Last year, I had the privilege of meeting Hanna Smith, MA LMHC CGP. She had an interesting dilemma of being locked into a very limited WordPress-based hosting platform. She wanted to expand the functionality of her site and was told the features were not available. I presented her with an affordable solution which included:
Moved the hosting to a flexible WordPress-based platform.
Redesigned the UI and Menu structure.
Added all of her blog posts and provided video training to her content manager.
Implemented spam protection, contact form, subscription form, SEO support, and Mailchimp integration.
Provided custom CSS and code change for content formatting.
Added her Book page.
Conversion of her paper fillable forms to downloadable PDF electronic fillable forms.
I manage the site backups and plugin upgrades.
Primed for Long-term Growth
I am very pleased with how the site has turned out and to see how happy Hanna is with the progress. She now has the flexibility to dream up new features and functionality for her site and thus gain more exposure for her services and products.
Soon, I will be integrating a courseware platform for hosting training videos and content.
A very special thanks to Hanna, for being one of my first website customers and trusting me with her site.
If you follow the trends in the computer software industry, you might have noticed many articles discussing “No Code” approaches to software and website development. Some have even gone so far as to say that programmers would no longer be needed in the future.
I do admit that many of the big website hosting platforms make it easy to dive in and put together a site with a minimum amount of effort. WIX, Squarespace, WordPress, Joomla, Website.com, and Shopify are great examples. You can pick a theme, upload your pictures, drag-and-drop text boxes, buttons, menus, and Boom!, yer done.
So, Why Know How to Code?
Right off the top of my head, I can give two good reasons why developers are still important.
1.) They know what is going on behind the curtain. When a non-developer sits down to build a website with a no-code tool, they sit down and just start building, without giving it much thought. Then the frustration hits when they discover their site is slow, does not look good on mobile devices, fonts and colors don’t blend well, buttons and menus are not staying in the desired positions, and they can’t figure out how to add an extra page. The site sits stagnant and the owner gives up.
A developer who understands the technology will ask the client what they want to achieve with the website. The dev will design a plan for the website, take performance and mobile devices into consideration, structure the pages and menus, select appropriate fonts and colors, and make sure the buttons and menus flow nicely. If the client already has a specific tool in mind, the developer will determine if the tool will match the expectations of the client. Otherwise, the developer can recommend a specific tool or platform based on the client’s requirements.
2.) A developer can customize beyond the limits of the no-code tool. Most of the no-code solutions provide the ability to peek behind the curtain and access the source code for the site. The no-code site tools usually provide a wealth of Themes, Apps, and Plugins for providing the client with decent solutions. However, what if the client does not like the font being used, wants the color changed, or needs an element to be repositioned – and the interface for the tool does not provide for those changes? The developer can go into the code and make the necessary changes.
Why Is This a Topic?
I hear many conversations that make me shake my head.
“I needed a website for my business, so I signed up with so-and-so, but I can’t get it linked to my PayPal account. Can you help?”
“I heard about a new site that uses A.I. to build a website for you. Is it going to put you out of work?”
If you’re a developer, don’t worry. You’re NOT going to be out of a job. If anything, web developers are going to become even more important as businesses, small and large, are discovering they have to be on the web – especially when people can’t visit their brick and mortar stores.
If you need a website, hire an expert! Trust me! You’ll save many hours of time and frustration. Even if the expert selects a no-code solution for you, at least it is a decision made with wisdom and experience. And if later you need to have your site customized, the developer will know what to do.
I keep hearing the word, “Unprecedented” in the news media and in conversations. This year is definitely unprecedented in the number of never before seen events. While this word is heavily utilized when describing the pandemic, hurricanes, fires, global warming, political/social unrest, etcetera – I prefer to use it for defining my personal approach to highlighting my services. Did you notice that huge shift from world-changing events down to me?
This is what we’re all doing. We’re trying to adapt our personal lives to a rapidly changing world environment. We’re asking ourselves, “How do I get from here to there?” From now to survival in the future. The answer? We take unprecedented or never before tried, approaches.
My last post reflected on being flexible and adaptable to changing conditions. I’m juggling DoorDash, creative writing, technical writing, and website development. The goal is to have enough freelance website and writing work to support my creative writing, and only DoorDash when necessary. I currently have two clients:
So, how do I get more? Set up a storefront website? Advertise to big businesses? Pitch my services to every single person that comes along? Nada!
Here are the approaches I am taking with my bootstrapping as a freelancer:
Transparency – I’m a big believer in honesty and transparency. I have nothing to hide and I’m not going to pretend to be a big business. I am one guy with a few friends in the industry and a knack for learning what I don’t already know via the internet.
Target Clients – My clients are and will be those who don’t have a clue about putting together a web site. They don’t want to learn how to do it or try to understand it. They already have their nitch and they want a website to reflect it.
Personal Touch Marketing – Let’s talk! My marketing will be via contacts, word-of-mouth, and personal interaction. I want to know who you are and what you want to accomplish before I start talking numbers and timeframes.
The only thing that will not be unprecedented is business cards. I will have them in my shirt pocket, ready to hand out, to anyone who is interested. I will not be blanketing everyone I meet with cards. Only those who have expressed interest or need. That is how I roll.
So, is this an unprecedented approach to freelancing website development and writing? I’d be curious to hear what you think.
I updated my resume last week with my new skills, education, and projects. It was in the typical text-only format in Microsoft Word. Which is also just a boring text-only format that I have been using throughout my career. Having a semester of graphic arts made me decide that I need to do something a little different.
I also stumbled across this awesome video on Youtube while checking out web development videos. It’s called, “The Resume That Got Me Into Microsoft” by a young Microsoft Intern who does a lot of videos, blogging, and podcasts about programming. (His channel is TechWithTim.) I liked his formatting and it gave me some ideas.
At a quick glace, which one would you rather look at?
The Old Format
The New Format
I hope you said the one on the bottom. Unfortunately, many recruiting firms still want a straight text format. They have sophisticated AI routines that scan the resumes for keywords, skills, and experience. They don’t even read the resume until it gets flagged by their internal search engines if they have a client to match up with.
So, I’ll still keep and maintain my resume in both formats. I am curious to see if this makes any difference in my search for clients. I’ll be sure to post my results in a few weeks.
You can download the new resume here or via the link on the main menu. Thanks for looking.
My wife calls me an overachiever and says I’m not happy if I’m not doing 80 with my hair on fire. Well, in many ways she’s right. I’ve always kept myself busy. I’ll be working on one thing and thinking about the next thing. And yes, I’ve been diagnosed with mild ADD. I call it a blessing. If I didn’t have the ability to focus I never would have accomplished as much as I have. The proof is in this transcript. I’m 62 and I managed to get a 3.99 GPA while getting my Web Application Developer Certificate. (Psssst! I blame the .01 loss on medical situation and the beginning of the Covid pandemic.)
I’m not trying to brag. Really! But, I am proud of this accomplishment. Especially in light of the challenging world situation right now. I also want to take this opportunity to give a big shout out to my wife. Not only has she put up with this “slightly” eccentric creative for over 41 years, but she still supports my crazy decisions and ideas. Okay, see?! I’m getting sidetracked.
I mentioned this morning, “How can I be so busy and I don’t have a job?” Well, I have a very small webmaster contract with Edmonds College Teachers Union, on an as-needed basis. Now that I’m out of college I have a lot of goals and action plans on my plate. Such as:
Get myself up to speed on React and Angular. I plan on doing this via the LinkedIn Learning site. And I’ll be applying what I learn to my next big website project – CEPAR.
Redo my resume and make it available here. I updated it last week with my education and new skills. But, it’s still in the bland old MS Word format. I really need to spice it up to get attention. I’m going to put these new graphic arts skills to good use.
Start blogging about CEPAR. I’ve been working on this idea for several years. Based on the training I have received as a first-aid responder and disaster planning, I am building a site for Critical Event Planning and Recovery.
Write the Business Plan for CEPAR. Not only do I want to build the site and the technology to drive it, but I also want to create a plan for implementation and feasibility. I need to show a projected ROI to demonstrate that the effort is worth the time.
Continue to design CEPAR. I have the Business Statement and Goals. I have designed the Business Graphics. I have mapped out the website structure and features. Now I need to design the database and start coding the UI.
Oh, and look for work! School is done. Government support for the school is done. I’ll be pinging the freelancing sites (Upwork, Fiverr, LinkedIn, etc.) for projects and contracts.
Prepare my Onschool.com course. I have applied to be a teacher at Onschool.com and my first course will be on creative writing. It is already outlined. I just need to run through it and then schedule the course.
Wear my Creative Writer hat! I’m halfway through writing Air Storm. It has suffered during my college courses and I really need to dive back into it. My fans are chomping at the bit, and I really want to get it into print before the end of this year.
How to Get It All Done?
If you have hung around me enough, you know I’m pretty good at scheduling my time and focusing my attention on my goals. I try to spend most of my time in my Circle of Influence. I don’t play a lot of games and I don’t watch any sports. I map out my day and tasks in Microsoft’s OneNote and I schedule which days I’m a geek, which days I’m an author, and which days I’m the handyman. (Yes, dear, I’ll take care of it.) Thank you, Stephen Covey, for showing me the way!
Cry havoc and send out the dogs of technology! I’m diving in!