Tom Mitchell Computer Specialist

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Daily Verses

6 Things I Want You to Understand

1) Nearly Anything is Possible, Given Enough Money and Enough Time

The first thing that you should know when working with me is that the Web is an exciting place. Most Web designers got into the business because they like building beautiful and functional designs. So if you have an idea for something that sounds exciting, but perhaps too hard to do on the Web, don't be afraid to run it past me. Chances are, it's possible to do the design. But there are two caveats:

  • Money
  • Time

Unless I've built something like you're proposing before, it's almost certainly going to take more time and money than you expect to build it. When a I say no to something, most of the time it's because they assume that you aren't going to be willing to foot the bill or have the time it would take to implement what you're asking for. If you really want it, and they say they can't do it, ask them what kind of time and money it would take to get it done. Then you can decide if you can afford it.

2) Web Design is Not Instantaneous

Most Web designers want their Web pages to load quickly, but that doesn't mean that they are quick to build. In fact, the more complex a page is, the longer it will take to build. And if a page is complex and loads quickly, well, that took even longer to build.

When working with me don't assume that the job is "easy" or "fast" (or if you do assume that, don't tell the designer you think so) until they tell you that it is easy or fast. A good Web designer will work with you to meet your time lines, but you need to listen when I tell you that you haven't given me enough time. A good rule of thumb is to assume that every minor change you request will require at least 2 business days to complete. Medium size requests will take at least a week. And larger requests will take even longer. And these time estimates don't take into account any of the other jobs that I am working on.

Most Web designers would like you to set a deadline that is moderately far out and then they can dial it back if they can get it done more quickly.

3) Web Design is Not Print Design

I have clients bring me an image that they want to replicate on or as the website. But the first thing you should know when working with me is that web design is not the same as print design. There are similar rules and design practices, but they are not the same. It's not possible to create a Web page that looks exactly like a print-out in every Web browser because:

  • Web browsers render pages differently. Internet Explorer is different from Firefox is different from Chrome or Safari or Netscape.
  • Web customers have control over things that print customers do not - like fonts, colors, and screen sizes.

So, if you bring a print-out to me the Web design should look similar to the print-out, but it might not look identical. It's perfectly acceptable to ask why the Web page looks differently, but remember that many of the differences can only be fixed if you have unlimited time and budget.

4) Colors Are Challenging

Many companies have a very specific color scheme, set out by the branding department in CMYK colors so that the Marketing department can make sure the color print advertisements are correct. But computers don't use CMYK colors - that's a print scheme. It's possible to convert CMYK colors to RGB for the Web, but the colors may still not look 100% correct. This is because every monitor may be calibrated slightly differently. Every person viewing a Web page has a different monitor, operating system, Web browser, color scheme, and ambient light and all of these things can affect how the colors look.

When working with me, expect the colors you choose to be used, but don't expect to hold up a printed color swatch to your monitor and have it exactly match your Web page colors.

5) E-commerce, Databases, and Other Web Applications Take a Lot of Time and Effort

When you come to me and say "I want to build a website" I am usually more than happy to help you. But if the next words out of your mouth are "so that I can create a catalog of my widgets to sell online" most designers will cringe at least slightly. It's not that this is not possible, as you know, there are hundreds and thousands of widget e-commerce sites with online catalogs. The problem is that creating a custom e-commerce site can take a lot of time and programming skills. There is a lot more to it than just learning HTML and CSS and putting a page on a server.

When you're working with me to build an e-commerce site, database driven site, or other Web application, you must return to the first rule - how much money and time do you have to spend? The more money you have, the faster it will go. Or if you're willing to use a less custom solution like a Yahoo! storefront, you can get your e-commerce store up and running quickly.

6) Remember, You're Hiring Me for a Reason

If you have decided to hire me it's because you need a professional to help you get your website up and running. Treat me with respect. Listen to my comments and suggestions. If you do all this, you'll have a great working relationship with me and your website will be all it was meant to be, and more!