I've been developing in different capacities and for different outcomes steadily for the past five years or so, and I'd just like to pass on some warnings I wish someone had passed on to me back then. So here they are:
- Clients with a lot of Internet knowledge are going to tell you how to do things and ask tons of questions about everything you do. They will nit-pick your decisions as to which technologies to use. They will use a lot of acronyms and second guess you and look out the corner of their eyes at you and then say, "of course, you know more about this than I do."
- Clients with no Internet knowledge will get frustrated every time anything doesn't go the way they want them to. I once had a client call me the day after I got the account saying, "Put all your work on a disk, take it down off the net and tear up my down payment check, I've already called a lawyer and I'm on my way over there." I'd said it'd be up by noon, it was 11:55 by my clock and I was uploading it. His clock apparently said 12:01.
- Most clients will NOT see you as a priority. They will get all over you if you are late by a day, but will put you off a month or more getting back to you. Then they will look at you gravely when you tell them you need more time to complete the site, because you just got their product shots yesterday and the deadline is tomorrow and you originally planned on three weeks to format it all.
- If you choose less technology to save money you will regret it later. Every single time. No exceptions.
- WYSIWYG is an outright lie. FrontPage is out to get you. The browser manufacturers hate you. 'Standard' means nothing. Nothing makes ASP 'Visual' whatever that means in the first place. There is only one useful tool.
- Your client's ISP will be your worst enemy. "My email is down!" "I can't get to the site!" "The links don't work" "It takes twenty minutes to load!" Relax! You're dial-up is messed up again.
- Browser cache will attack your self esteem until you learn to check it BEFORE assuming all the changes you just made to that SQL display script simply don't work.
- If you tell a client during a sales pitch that something is easy, they will call you when they get the quote and ask why it is going to take two weeks and cost two grand.
- You will be blamed for the mistakes of the third party providers, like credit card servers. To the client, you are one and the same.
- There will be politics, and you will get dragged into them. You haven't really worked for yourself until you've had to break a bill out four ways so that each department knows how much of it they "have to pay for". They will argue, they will take forever to pay. Meanwhile, you will try to find creative ways to eat Raman Noodles.
- No matter how much you doubt it now, people really do meet at 9:00 am or even 8:00 am, and they expect you there, and they expect you to stay awake.
- If you contract with an artist, they will use Macintosh computers and will expect you to do the same and will have bad attitudes when you ask them to please convert the files so you don't have to kill someone.
- You will buy a small library worth of books. There will be things that will be left out of the books. You will lose sleep. YOU WILL FIGURE IT OUT.
- You will be tempted to cheat . . . FrontPage looks very nice when you just figuring out how to get your work done. Rule of thumb: anything that saves time or money now will cost more than it saves in the long run. If you're going to do it, do it right.
And finally . . .