Posts Tagged ‘job’

Before and After

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

I just went through my archives, because I wanted to see what happened when in my development of The Embroidery House.

This image [2022×372, 213KB] is a string of all backups, generally made after a big night of fiddling around with things. usually gets backed up once a month, it seems, and has also come a long way.

The Embroidery House creation, from left to right:

  1. February 11th: This was actually a rough draft, which was only meant to show the functionality behind what I was doing: using a primitive AJAX form to load the clothing from an XML file. I got carried away, and tried to make everything look like stitches. Most everything had custom padding or margin, and almost all the style was inline. At this point, I was still mainly a programmer who did web stuff on the side.
  2. February 23rd: Having finished the AJAX, I decided to try beautifying it up. This wasn’t my first day with this design, but I don’t have backups of the other days. Basically, I decided that the site should be sporty, and sporty sites always had bold reds or blues, and usually whites. I wanted to give the site a textured feel, as if it were made of fabric. On February 19th, I had my Great Epiphany and became a web designer/developer. On the same night, I discovered transparency and abused it about as much as you’d expect someone to abuse something he just found. The logo suddenly looked like a watermark, which was appealing to me, but then I was trying to make practically everything transparent, and it just didn’t work. I was going to put a fading-transparent set of coat-hangers in the corner, so be thankful I didn’t. At about this time, I had discovered Doug Bowman’s A List Apart article called Sliding Doors of CSS, at just that point where I was experimenting with making my links more like buttons.
  3. March 4th: I eventually decided that the last style was so disgusting and unforgivable that I scrapped the entire thing and started from scratch (except the styles set up to lay out the clothing). I settled on a minimalist approach, to really bring out the soft cream of the fabric in the background. I made the main navigation blue, because red just seemed stupid. I also made a bit of javascript that loaded up a Google Maps window if you clicked on the address, which I was kind of proud about. My client had finally given me the text for his logo, which I used in a sort of banner text.
  4. March 10th: A week later, not much had changed. I had fixed up the styles a bit, and made the items look more individual. I started working on the UI, so that the site would be actually usable. Some things got re-written, as well.
  5. March 24th: My client finally got an idea of what he wanted the site to look like, and drew up a plan. He wanted sky above, with the menu above the main content area, and a sidebar for showing new items. I chose some colours quickly, but things ended up looking a bit aquarian. I ended up completely changing the style. I was in the middle of converting the pages to PHP, which finished a few days afterwards.
  6. August 2nd: There were other steps in-between, but few of them are stye-based. I went through a phase where there were trees in the sidebar, but the client didn’t like it. I photographed the sky and took samples from that, so the tones should be far truer. I tried to give a gradient feel, to replicate the gradients of the sky. I also tried to keep the images small, to fit with all screen sizes. At some point, I filled the sidebar, redid the copy on most of the pages, consolidated those extra pages (like About and Contact) to a small toolbar in the corner, and added a miniscule floating footer. I redid the entire clothing system to run with php, from a database, and added the options to filter those. I’ve got to add sorting, sometime. At the moment, you can sign in, browse clothing, select the one you want, and add it to a cart. I’ve also added a forum, though it’s yet to be used. I also haven’t actually changed it for about a month, so it’s really more like July 2nd.

Quite a list! I think, if the entire project were to be erased, I’d be able to get everything back up the way it was in a little over one month. At the moment, I’m waiting on the client to finish a list of chores he needs to do to complete the site. I’ve been doing logo work for him, in the interim.

Getting Business

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

I think the hardest part of setting up a business — especially if you’ve never done if before, and have no friends in higher places — is that you can’t just sit back and let the clients come to you.

I liken myself, these past few months, to a spider on a web. I spun the web, and I’m sitting on it, but I’m starving while I wait for flies.
It’s not a good analogy, because I’m not preying on anyone, but I’m not sure there’s an animal that spins a web and greets anything it catches with a warm and heartfelt manner.

So, solutions: If you’ve made the business, you need clients. If you’ve done the work, and you made your business plan, you’ll know your target market. It’s just a matter of getting out personally and talking to people from that market.

You see, there are three ways of getting out there. You could be introduced to everyone by a friend, and have all the contacts handed to you; you could choose a great location and optimize your site for search-engines, so people can find you easily; or you can meet everyone personally and become well-known in the community.

I don’t know anyone in the web field, so the first option is right out.
I’ve built a nice little site, and I’m putting my words on a ton of blogs, but I’ve so far been almost completely unsuccessful at getting anyone to even notice I’m here. I’ve fiddled with things on both sites, but Cozy Cabbage Web Design & Development, my Winnipeg Web Design firm, is nowhere near the top of the lists. (I think this site is more well-known, because I use it everywhere on the web to represent me, so I’ll do the self-linking this once). This blog, too has never had any subscribers (possibly because I only write trash and musings). Furthermore, I could become well-known in the web community, but that means nothing to some random person walking down the street. If I stopped and asked someone, they would’t know who Doug Bowman is, or Jeffery Zeldman, or Dave Shea, or any of the rest.
And that leaves ‘getting out there’. I’m doing a bunch of research on local businesses, and I’ll have to get in touch with everyone to see if there are new businesses starting up around me. I can also talk to established web design companies in the city, so see what they have to say.

It’s time for a whole lot of work.

Community Expertise

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

I get my hosting through a guy (Who I’ll call Gushi) who does hosting. Because of this, I don’t have to put up with the GoDaddy-type bureaucracy. It also means I’m working with someone who has their own ambitions.

Two days ago, he mentioned an idea he had: The users of his hosting, because they all tended to fall under similar skill sets, could put a list of their abilities on a page to create a community resource. Gushi provides the hosting, and will set up a mySQL account, but doesn’t even give anyone a homepage to start with. If an artist joins the hosting, they could come to the skill page and ‘hire’ other hostees who have skill in webpage design. Likewise, someone who needs something drawn up can enlist the help of an artist, vector drawer, or graphic designer on the list.

We went through the initial ideas, and it would so far be some sort of Perl module put into the control panel we use to manage our site. The user will add categories and/or skill tags for skills they’re proficient in, and a bit of a write-up about themselves, some prices, and samples.

It’s a great idea, and I’m excited to be working on it.

In a Slump? Try Something New!

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

It seems to have been a week since I posted. I suppose I could have managed to post something, but I was busy and I don’t think I’d really done anything new.

Everyone has slumps, and you’ve kind of got to ride them out. Try to work on whatever, or catch up on things you’ve missed while the slump has a hold of you.

This week, I’ve got a renewed energy. I’ve been reading the W3C SVG spec, and may have learnt enough to make something with it. I copied the text of the spec into a text file, then put that file on my Nintendo DS to read while I was out camping.
Here’s a little note for the frugal types, who can’t afford a $200 smartphone with the extra thousand or two you’ll have to pay out for a three-year contract: I got a Nintendo DS Lite, back in October when they were $129.99, open-case for $114.99 or so. I got a flashcart, which you can use to apply your own programs, and a microSD to put into the flashcart. You could get that whole setup for as little as $160. You can download a few programs, which would give you access to Google Maps (cacheable for offline viewing), let you write text documents, and let you read ebooks, among other things. The DS has built in speakers, two screens (one of them a touch screen) that fold up in a protective and small clamshell, wifi (though restricted), up to twenty hours of battery life, up to 16GB storage, and a couple other goodies. In short, it’s rather flexible.

I copied the SVG spec into a unicode text document, loaded it onto my microSD, and read it throughout camping. I also have some back-dated entries of a few blogs I’m following, so I can read back into 2007 or so while I have free time, as well as the recently-released Taking your Talent to the Web.
I’ll end up putting a tutorial for getting started with your DS in the Homebrew section of this site, sometime later. Needless to say, it was a great investment.
So I was carrying it around in my pocket all weekend, and managed to read about a third of the SVG spec over the course of four days. I’ve learned how to write the doctype and xmlns from memory, and I’ve learned about some of the elements and attributes used. I’m going to try my hand at it in just a few hours.

Before that, I’ve got a couple job leads. There’s a place about a twenty-minute walk from where I live, and that looks promising. I’ll ask them for advice and make some contact, though I’m not sure I can give up the freelancing life. I just love the freedom to work through the night at wake up at 8:00pm. I don’t know if there’s a single hour, now that I haven’t woken up in. When you wake up at 10:00pm, there’s just something inside you that leaps in joy.

Anyway, I’ve got a bit of a fresh start. Still looking for clients, but it may be time to bump my initial $50/week pittance to a realistic $100/week. If I could get a few full-time clients, I could be making a comfortable amount.
The price, really, depends on efficiency. Build Internet’s post on the issue really hits the nail on the head, when it comes to hourly (or per-period) wages:
20 hours x $30 = $600
10 hours x $60 = $600
If I can work faster, I can fit more clients in while they can get a product faster (without actually paying more). Just to see, I should try to completely recode my February client’s site, to see how long it takes me. If I can redo it in a couple weeks, it’ll really say something about how far I’ve come, because it took about two months of solid work to put together.


Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

I’m in a bit of a slump. I think I managed a fair bit last week, but this week I just don’t know what to do with myself.
There are a couple of things I need to do, here and there, but the most important thing for me to do is to put myself out there and find clients. The task seems so nebulous, though, that I have no clue where to start.

I’ve got things I could learn (I’ve been meaning to start on SVG and RDFa), or I could continue learning about PHP, but both of those leave me just sitting here in a self-contained environment.

So there it is: I’ve got to pay attention to the funding pipelines I’ve got access to (namely, logo work with my existing client for his clients), and get on the ball for other leads.
I’ve been meaning to talk to Modern Earth, a local web design business, but I haven’t yet been successful in reaching them.
I’ve already gotten someone working on a new Cozy Cabbage for my web site, instead of my horrible fuzz-filtered cabbage (which everyone complains looks pixelated).
I’ve got some documents about a business plan, and had just started reading them, but then I went through a massive desktop switcharound, which left me distracted for a few days. I’ve been getting back up to pace, now, so I can get back to work.

Mainly, I’ve got to limit my time spent on other things. I’ll check all my emails and visit my online things and even read through all my blogs quickly, but then I’ll somehow pitter around for another four hours.
As the day wears on, time goes faster. I’ll get a whole bunch done in the first four hours, and then suddenly eight more hours go by without me noticing. Suddenly, every time I look at the clock two hours have gone by.
I’ve got to recognize that point where everything starts to speed up, and focus on some sort of technique to slow it down again. Awareness?
Maybe I’ll make myself another tea.

Yeah, I think I feel a lot better. Many thanks to Sushi Monster for these lovely photos. She was right: they made me smile, and got me out of a negative mindset.

Modern Earth

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

I used IE5 today.

I think most places using IE6, or even IE5, are also places which are very locked down, and most usually can only access their own system. This means it’s not incredibly important to develop according to IE5, and sometimes IE6, but it also means their market share is technically higher than what we see.

As I used a locked-down computer, though, I once again realized that I just couldn’t handle it. Quite simple, I will not work for a company where I can’t run my own programs. I visited my old highschool, today, and they had so many restrictions that it was hard just to copy an image from my flash drive to one of the computers. Frankly, I’m surprised the flashdrive was able to install itself.
-No right-clicking
-No accessing C:
-No executing programs (it used to be we just needed to rename them ‘wordpad.exe’)
-No copything things to the desktop
-Only a few megabytes of space on a network drive
-No scrollwheel on the mouse

The library was further restrictive, and wouldn’t allow me to view source. View source! It’s like my bread, and they took it from me, as well as the wine of my freedom. I was starving, on those machines.

While I was at the school, I talked to a teacher there who teaches students about business plans and stuff like that, in the hopes that he might be able to refer some start-ups to me. He pointed me to Modern Earth Web Design, which is a Winnipeg business about ten years old that the school has worked with for a while. Something like that.
Apparently, Winnipeg is becoming a hotspot for web developers. Who would have guessed?
Modern Earth is apparently the largest web design company in Manitoba, but I had done some searches for web designers in Winnipeg and they had never come up. Luck of the draw, I suppose.

So, I’m going to have to do some contacting, and put myself out there. I’ve got my heart set on freelancing, really, but maybe I could get some recommendations or a few pointers. I could always freelance while working somewhere.

Cozy Cabbage Web Design&Development

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

It’s a bit of a mouthful, but I’ve finally got my business site up and running! I’ve got to professionalize the language a bit more and add an information form that a customer would fill out, but it’s it’s basically done. I’ll have to check it in IE, again, and maybe end up tweaking a couple styles.

As it is, it took me these past six hours to get it up. The writing actually took a great deal of time — much longer than I thought it would take.
I’m going tomorrow to pick up my business cards, and then I’m going to my old highschool, where I hope a certain teacher there — who taught classes on how to be an entrepreneur — keeps in touch with students starting their small businesses. It would be the perfect opportunity to grow my skills while contributing to the community of small businesses.

I’m starting at the insanely low value of $50/week, with the expectation that I’ll only actually do an hour or two of hard work a day (plus about six hours of random fiddling, plus about eight hours of blogging and socializing, plus about eight hours of sleeping).
From there, once I’ve got a couple clients — enough to keep my fed, — I’ll increase it to $100/week. That should last me for the next couple months, until I’ve learned a good deal more. I can slowly find people who need the bigger jobs, and work with them for a larger sum. I’ll probably need more than a year before I can feel comfortable designing for larger companies.

I spent the last few days reading backlogs of some other blogs. I’m learning more and more, and retaining new ideas. I’ve also realized that a social network is incredibly important. I was reading about whuffie and the soup metric and what companies do and what they should do. I’ve read about marketing, ROI, and just plain love.

So there it all is, layed out:
Mid February, I became a web developer. Tomorrow, that path leads out of the forest and into the wide, wide countryside, and I become a working professional throwing himself into the world.
I had better get to sleep. I’ll need it.

(Crap, do I need a business license? Do I have to charge GST? I do have a lot to research, suddenly.)

Job Applications – What not to do

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Applying for a job can be really hard. I can’t get the right words:


When I read about your job opening for a software tester, I felt a miniscule palpitation in the bowels of my heart.
“This is for me,” I thought.

I really want to keep that, but I fear I’ll scare them off.