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Ninjakreborn

Severe question, wanting real criticism. about career

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Are you cut out for this career?  If it's anything that involves graphic design then the answer's "no".  Moondance has progressed with a lot of advice from here and it's fair; elostandfound is based on a template you used, and looks rudimentary; funnyemailforwards has few redeeming features from the 'design' viewpoint.  You already know "everybody's" opinion on your own site - and your own site ought to be the very best work you've done since you, and you alone, made every design decision in it.  It isn't doing you any favours as an enticement to get hired as a web designer - probably the reverse - regardless of what fine words you may have there.

I don't know how good, bad, or indifferent the back-end coding is for any of those sites, but whatever it is it isn't going to work as a selling feature because no prospective client ever sees it.

Based on some of your threads, I'd conclude that some of your ideas on costing are bizarre: guess the price, get the job, then find out there are all sorts of things you hadn't costed, and wind up spending forever doing stuff you can't do cost-effectively because you haven't got the budget to outsource what needs to be done.  Look at the time you've spent, look at how much you've been paid, figure out if your time is worth that or whether your time would be spent more profitably doing something else or something differently.

I suspect you already know the answers to these questions.  Be honest with yourself about it, because the only person you're fooling is yourself.

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moondance is probably your best effort. elostandfound is actually ok too. with a little work, both could be pretty good on your portfolio. as for funnyemailforwards, dont even go there.

however...

your own site pisses me off more than anything else youve offered, but its not because of its quality. its more for the fact that on NUMEROUS occasions, youve posted it for critique. here we are though, several months down the line and several thousand posts later, and you have implemented NONE of the advise given regarding your own site. not only is this disrespectful to those that have taken time out to help, but it's actually showing that you also have no interest in progressing.

here's a cliche for you: "humans were made with 2 ears and 1 mouth. use them in that order". in a nutshell - listen more, take it on board, and cut out the rubbish. all that stuff on your site about ethics, and swapping design work for dentist treatment - not in a month of Sundays can you be serious. if i was to do your site for you, the end result would be 10 times more basic, and be a fraction of the size without being full of text waffle.

If you're gonna do research, then quit with the several million programming languages and design packages, and research other sites in 'website critique' that are similar to yours, and ask yourself this:
1) do they cram their site with as much text as possible?
2) do they offer web work in swaps for xbox games and a new set of teeth?
3, do they have overdressed logos with irrelevent background pictures that take 10 minutes to load on a high speed broadband connection?
4) do they have several sections on "ethics", and then not follow any of them?
the list goes on. and on.

also you often put as much thought into many of your questions and posts as you do into your site. many times i'll answer a question, and others will too. shortly after, you'll come back and ask the same question, or just say "yeah but, i'm gonna do it this way anyway cos i wanna learn everything in the world".

heres a task. look at moondance/elostandfound. now look at yours. whats the difference? colours/layout/less text/etc. what i'm trying to hint at is the difference between sites youve done for others and your own is you seem to have applied peoples advice to other sites but not your own.

you know enough not to give up, so definitely dont give up. just quit the crap, find your niche (and i mean a SINGLE thing). "web design" is not a niche, its an entire industry. pick PHP+MySQL for example and stick to it. stop trying to do everything, because in all honesty, its not working and its making you come across like a robot.

for your plus points, you seem sincere enough and eager to learn. just put some limits on and start putting some of your knowledge into practice. i probably only know a fraction of what you do. the difference is that I stick to what i'm good at. i admit i'm rubbish with PhotoShop/Fireworks so dont even try, and I work to my limitations. Most of all, I dont take it [i]too[/i] seriously and I have fun doing it.

over and out
cheers
Mark

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on a more useful note, here's something that might inspire you if you care to look. For anyone who knows, we have a programme in the UK called "Dragons Den" where entrepreneurs try to convince a handful of "dragons" to invest cash in their business. One of the dragons, Peter Jones, is a bit smug and loves himself lots but nonetheless very successful.
Businessman, take a look at his site (but please ignore the 'flash' aspect (i hate flash) - just concentrate on the layout/style). i think it'd be something that if you keep the whole 'businessman' thing going, will give you a few ideas on getting an identity:

http://www.peterjones.tv/index.cfm

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As my personal forte is definitely not graphics, and it appears it is neither yours, I have one suggestion: Save the logo for last. Get a layout that looks gorgeous, and then concentrate on the logo. And since your personal strength does not happen to be graphic design, don't try to get fancy - it'll only look worse. Keep it simple. And oftentimes, you'll find that the simple approach actually looks really good.

As to the question of whether or not you are cut out for the career, I think, personally, that if you have to ask, then you already know the answer. Nobody wants to be stuck doing something they're not good at or something they don't enjoy, and I think you may be starting to think that particular thought. Everything is hard, but it'll be that much harder if you don't enjoy what it is you're doing, or if you're not a natural talent at it.

Have you attended college/university? Do you have a degree? If so, what is it? Maybe, if it's nothing like web design or programming, you should try to find something you like that you can put that degree to use in. If you haven't attended college, then you should seriously think about it. A few years of college will teach you a lot, about yourself, the world, and the field you specialize in while at school. In the US, financial aid is extremely easy to get. You may find it worthwhile in the long run.

I also suspect you may be getting burned out. You're competing as a freelancer in a very competitive field, and maybe you should consider finding something else. Freelancing is one of the most difficult "occupations" to succeed in, and you may have to try and find an alternative. And the alternative doesn't have to be a different career - maybe find a job in the "corporate" world. You are no longer your own boss, but you'll be making enough money to live on, and you may find that it's better than living from project to project.

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You asked for critique from the heart, so I'm going to be totally open and blunt with you. I'll also try not to rehash any of the great suggestions listed above. I am not going to even attempt to tell you whether or not you're cut out for this career. Why? Because, if someone had said to me 4 years ago that I'd be the lead web developer at a university on the east coast, I would have laughed in their face. I knew HTML and was studying some CSS, but other than a little rudamentary knowledge of JavaScript, I had no background and no desire to learn. Once I started learning, though, I picked things up quite quickly. Here are some things to ask yourself regarding your personal learning and work:

1) Do I truly have a [b]desire[/b] to do this as a career for the rest of my life (ie, do you [i]really[/i] enjoy it)?
2) Do I have a desire and willingness to take criticism and learn from my mistakes?
3) Do I learn quickly and retain the things I learn, applying them to my future projects actively?
4) Do I show talent [b]to others[/b] who are experienced in the field?
5) Do I find myself getting progressively faster and more reliable with each and every project I undertake?

If the answer to any of those questions is "no", then I would suggest you seriously re-examine your role as a developer for hire. At this point in my career, I can honestly answer "yes" to all those questions (and more that have been posed to me in a similar discussion), but if the point ever comes that I don't feel these are all true of me, I'll take my own advice and re-examine my own field of work as well.

Now, about the sites, each and every one of them have been reviewed in some fashion somewhere on this forum, so I won't go into all that again, but let's dwell on your homepage for just a moment. As was mentioned above, your homepage needs to be the crowning glory of your work as a developer. It's kind of funny that I don't have a "homepage" for my professional or freelancing work yet because I haven't had the time to put into it to make it satisfactory in my own eyes. Don't settle for something mediocre just to have [i]something[/i] up to send people to. You're much better off with a well written email or profile on a freelancing board with links to your work than to send people to a homepage that only offers a dim view of the development you claim. On that note as well, keep in mind that people aren't going to be interested in reading a mile long list of things that you claim to know: they are rather going to be interested in [b]seeing[/b] all those claims fleshed out in real projects.

Another thing you may want to keep in mind: if you've got some good work you want to share as samples, offer your code for review on your site. I have gotten some of my biggest projects from other programmers who are overloaded, and after reviewing my code, they felt I could handle what they needed. It really helps in the trust factor for people to be able to see what you've done, not just read about it. Goes directly back to the old addage: [i]actions speak louder than words[/i]. In short, you may be better off to shorten the list to only those things you are proficient in and tack the other things on as an addition to an email when someone asks about your experience. Don't brag on yourself: let your work do that for you.

To sum things up (and to be blunt), as your sites are now, and after seeing examples of what you do and don't know on these forums, I personally would pass you by when it came time for me to seek out help with a project. However, if you feel that you have what it takes, spend the time really [b]learning[/b] and show some examples of truly exceptional work. [b]That's[/b] what's going to get you hired.

I truly hope this is of help to you.

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Thanks I appreciate the advice, I will consider everything over the weekend, as I work more toward learning photoshop.

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To be good at Photoshop, work at developing your creativity - not merely using the tool.

To be good at programming, develop techniques, structure and strategies in complex problem solving - not just trying to memorize syntax or specific language.

As for making sites,visit http://www.coolhomepages.com and check out the "Futuristic" section. Heck, why not spend some time going to 2advanced.com and gain some inspiration.

The best learn from the best.

That's all I will say.

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It will take a lot for me to ever take you serious again. I posted a rather entensive critique of moondacedesign.com, not going into visual details, but trying to explain the basics. Did you adopt any of it like you said you would? Hell no. I see the same thing going on in your "logo" thread. I think you're simply not able to understand.

I say either quit or accept it as a hobby, not a proffession.

Edit.

On a more constructive note.

I think it's time for a mentality change for you.

Accept that you're NOT a bussinessman. You have waaaay too much to learn. If you don't [b]enjoy[/b] making websites, you should quit right now. If you do, make it your hobby. Just maybe, in some [u]distant[/u] future you'll be able to make a living of it.
Be realistic. Get the pressure off. Learn what you want, when you want to learn it. You are expecting too much of yourself. Relax.

Chill out. That's a good advice 'always'.

I only have the best intentions, believe me.

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