Why I Am Deleting My Social Network Profiles

I am gradually closing down my social network profiles. There are many reasons why I have decided to do so:

  • I get way too much email and it’s got to become more manageable.
  • I want considered, meaningful communication with people in my life rather than rushed, ill considered mass broadcasts in each direction.
  • I waste too much time on them. Obviously this is not the fault of the social networks, it’s my lack of willpower. I want to focus on producing good work and experiencing interesting things in the physical world.
  • Work brings me onto social networks a lot. Deleting my personal profiles will keep this separate and stop me getting distracted with my own feeds.
  • I can’t say what I am thinking half the time. It’s mostly public, anyone can read it and post some snarky comment liable to cause a fight.
  • Social networks are mostly drivel I have no need or desire to read. Everyone ‘having a voice’ and being able to share their thoughts doesn’t appeal to me. Most posts are showing off or moaning.
  • Scammers, spammers, the illiterate and people who can’t think critically do the most talking, and I end up pissed off and exerting a lot of effort to avoid engaging them.

So the plan is:

  • Hide YouTube and blog comments using Firefox plugins.
  • Delete personal Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and Tumblr accounts.
  • Unsubscribe from all newsletters and as many notifications as possible.
  • Stay away from blogs about internet marketing, getting rich quick, life coaching and anything else that makes me want to punch my screen.
  • Call people to talk and meet up to do interesting things. This is going to take some getting used to as it means breaking my social media habit.
  • Make it clear to people that it’s not OK for them to stare at their phones while they are spending time with me.

I have a local blog set up where I vent and write about stuff to get it off my chest. The rest of the world doesn’t need to read that, nor do I want anyone to. Writing it down is all that matters to me.

The desired outcome for me is a more meaningful, varied social life.  I reckon it’s probably going to be disruptive but well worth the effort!

The “Four Hour Work Week” and the Service Industry

What Is the Four Hour Work Week?

I recently read Tim Ferriss’s Four Hour Work Week, and got rather excited afterwards. He talks about outsourcing, creating better processes and removing yourself from your business so you can do the things you actually want to do with your life instead of working. Great ideas. I have also been reading the Personal MBA, and Getting Things Done.

However, after trying a few of these ideas I have some thoughts on why it might not be suitable for my web design business – which above all is a service business.The 4HWW method talks about automating and outsourcing everything. Great ideas – but the reason a lot of my clients use me is that we work well together. I explain all the technical stuff in plain English, or talk in business terms instead. I aim to smooth out the often troublesome process of doing design work for people that have not employed designers before.  I do good work, and usually over-deliver. I am also good value due to my low overheads.

Things That Have Worked

Pareto’s 80/20 rule that people keep trotting out does seem to work quite well when used specifically.

  • I looked at the small number of clients that were not profitable or stressed me out, and stopped working with them.
  • I made myself less immediately available via phone and email, and nothing bad happened. I could then focus on doing paid client work instead of constantly answering calls or replying to emails all day.
  • I batch phone calls, emails, errands, design work and development work so I do similar tasks when in that frame of mind. That reduces the “cognitive switching penalty” when changing tasks too often.
  • I am developing affiliate blogs and creating informational products to give me a passive income. However, the time needed to do this properly and make decent money is probably not worth the effort from what i’ve experienced. If i logged my time taken, my hourly rate would be appalling doing this kind of work.
  • I recently stopped doing mobile PC repairs, as the time spent travelling and fuel costs made them not worth doing. I was often switching between web design and PC repairs, which caused the “cognitive switching penalty” again.

Why 4HWW Might Not Be Right For Web Design Businesses

If I remove myself from the process and use freelancers, then that reason to use my business dissolves. If I want to make the same profit, I must put my prices up to pay the freelancers. I don’t compete purely on price, but must offer good value to my clients, who are mostly small businesses. I also need to brief freelancers and then check their work afterwards, all adding to the cost.

I have written guides and processes after reading Mr Ferris’s 4HWW and Michael Gerber’s E-Myth, but used them with only limited success.  A checklist often doesn’t carry enough background info to do the job to my requirements. Am I doing it wrong, or does it just not work so well with service industries?

If I was selling WordPress themes or a web application/service, then I could remove myself from the equation more easily. If I am the product or service provider, then that no longer works. There is also a part of me that wonders why anyone would want to take direction from me and follow these processes that I set out. I certainly wouldn’t want to follow someone else’s processes, but then that’s why I am running my own business and not working for a company.

What Are Your Experiences with the 4HWW?

I’d be very keen to hear what experiences other web designers and developers have had with using 4HWW or E-Myth techniques in their businesses, and how well it worked. Sound off in the comments or drop me a line at [email protected] if you’d rather not have your comments published!

Building the Responsive version of FCSWebsites.co.uk

I have recently rebuilt my main business website at www.fcswebsites.co.uk using responsive design techniques. I was confused by the whole thing until I read Ethan Marcotte’s book Responsive Web Design, which explained how responsive design is based on a flexible grid, flexible images and media queries.

Converting to Responsive

After a brief bit of planning, I stripped back the CSS on the site, replacing my old code with Skeleton framework code. I have been using the 960gs for a couple of years, and Skeleton is based on that so the grid framework was easy to pick up. The FCS design is very clean and simple, so making variations was pretty straightforward. It runs on the Textpattern platform, and I developed it locally using MAMP Pro with a localhost alias for the domain name.

I used .inner divs on the main containers, to allow for whitespace around the content without altering the grid CSS elements themselves. It’s a bit of extra markup, but I don’t care. Some people will get upset about that but there is nothing for me to gain by spending hours removing every last DIV or SPAN to make sites perfectly semantic. Extra DIVs are fine in my book if they get the job done quicker. This is a business, not a time lavish hobby.

My original homepage carousel used jQuery and the Innerfade plugin. That relies on fixed height for the carousel items, which didn’t work when scaling images down for smaller screen sizes. I chucked that away and replaced it with the WooThemes Flexslider, which worked beautifully without any extra configuration or headaches.

Converting fcswebsites.co.uk took me around eight hours and this is the first customised responsive site I have built, so there was a bit of a learning curve.

Time for Change

Clients are starting to ask for mobile friendly websites or upgrades to their sites, so this has been a perfect learning experience. I feel the time has come to start using responsive techniques as the proportion of users using non-desktop devices is now greater than desktop browsers. This is a permanent change to the way we have to think about developing websites – using mobile or non-desktop devices to access websites is here to stay. Some excellent talks from the New Adventures Conference in Nottingham have nudged me towards this shift.

Standardising Systems

I am always looking at ways of speeding up our development cycle by reusing base CSS classes and standardising systems. Typing the same code over and over is pointless and soul destroying as well as being a waste of time.  I currently use a framework based on the 960 grid system, with lots of extra classes added for buttons, error boxes etc. which saves me lots of time. The Skeleton framework has been a massive help, with base code available for standalone websites, and themes for WordPress and OpenCart. Using Skeleton has also moved us onto using HTML5, with the necessary fixes for Internet Explorer.

I plan on using Skeleton to replace my 960gs based CSS framework on all projects, but will turn off the media queries for client projects that don’t specify responsive design. This means I can use one CSS framework for responsive or non-responsive static websites, WordPress content managed sites (including our www.Horsey-sites.co.uk brand) and eCommerce sites.

What’s Next?

Next steps are to style this blog up, convert my PC Repair business WordPress site to Skeleton and convert a Textpattern client website that we built two years ago to be responsive!

RetroPower Ascona 400 Replica

WOW. Just wow. Loads more info and about a million pictures on Retropower.co.uk of this incredible Ascona B restoration.

RetroPowerAscona400

Phone spam from PC support company “PCEFIX”

I keep getting calls about my “Windows computer” from some idiots who say they are from the “Service centre for windows operating system”. This looks to me like an attempt to sound like they are calling from Microsoft. I get other phone spammers trying to make out they are calling from Orange when they are not. When pressed they admitted to being from a company called “PCEFIX”. I consider this unethical “sharp business practice” to be dishonest and bordering on fraud.

Their sales pitch is ridiculous and their badly trained operators are clearly reading from a script. They told me that they had received messages about errors from my Windows computer and were calling to help me fix them. We use Apple computers.

This is a shitty business model and no way to get new business or treat potential clients. Why would I let some random caller access my PC to remotely “fix” it? The staff are inept and I have been rudely hung up on without a goodbye for telling them I use Apple computers.

If these are any other idiot spammers call to waste your time, I suggest you string them along for as long as you can and waste their time in return.