Yes that’s right, I built my first website for a paying client. Although not the greatest accomplishment, I want to share my experience so you and other business owners can get some perspective.
With SquareSpace, Shopify, Wix and all those other website building apps, it seems like there really isn’t a reason to hire a web developer these days. I mean, why would someone pay a few hundred dollars when they could just pay $9.99 and get a really good looking site?
Well… here’s a few reasons:
- Prevent future headache by letting me set things up right the first time
- Get an action oriented website, not a generic template that everyone else uses
- Need someone to blame? You got my number!
How it started
Real simple, I put up an ad on Kijiji.ca and waited. I received about 50 views, and about 3 replies all of whom were asking my prices. Don’t put your price up! If it’s one thing I think I did right it’s that I didn’t tell them my price first. If you tell them your price before knowing the requirements there’s no way to know it will cover your costs. Always get the requirements before giving an estimate.
So once I got a client that talked over Kijiji and had some general requirements, I called them. That’s right, I used the phone for what it’s actually used for. Calling the client let me really hash out the details and allow me to come to pretty accurate quote. Also it helped me get to know them and what their business was like. That’s very important if your website is supposed to help their business.
Now that the hard parts out of the way, I began working with my graphics designer friend to set up the wireframe and prototype. We use Adobe XD cause it’s got an amazing publish feature that lets the client see your prototype over the web and, of course, it’s free.
With all the content compiled and ready to go, we setup the layout and get sign-off from the client. Next we content and images are put into the layout and again get client approval. Finally we add colors, background images and all the fancy stuff. At this point the client was pretty satisfied with the product because we consulted them after each major addition.
Communication is Key
Deployment, Hosting & Happily Ever After?
With Github integration in CloudCannon, deployment was super simple, and domain name setup very straight forward.
SEO, SEO, SEO
Tips and tricks coming from a first time SEO-er
- Website needs to be valid (Basic HTML, CSS, JS)
- Relevant content and descriptions (meta tags, img alts … etc)
- SEO page names (e.g. https://example.com/cheap-website-designs.html)
- Optimize for speed (minify css & js, compress images, reduce number of dependent requests)
- Search the phrase you want to rank in and click your website with as many different IP addresses to increase rankings (it works… it went from page 5 to page 1)
- Use Google Search Console to see how your site is doing (it takes a few days to crawl and index)
So in the end of the project I got paid what I quoted plus a little bonus. Spent about 40 hours developing the site, and almost 20 hours figuring out how to do SEO making small tweaks here and there. I would definitely charge more next time just because it takes so much time to design. All in all, it was a good experience working with the client and my designer friend.
Until next time!
– Hubert Lin