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May 2013 - November 2013
Visual Designer & Web Developer

Here I designed and developed websites for a small company who targeted small businesses. Two brothers ran the company, they would run the business and I would design and develop the websites. What is important to say is that for a young designer and developer who freelances to have a regular income is excellent and more importantly to have critical feedback of your work allows you to develop. This wasn’t wholly the case at Bolger Websites, but I got a semi regular income and I fine tuned my own abilities because they gave me autonomy when it came to the designs, as long as they looked partially trendy and were responsive that would be fine. Thus, this job was never about output of incredible websites but everything learned at the time was predominantly about workflow.

I put a lot of pressure on myself to deliver so I had to speed up my workflow because I would design and develop 3 websites a day for 2/3 days a week. When you work at that speed quality becomes an issue. It is important but realistically you’re aiming for acceptable because time for refinement doesn’t exist. I had to be organised and disciplined which has stayed with me. You can learn to work quicker which helps when deadlines are close and sometimes I work best in short time frames because I’m pushed to work intuitively. As long as you have a well tuned sense of taste and have absorbed a lot of good design principles you can work well at speed. Although I do believe refining a design needs time for a better chance of long term success.

I organised my workflow and had to understand how to make it leaner. Organising and understanding different UI components really sped up my work. It meant doing it in my own time but it also meant it improved my knowledge of conventional UI components and what was applicable to what type of designs. Organising my work so it was modular from a front end development perspective is handy, from a design perspective it can be limiting because you’ve reduced the options of what could be made, although some would argue, from an Interaction Design perspective that it’s a positive thing to be able to know what’s available, test the options and be able to streamline the interactions for the user.

I was a manufacturing line of websites at the time, so UI design was done pre brief to an extent. I’d have a range of components, I had my boilerplate which I called Betsy, a lightweight responsive boilerplate with a range of Javascript components - I like building things instead of sculpting what already exists - boilerplates like Bootstrap and Foundation are great but I find the code dense and heavy and I hate digging through it and manipulating what already exists. So I developed Betsy have a look as my own foundation code.

When I’d get the brief from the owners I’d do up a quick design and input the content. I also did a lot of SEO work and content editing as the grammar and punctuation was awful. Speed, organisation and creating a workflow which you can manipulate for the situation along with a strong awareness of UI trends are my main take aways from that project. I don’t think much if any of my output still exists unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it.