Late last year, Dinh Cuong’s son who I worked with on his dad’s web site referred me to a local Vietnamese client on a web development job. The guy would design the site in Photoshop and hand the mockups over to me to develop in HTML, CSS and content management system. This is not an ideal position because it is very hard to code someone else’s design, especially of the design has no web experience.
I knew the challenge of taking on the gig, but it’s a fairly small project and I wanted to use the opportunity to learn a new database-free CMS. As I had expected, the designer wanted me to code up exactly like he designed in Photoshop. He thought of it as a print piece and put no consideration into user experience. The navigation, which is the most important element of a web site, weren’t available until the users get through three clicks. I had to meet with him to go over why his design wouldn’t work for the web. He had some resistance at first, but willing to compromise.
The first time I met at his town house, the place was very nice. His deck is facing a small pond. You can walk into a deck and put your feet into the water. Inside his house, he has minimal decoration, very Japanese inspired. The second time I met with him again to show some of the design I modified to be more user friendly, but he insisted that he still wanted the homepage to be just a paragraph of texts and nothing else, sort of like a splash page.
When I arrived at his place for the second time, the entire place was a huge mess. He had things all over the place. One of the pipes in his basement busted. The meeting didn’t went too well. I was going to have sign up for domain name and hosting, but I thought we should wait.
A few days later, which was early February, I sent him two new mockups in HTML and I stayed as close to his design as I could. I only changed a few details to make the site responsive. He hadn’t responded back to me even though the pages looked very closed to his designs. I reminded him, but he said that he was dealing with the basement and I completely understand.
With school projects and work, I temporarily checked out of the project until he comes back to me. The momentum is definitely lost, but I’ll pick it back up again. Since I won’t be responsible for the contents, I’ll get the site into the CMS and hand it over. I am not sure when that time will come. He does have legitimate reason with the basement.
My last project with another Vietnamese didn’t go too well either. I ended up cancelled the project after many months stalling and without responses after several reminders. I felt that her heart was not into it since she didn’t paid for it and I didn’t want to waste our time and her friend’s money.