Why I Quit My Web Design Career

Phone call comes in at 9:47 am and is picked up by my secretary. I cannot take the call because I am on the phone with an existing customer working on a project.
As protocol, we ask for a phone number, website and email address. This helps us to not only get contact information, but also assess the feasibility and quality of the lead (for example a potential client with an AOL email address is a very low priority…. Seriously people its 2017, if you are still using AOL for business communication, you have much bigger issues that no web company can solve for you).
The potential client, “Mike”, needs a website re-design. He has an emergency and will not leave a website address or email address.
Within 20 minutes, I finish my conversation with my existing customer and call back Mike (my new lead).
Ring Ring Ring.
Mike: “Hello?”
Me: “Good morning, may I speak with Mike please?”
Mike: “Who is calling?”
Me: “This is Steven from South Florida Web Studio returning his phone call.”
Mike: “Thank you, we have already found someone to do the work.”
Me: “Ok, thank you.”
Mike: “Good bye”

At least there was no time wasted, but seriously… You found someone to fix your emergency website re-design project in 20 minutes?

I am curious to call back just to find out what the project was.

Web design used to be a glamorous, well paid and respected profession that has gone the way of so many other outsourced jobs. Whether it is global competition, automation or just a slow in overall demand, the career is definitely not what it was 20 years ago, or even 5 years ago for that matter.

Seriously, I have not quit yet, but I am on my way to learning new skills that will benefit larger organizations, businesses and society as a whole. Something that will have purpose and meaning. Something that I am passionate about and makes me jump out of bed in the morning to get started.

Stay tuned….

Image credit @parkerabyrd

Hoxsey Diet Support BBPress Forums

We launched our first bbPress website yesterday. www.HoxseyDietSupport.org is a forum for individuals who are seeking treatment at the Hoxsey Biomedical Center in Tijuana, Mexico and are looking for more information to assist with dietary restrictions.

bbPress has long been on my list of plugins to test for WordPress. I was have always been drawn to the idea of implementing a forum on my favorite CMS and integration using bbPress is practically seamless, compared with other solutions like PHPBB or Vbulletin or possibly one of the other forum plugins available in the WordPress repository.

Although the support for bbPress over the years has ebbed and flowed (like most plugins) at least it is still being supported and testing it on a non-critical site makes the most sense for me at this point.

As of today the site is live and running but we still have many features to add. For starters, we need to customize the dashboard for users. I am not sure why, but our favorite SEO plugin has to put a widget on the dashboard and it shows up for the subscribers and participant roles. It looks like we will have to add some functions to remove this from the page since the users of the forum do not care about SEO. Also on our list is finding a good plugin to allow for forum participants to upload images. We are looking at GD bbPress Attachments right now as it seems that it will allow for other file types and give us the control and security we need.

So far I am really liking working with bbPress. Only time will tell if it will be the effective tool we need to provide the support we are looking for to help disseminate information about the holistic treatment of the Hoxsey Tonic. I will have to see as the forum gains usage.

Visit the Hoxsey Diet Support Forums for more information.

Planning a new redesign for www.soflaweb.com

I have been working on the idea of a redesign for our company website since mid 2012.

At the beginning of 2011 we commited to begin working exclusively with WordPress and while our existing website at www.soflaweb.com was built on Drupal, it was not in the plans to switch right away. There were too many technical considerations to do a quick change and we also wanted to launch with a graphical redesign as well.

Well at some point in 2012, we realized that we had become a WordPress shop and should probably represent ourselves properly with our own website. Afterall, prior to 2009 we had a static company website and a WordPress blog, which was then all converted into Drupal. So as we stay busy with client project throughout 2012, we approach November and I decide to actively begin working on the South Florida Web Studio re-design.

My beginning starts with:

  • An evernote notebook for the project
  • Some preliminary brainstorming
  • Some weekend research looking at other competitor and agency websites
  • A simple homepage wireframe (created with bamboo paper app on the Ipad)

And then back to work on client projects.

Now as we approach mid April 2013, almost 5 months have passed and we are no closer to updating our own site. Not that the site’s content hasn’t been updated. Just the design and the backend. It is such a task to blog and post on Drupal that I know if our site was on WordPress we would update much more often.

Hell it was even easier to create this new blog and start posting here than it is to post on our existing company site.

At this point, we are committed to the task, and even if we do not go through the whole graphical re-design, the conversion to WordPress will happen. We have created a formal job in our system and I am going to setup a basecamp project to make it official. No more procrastinating, I’m off to create a real wireframe.