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August 15 2012

13:00

1stWebDesigner’s Life #8 – Amnesia and Volunteer

Hello there! Here we are again to laugh on our own stories. Our Webster superhero (bought life by Jamie Sale) is in trouble again and we’re here to help.

Ok, we’re not going to help him but we’ll at least learn by his mistakes :)

These two particular stories happened to me quite a few times. And funny enough that mostly happened while I was working in a regular job, as an employee.

Amnesia

Volunteer

How to refresh client’s memory

On this topic we have a lot to learn with Support guys. If you worked on / with a big company whenever you need help you’ll need to open a ticket. I often hear people saying things like “Oh gosh, I have to open a ticked just to get a new mouse pad, that’s awful”, but we all should be using such systems.

Be it big or small changes you’ll always need to write it down and make sure you have how to prove that client requested that. Also, writing every request is good because you can show you are aggregating value to the final product. Here is a few advantages:

  • You won’t lose track of what needs to be done, and which items has higher priority than others
  • You can remember if client asks you why have you changed links color from #ea9821 to #e05415 2 moths ago. You’ll know where everything is and why you have done it
  • You’ll actually feel that you are doing something important. When we work all day long doing small tasks sometimes is common this lack of sense of accomplishment.
  • You’ll promptly know which client is draining your resources and which one is not. That’s good for business so you’ll know your 80/20.

But this is especially bad when you are working as an employee. Boss will ask you million things and forget 90% of them. A good tip is to keep track of those requests via email (since I doubt you’ll make your boss to open tickets to have you doing stuff). At least you have how to simply re-forward him his request and avoid a lot of headaches.

Open 24 hours

Deadlines, who doesn’t love them? :)

I don’t.

I mean, if they are used how it should be they are great. But right now they are mostly a guess made by someone who doesn’t have a clue on how long does it takes to do things. “Wait, but I set my own deadlines”, yeah, and you are doing it wrong (don’t worry, so do I!).

We often forget about how long does it take to do simple things. So if someone asks you to add new feature to the project, when you estimate how long does it takes you remember that you’ll need to:

  1. Write code
  2. Test
  3. Close issue

But often you forget that actually you’ll need to:

  1. Turn on your PC
  2. Re-read the scope
  3. Open the right files
  4. Google your code x better options
  5. Find the best solution
  6. Test
  7. Change
  8. Re-Test
  9. Test on IE
  10. Change again
  11. Document new code
  12. Close the issue.

Ok, we are not the #1 people to set deadlines, but what this has to do with that stripe? That was all client’s fault, right?!  Yes, it is, but if we (experts) often can’t set realistic deadlines, you can imagine what a great job the client will do. He just wants things done as quick as possible, and if needed he’ll ask you to work overnight and why not, on weekends.

What you can do is to show him that you actually don’t work 24×7 (and if that’s really needed, charge at least a much higher rate) AND it takes a lot more of work to do than it seems. I know that client won’t understand this at first, but if you have a good relationship at some point he may even understand that you need to have social life :)

March 01 2012

10:00

1stwebdesigner’s Life #5 – Sales Increase and Crap Site

Hello everyone :) Here we are again with a few more funny things to share.

First of all, I want to say that we’ll be improving this section and our funny content a lot, and the good part is that we won’t be limited to comic strips anymore (tip: how often are you pinning stuff?). Needless to say that after a whole week of working hard you deserve those funny moments.

Today our strips will talk about crazy clients ideas and a misunderstanding over wireframes.

I’m pretty sure you have been requested to do a crazy .gif or a malicious script. So how to deal with it?

And you remember that client who thought that those wireframes were the whole website, even after you explained that a wireframe is a concept validation tool?

Well, let’s laugh at this then!

Sales Increase

Crap Site

So, what would you do?

Annoying scripts… Are they forbidden?

Ok, in that case of the strip, it’s totally forbidden. But actually I can see good uses for scripts that at first look like a desperate attempt to get back to the web  of the 90′s.

First you have to tell the client where you are allowed to use intrusive scripts, and truth be told, by default you aren’t.

And the big question is: when are they allowed?

It’s easy, dear Padawan. Only use them when intrusive scripts give user valuable information, or help them to use your stuff.

Let’s try a few examples:

  • Replace scrollbar with your own good-looking arrow styles (thanks GMail!) – It’s ok when you have galleries, for instance. It’s not ok just to give your website a stylish look (because once wasn’t enough, THANKS Gmail!)
  • Messages when user try to close window – It’s not ok just to give user a last chance to come back. Nobody but you likes this (but only on your own site, huh?). But it’s useful when you have unsaved data, like what WordPress does when you’re editing a post and accidentally hit close.
  • Window resizing – It’s only allowed when your app needs its own defined space, and you should open a new window. Otherwise it’s pretty annoying when my 50 tab window gets resized.
  • Window shaking – No excuses. Please, don’t do that.

Can you think of other annoying scripts that could be useful in some cases? Share with us :)

Wireframes are ugly

Sorry to say, but they are. And it’s not your fault, their purpose is just to quickly provide a proof of concept and save you time and resources by changing things before everything is done.

But clients don’t really get that, huh?

Well, my tip is, don’t ever try to make them look pretty. Actually, it’s better if you can do it with just paper, then the client won’t get confused thinking that it’s “the website”.

With your sketch in hand that actually looks like a sketch , it’ll be way easier to get clients attention to what is important at this point, look at where things should be, what is missing, if the work flow is good.

Do you have your own way to deal with this? How about sharing your secrets with us?

Big changes ahead!

As I said before, we’ll be reformulating our funny department, so stay tuned because we’ll make improvements soon :)

Oh, and if you have any comic ideas to share, or any other cool stuff you have in mind, just use the pretty field below!

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20:51

February 17 2012

10:00

Why Your Business Must Go Social [Infographic]

Your grandma is probably on Facebook by now. So why on earth isn’t your business?

It’s time to get real, and come to terms with the fact that social media networks are not just for teenagers anymore. Even setting up something as simple as a customized Facebook fan page can enhance your brand online. Studies show that socializing is important for maintaining a happy and a healthy lifestyle. So it kinda makes sense that the same holds true for businesses, no?

Read on for some cold hard facts about why social networking is a must for you and your company.

Shared by our friends from Wix!

your wix business must go social
Via: Wix.com

January 15 2012

10:00

1stWebDesigner’s Life #3 – Mind Reading & Doing The Whole Site

It’s time to get back to our funny project, 1stWebdesigner’s Life. We’ve received such great feedback from our #1 and #2 that we’ve decided to make it a really cool bi-monthly series to brighten your Sundays. We’re back with Webster (our superhero!) brought live by Jamie Sale!

Today we’ll talk about clients that think we can read their minds, and misunderstandings about what your job is and what it isn’t but your client may think it is. So let’s go through them.

Mind Reading

Doing the whole site

So, what could you do in these situations?

Do you remember that our goal here is to gain some insight from this comic? So, let’s go on this.

I don’t want you stealing my idea!

Many people think that an idea has value. Actually, we avoid talking about our own ideas with other people, fearing that they will just steal our next million dollar idea. But the truth is that until you implement your idea, it has no value at all. Even after implementation many people will just copy you, so success is not just about cool ideas.

Well, it may be hard to convince your client of this fact (if you find a way to do it, please, tell me).

So, your best bet here is:

  1. Position yourself as expert, someone who will help and make their idea even better with you great wisdom :)
  2. Guide your client by trying to find out at least the basic structure of their idea, and similar projects so you’ll know how to start

To check #1 there’s no easy path, you must know a lot about what you’re talking about. So if it comes to a cool project that needs awesome JavaScript enhancements, you need to know JavaScript so you can give good (and free) advice. The key here is to say like “why don’t you do X, Y, Z [cool suggestions related to what client have pitched to you] ? If you want I can do it for you for $[fair price here]“. Again, don’t fear the client stealing your implementation logic, they’ll be glad to know that you want to help with great ideas.

To check #2 you’ll need to be really updated with new ideas and upcoming projects. So if your client asks you “a way to send and receive messages to others with a unique identifier so only allowed person will see it” you may suggest her trying Gmail. Then as you’ve done several webmail clients before you’ll know the project’s size :)

But what I was supposed to do?

About the second strip, well, this one scares me even nowadays.

I used to work in a company where programmers were asked to (wait for it) insert products in their projects. Yeah, you read it right. A real company (actually I’ve seen others that work this way too) where programmers spend their precious time doing what a technician is supposed to do.

So, hold on, if a client thinks that you were supposed to add all their data, it’s not their fault. It’s yours.

What you have to do is to make it very, very clear, in the same way you won’t be designing their business cards, you won’t be adding content, or formatting their PC.

Your job is really clear to you, but you must explain what you believe your role to be to them, though they think you are they guy who knows everything about everything internet-related you won’t be doing such things.

It’s your turn!

Have you seen something like this? Do you have any fun stories to share? Just go on and comment! :)

August 29 2011

10:30

1stWebDesigner’s Life – Your New Must-Read Webcomic. What do you think?

After enjoying a good weekend it’s good to start your week reading some funny things, right? That’s why we bring to you our brand new webcomic: 1stwebdesigner’s life. The comic will not just be about common situations every web designer encounters, but we also want to give you some ideas about how to deal with those situations.

We’re inspired by many web comics and funny websites out there, like A Programmer’s Life, FMLife, Vida de Programador(pt-br), WebDesignerDepot’s Comic of the Week. But we surely won’t steal anyone’s idea. Everything written here is about things that I have experienced or reader’s submitted ideas :).

Oh, Tyron Love is the amazing South African cartoonist that brings this idea to life.

Characters

Our nameless Hero! (give him a name!)

It’s you, me, and everyone that suffer from web designing disease.

You have gone through hard times, haven’t you? But I’m sure you can laugh when remembering it, you know, that “better than google” client, that funny comment of your girlfriend, that site you have forgotten to test on IE. So this is it, always with a smile on his face and ready for the craziest clients that may come.

By the way, the client is another staff member:

Da Boss / Client

Basically he is someone who pays you to do technical work.

Many times they don’t know what they want, and think that what you do is just click a few times in a magic website generator and BOOM, new Facebook done.

More characters to go!

We have more people backstage just waiting to be published, but for our inaugural piece, we will have just these two characters. :)

1stWebdesigner’s Life #1 – Flash Banner

I bet you have seen something similar to this:

How to deal with this situation?

This happens not only with Flash, but I believe that iPads, iPhones, and iPods widespread made this issue pretty common.

First of all, you are the specialist. You have to know exactly which limitations each solution has, and how to deal with them. In this case, our hero has made the mistake of believing in what the client says.

Huge mistake, dear friend.

Of course, you don’t have superpowers (as far as I know), so you have to ask some questions. But you should keep in mind that your client doesn’t know what he is talking about when it comes to implementation.

Believe me, if he says “I want a flash banner” he thinks that only flash can solve his problem.

Well, you have basically two solutions for this:

  1. Ignore customer and do it your way – This is potentially dangerous if you aren’t the only one working on a project, although sometimes it is the easiest way.
  2. Educate your client - This can take a little time, but man, this will surely prove you know what you’re talking about. Your customer will understand why you’re doing the things you’re doing and if he takes the risk he will know what could go wrong.

Many times it’s good to explain to your client some of the common limitations of the application they’re asking you to use.

You know, if he wants AJAX, Flash, Hit counter, 20-steps buying process or any other solution part of the reason you are being paid is to explain why you’re using one solution over another, and what the pros and cons are of each.

Now, it’s your turn

So, do you have funny situations that want to share with us?

Or do you have a creative name for our hero? Yeah, it will be good to hear some advice!

Feel free to get in touch via comments, twitter, email. Share with us how your 1st web designer life is going.

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