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Category: WebDev

Questions to ask new clients

While I don’t have many freelance clients currently, I’m often approached by friends/family and word of mouth contacts who want to know what X or Y might cost.

How much will a website cost me‘ is a very hard question to answer without more information. I’ve gathered a few questions that have come up, and some that have been forgotten in the past. Without some of these answers it’s impossible to properly predict:

  1. actual cost
  2. hours
  3. cultural fit with client

So, next time you get approached for side project work, consider using some of these questions to gather requirements.  It’sby no means an exhaustive list, but is a good start.

As an aside, if you’re looking for a nice solution for hour-tracking, time estimates, and invoices, check out Harvest App.

Basics

  • What is your budget?
  • When did you need to launch your site or app?
  • Do you already have a website or app, on what technology?
  • What functional requirements/or new features are you looking for?
  • Do you have a design/designer for the app or site?
  • Are there any color preferences or corporate branding that you want to use?
  • Will you require responsive design (adapts automatically to mobile devices)?
  • Is there anything that you would like to have included in the new website that you lack currently?

Company Genetics/Brand/Agenda

  • Who is your audience/What is the target demographic of your website visitors?
  • What differentiates your company from your competitors?
  • Are there any short-term or long-term corporate goals that need to be considered a redesign or new version update?
  • List a few competitors’ sites/apps that you’d consider benchmark companies?
  • What elements of these companies’ websites and/or their online activity would you like to model in your redesign?
  • What is the ultimate goal or metric of success for this product?

Contact info

  • Who is the main point of contact?
  • What phone number/email?
  • How often would you prefer to be updated?
  • Do you prefer to use basecamp/slack or any other collaborative site?

DrupalCon 2016 – New Orleans

Just returned from my first Drupalcon ever. It was held in fabulous New Orleans where the temps were in the 70s and 80s. Then I came back to Wisconsin where the temps are 40s and 50s, brrr.

Here is a quick run down on the tech I learned about, I have so much to dig into and learn!

Drupal 8:

Quick rundown for Drupal 8 -Kickstart Video

Drupal 8 Kickstart Session Video

 

Dev Ops -Workflow, Automation and Performance Tuning.

My overall takeaways:

We need to get our workflow in order, and we have so much to dive into for 8. Lots of the optimization will help our Drupal 7 installs as well.

I’d really like to get some common/version controlled local environments setup, like with Vagrant, so we can all be using the same local, and keep that under version control.

Standardize! Automate! Version!

 

Brief Intro to Tile Maps, Spritesheets and Atlases

Presentation

As part of our class this semester, we each gave a brief talk about an iOS related topic. Teacher Eric recorded the presentation, and gave us the videos. There was no expectation of sharing the talk with anyone else.

However, YouTube makes it far too easy to share things, so… here is the vid.  I’ve been playing video games since childhood and web developing for most of my career, I thought that was unique enough perspective to give a talk on.

PDF of talk

I found a typo while giving the talk, I’ll leave that in for you to enjoy as well.

Here are the links from the resource page.

Resources

 

The Grid – Beta

Have you heard of The Grid, an AI that builds your website?

They have an impressive demo video, and a strong marketing strategy.

I made it into the beta early, and have been able to start poking around with both the documentation and the site builder apps.

I’m intrigued…

There are a lot of things going on under the hood.  The system is analyzing my photos, adding color filters to match my branding (which was in turn created from the system analyzing a picture I chose, in the first place).  Then it attempts to place title text in places that don’t overlap important parts of the images.  You make a few other choices, layout, type formality and then the AI builds you a site.

It’s a bit of trial and error now, and the tech bits seem more mature than the user interface. That jives, the system does work, but it’s a bit difficult to figure out how to ‘make it go.’

It’s beta, things like the on-boarding of new users, tutorials and walk-throughs are pretty light on info.

but that’s part of the adventure, right?

There have provided a lot of API documentation, sites live on thegrid.ai and the files live github folders.

It’s not a magic bullet, someone will still need to make some choices about the direction of things, even when the AI has a better idea about what successful sites look like and operate.

But, I think it’s a step in the right direction, and every time the AI learns a new trick it goes through all sites and republishes them, making better choices.

That kind of thing will keep things fresh, evolving, and hopefully – eventually engaging.

It’s going to be a little while before truly professional/beautiful sites just ‘happen’ through the grid. I’m more than willing to wait to see where this takes web design and development.

Questions:

How do I sync my website/twitter feed/other RSS feeds to my grid site?

I see something in the documentation, for the API, about how to write ruby/python/ect to link feeds in, but this seems like a standard base requirement that many grid sites will be looking for.

Why doesn’t theGrid chrome extension or the IOS app use the application token authorization for apps I’ve already logged in to/authorized.

Good that it uses the twitter account from IOS, bad that all other accounts (g+. Facebook, ect) it sends me to a login screen even if I have an app open and logged in already.

Why does my grid extension have two share options when I right-click on something to share to the grid?

They both seem to work.

Oversharing.png

ok, a day after grabbing that, it’s working properly, glitch or fix, it’s better:

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 4.00.46 PM

It seems like the company, like their AI, is iterating features/improvements daily.

Why is the ‘Review Design Changes’ page bright yellow?

blindedbytheyellow
New Crayola color:  ‘Augh My Eyes! Yellow’

Every other page of the grid on the app or in the chrome extension is dark gray, soothing to the eyes and not a bright hazardous  yellow background?

I shared a post that seems to mysteriously be shrinking with each iteration.

The fonts for those 2 posts are pretty much unreadable unless I look at the responsive phone sized version. This may be an @media size issue. If I make the browser window larger or smaller, the font sizes become readable again.

What does the AI see as a ‘Successful’ design/iteration?

I’d love to see 6 possible designs that the AI discarded in favor of the one I get.

I’d love a mode where I can thumbs up or rate the results when I get them. I want to help train the system!

A feature I’m looking forward to is focused ‘purpose‘ options. The company has spoken about how choosing purpose categories like ‘sales‘, ‘newsletter sign ups‘, or ‘increase social exposure‘ will help influence how the system makes some design choices.

Could the Grid AI start to learn my personal preferences as well as successful designs over all?

We’ll find out as the year progresses. I’ll post a link to the sites I’m experimenting on when I have more time to play.

Stay tuned

Sublime Packages

Hey, Sublime Text 3 has a new build version out! #3103 /kermit arms.

That makes this the perfect time to talk about my favorite customizations for it – Packages!

Sublime packages are a little like after market mods for your car. Or plugins. Either way they improve the usability and can do things like change the color of the interface or check your code for you.

First: Start off with the package installer, called Package Control.  https://packagecontrol.io/installation

Here are a few useful packages I have installed:

Themes

Do you have any packages that you’d recommend?