Building a website can be a daunting task, especially when you don’t have much experience. When I approached Ed Latimore, the professional heavyweight boxer and Twitter superstar, I could count the number of websites I’d built from scratch on the fingers of one hand.
It’s safe to say I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
Nevertheless, there I was: I’d just sent Ed an email containing my offer and a crude mockup I had created in GIMP just minutes before. Thinking back, I don’t think I even expected a reply.
To my surprise, however, it only took minutes before Ed got back to me.
He was happy to work with me, and in my excitement (at this point I was probably even more manic than before) I opened up the code editor in CloudCannon and got to work.
The whole process, from start to finish, took about two weeks.
It is said that you should learn from your mistakes, and I try to do that as well. This particular project happened to be a great success, but I feel like it would be silly not to try to learn any lessons from it. So here goes: four things I learned making Ed Latimore’s new website.
You don’t need a giant portfolio to land interesting work
When I approached Ed, I didn’t have a portfolio to show him. And that’s okay. Everyone has to start somewhere.
You could spend weeks building generic websites to fill your portfolio with, or you could get out there and create something real. I decided to do the latter.
Instead of showing Ed a list of websites I had built in the past, I did one better: I showed him what I wanted to do for him.
It’s generally best to err on the side of too much communication
From the get-go, I communicated quite frequently and openly with Ed. As I have come to learn from projects I have done since, the more you communicate with a client the less problems you run into.
Communication is not just important in order to keep the client up to speed on the progress, or even to get an idea of what it is the client needs and wants. By telling them why you’re doing what you’re doing, how you came to this or that conclusion, etc., you address concerns they might have before they even know they have them.
Document the process
When I built Ed’s website, I didn’t take notes or document the process. This made writing a case study about it afterwards a daunting and extremely time-consuming task. In fact, I could probably have built a copy of the website in the time it took to complete the case study.
In the future, I will take notes as I design the website; challenges, insights, and whatnot.
Post-launch support is crucial
No matter how many times you’ve reviewed the code and the live version, you always miss some things. When edlatimore.com went live to the world, not only had I neglected to add meta tags for Facebook and Twitter, I’d also forgotten to optimise the body text line height. These are all very easy things to fix—if you know how.
That’s why it’s so crucial that you make yourself available the hours and days following the launch of a new website, to make sure everything runs smoothly and to fix any silly mistakes you’ve made.
Well, there you go. Those are the four lessons I learned building www.edlatimore.com. I might have learned more, had I only taken some notes. C’est la vie.