What I make and how I make it.
I created my first website in 2007 (yep, a looong time ago!!). It used static HTML webpages and basic CSS – but I was pleased with it.
Fast forward many moons and I’ve learned the skills to own a group of well-established websites
without relying on buckets of coffee and blasting Tiesto in my headphones.
Although I’m a web developer it’s kind of out of necessity! My inability to create my visions in my early years (and my lack of funds to afford to pay for coders) meant I had no choice but to roll my sleeves up and learn.
But coding is hard. And I just want to bring ideas to life. For that reason I’m not afraid of spaghetti code. Let’s walk through how I go about things.
I Love To Create Spaghetti To Get Projects Going!
Let’s bring some real talk.
There’s nothing more exciting than coming up with an idea, visualising it with a messy low fidelity wireframe, chucking together a few snippets to make spaghetti code, and then launching it for users. It’s so fun!!!
But spaghetti code can’t last forever.
My Coding As It’s About To Be Seen:
(You know you’re a pro when you compare yourself to David Brent.)
When an MVP gains traction or I want to unleash code out into the wild – it’s time to get good.
How I Make Something ‘Properly’
My ultimate aim is to bring my ideas to life so they’re fantastic for users. That’s it. I enjoy doing things my own way to get the job done.
Once an MVP has got some traction it’s time to actually make something of it to build an asset that’s good for business and great for users. So let’s talk about development. Here’s my way of doing things.
WordPress For The Win
I love WordPress. I always use it as my CMS (not headless, for front-end too). Yeah it’s got bloat and other problems but once I understood the power of it’s themes and plugins system it became a dream for me! It can be so easy to work with for small scale projects.
For databases I stick with MySQL (even when creating side projects that don’t use WordPress) via the PhpMyAdmin GUI so I have low-level SQL skills too. Some people hate MySQL, but look, if it’s good enough for the likes of Uber and AirBnB then it’s good enough for a mickey mouse like me!
I Keep It Vanilla
The frameworks of today didn’t exist when I started in 2007. Angular, React, Vue.js – none of them existed. The same goes for many libraries. I learned everything using vanilla coding in Notepad++. When working on small scale projects I honestly believe keeping things as vanilla as possible has real benefits to this day.
Sometimes I look at the state of the dev system and think it looks like a right convoluted mess!
Realistically though keeping things vanilla is only possible as a solo dev. When you own the projects and only you do the coding then you get to know it well.
But What About When Your Way Doesn’t Work?
I’m a face grabber. Which are you?
But seriously, when it does go wrong, we all know there’s only one thing for it:
- Dim the office lights
- Get the headphones on
- Put your hoodie up
- Set “Till I Collapse” by Eminem to repeat
- Start nodding your head continuously
- Don’t stop nodding until you find a fix on Stack Overflow
Works 60% of the time, every time! Need to fix a bug right now? Press play and feel the power:
Alright that’s enough of the silly jokes. Back down to business.
My main tools are:
- XAMPP for my local environment server.
- Notepad++ is my editor of choice.
- When mucking around and storing reusable snippets I love Codepen!
- All my projects are small scale so regular old shared web hosting does the job (just).
- FileZilla for FTP.
- For debugging I use Chrome Dev Tools.
- When developing further a live WordPress website I use a staging environment created by a plugin that duplicates the website (so easy!).
- For version control I use my own basic version control system. Pickles always happen!
- For constant learning I like to use freeCodeCamp and a handful of fantastic YouTube (ahem Fireship) channels. I’ve used other platforms too including Codecademy.
- And finally, I use r/ProgrammerHumor for relatability, relaxation, and mental health benefits.
For Design Tasks
I’m not a pro designer. I rely on talented other people. But I still find design fun and love going through the process.
I like using Figma to create low fidelity wireframes. In fact I really enjoy making wireframes!
I use a few colour palette websites, found via a quick Ecosia search rather than using the same sources every time.
For fonts I use Google Fonts.
For inspiration I tend to use Dribbble, Behance, Google Images, and Pinterest.
All final web designs are made using a custom WordPress theme. This avoids the bloat that impacts many WordPress themes and allows me to know the theme inside out. A handful of custom plugins have also been created by myself to fill the gap that third-party plugins haven’t filled.
For The Marketing Bit
Oh yeah, got to promote the stuff!
I do most marketing in-house and have developed my own SOPs to carry out marketing. External tools are used to support SEO efforts for tasks such as keyword research (how fun!).
For The Business Side Of Things
I focus on keeping overheads low to reduce risk and maximise profitability. This means always trying to gain competitive advantages by looking at everything from many different angles. Perspective does change if you look at things from a different angle!
- Affiliate marketing
- Google Adsense
- Sponsored partnerships
- Informational articles
- Curated product lists
They’re the 4 target markets, however, visitors come from around the world.
Tools For Running My Business
I use my own Dashboard that I developed (in 2020 during the pandemic lockdown) to help me with day-to-day operations. It’s complimented by Asana for my calendar/scheduling and Google Drive for cloud storage.
Some Principles I Love
These are what I consider a set of timeless values that I love:
“Strive for simplicity, the quality of something isn’t always linked to the number of lines of coding it has.”
Inspirational example: Tesla Self-Driving technology
“Outcompete rival businesses by outinventing and outcreating them, never rely on outoptimization to win.”
Inspirational example: the first ever Apple iPhone
“Everything has to start with blue sky thinking as if time and money are no object.”
Inspirational example: The World Wide Web!
“Functionality first, gimmicks last.”
Inspirational example: Google Search
Thanks For Reading
Every developer/coder/entrepreneur goes on their own quest. I hope my story has been of some sort of use to you in some capacity, even if you were just being nosy!
As the old saying goes, ‘there are many ways to skin a cat’. What a lovely saying! But if you’re currently skinning a cat (so to speak) then you’re welcome to get in touch with me or see if I have any available WordPress services, maybe I can add value to your project.
If you’re bored of this website and fancy checking my external profiles here they are: