Developer Experience Q&A

Website development and design is my specialized field. I attended school, studied website design and development, and website design was going to be my complete focus. However, it came to bear when moving the Mid-Ohio Valley in 2000, that a lot of folks were new to website. So to keep my career as a web developer alive, and not stray from the computer field, I decided to get certified in computer support.

Recently a site gave me some Q&A on website development.
I have decided to just give you that result here.

Q: What is your greatest strength?
A: My greatest strength in website development is the ability to understand many different programming languages, various website programming packages, and website design software.

Q: What sets you apart from others in your field?
A: I know what's "under the hood" when I build a website. Not only do I know code websites, but I also know what programming actually goes in to Wordpress, Drupal (my favorite), Zencart and many others. Some can build a website with templates and plugins, but not all can fix the code if it breaks. You have to know why it broke, where it broke, and how to fix it, or find the answer to fix it. I like using some of the new (relative to when I started doing websites) CMS to build a site quicker, but I can still hard code an entire website. No one wants to do that anymore of course, but you get my point. I studied extensively in Java, Javascript, HTML, DHTML, XML. I can write all of the former, plus PHP snippets, PERL snippets, and can read even more languages. I have built the databases, written the queries, and contributed those things to open source content management systems, that some others in my field are using as an out of the box solution. I was there when OSCommerce was all code and you compiled it yourself.

Q: What are you currently working on improving?
A: I am currently working on, improving my knowledge of website usage via mobile phone, or other mobile devices.

Q: What important information should buyers have thought through before seeking you out for website development?
A: Before you contact me about website design and development think about what you want for sure. Take a look at other sites and compare yourself to their line of thinking. Do you want to sell an item? Do you just need a simple contact page? What is most important to you?

Q: Do you take any continuing education to stay up on the latest developments in website design?
A: Three words describe this: Constantly, Continually, and Persistently. If someone says they know everything about the latest developments, they are lying. No one can. There is something new every day in my field. I read something new and have to ask myself, do I move forward with this now, or should I wait and see if this development really works for my client? If I invest time and money into every single new innovation, it will just cost my clients more money. Therefore, I try to tailor my education for website design on the very core of their needs, and profitability in the long run.

Q:What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a web developer like you?
A: There are several good questions to ask, and if your web designer is a professional, they will likely answer most of these before you even ask. What is my total start up cost? Are there residual costs to owning or operating my website? What support do you provide for my website or my hosting? If you host my website, is it at your place, or at large company somewhere (hint: it better be at a hosting company somewhere)? If you purchase my domain name for me, do I own it, or you own it? Can I move my website to another host if I wanted to? Can I make changes to my website? Who owns the material on my website?

Q; Describe the most common types of websites you do for your customers.
A: The most common website is a business/information website. It is much like what you are reading here, but may be smaller scale for a different businesses. Increasingly, I am seeing from my clients the knowledge of what programming can be done . They use tools on the internet, on other websites, and want to implement those tools. That is very exciting to me! For many years, I felt like the nerd who had to be quiet about all the neat programming we could do, and just tell someone how a website would look. Now we have more and more people wanting to sell online, and work online.

Q: How did you decide to get into your line of work?
A: Ahhh.. love at first site is all I can say. :-) This is the true romance of the website/ technology business for me. When computers were young, and so was I, I tried very hard to make them do things they weren't designed to do. I tinkered, plunked, and pushed until eventually, that old tired computer would error, and I would be done. But, like me, computers grew up, and I watched them change to more things I could do with them. There were more buttons, more code, and more everything. I could not wait to get my first Windows computer, and get right to school. I was totally inept at Windows, because I had been doing everything at a command prompt for so long. But, I knew in my bones the future was here! I told everyone, all I need is my first computer of my own (which was thousands of dollars back then), and I will learn it. I will go to school, and I will keep going until I can earn a living using it.

Q: If you were a customer, what do you wish you knew about your trade?
A: There are no real secrets I can share here, but one misconception is rampant on the TV, and across the web. You see websites boast "Build your website for free". "You can do it, it's easy". Have you ever heard there is no such thing as a free lunch? That is also true in website building. If you are fairly savvy on the computer, you can give yourself to one of these companies, and use their infamous website builders, and get something like a site. You may be quite good at making it look nice, but then you have to maintain it too. That's time consuming. At some point you have to decide what you do for a living, web design or whatever it was before you built your own site.
If you are serious about your site (like selling something, or looking professional), then these really aren't for you. If something breaks, it's up to you to fix it, and there is so much more to their scheme. You build with their brand, you carry their brand. It will show up on your website, and can also effect traffic. Nothing belongs to you.
You might think I am wary of competition, and that makes my opinion skewed. They aren't my competition. I work for you. They give you tools you have to learn to use. There is a big difference.