Tuesday, 3 April 2012

An Open Letter To Potential Employers


thank you for viewing my profile on Monster and associated job boards. I appreciate you taking the time to view my profile and consider me for employment with your clients. I am also flattered that some of you called me, but there are a few things I might not have made clear. I need to in order to help you decide whether to call me or not in future.


First of all, although Dreamweaver is the industry standard and I have a working knowledge of it, I don't actually use it day to day. I use Kompozer, an opensource WYSIWYG HTML editor. In layman's terms, I use a simple tool to do my work, then hand-code as and when necessary. Most people who use Dreamweaver, if they value web standards, will tell you that they end up having to compensate for the fact that the code generated by DW is messy and it doesn't always do what they want it to do. The way I do things is faster and easier than using that clunky ol' thing, is what I'm saying. And I do it well. My clients are certainly happy with me. See my testimonials.

The trouble is, the clients you might end up putting me with might not like the thought of employing a hand-coding nerd with a deep and abiding love of all things opensource. And free. Which Adobe Design Suite tools are not. Sorry I didn't make that clear enough in my CV. Please be sure to ask your clients if Dreamweaver is a definite must, and if it is, you can screen me out and save yourselves a call. I'm not going to buy it. Why should I, when I've got better tools? It's overrated, if you ask me.


I'd be lying if I said I've used Illustrator, but I have used Photoshop. Like other Adobe products it's flashy and clunky. There's that word again. I say it because doing the simplest thing, like taking a screenshot and resizing it, for example, is insanely complicated compared to the way I do it in GIMP, my opensource image editor. GIMP has a screenshot option in the File menu. Photoshop makes it much more difficult, and don't get me started on the layers. They're compulsory. In GIMP, they're not. I can get rid of the layers menu if I don't want to use it. And most of the time, I don't because I don't need it. Again, Photoshop is the industry standard. If it is required to be an experienced regular user, I fail at the get-go because I've used it in college but use GIMP and Inkscape for day-to-day graphics.


I use them when the design calls for it, and favour the 960 Layout System for its ease of use and ability to create stacked columns of content. However, the trouble with grids is they're rigid and complex, and there's not much wiggle-room if you need to make changes to the content - which you need to have in advance before you set it out. Changing the content in any way can upset the balance of boxed content. If you suddenly find you have more pictures or text than expected, you have to work hard to find a way to make it all fit nicely.

As top designer Jeffrey Zeldman said,

Content precedes design. Design in the absence of content is not design, it's decoration.

Tweeted by Jeffrey Zeldman, 5 May 2011

As a designer, I believe that content is king, and my purpose as a designer is to present the content to its best advantage rather than design for its own sake. That, in a nutshell, is what I offer: beautiful functionality, and I will use whatever technique is best suited to deliver it.

So what DO I do that employers might want?

First of all, I'm a hardworking and reliable problem-solver, taking full ownership and responsibility for my work. I don't make excuses; if a client wants something, it's my job to make sure they get it and I won't be happy until they do. I'm tech-savvy and can find ways of delivering the results a client wants - nine times out of ten they don't care how a job is done as long as it's done.

Remote Freelancer

The biggest advantage of taking on a remote freelancer like me is you can give me a job to do, and if I do it well, you use me again. If not, they won't. It's less of an investment or risk on the part of an employer. I know they're not keen on such casual arrangements, but I am reliable and never let my clients down. Working from home gives me instant access to all of my scripts, books and tools - everything I have on my PC. It also means I'm never late for work and I have no distractions. I can simply get on with the task at hand.

Keep up with the latest trends in web design

I'm an avid reader of Twitter, where I follow Jeffrey Zeldman, Ethan Marcotte and Jason Santa Maria. I'm also subscribed to Cruzine and Smashing Magazine, where I read up on and practice the latest tutorials for CSS3 and HTML5. That said, all my designs are in HTML4 for cross-browser compatibility.

Validate my work

Web standards are important to me, so I use W3C's validator to check my work to make sure it's properly done. That way, my sites will load quickly and be SEO friendly.

Cross-browser compatibility

The trouble with CSS3 is that it looks fantastic in Gecko and Webkit browsers but dreadful in older versions of IE. The good news is that, because I'm so keen on reading Smashing Magazine, Jeffrey Zeldman and tweets from other web designers and developers, I've come across some excellent scripts for correcting the discrepancies. Therefore the gradients, rounded corners and transparencies I'm so keen on can be made to display properly in older browsers. I also have tools for checking my work in different browser sizes.

Multi-disciplinary approach

I'm a one-woman band. I do absolutely everything myself except for those services I use partners to deliver, i.e. hosting, domain registration, and things like that.

As a DHTML specialist I have a library of scripts to call upon for particular purposes. For example, I'm very keen on slideshows and use them all the time. I've got several of them. Signing up to forums has helped me with my PHP-coding skills: I don't and won't outsource email form data collection. That goes straight to the client. And I will make sure it works properly before it does.

My knowledge of PHP and JavaScript grows with each job because I use them all the time and often consult help forums to learn more. I also advise on scripts and best practice for website development to help the client to take control of their websites.

Applications programs

My particular speciality is opensource php-based applications programs such as online shops, blogs, galleries, and forums. I can upload them, configure them, update them, add modules or plugins as required and match them to the website theme for a seamless viewing experience.

Social media

As an avid user of social media, I can add apps, customize the accounts and automate posting from a blog to Facebook and Twitter. Tweets would appear on the client's Linked In account.

Content writing

My creative writing background comes in handy sometimes, particularly when a client needs a bit of content adding to his site. I edit and advise on content and can generate it as required. I can also present it nicely so it sits neatly on the page, which I am required to do for Acore Development and Training, which has me on retainer to make changes to the site every now and again.


I partner with other companies in order to offer services above and beyond my capabilities. More often than not, this means taking on affiliate deals to offer hosting and other services. The fact that I'm affiliated with so many means I'm not tied to any particular one.

Oh, and did I mention my office skills? I'm an experienced office administrator, once described as the perfect utility temp because I can turn my hand to anything. I can use most reception switchboards, I've worked in call centres and can use PowerPoint.

I think that's it. Anyway, if, after reading all this, you still think you can make me an offer, feel free to call me. I'd love to hear from you.

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