The Joy of Freelancing

What I like about freelancing is the wide range of projects and the ability to work one on one with my clients. As a result, freelancing is always challenging yet rewarding at the same time. I get the freedom to design web sites that truly represent the client’s purpose.

My approach to design is very focused. Instead of giving my client two or three choices to choose from, I narrow down to just one even though I might have come up with severals. I also design the mockup as closed to the finish site as possible to help the clients see what the real site would like look like; therefore, contents are extremely important right up front.

Designing a web site is not too hard, but taking away unnecessary elements is quite a challenge. Take the homepage of Thirsty for an example. The author wants to give the site a dark feel but with a light touch of hope. The background is a powerful image of the steel mill. To convey hope and to stay true to the book, I started off with a few dozens of butterflies all over the page. Then I realized that the butterflies were taking over the dramatic feel. I reduced the number down to three, then two, then just one. Hope is very slim, but it is there.

Another instance is the site for Julie Tran Law. Initially on each page, I had a button to allow users to switch language. So if you’re reading the about page in English, there would be a button that would say “Doc Tieng Viet.” In contrast, if you’re on a Vietnamese page, you would see a button that would say “Read in English.” After clicking through the pages, the button began to bug me. It’s not only distracting contents, but also insulting the readers’ intelligent and that was not my intention at all. Users can still get to where they want to read using the English/Vietnamese navigation so I chucked the button.

Like I said, the beauty of freelancing is that I never know what kind of sites I will be designing. I have never done a book site before nor have I done a law site before. I wanted to work on a restaurant site for a while and Le Mekong was a perfect opportunity. Obviously my love for food and design play a huge part in my inspiration.

Beside designing web pages from the ground up, I also get to freelance on parts of the sites. For Brand3, I put my little PHP knowledge to good use. The good thing is that I have been using WordPress for a while and feel very comfortable with skinning it to fit my client’s needs.

I am also collaborating with a geeky-ass programmer who is also a visitor to Visualgui.com on a very simple but complex project. He handles all the back end and I am in charge of the design as well as front-end development. I pulled an all-nightner last Friday on the project, but the good thing was I was not alone. He was miles away, and at the same time he was right there in my phone.

Mad props to Dana and my mother-in-law for looking after Duke while I crank out these projects. I couldn’t do it without their help and support.

Bonjour Vietnam