Weekly Web Developer Q&A (4/29/2016)

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If you sent me a question via email, Twitter, YouTube, etc this week… then look below because there’s a good chance I’m going to answer it.

Jon via Patreon asked:

I have to say, after going through almost all of your videos that there aren’t many questions I have at this point of my own personal development. I guess the only thing I am curious about is what happens AFTER you win a freelance bid. How does working with a client remotely work, any tips on keeping them happy, how do you get paid, etc.

First thing… this is the most important part of being successful as a freelancer. Repeat clients and word of mouth is where the money is at. So, you’re right to think about this.

Here’s a few tips I think are important:

1. Remember, it’s always about the experience. It’s not just about the code and the product… it’s just as much (often more) about how YOU are to work with. I harp on it constantly and the trolls like to send me hate mail about it… but it’s 100% true. Communication, speed, reliability, not being a douche, etc. Make the entire experience a pleasure for your client.

2. Create and give your clients a delivery schedule. You likely offer a certain set of services that you provide to your clients. If not, you should. As opposed to do anything and everything. But, assuming you do… then you work those kinds of projects over and over and over. So, you know what the timeline looks like. Write it down and give it to them. Yes, add a little time to what you work with internally to account for unforeseen stuff, but giving them an idea of what’s coming and when to expect what… is yuuuuuuuge! 🙂

3. Create and USE a communication schedule. Look at your delivery schedule and note important points when you’d want to communicate with your client… pro-actively. The more you pro-actively communicate, the less you’ll have to deal with the 10pm emergency email. So again… write it down and follow it.

There’s a bunch more… but doing those things as a foundation will go a long way toward making your clients happy and wanting to hire you again and again.

Patrice via Patreon asked:

I have a question about preprocessor in CSS. It’s important to use it or not? What is the value to use it? Thanks you and have a great weekend.

I think of it like what PHP is to HTML. That’s not entirely accurate, but pre-processors are like scripting languages for CSS. They add functionality like variables and mixins and more that generally make writing CSS faster and easier.

The value is (in the right context) your CSS will be more DRY (don’t repeat yourself), more organized, quicker to write and easier to maintain.

Thing is though… pre-processors (IMO) shine most on large projects that have multiple developers involved. They can still be valuable on smaller projects, but no AS. So, do you HAVE to learn it?

You don’t have to do anything.

In fact, here’s a little secret… I rarely use them. But you know I’m and old fuddy duddy that likes doing things old school. I’ll get around to it eventually… but if you can write clean CSS code you can write clean CSS code.

And, if you can’t… you can’t.

A pre-processor will help but won’t magically fix that for you. In my opinion, it’s best to get really good at writing CSS before you start using a pre-processor because you’ll understand better how to use them.

But, once you’re a CSS pro and want to make your job easier… then go for it!

Will via Patreon asked:

Do you use task runners like Gulp and Grunt regularly? Do you think they are necessary to learn? I usually see these mentioned a lot alongside LESS/SASS preprocessors on job requirements but haven’t really got round to learning them just yet.

Nope.

I’ve actually never used either. But remember I’m an old curmudgeon who likes to do things the hard way. 🙂

It just goes back to an email I wrote earlier this month… everything is the next big thing you HAVE to learn. Heck, you remember “agile development”? For awhile there, it’s all I ever heard. My little brother even pestered me about it.

Now?

Crickets. I just read an article the other day titled, “Agile Is Dead”. And apparently has been for awhile. All the original “creators” have abandoned the idea and tons of enterprise companies that used it heavily are dropping it like a hot potato.
 
This happens over and over and over in this industry.

So, I never get super caught up in it. Sure, I might miss a few things here and there but I don’t waste a bunch of time learning stuff that is “dead” a year later.
 
Wait. See what happens. Then adjust if necessary.

Now, are gulp and grunt anything like this? Not really… but who knows? I’m always leery of the word “necessary”. There’s actually very little that’s “necessary”. Helpful. Valuable. Beneficial. Use those all you want.

Necessary, however, is often the domain of the “Medium.com Know-It-All”who writes an article about how every developer not learning Node.js is a loser… only to write another article a year later about how Node.js is dead.

<insert eye roll>

Brendan via email asked:

I have a pretty great understanding of HTML and CSS. But there is one issue that I have never been able to figure out… I cannot do margins or anything making the age compatible on any screen. I can make it look great on my main monitor but if i switch it to a different one it looks like absolute hell, and i’ve tried everything I can find and I can’t get it to work. It would be awesome if I could get some tips from you.

I’ll keep this one short, my man.

You need to learn responsive web design and I have a full YouTube tutorial series on it. So go watch these:

Beginner’s Guide to Responsive Web Design

That’ll do it for this week.

If YOU have a question, you can send it via email to john@johnmorrisonline.com, tweet me @jpmorris on Twitter or leave me acomment on YouTube.

(Keep in mind, I might not respond to these directly in those places because I collect them up for this Q&A. Also Patreon supporters get priority access so if you want to make sure you get your question answered, consider becoming a supporting listener.)

P.S. If you liked the show, give it a like and share with the communities and people you think will benefit. And, you can always find all my tutorials, podcast episodes and more on johnmorrisonline.com, @jpmorris on Twitter and youtube.com/johnmorrisvideo.

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John Morris

JOHN MORRIS

I’m a 15-year veteran of freelance web development. I’ve worked with bestselling authors and average Joe’s next door. These days, I focus on helping other freelancers build their freelance business and their lifestyles.

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John is a fantastic and patient tutor, who is not just able to share knowledge and communicate it very effectively – but able to support one in applying it. However, I believe that John has a very rare ability to go further than just imparting knowledge and showing one how to apply it. He is able to innately provoke one’s curiosity when explaining and demonstrating concepts, to the extent that one can explore and unravel their own learning journey. Thanks very much John!

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