10 Things That Make Being A Web Designer Tough
Lemme just preface this first – I love my job. I love doing what I do, I love working with people, and weighing the pluses against the minuses, overall I’d still take this gig over almost anything else I could do. But, just like your job, it has it’s drawbacks… here’s a few things about being in this industry that kinda get on my nerves.
1. Other Web Designers – No, it’s not because I’m catty or jealous, it’s just that quite frankly I’d say a majority of “web designers” out there have only been doing this for a couple of years, or just do it in their spare time, or are just plain ripoff artists. That’s the part that ticks me off the most – getting calls from clients who’ve dealt with other designers before they found me, been ripped off (bad work, incomplete job, disappear, etc) and by the time my clients get to me, they’re already packing a ton of “bad designer baggage”. These people have absolutely no work or human ethic, and end up making those of us that are actual artisans and craftsmen look like ripoff artists as well. I mean, it’s really a shame – the web development world has become like the Wild Wild West – no industry standards or watch dogs, people charging rates all over the map, doing terrible work (if at all)… I just find it very distasteful.
2. Feast Or Famine – One minute you’re looking at a new Mercedes, the next… a new 10 for a dollar pack of Ramen Noodles. This industry has been extremely unpredictable the last few years, and hustling jobs has been difficult at times to do. Still, I persevere…
3. Sitting on my butt in front of a computer all day - Seriously… if I had my way, I’d toss my PC into the ocean, go skeet shooting with my iPhone and kick back on the beach ’till I either died of exposure or a tsunami. I don’t consider myself to be a “computer geek” – rather, some kind of mutated cool dude with freakishly good computer skills and apparently no life. How the hell did that happen?!?
4. Micromanaging Clients – Ok, Mr. Client – you’re not a web designer, have no graphic design skills, and know just enough about your computer to be dangerous, yet you want to control every aspect of your website design down to the exact pixel placement of your logo. Hmmm… so why did you hire me again? I hope you don’t have the same attitude towards an appendectomy or a root canal… Let me do my job, and I’ll build you something that kicks ass. Otherwise, you might be better off finding some college kid off of Craig’s List.
5. An Infinite Learning Curve – You know… I was really hoping that by now I’d know everything there is to know about my job. As it turns out, the longer I’m in this industry, the more technology advances and the broader the required skill level becomes. Every day of my job is a learning curve and it never ceases to amaze me how much I actually don’t know. Thank God for the Google – the ultimate research tool! I guess since they know everything there is to know about me, the least that Google can do in return is help me find out anything about everything else.
6. Hosting Companies – IF I can get the ^&%&#&()*’s on the phone when you have a problem, and once you do, IF I’m not dealing with some call center guy in a third-world country with no technical knowledge reading from a script in barely intelligible English, more often than not I’m going to get the same “it’s not us it’s your website” response. C’mon, dude… I’ve been doing this since the Paleolithic Era of the Internet. I know the difference between poor performance that is a result my bad practices (which I have none) and your overworked web servers with 1000+ websites on a single shared machine. I love it when they guarantee 99.9% up-time on your hosting, and then it takes 30 seconds to load a page with one guy – me – hammering on it. Most of all, I love being told that they will “refer the problem to the Senior Server Technician” who I know for a fact is a probably some overweight, doughnut-munching hardware geek sitting around in the server farm and playing World Of Warcraft all day until he gets around to fixing whatever undefinable problem that is going on. Man, I could go on and on about these guys but I wont… suffice it to say that you get what you pay for. GoDaddy is the only hosting solution I trust. More on that another day.
7. Creativity Blocks – Writers get it, so do I. I’m sitting there, staring at a design I’ve been staring at for two hours, tweaking, doing the “Close Encounters Of the Third Kind” Richard Dreyfus thing – it’s so close, but there’s just something missing… I can’t put my finger on it.. WHAT IS IT?!? WHY DOESN’T THIS LOOK RIGHT? I’ve found that you can stare at anything for long enough and it starts to look uglier and uglier (with the notable exception of perhaps Megan Fox) and you just can’t make yourself get past the creativity block. This usually means I’m just not in the right frame of mind, so I either go for a run, or take other attitude-altering measures. Usually both. Come back to it later when I feel like staring at it again.
8. Software that does not work as advertised – Ok, so I’m mostly a WordPress guy these days (at least for the moment), so I rely heavily on pre-built plugins to get the job done. Most of them are free – which is good – and most of them work more or less the way that the programmer says they will, but again, alot of them don’t work the way the developer says they are supposed to, or crash the website, or have some hidden requirements or fees they didn’t tell you about. Yea, I know it’s free and I don’t have to write a bunch of code that I otherwise would, and yea, I can probably make it work so maybe I shouldn’t whine. But then, I don’t advertise something to work one way and it ends up wasting hours of my time trying to make it work ‘cuz it’s the only thing I can find that’ll do what I need it to do.
9. Crappy Themes – Themes are kind of like the plugin issue – some of them work, some of them don’t. I rely on themes – free and otherwise – for the structural construct of my web designs as well as to save me some time on the creative aspect of it. I find that many paid templates are pretty good and have good configuration options, but many of them just LOOK good, and don’t give you alot of information on the back-end options available to me. So, I look at one, looks great, buy it, install it and either something doesn’t work or it’s not nearly as configurable as I thought it would be. ARRRRRGHH!! I paid money for this?!
10. Spammers – I hate these guys… no, I do not want (or need) penis enlargement pills, a membership to your free naughty bits website, a new computer just for clicking on your banner, car wax, pet food, subscriptions to “Geek World” e-zine, or any of the other crazy crap that you guys try to pitch me. If I needed all that stuff, I’d just go buy it and I don’t need you to tell me that it exists. I have the Google, remember? It seems that regardless of the countermeasures I take, I always end up with spam. It almost make me wanna spam someone else – like some kind of transference of aggression kinda thing! Maybe that’s how it happens – someone gets the hell spammed out of ’em, then can’t take it anymore so they just start spamming back, and start to like it so much that they can’t stop, like some kind of electronic serial killer/spammer. Who knows… but I am very tempted to spam them back. Yea… I’ll spam ‘em into the Stone Age – then we’ll see!