (bugs, glitches, etc.), or the user will simply not want to use it and go somewhere else. Which brings us to our next point
UI and UX: Now depending on the company or client you work for, they might like to lump these two things together but trust us, they are two very different things. UI (user interface) is pretty much the look of things what the user sees: colors, designs, fonts, formatting -the eye candy, so to speak. But UX (user experience) is how easy it is to use, and that is the real draw to a product or project. You could have the most appealing, eye-catching, awe-inspiring design, but if you can use it: if it’s clunky, takes forever to load, or your users just have no idea how to start or where to go to get what they need, it’s useless.
Poor Budget Planning: This last one is almost always the case (especially with getting the ‘kid’ in to do your work). “When a lot of small business owners realize they’re gonna have to invest much more into the project, a lot of them will drop the project in that point in time. I’ve had clients who spend fifty grand, 100 grand on a project, they get it out there and it’s starting to get some traction but they’re not willing to put more into it, so the system kind of sleeps and slowly fades and dies away.”
And on that positive note, check out the VLOG!! It goes into way more detail on these points and uses clear cut examples like MySpace, and Google, and StudioWeb! There’s also a mention of how to bill small companies for your time in case a project does go down in flames, you won’t go into bankruptcy. Speaking of UI and UX, check out our online courses [links below…shameless promo, I know…], as a great example and who knows, ya might even learn something…
How will a web developers job change over the next five years?
First off, If you’re a dev, a programmer, employed or freelance, or someone who generally doesn’t get to see the ‘light of day’ (or is a shut-in), you’re welcome… We are out and about today!! Also, if you were in the mood for Dim Sum and talked yourself out of it…sorry.
Today we’re contemplating how the web-stack will change over the next 5 years. What devs and programmers should expect in terms of changes to their jobs, and delicious Dim Sum…sorry, I’m really hungry now…
Web Frameworks: Re: front-end frameworks, “…that’s more difficult to predict because web frameworks are more volatile. …My best guess -barring any new framework coming into the game/ some new disruptive technology- …I think you’re going to see React and Vue are going to be the dominant players, followed by Angular (but you can’t lose with any of them). This is a prime exmaple of why I always tell people to learn your fundamentals: frameworks change, libraries change, but the fundamentals don’t change.”
Complexities of Web Development: “Another thing you’re going to see …is the move more and more to the server. You’re seeing more and more sophisticated server tools that are pretty mind-blowing (from an old nerd’s prospective), [for example] virtualized database management: …instead of having to worry about charting your database and database optimizations, the advanced hosting companies -they provide that for you. They take care of that; scaling, auto-backups, all this kind of stuff that normally you would have to do yourself -you’d have to work it into the development cycle- not anymore! And you’re going to see more and more of this offloading of complexity in terms of application design and architecture…onto sophisticated hosting solutions. …So that’s another you’re going to see, that obfuscation of the complexity -and that’s a good thing.”
Closing Thoughts: “I think it’s going to shift from day to day ‘nuts and bolts’ type of coding, and going to go more towards architectural. Now what people use is a content management system; the most popular being WordPress. Which has given rise to the ‘WordPress Professional’, …[they] know how to install, configure WordPress, know the environment -the ecosystem around WordPress: know what the good themes are, the bad themes, the good plugins, the bad plugins, how to install and debug, how to lockdown and secure WordPress -there’s a whole skill set. Now you don’t necessarily need to be a coder, but having coding skills does help…and you can’t discount these type of skills… It’s very little about code but you gotta really know your stuff. …And this is a trend that been going on for awhile; this move away from nuts and bolts’ coding, to being someone who leverages different libraries and frameworks and understands how to use them/when to use them, and what circumstances to use them.”
So there you have it. The VLOG really goes into a much deeper and detailed dive, you should check it out. Also, speaking of fundamentals -SHAMELESSS PROMO- check out our links (below) to various courses we offer, particularly web development. It’s super effective. As for your job; it doesn’t mean coding is going to go away, just that there will be a shift. Again, know your fundamentals and you can’t go wrong. “A little less code, a little more architecture…and Dim Sum…always leave room for Dim Sum…so hungry!!! -Enjoy!
Complex development can linger in production, as you work on the last 5% of the job.
So you’ve got your project, your app – mobile or web, etc. ready to go and you’re almost done, “You’ve got the end and use case defined, meaning people can run through your system, you’ve got the UX defined, you got your UI in place…now at this point you’ve got just 5% left -so you figure, ‘we’re going to crack this thing out in a month…or a week depending on the scope of the thing over all- but what you’re going to find is that last 5% lingers…” Oh yes, ladies and gentleman, like a fart left in the back of an airplane bathroom…it lingers.
Light at the End of the Tunnel To get that crucial 5% working from end to end takes longer than you think and that is just par for the course. “[You’ll] find all these little things: this has to be fixed here, that has to be fixed here…this is normal. Keep that in mind when you’re first getting into the game, especially when you’re dealing with clients, and you’re building their system; you’ve got to account for that last bit of back and forth.”
So there it is my weary devs… Check out the VLOG for the some more insight into ‘the forced march of the last 5%’ and just know that it’s normal and to always account for the back and forth between you and the client when you hit that last 5%… -Enjoy!
How old can you be and still be a successful freelance coder / developer?
Gonna be a short article and VLOG, it’s mostly just a ‘WOW’ piece. For a quick refresher check out this and that previous article but there’s a man out there who is still a freelancing programmer at 83 years old!!
I mean C’mon! That’s insane! This guy either loves what he does, or owes some serious money. But it really does go to show you that age is just a number and where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Check out the VLOG for the whole story and keep on rockin’ in the free[lance] world! -Enjoy!
<Shameless promo> check out the really cool and thoughtfully put together courses that we offer. Whether it’s freelancing, or learning web development, you’ll be taking advantage of almost 3 decades of experience in all these subjects AND if you click here, you can take advantage of a super deal! We’ve teamed up with InMotion hosting for a really amazing offer where they essentially pay for you to take my course and learn how to become a web developer. Links to all these offers are below as well. -Enjoy!
…Or you can spend 25 years writing code to figure these rules out for yourself. Your choice… 😉
We use the ‘royal we‘ a lot here, but the man in charge and captain at the helm is Stef. He’s the guy whose over 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur, freelancer, and programmer, etc. is presented on a shiny platter of VLOG-ness every week, not to mention the courses offered (links below).
But when we <Stef> release a top 10 programming rules for you to take advantage of, well ya gotta give the devil <also Stef> his due and drop the pretense. And when we say 25 years of experience we don’t just mean showing up, doing your job, drinking coffee and then calling it a day… It’s also hard-knocks, disappointments, and life lessons. Stef doesn’t want a medal or anything, he just wants to save you a little heartache by listening to what he has to say. That way you have more time (and heart) left to do the things you enjoy.
I’m not gonna tell you what the programming rules are, you should watch the VLOG for that, but I’ll give you a hint: if you’ve been watching these VLOGs, even casually or out of sequence, you’ve come across all or most of them. This is just a condensed version of everything: the ‘from concentrate’ orange juice that has not yet been watered down at that small diner that you get breakfast sometimes, you know the one, their home fries are soooo good, but why do they ‘cheap out’ on the OJ?!
Check out the VLOG, it’s worth it. Or, like the subtitle says, spend 25 years figuring it out for yourself. Thanks, Stef (can I have a raise?). -Enjoy!
Do you need to have had work experience working for someone to become a freelancer?
American poet and playwright Edna St. Vincent Millay is quoted as saying, “I am glad that I paid so little attention to good advice; had I abided by it I might have been saved from some of my most valuable mistakes“. Even though that classy, gangsta quote sounds like something the Dowager Countess of Grantham would say on Downton Abbey, it is super applicable today when we broach the topic of freelancing and previous experience.
On our ‘code-on-the-go’ segment we answer the oft-asked question: should young devs get experience working for a company prior to getting into freelancing? Can a self-taught freelancer get as skillful as a dev who works within a company?
“Short answer is yes – not a problem. I’ve had many of my mentees come right outta school and they start freelancing; working for me as contractors: I start them with little projects and they would build up that way.” We’ve talked about this in past and even dedicated a whole article to it regarding field experience vs. class/book learning, but essentially “…learn your foundations, one or two quick project courses and then what you do is you start asking around local businesses about whether they need a website (if you’re doing web stack), and start with small simple projects…the key is to build your portfolio…yes, self-taught programmers can become just as skillful…”.
Check out the VLOG. Although it’s short I can guarantee you’re going to be illuminated. Also<Shameless Plug> if you’re interested in freelancing but don’t know where to start or you’ve just started and don’t think you’re doing it right, check out our course: ‘The Complete Freelancer‘. We wouldn’t offer it unless we were confident that you could profit from our over 3 decades of experience in the field. Links down below… -Enjoy!
Wix is another tool that web designers can use to build out simple client websites and for some client websites, using Wix just makes sense.
When it comes to building websites for clients most devs will turn to CMS giant WordPress but there are other less complicated web-builders out there like Wix, SquareSpace, Weebly, etc. that generally let you create websites easily at the cost of versatility. And that’s not altogether a bad thing, depending on what the client’s needs are.
And from these sites that offer simplicity and ease have risen freelancers in their own right. “If you look at Wix today or shopify…even though they’re much easier to use than, let’s say building from scratch: using a template or something, it’s still something that many small business owners don’t want to tackle. …In terms of freelance work, I call it becoming a web professional. A web professional is not necessarily somebody who is a developer (although they could be), …[It’s] somebody who knows how to put up websites, knows the different options; knows how to build from scratch, …you understand when those types of builders make sense, …hosting options, …domain names …this is what a web professional brings to the table.”
Don’t call Wix and the other builders a niche – I’ve been here for years, rockin’ my peers, puttin’ others in fear…okay seriously though, “…because it’s such a huge demand, this type of freelancer is gonna make a lot of money because there’s so many small businesses out there who are positioned on the web in some form or another and they don’t have all this knowledge, they don’t understand the differences between these different platforms and they’re probably not aware of most of these platforms…”
So should you consider using Wix, shopify, etc when choosing how to service client(s) demands over WordPress? “So your job as a consultant/web professional is to direct them in the right direction. Shopify, Wix, SquareSpace, etc. they’re not competition, they’re not taking away from web design and development, they are just tools in your toolbox. …Go in there first [and] talk to your client: see what their needs are and then you as a web professional can determine whether or not the Wix platform can support that.” As previously mentioned, “the thing about these web builders… they’re typically limited: the simplification comes at the cost of flexibility. …When you simplify you usually remove options that you have on the table. So you have to determine whether you need those options or not; maybe you don’t/maybe you do…”. Hey, we never said it was gonna be easy…
The VLOG goes into a way better explanation, you should check it out. And maybe while you’re at it <shameless promo> check out the really cool and thoughtfully put together courses that we offer. Whether is freelancing, or learning web development, you’ll be taking advantage of almost 3 decades of experience in all these subjects AND if you click here, you can take advantage of a super deal! We’ve teamed up with InMotion hosting for a really amazing offer where they essentially pay for you to take my course and learn how to become a web developer. Links to all these offers are below as well. -Enjoy!
WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world and they just released a new major update.
With over 30% of the world’s websites running on WordPress and something akin to 80% of small businesses, it’s safe to say that this content management system (CMS) is a pretty big deal. Which also makes it a huge opportunity for freelancers to become ‘WordPress professionals’ – someone who provides services on the site to those businesses.
WordPress recently released version 5.2, named “Jaco” in honor of renowned and revolutionary jazz bassist Jaco Pastorius, and it’s available for download or update in your WordPress dashboard. For those of you not familiar with the CMS giant – TaDa! – and for those of you that just wanna check it out for yourself –Abracadabra!– but we’ll be looking at a couple key/cool updates. Full disclosure, we use WordPress…why? “Because dealing with the headaches of creating your own CMS or your own sites…”, it’s just easier with WordPress.
–PHP Error Detection: You’ll be able to fix fatal errors – like the white screen of death – without requiring ‘developer time’. Also, if your plug-ins and themes go haywire, there’s a recovery mode that you can enter into.
–Accessibility Updates: If you’re using a screen reader of other accessibility technologies, there’s a more seamless integration and more “contextual awareness and keyboard navigation flow”.
–Heads up: *If you are running an old version of PHP (less than 5.6.20), update your PHP before installing 5.2.
Of course, please check out the link above for a list of all things new and shiny, not to mention the VLOG for a more robust pass at this new version. On a side note click here for a really cool offer. We’ve teamed up with InMotion hosting and they’re essentially going to pay for you to take my course and learn how to become a web developer. Links to the offer and my courses are down below. -Enjoy!
Selling online is really the future of selling; no question. So, is getting into a niche eCommerce business the way to go?
Niches historically have their highs and lows, depending on subject matter. A niche band that your buddy introduced you to might be music to your ears, but perhaps that band isn’t making a lot of money at shows because only a hand full of people who really appreciate what they do turn out…
On the other hand, finding a niche in eCommerce that you can fill would be a good thing. “Niche is the key to success, because if it’s not niche then you’re going to be competing with a lot of big players (possibly), meaning bigger companies or you’re just gonna have a lot of competition.” This is gonna be a shameless plug, but we go into this in better detail in our ‘Complete Entrepreneur’ course that we offer (link below).
“…If you want to get into business go into niche or you go into an industry where there’s just a huge amount of demand that the demand outstrips the supply.” One of the reasons we recommend finding a niche on the web to fill, whether it be eCommerce, WordPress, etc. is that you don’t necessarily have to go to school to be able to jump in. We’re talk about 3-5 years of schooling here… for example, you don’t have to get a data science degree, or a software engineering degree. You can simply take a course…like the ones we offer…nudge, nudge, wink, wink… and be able to jump right in, get your experience, grow your reputation and make your living.
VLOG your face off and check out more in-depth reasons to find a niche market to go into and stick around til the end (or just jump to the end), to see Montreal in the winter…just in case you’ve had enough of this wonderful July heat and forgot about what comes next… -Enjoy!
A couple of tips on how to price your freelance web design and development contracts.
Okay, you’ve got your first paying/serious/ for real-sises (technical term) job and after giving you the lowdown on the job, your client asks what the price tag is going to be?
Well, maybe you think to yourself, “I charge ‘X’ amount of money per hour and this looks like a ten hour job, so -” whoa, whoa, whoa, champ! there’s soooo much more to take into account.
First off, Shameless Promo: Check out the link to our freelancer courses that we offer. They’re real and they’re spectacular!
Second, if you’re freelancing you have to factor in all the stuff that goes around the project. ie: phone calls, re-writes/edits/corrections, etc. and those take up your time too and therefore need to be accounted for.
The good news is, you’re worth it, all of it. But, you do need to get into the practice of being able to correctly judge the price of a project.
Some businesses want know the sum total at the end of a job (“Is this going to cost my business 1000.00$? 5000.00$?) and you’re going to have to give them that. Check out the Vid below where we give you a few pointers and for maximum coverage, checkout our link below to our freelancer course.
Sure, you’re gonna learn a lot of stuff the hard way out there in ‘freelancer world’, but if we can save you a few hard knocks with our own experience, isn’t it worth it?