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  1. #1
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    Arrow What are the biggest challenges facing web developers?

    Everyone around here is working hard – designers, programmers, hosting providers, content writers, marketers. All of us doing different things, but facing a core set of issues and challenges which seem to keep coming up again and again.

    I know that I face the same problems over and over again, and I’m wondering how others would answer the question:

    What is it that is most painful about your day-to-day work?
    What makes you most frustrated?


    I’ll get it started:

    What makes me crazy right now?

    Clients who hire a vendor that agreed to complete a project in an impossible timeframe, and got screwed – but now they are looking for another vendor to pick up the project and still make the same ridiculous deadline!

    You know, this old dialog:

    Client: “I need it done in 2 weeks”

    Me: “2 weeks to do an entire e-commerce site from scratch + logo and everything? I don’t think I can make that work”

    Client: “Well, I had 4 weeks but the first developer said they weren’t going to make the deadline and I fired them, so we only have 2 weeks left”

    Me: “My recommendation is to reconsider your schedule – if you rush too much you won’t succeed”


    Client: “Can’t do that, I have to find a way to ‘make it work’”


    Me: “Sorry, I can’t make it work. But if you find someone who can, please let me know because I want to hire them!”


    Argh!
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. — Socrates

    SAGEWING LLC - QUALITY WEB AND MOBILE APPS. PREMIUM OUTSOURCING SERVICES.
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  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard
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    What makes me crazy? Two things, mainly (well, a lot, but two stick out right now):

    Firstly, it's the clients who just don't listen. No matter what you say to them, you can be guaranteed that in a few days you'll get an email asking exactly what you told them -- because they couldn't be bothered to read a whole email or take in what you tell them in person.

    Secondly, those who consider themselves the 'expert' and me just some guy who does web design and obviously doesn't know that much. My favourite case of this follows:

    I was asked by a client about two weeks ago to set up some email accounts on his hosting account on my server. I did as he requested and emailed him the details, including usernames and passwords, mailserver addresses, and such like. He said he knew how to configure Outlook so I assumed he'd be ok with these details.

    I got a phonecall from him a little under an hour later, and he told me that he was getting a "server not found" error. "How odd," I thought, "my email is running on the same server and it's working fine". I even went to the trouble of setting up one of his accounts on my computer and when this was met with success I realised he'd probably made a mistake.

    As I ran through the server details with him just to make sure he hadn't made a typo, he dropped the bombshell: "Oh, that mailserver address you sent me didn't look like others that I've seen in the past, so I just entered a different address instead". He called me without thinking that I may possibly have been correct in the first place and that he should have just done what I said. Oh no, he's far too clever for that.

    Still, being given frequent opportunities to tear my hair out saves on trips to the hairdresser's.

    Sam
    Sam Hastings

  3. #3
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    That's why I shave my head

    What about things outside of the client world? Like, I am really struggling to find a way to advertise my services.. I advertise to web designers, but they don't seem to congregate in many places (i.e. sitepoint.com) , or have many industry mags, etc.
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. — Socrates

    SAGEWING LLC - QUALITY WEB AND MOBILE APPS. PREMIUM OUTSOURCING SERVICES.
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  4. #4
    SitePoint Wizard holmescreek's Avatar
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    1) Get your business established.
    2) Have excellent references from business owners in your community.
    3) Make sure you do excellent work.
    4) Have everything in a contract.
    5) Include a no-preview policy for your work, otherwise your clients become "insta-artists" constantly wanting to change your design over and over.
    6) Interview your clients and find out exactly what content they need in the site, if they have an existing logo, what colors they prefer, if they will be updating the site or will it be a static site. Break down the site navigation and pages into an outline during the interview so you know exactly what content to add to the site.
    7) Make sure that your client understand that they must provide their OWN content for the site. Otherwise, your going to spend weeks writing up content for instance, a site on the health of babies.
    8) Always require a 50% non-refundable deposit in the contract and offer a 10% discount if they pay in full up front.

    A good example of this is : Wedding photographers have tons of people wanting services in June, if you schedule couple #1 on a specific date --- and in the mean time tell other potential clients that you are booked for that day --- then couple #1 cancels, you just lost a days worth of work ($1000+).

    The same principal applies to web development....except imagine you clear your schedule for a month and Client #1 with no deposit. Then you clear your schedule for their project for a month, turning away other potential clients. And, at the last minute Client #1 bails. With a 50% non-refundable deposit, at least you have "some" income for that month.
    intragenesis, llc professional web & graphic design

  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard holmescreek's Avatar
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    Last note, "Don't stick too many irons in the fire." You will end up tired, and rushing the work. Always make sure that when you complete a project, it is a project that you are proud to put into your portfolio -- if it's not, then your next client will not be impressed when they visit the site of the last job you finished.

    Finally, if a client has a site that really sucks - design wise - and wants you to add, for instance, a guest book, don't add it to your portfolio. In the event a potential client clicks on that sucky site, they will get the impression that you designed it.
    intragenesis, llc professional web & graphic design

  6. #6
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    That's really more advice then a contribution to the thread..

    I'm more interested in what causes the most headaches, etc.
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. — Socrates

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  7. #7
    SitePoint Wizard holmescreek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sagewing
    That's really more advice then a contribution to the thread..

    I'm more interested in what causes the most headaches, etc.

    People that call up and ask for a price of a web site right off the bat -- That's like calling up a doctor that you have never met and stating you have a headache and how much would you charge to make it go away.
    intragenesis, llc professional web & graphic design

  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard holmescreek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sagewing
    That's why I shave my head

    What about things outside of the client world? Like, I am really struggling to find a way to advertise my services.. I advertise to web designers, but they don't seem to congregate in many places (i.e. sitepoint.com) , or have many industry mags, etc.
    Your local Chamber of Commerce is a good start. They typically meet monthly, and you can sponsor those meetings and do a presentation on your services. Industry magazines are probably a waste of money, most of the huge firms have a large budget to spend in that area, and most are out sourcing to foreign countries like India, where workers earn a few bucks an hour, much like Dell is doing now.
    intragenesis, llc professional web & graphic design

  9. #9
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    Cheap labor and outsourcing.

  10. #10
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Javen23m
    Cheap labor and outsourcing.
    How so?
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. — Socrates

    SAGEWING LLC - QUALITY WEB AND MOBILE APPS. PREMIUM OUTSOURCING SERVICES.
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  11. #11
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    So then?

  12. #12
    SitePoint Enthusiast intruth's Avatar
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    I had a friend's dad who wanted me to build him a site to sell coins. I asked how many different coin's do you have because I'll have to scan pics. He said 2400. I said wow well the best I could do would be $1000.00. US He said I know a kid who will do it for $300.00... lol I said good luck I was tryng to due you a favior. He called me back a week later but i didnt have time nor did I want to mess with a guy that could not take a great deal when he see's it. He is still doing ebay to this day.
    Last edited by intruth; Feb 11, 2006 at 02:44. Reason: added

  13. #13
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    Yea that's an old story - bottom feeding clients. I usually send them on their way, but expect about 10% of them to eventually come back..
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. — Socrates

    SAGEWING LLC - QUALITY WEB AND MOBILE APPS. PREMIUM OUTSOURCING SERVICES.
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  14. #14
    SitePoint Wizard aaron.martone's Avatar
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    $1000 is a deal and a half to scan in crop and image adjust that many coins. I love giving clients the "Pick 2" philosophy.

    Quality
    Quick
    Cheap

    "Pick 2".

    Quality and Quick? Well it won't be cheap. (easily $1000's of dollars)
    Quality and Cheap? Well it won't be quick. (easily 6 month minimum time frame)
    Quick and Cheap? Well it won't be quality. (easily 2 minutes of my time)

  15. #15
    SitePoint Evangelist Scott.Botkins's Avatar
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    I don't recall a time I've been fustrated over my clients even when it's something common, I believe it's because I love what I do and its my purpose of life to help serve them. I do know that if you're getting stressed then your current job may not be for you. Just keep in mind that even though you may be self-employed, you work for them not for yourself.

    But yea that's my thoughts on this thread, best of luck to all of you.

  16. #16
    SitePoint Wizard
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    Scott Botkins, you have a long way to go.

    I'd say these are the most annoying factors (listed in order of irritation):

    1. Having a client use such bad grammar and English that I have no idea what anything they send to me says. No punctuation. No correct spelling. It is like reading a foreign language.
    2. Having a client change his/her mind a month later about a past implementation, requiring re-programming of almost half the program. This happens quite often.
    3. Clients expecting you to implement huge parts of a project overnight. They wonder why you're not working on their project 24/7.

  17. #17
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    when you offer a favour to a friend ($200 website) and a week later he rings and wants to know why it isnt live yet.

    well to start with it's going to take a few days to do it, thats if i dont have anyhtign else on.

    secondly i dont have any of your server details.. where am i suppsoed to put it.

    and finally its cheap because im suppsoed to do it in my spare time, if you want it done within the week we'll up the price to say $800.


    i also hate people that change there minds mid design... "but but but.. i jsut finished that."
    elucid-online - web developer resource

  18. #18
    perfect = good enough peach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shockbotkins
    I don't recall a time I've been fustrated over my clients even when it's something common, I believe it's because I love what I do and its my purpose of life to help serve them. I do know that if you're getting stressed then your current job may not be for you. Just keep in mind that even though you may be self-employed, you work for them not for yourself.
    Well knowledge comes with experience and so do evil clients
    My worst client was one that didn't pay, but besides this exception I hate it when clients try to take control over the design and mess it up so much that I don't want to put it in my portfolio (Ever).

    I know that I am the designer not them, and I know how to communicate this to the client but some people are just stubborn..

    But in general my clients are pretty easy going I guess

  19. #19
    SitePoint Zealot ricktu's Avatar
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    Scott do me a favor and in a years time come back and reread what you just wrote. I guarentee you that you will blush with embaressment. It is precisely because we love what we do we get frustrated. Just wait till you have customers whose actions are preventing you from doing the best you can for them.

    My biggest issues ? I suppose the biggest are clients who take forever to provide content and keep changing their minds what they want. I have one client who was here the other day whose site has been "under development" for 14 months now who dropped by with a whole pile of changes and who now "needs" the site to be ready by the end of this month.

    To counter this I'm building clauses into my new contracts to deal with jobs that drag on and on and on.

    Richard.
    Turning Point Development Pty Ltd
    Turning Ideas into reality

  20. #20
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    I'm not really a commercial web designer yet. I'm more into web publishing.

    But I've been studying web design pretty intensively for quite a while now. My biggest beefs are the demands it places on my time, Microsoft and politics. It just seems to take forever to learn all this high-tech stuff. I don't have a lot of problems with viruses and software bugs any more, largely because I'm using more open source software than I used to, but Microsoft still drives me up a wall. Like why do we have to design websites TWICE - once for the real world and a second time for Microsoft?

    Politics is just a constant worry. No one wants to invest a lifetime of work in quicksand, and I really worry that the Internet as we know it could come crashing down around us sometime soon.

    I guess the solution is to learn it all in a few months, make your fortune, then get out.

  21. #21
    SitePoint Guru hifigrafix's Avatar
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    Had this happen last wednesday actually:

    When you go pitch a client - everything works well and you're told "Your Hired"... Then you show up with an agreement and they say.. "Well I'm sorry, your price is just too high"... Thanks for wasting my time!

    Also when a client asks you why there are so many grammar errors and why you don't invest in a spell checker... Then you have to tell them that you cut-and-pasted it from their original email :/... have that happen on a weekly basis. If WORD didn't throw off all my formatting I'd probably use it for spell-checking

    I second the previous reference to clients that expect you to spend 24/7 on their project.... OH! and clients whom ask to meet on weekends

  22. #22
    SitePoint Evangelist Scott.Botkins's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by geosite
    I'm not really a commercial web designer yet. I'm more into web publishing.

    But I've been studying web design pretty intensively for quite a while now. My biggest beefs are the demands it places on my time, Microsoft and politics. It just seems to take forever to learn all this high-tech stuff. I don't have a lot of problems with viruses and software bugs any more, largely because I'm using more open source software than I used to, but Microsoft still drives me up a wall. Like why do we have to design websites TWICE - once for the real world and a second time for Microsoft?

    Politics is just a constant worry. No one wants to invest a lifetime of work in quicksand, and I really worry that the Internet as we know it could come crashing down around us sometime soon.

    I guess the solution is to learn it all in a few months, make your fortune, then get out.
    Are you referring to designing a website to fit IE standards?

    I don't believe the internet will come crashing down, it's still very young but you never know these days. I do however believe some of these so called "web designers" will start to fade in years to come as frontpage won't be able to do everything sooner or later for them.

  23. #23
    Web developer Carl's Avatar
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    The biggest challenge I hve right now is saying no and having a client take me seriously. I have said no to 4 projects just of late and it seems that no one really is listening. I give recommendations of others and I expalain why I am no longer interested in doing web design and development. Yet opening my email client I find them like that kid in the movies waiting on your porch when get home that just will not believe that you don't want to teach him.

    The second challenge I have is finding an everyday job in IT that I like.

    Runner up is trying to keep up with everything that is available. I just started in to online social networking and I can't believe how far behind I am on the latest trends.

  24. #24
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    Carl -

    Interesting post. It begs the question, 'what makes your clients so loyal?'. I think a lot of people would love to have such loyal clients that they cant get rid of them. What do you think is the basis of such loyalty?
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. — Socrates

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  25. #25
    Commander Awesome DevonWright's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricktu
    Just wait till you have customers whose actions are preventing you from doing the best you can for them.
    I've dealt with this at least 3 times in the past 6 months.

    The designer at our company has been doing absoluetly AMAZING work for website layouts....and then the clients say "Nah...I like *THIS* better" (Where *this* is them sending us a file of some crap they tossed together). If I wanted to live in a world of 1995 website layouts....I'd build a time machine and go back there.....

    What bugs me is people who take forever to sign a contract.
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