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  1. #1
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    Question OK to "learn as I go" doing client work?

    Title pretty much sums up my question. Basically, I'm wondering if it's OK to do client work while I'm still learning the ropes. I can charge less, but if the sites I build aren't quite up to snuff due to inexperience, The overall quality of the web will decrease (albeit ever so slightly). Do I rightly feel hesitant to create sites that, for example, aren't responsive, or aren't as lean as they could be, etc. Should I just plan on coming back in the future and updating the sites?

    Cheers,

    -Bryce

  2. #2
    Mouse catcher silver trophy Stevie D's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bryce-m View Post
    Title pretty much sums up my question. Basically, I'm wondering if it's OK to do client work while I'm still learning the ropes. I can charge less, but if the sites I build aren't quite up to snuff due to inexperience, The overall quality of the web will decrease (albeit ever so slightly). Do I rightly feel hesitant to create sites that, for example, aren't responsive, or aren't as lean as they could be, etc. Should I just plan on coming back in the future and updating the sites?
    We're all still learning...

    I think if you're up front with your potential customers, it should be fine. Warn them that you're only doing the basics at the moment, explain that you can charge them a low price that reflects that, and then the decision is up to them. If they've only got a limited budget then they can take you up on the offer, with realistic expectations what they will get out of it. If they want something that is beyond your capabilities and have funds to match then they can choose to go with someone else.

    What would be wrong would be to take their money without giving them a fair assessment of what you're able to produce. I know there are loads of webbists out there who do exactly that – we see them on here all the time asking for advice on really, really basic questions while at the same time peddling their services – but that doesn't mean it's a sound business plan. Most potential clients will appreciate your honesty, and if the site doesn't turn out to be quite as slick as they had wanted then they can't claim it's because you were keeping vital information from them.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Zealot Sogo7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevie D View Post
    We're all still learning...
    I will second that, not a month goes by without something being new, depreciated or replaced completely.
    CSS & HTML have been overhauled already, PHP is starting the same process, jQueryII is on the cards for 2013
    and there are rumblings of plain ordinary Javascript being given a complete re-working from the ground up.

    Even when you think you know enough to be confident,
    a client will always ask you to do something you have never attempted before
    Lovelogic.net Personal Projects Pit - Spammers welcome

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevie D View Post
    We're all still learning...
    So true. Just this morning I read this post by Paul O'B and I learned a way to solve one of CSS's shortcomings with borders on floated divs. It's an elegantly simple solution and brilliant at the same time and is one of those "why didn't I think of that" things.

    OP, if you are doing work for a client, you should at least have enough knowledge to do the vast majority of the project. If there are a few things you don't know, you can find out how to do them. Such as asking here on Sitepoint. I would imagine you should have the existing knowledge to complete maybe 85% to 90% of a project. Right? Higher? Lower?

    But if there are a few gaps in your knowledge, I don't know how ethical it would be to bill the client for your time to learn something if you are billing hourly. Unless the information you need is so obscure that very few know it. Maybe then it is OK to bill for it? I've been wondering about that. Maybe someone can chime in. I would like to know.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cheesedude View Post
    So true. Just this morning I read this post by Paul O'B and I learned a way to solve one of CSS's shortcomings with borders on floated divs. It's an elegantly simple solution and brilliant at the same time and is one of those "why didn't I think of that" things.

    OP, if you are doing work for a client, you should at least have enough knowledge to do the vast majority of the project. If there are a few things you don't know, you can find out how to do them. Such as asking here on Sitepoint. I would imagine you should have the existing knowledge to complete maybe 85% to 90% of a project. Right? Higher? Lower?

    But if there are a few gaps in your knowledge, I don't know how ethical it would be to bill the client for your time to learn something if you are billing hourly. Unless the information you need is so obscure that very few know it. Maybe then it is OK to bill for it? I've been wondering about that. Maybe someone can chime in. I would like to know.

    Front end-dev I feel feel fairly comfortable with. I think I pretty much know the main best practices. I haven't done many layouts but I'm not really scared of them. I would definitely be looking some stuff up at first. It never seems to go as nicely as I think it will. Now backend... I'd def spend a fair bit of time researching. Haven't done much with WP and nothing to speak of with Drupal, or any other CMS. That knocks that percentage down. I'm not really sure what it would be. What if I stop the clock while I do most of my research?? Of course then maybe I should charge just like a pro... idk. An internship would actually be more down my alley :P

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    I agree with every point raised on this thread.

    The most important thing is you have to be upfront honest with the client about your capabilities and limitations. You might even get a bonus training from certain clients (who knows?). Open, clear and honest communication are the keys to a good working relationship. As long as you get the work done based on the client's specifications, I think that should be fine.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by bryce-m View Post
    Title pretty much sums up my question. Basically, I'm wondering if it's OK to do client work while I'm still learning the ropes. I can charge less, but if the sites I build aren't quite up to snuff due to inexperience, The overall quality of the web will decrease (albeit ever so slightly). Do I rightly feel hesitant to create sites that, for example, aren't responsive, or aren't as lean as they could be, etc. Should I just plan on coming back in the future and updating the sites?
    It's definitely okay but only if you are upfront about it and tell your clients you are still learning. You know more than the person hiring you so you are still valuable but just don't present yourself as a know-it-all expert in the field. There is nothing wrong with charging less and letting them know you are still learning and occasionally answering their questions with "I don't know but I can find out."

  8. #8
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    I would agree with everyone that has been said and I would add something else:

    Be realistic with the time delivery for the project... it is going to take you longer than a regular project.

    Also, work very hard (you alrady know that you will have to work much harder than usual) and never give up. You will have a commitment with your client. Getting bored or too frustrated is not an option.

    Just in case, plan a plan B. Meaning that try to find a company that can get in charge of the job in case that you can't compy and how much it will cost.

  9. #9
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    Thanks everybody!

    So the general idea I'm getting is that I need to be upfront and honest with the client, and be able to do most of the work without research. This might deserve a new thread, so i'll make one if you tell me to, but where would I go looking for clients?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by bryce-m View Post
    Thanks everybody!

    So the general idea I'm getting is that I need to be upfront and honest with the client, and be able to do most of the work without research. This might deserve a new thread, so i'll make one if you tell me to, but where would I go looking for clients?
    Definately, you need to be honest and upfront with your clients.

    Now, regarding doing most of the work without research... the more you know the better but even with things I already know I try to do my research.
    The difference is that I do it if I have the time. Just in case that there's a new technique that it is interesting to learn.

    Regarding the customers, this is a question that have been asked many times and there are plenty of threads about the subject. Try to search the forum first.

    Still, just as a tip, people that can interview you and are close to where you live/work are more likely to hire you. Now, if you've never worked in this field before, you would need a porfolio. One option is to help a charity for a very low price and do an effort to create a good website that you can then show to your next contact (of course, if you follow this path, don't overdo it. You don't have to build the very best web in the whole wide word, just something that really fulfill their needs. And don't give them enough ideas... My experience with charities is that you give them a hand and they take the whole boday if you let them They always ask for more! )

    Charities are a good starting point if you know how to handle them.


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