I’ve just gone live with the brand new updated version of the robinwilkie.co.uk website.
I’ve split up the content from the old one page website to separate About, Work and Contact pages. I took this opportunity to add new content to my portfolio page including recent websites I’ve been commissioned to develop for Harrison Scott Associates and MSP Recruitment Solutions, as well as some new personal projects.
I’ve also used some new skills to develop the new website including using SVG backgrounds, CSS Grid and SASS.
As always, it’s a work in progress so I’ll keep adding and changing things to keep the website up to date.
MSP Recruitment Solutions is a UK based provider of recruitment solutions across the UK, Europe and APAC countries with a focus on vacancies at all levels throughout the Print, Packaging, Visual Merchandising, Interior Design, Retail and Office Design & Build industries.
The client brief was to design and develop an engaging and responsive website to showcase the clients job postings, services and contact details. The website is completely responsive and fully optimised. WordPress was utilised on the back-ends for a client dashboard, used for uploading new jobs, news stories and viewing website traffic analytics.
Intellectual property, or IP, is an important aspect in the creative industry. IP refers to any creation of the mind so in terms of web and mobile development this will refer to web designs, logo design, names of companies and websites, images and even code. These creations are protected by law using patent, trademark and copyright law so the creator, or the client the creator has produced the work for, is recognised as the rightful owner.
These laws are in place to protect but can they also hinder or stifle creativity? Those original patent laws were put in place so competitors couldn’t steal ideas and produce them as their own at a cheaper price but, over the years, have these same laws been corrupted and abused to the point where original creativity is hampered? These laws have opened the door to patent trolls who exist simply to establish hundreds or thousands of patents with the goal being to sue anyone who produces work even remotely similar.
In the tech field copying and improving upon an existing product is rife and even Steve Jobs stated that Apple is “shameless about stealing great ideas”. Apple, Samsung and many other large tech firms have been accused of stealing ideas or having ideas stolen from them and these cases inevitably end up being settled out of court. For a smaller business or individual, with less money, a patent theft accusation could easily destroy that business and so they may not even try to innovate for fear of litigation.
In the web and mobile development field the subject of intellectual property is no less complicated. When a client asks for a site or app to be made there must be an agreement in writing about who owns the underlying software, images, logos, text, etc. Without this agreement, there will always be an argument between “but I created it” and “but I paid for it”.
In the end, it comes down to that one simple rule. Always have an agreement in writing, before any project is started, that clearly defines who will own what. This way, the client and the creator has a clear understanding before any work is started.
These sites were excellent resources in writing this article and provide more detailed info than I could fit in here:
Is freelancing when working in the creative industries the road to success? The Royal Society of Arts has predicted that the self-employed will outgrow public-sector workers by 2018 so it’s clear that more and more people are embracing the freelance lifestyle. There are benefits and drawbacks to both types of working but here I’ll be examining freelancing, especially when it comes to web and mobile development.
Working freelance allows you to work on diverse projects. Rather than work on one project or in one particular discipline a freelancer can pick and choose what type of work to do. This helps keep a freelancer creatively stimulated and allows them to develop naturally and, also, means a freelancer can choose not to work on a project they perhaps find unethical. In my case I can work on an e-commerce website one week and the next week I can be producing a mobile geolocation app.
Freelance work can also give you time to work on your own projects. During the summer, I did freelance work producing content for a hotel groups staff app. I completed the work in my own time meaning I also had opportunity to work on my side project producing an app and putting it in app stores.
You can work wherever and whenever suits you. This is especially beneficial if you have children or are responsible for caring for someone else.
When you work as a freelancer there is no guarantee of steady work coming in. Weeks or months could go by with barely any work and this leads to money worries. While there is little security in permanent jobs nowadays there is no promise of stability being a freelancer.
As a modern-day freelancer in the creative industries you have to compete with online websites such as Upwork or Freelancer. Many people see this as a race to the bottom as you have competition from all over the world, including freelancers from countries that can undercut your prices, as the value of money in their country is vastly different to yours.
If you decide to become a freelancer then you have to deal with paying your own taxes. This can be overwhelming if you have many different projects and have no experience claiming your income.
One of the most important things you can do as either a freelancer or company worker is network. Meeting new people is the most successful ways to gain new clients or make new contacts that can help you with your growth and improvement. Every new contact is a potential client or someone who can refer you to someone else.
Networking can be done online through social business networks such as LinkedIn or, more beneficial, face-to-face. Websites such as Meetup, Eventbrite or CodeCraft hold regular networking opportunities for a lot of creative industry disciplines. They meet in informal settings where you can meet up with others within your chosen profession, chat and ask questions.
These site were especially handy for creating this blog post:
In the creative industries, by which I mean those industries that generate and commercialise ideas, knowledge and creativity, does the concept of professionalism apply? In the case of my chosen field, web development, is being a professional with an advanced degree important?
Certainly, there are still many employers who, when they advertise for jobs, state that they are looking for someone with a university-level degree and years of experience in a chosen discipline. Many employers in the creative industry still feel a potential employee should have made the commitment to hone their skills through gaining degrees and certifications.
However, does this approach run the risk of disqualifying those that did not have the opportunity to go into higher education but still have the same, or possibly greater, skills? Is a web developer only someone with a relevant degree or is it anyone that puts in the time and effort to learn web development? Being rigid when it comes to professionalism in the creative industries could lead to worthy candidates not even being considered as they do not have the ‘right’ education.
This does not mean that having a professional code of conduct is not important in the creative industry. It can provide structure for companies as they know that a new employee, during their education, has been taught the practical and soft skills they need to know to a known level.
In his book, Ethics in Computing, Joseph Migga Kizza characterises professionalism in four ways – commitment, integrity, responsibility and accountability. I believe these codes can certainly apply to the web development industry. Companies and freelancers both need to show commitment to the job in hand, to not give up and continually strive for improvement. Having integrity shows you can be trusted and that also leads into responsibility, where you need to show that you can be relied upon and be honest in your work. In the creative industry, you must perform to the best of your ability when you create a website, app, animation or game and that creation should reach a standard that is expected from your client. Finally, accountability is especially important as, at the end of the day, you must be accountable for the outcome of a project and, hopefully, following these other codes of conduct you can produce something to be proud of.
For web development we have the W3CCode of Ethics and Professional Conduct that lays out the expected and acceptable behaviours for professionals in this field. This not only helps the individual following this code but also benefits the organisation as it promotes their public image.
These sites were especially helpful in creating this blog piece:
As a web and mobile developer, who is just starting out, a good portfolio of work is extremely important. Potential employers will be looking to see if you have experience in building websites or apps and a portfolio is your way to show what you have done and how you went about doing it.
One of the problems that I encountered early on was that I did not have many projects that I could include in a portfolio. I had completed a few finished websites, a few browser-based apps and small one-off page projects that I had built for College but not enough that I felt were sufficient to put up as examples of my work. I realised that to build up my portfolio I would have to do more personal projects outside of college. This would not only help build up my portfolio but aid my studies and give me more practice.
My first attempt at showcasing my work is here. At the moment, it gives eight examples of work that I have produced; five are college projects and three that I have produced in my own time. Although there are links to the projects on some there should ideally be links to view all of them online.
A single screenshot will not tell a prospective employer much about the project or how you produced it. Telling ‘how’ is just as important as describing ‘what’. A good portfolio should list the technologies used to create the project, the thinking behind the idea, planning documents and wireframes as well as a link to finished result. This shows an employer that you know the stages required to move through a project.
Portfolios can also be boosted be featuring other work that isn’t exactly related to the main subject. In my case I could include links to my photography that has been featured on websites but this could also be examples of writing or art that you have produced. This can show off that you have other passions and skills that can aid your web development work.
Some examples of awesome web development portfolios: