Today’s a good day as any to laugh at some stupid experiences from much earlier on in my career, when I was a freelance web designer. Let’s look at my top three!
#1 – When the In-Ter-Net almost put me In-The-Ground
I’d just pitched a fantastic idea to a top head at one major health organisation and he bought in immediately. Their field workers in remote locations couldn’t relay work data back to HQ due to internet issues. I offered an internet-free solution.
We shook hands and a bigger meeting was arranged for the following week where I would pitch my idea to several other colleagues.
I prepared feverishly for the meeting, editing and re-editing my PPT slides, rehearsing my pitch a gazillion times with my co-developer until he suggested sending me to Dragon’s Den instead.
On the day of the presentation, I bought a massive plan for my internet modem so I could demo our prototype. Smart in my business suit, I was set to take over.
Showtime! I loaded up my laptop in front of like 20 staff with shaky fingers and in a few minutes, delivered the pitch of my life. I saw the approving nods and smiles as I spoke. Then it was time for the demo, and my heart started throwing back flips in my chest.
The room was so quiet you’d hear a silent fart.
I loaded my browser and clicked a button for the demo. Nothing happened.
Clicked again and again; the browser did its whirling thing and brought up a page of fractured codes.
I checked my modem – it was fine. Reloaded the demo – crazy codes. By this time, I could feel geysers of sweat under my suit.
That was when someone remarked lightheartedly: ‘You might need your internet-free solution first.’
Everyone roared with laughter as I willed the ground to open and swallow me up.
The meeting ended abruptly and I went home, burning with embarrassment.
*Later I found out that the location of the meeting – it was in a basement – had affected my connection.*
#2 – Knowledge of Responsiveness = Zero
He heard I was the best website designer around and had a job for me. Fresh from my first HTML/CSS website project at school, I enthusiastically accepted the project with a 30% advance. I worked hard on my laptop for about three days and proudly sent him a link to the finished website afterwards.
A few hours later I received a call. ‘Is that the finished website?’ My client asked with incredulity.
I stared at the phone as though he’d gone mad like:
‘Uh yes sir. Is there an issue?’
He laughed instead. ‘I know I didn’t pay much (in fairness, he’d have realised he paid a lot if he knew yours truly was coding his first commercial website) but this isn’t great.’
He went on to explain issues that I couldn’t see at my end. At some point it occurred to me that he might be trying to avoid paying the rest of his bill. But I told him I’d get back to him on the fixes he wanted. That was the last convo I ever had with him. He stopped responding to my calls or texts.
One day, by chance, I happened to check out the website on a desktop PC. Horrors upon horrors! I saw a website that looked like a nuke struck it! Images, text, angles and borders were thrown every which way.
Your boy had just got a rude introduction to the world of website responsiveness.
#3 Backwards better, forward never!
This client asked me to upgrade his existing business website and I obliged. About a week later we were going over the first draft of the website and he kept asking for some weird revisions. ‘Weird’ because you’d be hard pressed to find a client that wants you to revert to a dated feature when you provided its more contemporary upgrade.
I should have seen it coming: a few days later, he called and asked me to restore his old business website as he preferred its design.
I’m a website designer NOT an archaeologist fam!
(Not really a web designer gaffe but is pure gold regardless!)
I’d been working as a web designer on several projects for this big wig (a one-time presidential aspirant in fact) and we were somewhat close at this point. Close enough for him to ask me if I could please park his car properly as he’d stepped out in a hurry.
I obliged him eagerly and went to the car, a sleek beauty. What happened next is the stuff of nightmares. I started the car, and barely tapped the accelerator but this beast dove forward with a life of its own. I barely missed running over a pedestrian.
Terrified, I attempted to reverse the car and it shot backwards towards another vehicle. Ever heard of the Great Screech of Brakes’09? Rumours have it that they heard it as far as Tibet. I was responsible.
I sat paralysed in the car, until a parking lot attendant came and freed me from my embarrassment. As I stepped out from the car, there was my client watching from his office balcony several floors above me. The end.