Mar 17, 2016

Working with Me

Contractors can be the worst. In theory, it seems so simple, a win-win opportunity for everyone. A person or group has a task and a budget, another person has a specific set of skills and a list of monthly recurring expenses. Put the skills to work on that task and the budget takes care of the expenses. So easy, right?

In practice, not so much. I have heard time and time again from clients who have had one or many bad experiences with the “person at the other end of the emails.” Things like:

The list goes on and on.

I think transparency is a big part of trust and if you’ve been through anything like the people above, then you are probably wary of placing your trust too easily. I don’t blame you.

I put together this page to answer some common questions I get about what I do and who I am in order to hopefully allay some of your concerns. This will also help you determine if I’m the right fit for your project, product, or team.

Where are you?

I work out of my house in Seattle, WA.

Is this your full-time job?

Yup. I’ve been working for-hire for the duration of my career on the web.

What kind of projects do you take on?

The kind of work I’m best for is 1 – 10 week development projects that are typically ground-up builds, migrations from other platforms, frameworks for agencies, or in a senior engineer role to help other developers/teams get up-to-speed and build great things.

I follow a general rule: either it’s free (i.e. would be happy to help you determine where in the theme your code should go or suggest plugins, where possible) and hopefully we can work together on a larger project or it falls into that range. Simple/quick projects and small, infrequent changes tend to be inefficient and don’t allow me to do my best work.

The technologies I work with are here.

What kind of clients do you work with?

My typical client is:

Industries and projects I tend to avoid:

We’re an agency; will you meet with our clients?

Absolutely! I’m a former corporate trainer and technical writer so I pride myself on clear, effective communication. I can work under your brand and can be a direct client contact, if required. You landed the contract and you built the trust so the relationship there is yours to manage.

Why WordPress?

WordPress is the de-facto standard for content management on the web in 2016 and beyond. Current market share is widely quoted as 26% of all sites, and, when just examining sites that use a CMS (rather than just hard-coded files), some sources estimate as high as 68%. While popularity certainly does not guarantee quality, there are a number of reasons for this dominance:

This platform dominance leads to 2 very important additional benefits:

But, in the end, it comes down to understanding and enjoying both the platform itself and the community around it. I’ve worked with many CMSes and none of them have shown themselves to be as capable and enjoyable to work with. I have my gripes, of course, but I’m happy with my choice time and time again.

How do you best communicate?

I can work with whatever your team is using. It makes a lot more sense for me to get used to your workflow then vice versa. That said, most projects of the size that I get involved with are served well by a competent task-management system like Basecamp, Asana, or Jira.

Most communication happens asynchronously over email or a task manager. Some things are best “voice-to-voice” so a phone call or video conference works fine as well. I’m responsive most hours of most days but do shut off email and chat apps for blocks during the day so I can focus.

One thing I don’t like: text messages for anything non-urgent. They’re hard to keep track of, hard to search, and just feel invasive.

What do you charge for?

First, I’ll say that I don’t charge for:

If we’re working with a fixed price, I’ve added time for project management, communication, and potential issues. If I’m charging you by the hour then I charge for all of the following (beyond the actual designing or writing code):

What if we end up talking about your weekend for a while? What if I send you an email out of the blue with an article and what I thought about it? I really enjoy to get to know my clients and I don’t charge for conversation (I’m not that interesting). I’m looking to be as fair as possible so trust that I’m not looking to pad the clock. I love what I do too much to try and get paid for work I didn’t do.

How does billing work?

When we start, I’ll provide a contract and an estimate for the work that needs to be completed. Depending on the project, the estimate can be fixed – the cost won’t go up or down unless the scope changes – or time and materials – hours are counted and submitted as a detailed timesheet once or twice per month, depending on how many hours are being worked. I can be as granular or as broad as needed; I’m often asked to tie specific time periods to ticket numbers or task names. Time is rounded up to the nearest 15 minute increment per day.

Payment can be made with a check or PayPal “friends and family” (to avoid fees). If you need to use a credit card, I ask that you split the processing fee with me (typically around 3%, more if you’re not in the US).

Do you do design?

Yes, in certain capacities. I do a lot of wireframe design, where the functionality is spelled out with no color and a basic font. I’m a great resource here, particularly for CMS-driven projects, because I know the difficulty level of creating the user interface for the components I’m laying out. Oftentimes a small change in layout can create a much better administration experience.

I also do a lot of in-browser design, which means that the look and feel of the site or application is determined during the build process. This cuts down on design time by a lot and is great for projects that have a lot of interactive parts. It helps to have a style guide of some kind here but I can work without one.

Logos, color palettes, branding, print, font selection – not my expertise. I have a good aesthetic sense but I’ve seen what a great designer can do for a brand and I’m not that. I have a number of very talented folks I partner with, though, who would be happy to help.

<Take Action!>

Suggest changes on GitHub ›

<Read More>

Newer

Mar 30, 2016

8ninths Site Rebuild

Just in time for an announcement by Microsoft about their HoloLens project, we launched a complete site rebuild for 8ninths, focusing on their VR and AR capabilities.

Older

Jan 18, 2016

A(nother) WordPress Starter Template

This theme is an extension of a framework created for a local agency that wanted a way to spin up custom WordPress sites quickly and correctly. It grew into the starting point for all sites that I create.