Keith Devon

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Why I need a project manager

There comes a time in a small business’ growth that the owner’s management tasks take over the technical ones. When I started out about 80% of my time was spent building websites. As my business has grown I’ve had to deal with more support, administration, marketing, and project management. This has left less time for ‘doing the work’ (i.e. the billable stuff), but that’s just the way it goes.

The problem is that the jobs I’m having to deal with more and more, are the things that I’m not all that good at. I love designing and building websites. I also love talking to clients and helping them out when they need it. I even enjoy the marketing and sales side of things.

Why I need a manager

There are three business personalities; entrepreneurs, managers, and technicians. Between me and my team we have two of those covered. What we don’t have, and what I’m not built to be, is a manager.

There are things that I know I should be doing on a daily and weekly basis, that I’m just not getting done. I’m not good at routine. There are four main areas where I think I really need help: scheduling, planning, sales, and communication.

Scheduling

My biggest issue of all is scheduling. I find it really difficult to keep track of various projects, deadlines, budgets, etc. I’ve tried various tools to help, but the time commitment of keeping everything up-to-date has been too much. I’ve found that web development is almost too fluid to make these tools effective.

Planning

The next biggest issue, and it’s related to scheduling, is planning. Up until now I’ve been too reactive. I often let my inbox dictate my day’s work. I’d love to have a plan for the next day/week/month.

Sales

Better planning and scheduling would also help with sales. When a new prospect asks if I can get a job done by next month, I often struggle to know what our current workload actually is.

Communication

Finally, there’s communication. I want to be more responsive to my clients. In the future I’d like to be giving clients daily and weekly updates with progress, deadlines, and budget expectations.

Do freelance web project managers exist?

I did a quick Google search for ‘freelance web project manager’ and didn’t get a lot back. Does this magical person exist?

What I was thinking was having someone come in (not physically) for an hour or two a day to keep things ticking over. Would that work?

I’d love to hear from you

Are you also suffering from this? Are you a freelance project manager who can help? I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at keith@keithdevon.com, tweet me @keithdevon or reply in the comments.

Allowing null search with Relevanssi

I love the Relevanssi plugin for WordPress. It’s an easy way to power up the, frankly lame, native WordPress search.

By default the plugin will return no search results if no search term is given. Makes sense. But what if you are searching by other criteria too, and want to allow the search term input to be empty?

I’m building a custom job search for a client. There will be a ‘Search jobs’ form in the sidebar and the user will be able to search by term and region. The region is a taxonomy which the user selects from a drop-down. The form looks like this:

 

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 10.17.10

 

You have to tell Relevanssi to listen for the region query. Here’s how:

That works great if you enter a search term and a region. Yay! But it still doesn’t allow an empty search term. With some help from Mikko, the plugin author, I got it working. Here’s the code to fix it (and the actual form code I used):

HTH,

Keith

Building 10rituals.com

WordPress as an app engine

I recently read “The Monk Who Sold his Ferrari” and loved it. Part of the book suggests 10 daily rituals, which, if practiced for 21 consecutive days will become habits. I built 10rituals.com so that I could track my progress at integrating these rituals into my daily routine.

Initially, I built this for personal use only. I used a JSON file as my ‘database’, and I didn’t need any authentication. However, my dad shared the book with me and my siblings, and I wanted to let them use it too. I needed a better way to store my data, and, more importantly, I needed authentication. WordPress to the rescue!

WordPress might seem like overkill for this project, but within hours I had built and launched a public app. I couldn’t have managed this without leveraging something like WordPress.

It’s a very simple app, but I think that it shows the power of WordPress not just as a blogging tool, or CMS, but as an app engine.

Junior Front-end / WordPress role

Do you love building clean, modern websites using WordPress? Are you looking for a chance to build your portfolio and learn new skills? Then read on my friend!

The candidate

I’m looking for a freelance Junior Front End/ WordPress developer. The ideal candidate will have the following:

Required

  • Good HTML and CSS skills. Including HTML5 and CSS3.
  • Basic jQuery knowledge.
  • Basic PHP.
  • A good understanding of WordPress theme structure and template hierarchy.
  • Able to build simple WordPress themes and plugins.
  • London based and able to work near Old Street.

Nice to haves

  • Experience with Git.
  • Experience with LESS/SASS.

The job

I have various bits of work that I need help with. Mostly it will be installing and customising fairly simple WordPress sites.

The rate; £150/day. The location; Google Campus.

Junior Freelance Application

  • Accepted file types: pdf.