I started out over 20 years ago in Web design. At that time, websites were mainly written completely in Windows Notepad and images edited with Macromedia’s Fireworks (now owned by Adobe and discontinued). This was even before Shockwave and Flash were the bomb. Being involved in Web design since those early days certainly was a huge learning curve. In the mid 2000’s I dived into server-side programming.
The following are my top 10 mistakes in Web development in no particular order. These are from the perspective of a Web marketer / domain developer who develops his own projects as well as for clients. So here goes.
– Taking content down from the Web because I thought it was no good. When you create content, never take it down. At the very least, archive it somewhere and let Google know.
– Being impatient. Patience is a virtue online and took me a long time to learn. Still learning, in fact. Success online depends on many consistent progressive steps that may seem small individually. But put together form a massive effort. The temptation is to give up too early, which may be just before a breakthrough.
– Being too concerned about the details (of a website design). Around the time I started in Web design, companies like Kioken and 2Advanced were the giants. They charged hundreds of thousands of dollars. Top artists and brands would seek their services. Their designers paid huge attention to detail and the sites looked great. But it was a fad and it passed. Where are they today? The adoption of Web standards and decline of Flash made their work obsolete.
– Not paying enough attention to content. Design is important. But it is not the all-encompassing aspect of a successful website. Content is still king.
– Taking things personal. If someone gives you a hard time about a site you built or its content, if it is legit, learn from it. But don’t lose sleep over it. If it is someone being a jerk, let it slide off your back. Just keep focused and don’t let it distract you. Easier said than done, though.
– Being my own worst critic. No matter what I did, it just didn’t seem good enough for me. When I look back at some of my old work, back from early to mid 2000’s, I think to myself that it was actually pretty good. So what I do now, is build out a site, then go back to it in a few days with a fresh set of eyes.
– Undercharging for my services. Learning how to charge for Web development is one of the most important but difficult and underestimated aspects of running a business as an entrepreneur or freelancer. This has cost me a lot of money over the years, especially early on. You have to be strong and know the worth of your work. It is what it is. Now, if you have good clients that are not overly demanding, you can always give them a better price. But know and respect the value of your time.
– Taking on small jobs. This was a time killer with too little of a return. You have to understand that the only reason someone hires a professional Web designer/developer is to accelerate, fast-track, their business. If they are uncertain and want to go cheap and slow, there are plenty of DIY options. As the services provider, you want to focus on projects that a) have fair compensation for your time, b) have long-term impact on your bottom line.
– Trying to focus on too much. As you get into domain investment and development, the easy trap to fall into is trying to do too much at once. You register a number of domains that would make perfect names for new businesses or content sites. But then nothing of real substance gets completed. I found myself getting frustrated. Now I focus on no more than 3 projects at the same time. These 3 may change week-to-week or monthly, but I try to give each project enough time.
– Not thinking long-term. A famous quote attributed to Bill Gates is that “most people overestimate what they can do in 1 year and underestimate what they can do in 10 years.” This is true. We can get disappointed too quickly because we can’t see the forest for the trees. Over the years I’ve learned that you need to have a long-term strategy. This means that whatever you do now must somehow connect with what you have already done or plan to do in order to move the ball forward.
Here is a bonus mistake:
– Getting easily distracted. Working online there are many distractions. And especially if you don’t have a boss looking over your shoulder, you can easily fall into this trap. Some of these distractions include spending too much time on social networks, forums, watching videos, and the like. Before you know it, a lot of time has gone by and you accomplished very little. My biggest time waster was watching the news while I work. You will never get that time back.
I found writing down these mistakes an interesting exercise. Some came to me very quickly, while others (most in fact) I had to really think about. This is part of the reason of writing them down. So that I don’t forget them and risk repeating making the same mistakes again. The other part of the reason is that I hope my mistakes will help someone else avoid making the same ones I did.