The New Web Developer Thought Process

After spending quite a bit of time taking a classic development approach on a current project it became painstakingly clear that the progress over all was not leading to a feasible and cost effective business solution.

We had spent eight and a half weeks at a cost of over 15k and the project was stuck in the turmoil of scope creep and lack of clear definition of not only what the app needed but what assigned roles would be.

I was then asked to put together a presentation and requested a few days to see if I could come up with a working solution that could save the doomed project.  Continue reading…


Smarterer.com for developer evaluation

What is smarterer.com? To put it quite simple it is a crowd sourced testing platform for multiple development and web related technologies. After taking multiple tests on the platform I can attest to the fact that it is most certainly a viable resource for recruiters and developers looking to showcase their talents as the tests actually progressively get harder based on your answers.

The areas I tested in all showed proficiency which was a step below expert as the point system ranges from 0-800 with anything over 700 being considered expert. Nonetheless I am extremely pleased to have tested as proficient across all of my core development skills. It is another tool that can be shared with clients and or potential employers. You even get a nifty dashboard link that can be shared, my personal dashboard is here: http://smarterer.com/johnrpotter. And here is a screenshot of what it looks like.

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I would even go so far as to recommend that developers or agencies that are looking to do work for you or a potential client be put through the base tests for instance on a WordPress project that needed to be responsive a desired test set might look like this:

  • WordPress
  • HTML5
  • CSS3
  • Responsive Web Design

If a developer or agency could not provide proficiencies in these areas it would be safe to bet that you might want to pursue another course of action.

So in closing do I like smarterer.com? Sure, would I recommend it to potential clients? Most certainly. Go ahead and take the test or request your developer does. In the end it could save you some money on wasted development.


The most important question your developer can ask you

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What are your business goals?

If an agency or freelance developer does not start the conversation with that statement you should hang up the phone, stop all emails and find another person or agency to develop your web project.

Why do so many agencies and freelance developers focus on only what their team can get out of the client without ever considering what is the client was hoping to achieve? It does no good to have a beautiful fancy site with all the bells and whistles if they completely miss the business objective that the client has.

That is why I always start every conversation every client new or existing with “What it is what is it trying to achieve today?”. Because if I don’t understand what business goals are being addressed, how can I deliver a product in alignment with what the client is needing?It is easy to sell fast cheap, affordable and even good-looking. It is not easy to sell functional. If it were there would be a lot more happy web clients floating around.

I often find that my clients are more gun shy due to the fact their expectations were never met with previous developers or agencies. I generally offer them as much comfort as possible and begin the long process of restoring their faith in the web development community by first and foremost assessing their goals and questioning them even.

Why do you feel you need that slider? Is it because you saw it on a competitors site? Questions such as these are critical to gaining a full understanding of what the client is trying to achieve along with why. It is always better to save the client development time if possible and have them come back over the course of the year for more features that have clear business goals as opposed to giving them an all you can eat buffet early on that looks good but ultimately makes them feel guilty in the end because they realize they over paid for something they didn’t even want.

So in closing my recommendation is to know your business goals whenever you are preparing to  talk with a developer or agency. If the first question they asked does not pertain to what your desired business goals are please consider finding an alternate solution. You don’t want to gorge your wallet on what they are about to set in front of you.


Why Project Management Expertise Pays Off

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For me I would have to say one of the biggest advantages to being a project manager when it comes to freelancing as a web development specialist is being able to run a project as I see fit from start to finish with tested methods and tools.

I can custom tailor each individual project to a specific formula that often times larger agencies simply cannot re-create due to bureaucratic issues along with the limitation of tools and resources.

Take for instance a small e-commerce site where the client has a fixed budget of $500-$800 and roughly 30 products that they are wanting to get it to a responsive format. Most larger agencies will not even consider talking to the client due to a low fixed budget.

In my case however I can talk to the client on a individual basis and establish what it is exactly they can expect to receive for their $500 budget. Often times it is easier to educate client on the limitations of the lower budget and how their decision affects the final product.

Does this mean I can do it for the amount? Sometimes yes and sometimes no. But in the end the client walks away better educated about their project.

I can assure you that there are freelancers out there that do good work with no project management experience. However, In my opinion whenever you start dealing with multiple clients and larger portfolios it is almost impossible to produce a consistent product without having some formal training or education with regards to the key aspects of project management and how it reflects on the overall finished product as a whole.

So in closing my recommendation for anyone considering a freelancer or independent web development specialist for any type of project is that they request specific details from the individual bidding a job with regards to scope, project management, status updates, and overall business objectives.

If a developer is not capable of providing you with those details chances are they have not worked on any type of a larger project or had very much development experience which in turn could largely derail your budget and/or timeline as their inexperience often becomes evident with false expectations set by their desire to win a job as opposed to producing a final product that is on budget and on time.


Why I list my resume for my clients

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Strangely enough one of my friends that also works as a developer asked me why I have a resume posted on my site for the world to view. I stated that I wanted to be as transparent as possible with all my clients. I feel that if I am trying to give them a one of a kind personal and professional experience that I need to make them feel comfortable in their choice of developer.

Also by having it available for viewing it gives further credibility to my name and level of expertise. I wanted to show my clients that for the past 10 years I have been forged in the flames of production development and fully understand the many shortcomings one might experience in a agency setting. I feel that there truly are benefits to working with an individual as opposed to a larger group and can speak personally to this through my past that is documented in my resume.

In the cut throat world of web development it is easy to get under bid by a competitor that recently took an online test at “treefrog” or whatever the latest e-learning course is. However at the end of the day it is the miles that a man has walked and or, the amount div’s he has typed that sets them apart from the crowd.

So I guess to answer my friends question, is it shameless plugging? Sure, but it is plugging that is beneficial to my clients that often times were burned with poor development and or expertise from competitors that could not furnish a document outlining their body of knowledge. My advice to anyone seeking development, ask for a resume and thin the herd and wannabes in order to get your moneys worth.


Kill off all the sacred cows

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After recently reading a book that talked about sacred cows and how we needed to kill them all in order to further our business concepts and yield higher ROI I realize that “real developers” are much like the sacred cows in the book.

Case in point many “real developers” balk at the thought of using PHP or even worse a CMS such as WordPress for any type of corporate entity. If you have read any of my previous post you realize that I am a huge fan of CMS systems and open source platforms such as WordPress and I am a real developer. I am however not a developer so stuck on my ego that I cannot accept that open source technology and or platforms are capable of producing the same end result has a more expensive alternatives.

Real developers also feel that the only tools they should you are those which are handed to them from software companies and vendors that push only their goods and services. “If you want to be a good developer you have to use our products.”

Simplicity and workflow and in software development along with web development are not industry-standard. The more complex and area is the more secure an individual job becomes and the more profitable that position is as well. Continue reading…


Do you need to hire a web developer?

When do you need to hire a full-time web developer? To answer that question let me start by asking another question. Do you know how to use a word processor? If so then chances are you might not ever need to hire a web developer or designer for your corporate or personal website.

With modern content management systems it has become easier and easier for the average person to put together a cost-effective website that can reach millions of potential customers.

Content management systems are highly evolved platforms for delivering your information to the end-user which leads to them becoming potential customers.

You do not have to have a computer science degree in order to utilize one of these CMS systems. By looking online through YouTube and various other sources you can become acclimated and easily trained on various topics that will help you to publish your information quickly and promptly on the web.

All you really have to do is visit a domain registrar such as GoDaddy.com and register your new domain name and purchase a hosting plan. GoDaddy even has hosting and domain registration bundled in one. Continue reading…


Why You Need A Responsive Website?

Analyst firm BIA/Kelsey has projected that by 2015 there will be more local searches coming from smartphones than PCs in the US. It’s a bold prediction and one that has logical merit: smartphone search volumes are growing faster than searches on the PC. While local search is at least 20 percent of total queries on the PC (per Google) it’s at least 40 percent of smartphone queries, also according to Google.

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Today’s smartphone users expect to find a site that is as robust and content filled as it’s big brother. By having the information they need at their fingertips these consumers have the ability to make an educated buying decision. They also see you as a business that is up-to-date with current trends and is serious about customer service. Continue reading…