9 Signs You Shouldn’t Hire THAT Web Guy

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My employer specializes in creating websites for middle-sized businesses. We rarely create "Mom'n'Pops" websites and generally don't pursue contracts with major corporations. Working with mid-size business has given me the opportunity to speak with executives and "decision-makers" within each business. Our discussions eventually end up with the other person telling me about their previous web developers and how their current site is ineffective as a sales tool or representation of the business. There are some definitive characteristics about my customers' previous web persons and without further adieu, I give you 9 signs you shouldn't hire THAT web guy.

1. He Calls Himself a "Webmaster"

Any web guy that calls himself a "webmaster" probably isn't a master of anything. The term "webmaster" has become a translation for the word "amateur." The web has diversified into so many different realms that webmaster is no longer meaningful (was it ever though?)

2. He's a FrontPage Expert

Any developer / designer with a degree knows that Microsoft FrontPage most definitely isn't a professional tool. FrontPage will pass for Mom and Dad who want to create a website dedicated to their dogs, not someone who's trying to do business. I'd argue that a solid Web Developer should work at code level.

3. He'll Submit Your Website to [Inflated Number Here] Search Engines

Submitting your website to hundreds of search engines would be great...10 years ago. Websites are indexed by relevant search engines by how rich their content and keywords are. Search engine optimization is big business and submitting sites to search engines simply isn't the way to get to the top of Google.

4. He Wants a "Designed By ...." Plug on the Bottom of Every Page

You've paid this person to create a marketing tool for you -- not a billboard for him. Your website is a launch pad for your business and Poindexter McScooner is simply the man behind the curtain -- keep him there.

5. He Created a Cool Website for [Insert Family Member / Friend Here]

Your business needs someone who's been there before. The most common answer to my "Who was he and what business did they work for?" question is "Oh, he did a website for the CEO's daughter's [insert lame organization here]." I honestly hear that friend-of-a-friend story all the time. Choose someone with a sizable portfolio that can provide references.

6. He Can Make You a Great Splash Page Flash Animation

Translation: "I can spend dozens of hours wasting your money to create something that will take too long to load and will be skipped more times than dessert at a bad restaurant." Consistency and website flow are important to web design -- not meaningless animations that waste visitors' time and your money.

7. He Mentions He's a HTML Expert

Who the hell isn't? I would argue that dropping any language acronym on a customer (PHP, Ruby on Rails, ColdFusion, etc.) unless they ask is meaningless fluff. A mechanic could use a banana on my car if it would fix it. Keep your tools, especially HTML, to yourself -- the customer doesn't care.

8. He'll Fit a Cool Counter on Your Site

You'll add an ugly relic of the early internet on my site so that my competitors have an idea of my web stats? Sweet! Counters make a website look as unprofessional as possible -- don't use them.

9. He'll Place a "Best If Viewed in..." Message on Your Website

Any real Web Developer knows that he doesn't make the rules. Follow standards in the initial build and then fix it in Internet Explorer -- that's the flow. No responsible programmer would place a "best if view in..." message on the front-end of a website.

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  1. “4. He Wants a “Designed By ….” Plug on the Bottom of Every Page
    You’ve paid this person to create a marketing tool for you — not a billboard for him. Your website is a launch pad for your business and Poindexter McScooner is simply the man behind the curtain — keep him there.

    Or he maybe a sly SEO guy ! :)

    • cooljeff

      nice stuffs guys!

  2. Lawl,

    I really enjoyed this post.

    My university had a deal with Microsoft and they were always trying to integrate Microsoft products into their lectures even though the professors knew very well that frontpage was best left to mom and dad. Or the guy that just logged into AOL.


  3. Aaron S.

    Great entry. It had me laughing out loud. So true!

    The only point I would argue is the one about putting a credit at the bottom. My philosophy is that it’s okay to do that if it disappears into the copyright disclaimer, and if the client asks for it to be removed then no problem…it’s gone. I usually put “Site by ________” at the end of the copyright notice using the same font styles.

    I do however agree that it’s trashy for the developer to slap their logo on the bottom of a client’s page. That should never happen on website that wasn’t free.

  4. No pingbacks? :( Here’s my response/thoughts on this great list: http://www.internetsuccessguide.com/blog/ben/great-points-who-not-hire-a-web-developer

  5. funny and true hahaha

  6. Clever, and TRUE! Nice writeup!

  7. Very nice article. :)

  8. Me

    Follow standards in the initial build and then fix it in Internet Explorer

    Gotta love that. At work (large event photography) we’re forced to use IE, because our host/primary printer relies so heavily upon Active X. Every machine is set up with Firefox for everything not CCS (and I have no compunctions about calling them out, considering how fucked up their software has gotten and the fact that they decided to upgrade their FTP servers at the exact same time we uploaded our most stressful event of the year).

    Sorry to derail things, but the fact that Microsoft has now gotten to the point of trying to institute code for various versions of their browser, because they threw the standards out the window, is just ridiculous. It’s a web browser. Why would I want a web site to be able to tie into critical parts of my operating sytem? That’s like going to the strip club and wanting them to be able to connect with my banking, romantic life, credit history, and parents.

  9. Atul

    All these reasons don remain anymore……..

  10. Jorge

    I’m a Spanish reader, and today in “meneame” (a Spanish-digg) appeared this “article” in a spanish blog, without quoting the autor, and made it look that he wrote them, you can see the (spanish-pirated) version of this article here: http://ilmaistro.com/8-signos-de-que-es-un-mal-disenador-web

    I’ve posted there about the “copyright”(?) but they are deleted promptly

    • kcmr

      The article is not completely a copy: he has omitted the first point “He calls himself a webmasters” for obvious reasons XD

    • Danny Goncalves

      It is quoted on the bottom of the page that it’s a translation from this main article, read a bit more please
      “Traducción libre de: 9 signs you shouldn’t hire that web man “

  11. Thank you for the heads up Jorge. I’ve also posted a message.

    Unfortunately this happens a lot.

  12. Hizzoner

    You could just make your site on myspace. They help you set it up and all.

  13. There are a lot of websites out there that feature nothing but a flash page. I think those are purchased by large companies though, effectively as advertisement.

    What do these middle sized businesses want with their website? I mostly want people to be able to google for contact info.

  14. Yep, I agree with most, in addition you should have mentioned something about designers, or web developers, rather designers that want to do everything using Flash: Flash this, Flash that, Flash my arse!.

  15. Mrk

    if number 5 was followed, there would be no new people worthy of hire because nobody would give them thier first experience, and so would never be allowed to become acceptable

  16. For freelance, possibly Mrk. If you’re going with a business, look for a portfolio.

  17. Chris

    First, good ideas. I see some things on the list that I was guilty of back in 1995… So telling. Now, then


    You’re right, you might have a hard time breaking into the industry if you are planning on, as David said, freelancing, but honestly, I don’t want an amateur web designer/developer working on anything that I would use to represent me or my business. The way that I broke into the industry is the same as most anyone else: starting at the bottom. Find a junior position and work your way up. Earn those jobs you want.

  18. Bender

    10) He has a blog to share his pointless thoughts with the world…no one cares!!!!!!

  19. Nice article, really like it…..thanx

  20. I don’t agree with number 4. If I make a website for someone, I’d like to “tastefully” let the world know about it. If it’s not “in your face”, then I don’t see what’s wrong with it.

  21. Bender,

    Or he comments on articles that are pointless — even worse!

  22. zormegatron

    Awesome list! I work for a webhosting company that targets midsize businesses, and I have seen soooo many customers/”webmasters” that try to fluff themselves up like they are gurus. They fall into most of the pitfalls you listed.. heh heh heh.

  23. All very true. My site is mostly for fun and was mostly backoffice development by a co-worker who handles the web GUI’s for our software company.

    I have to agree, I do recall many of these items 12-13 years ago when I started working with websites.

    Great stuff

  24. I agree with the above, except #7, the HTML expert part. While I wouldn’t mention this out of the blue, there have been projects I’ve won because of this — where the client had specific requests for an accessible, standards-compliant site. (I actually like these clients, since they usually have a better understanding of the web.)

    “Who the hell isn’t?”, you ask. There are a huge number of web “professionals” who don’t really understand (X)HTML/CSS or use them to spec. Many web developers I’ve worked with are EXTREMELY picky about their server-side code, but don’t even flinch at the sight of four levels of nested tables or font tags. I think that’s severely backwards, since client-side code is the part users interact with.

    Being able to say that has been a competitive differentiator for me in the past — but I agree with the sentiment behind this: throwing out technologies and acronyms isn’t particularly helpful unless your client is technically-minded.

  25. Gern

    @Me- Down with proprietary web pages! Push for open standards when you can. The bean counters might own the machines and the pipes, but they don’t own the Web.

  26. Anonymous

    If you’d permit me to bring up another, any designer who believes 8pt fonts (or smaller… I’ve encountered a few sites that use 6pt serif fonts before…) are professional and good for any site should be avoided at all costs.

  27. arcmedic

    Stumbled onto this page and will probably never stumble back on it again, unless it receives mucho thumbs up. So think of this as a passer by walking past your shop and having a lookin on his random path through life. Never to return again……nor will I see any replies… oh well. *dissapeers*

  28. AMEN! AMEN! AMEN! I have to explain this exact thing 100 times a day when customers want to know why they should use my company instead of the 14 year old down the street. Unfortunately, as awesome as this post is, most of the people who NEED to see it couldn’t find their way across the internet with a compass and a Sherpa. Thank you for reaffirming that I’m not crazy to not want to design to 1995 web standards!

  29. lcabral

    Number 9 just isn’t real… IE has it’s own standards that hare far off from the standards!
    If IE would follow standards, there would be no need for “Best viewed”.
    And You can justify that everybody uses IE but that is just not so. Firefox, Safari, Opera, THEY DO follow standards and people (the common people) are starting to use the then massively.
    At the moment I think the only good thing IE is really good for is for the ActiveX gadgets and to update your windows.

  30. Well I still believe that using FP to make the basic code and then customize it by hand is a lot faster than hand coding or using that piece of junk called dreamweaver.

    I also think that #5 is a insult to everybody who ever had to start out in the business, NOBODY has a portfolio to begin with, if some companies weren’t willing to take chances on starters there would be no web developers, I think #5 was thought up by a web developer to prevent new and better people from coming into the business.

    And about #4 I guess 90% of all websites I have ever seen are breaking this rule, unless a company has a special web development unit there will be some kind of “Designed by” somewhere on the page, it is common courtesy to the creator of the site.

    Otherwise great post I love it.

  31. a_

    Add 5 years and:

    10. He uses Dreanweaver, Rapidviewer or something else where he can create content with quick templates and uses templates that are painfully “web 2.0” style (ie looks like all the other webpages for all “contemporary” sites and all your competitors).

    11. He either doesn’t handle English or whatever you use, or uses language as annoyingly as you can only find in Italian post doctorate thesis or cookie packages (a page long description how a cookie is soooo good for you and it sooo dissolves in your mouth and improves your digestion and helps you get a job promotion). Write correct and keep it short.

    12. He abuses javascript and gives erorrs or warnings when you don’t browse it with a supported browser (gasp!) or don’t like to get 27 cookies from all sorts of javascript pages and invisible site counters (yea, it’s so 2000s..)

    13. Every page ends with a dozen buttons to spam the social media sites. digg, stumbleupon, facebook….

  32. Jach

    The only problem I have with is #7. I increasingly see job postings that say LAMP expert wanted, ASP professional needed, Senior Developer with Java experience, etc. But I do agree that if the customer just says “build a site” you don’t need to go into intricate details of how you’re going to do it.

    “I’ll not only design your page, but also set up your server and domain name!” Of course, the ones that do that usually regret it in the end…

  33. Will

    Front page expert… I agree is a joke…

    But Expression web is a nice tool and rarely breaks as much as dreamweaver…

    Don’t hate Anti-Microsofts

  34. Spaz

    1. The people that do the best work rarely call themselves “Webmasters” preferring the term “Developer”, because they can usually do other things than just HTML.
    2. FrontPage is fine for learning the basics, but I would expect any real web developers to use something that doesn’t leave bloated code behind every page.
    3. There’s nothing wrong with submitting your website to search engines, this should be done by all web developers; but it should be automatic, not a feature that you present.
    4. If your work is good, people will talk (word-of-mouth is still the best advertising in my opinion), if it is really good, people will inquire about it. If you do want to have it on the site, make sure it is okay with the company first, or it may not be “Designed By” you in the future.
    5. I noticed the complaints about this one. When he said to choose someone with a sizable portfolio, I would assume choose a company with a sizable portfolio (individuals can build their portfolio by working at a company, what a concept).
    6. Flash is the most misused thing on the internet in my opinion. If you ask me, it should only be used to enhance a site (not be a site in itself), and should never get in the way of the content, especially for businesses. If I see a business website that has a Flash (or often any “splash” screen for that matter) you have already lost my business.
    7. Someone that is serious about the website business should have more under their belt than just HTML. I have always thought that someone that says that they are an expert in something could usually stand to learn a little more (plus, just because you know HTML, doesn’t mean you know crap about design).
    8. I totally agree with this one, counters just look unprofessional now days, plus most web hosts give you the option of tracking more than just page views now anyway.
    9. A website should be able to be viewed in any browser, especially standards compliant ones. If it can’t be viewed in a specific browser, perhaps you might want to ask yourself “is there a better way to handle this?”

  35. haha, i changed “webmaster” to “web developer” on a site i maintain after i read this post.

    mr. walsh is right — “webmaster” is outdated. but the fact is that i’m the aforementioned site’s only employee who deals with anything web-related; i designed, coded, and update the site. what should i call myself? “web developer”, i guess.

    it seems that this almost a PC-language situation; a new term isn’t any better or meaningful than an old one, but it gets introduced, and pretty soon the old term is wrong and bad, for no good reason except perhaps that it implies a value system associated with the time the “bad” term was in use (eg. negro, colored, black, african american).

    in this case, we want to avoid associating with 1990s web-work, which in large part consisted of amateurs and volunteers, so it’s a no-no to call someone who is, definitionally, a webmaster, a “webmaster”. who wants a webmaster when we can buy a web team? or even better: a WEB SOLUTIONS TEAM.

    people are so dumb :)

  36. Charlie

    I now see *even* Government websites that say, “Best viewed in FireFox”!

  37. This was all good, but number 9. The one about “make it to the standards then fix it for IE” let you down a lot. I would make it to the standards then fix it for fx most good web site coders I know, the ones that don’t do the skin deep design a page and go into the backend further than a simple cms wouldn’t even own a windows pc.

  38. Oh damn… I’ve already hired THAT web guy…!

  39. “7. He Mentions He’s HTML Expert”…

    I’d kinda have to disagree… I mean, sure, HTML isn’t as big as it used to be since dynamic scripting took over the industry. However, a lot of “webmasters”, or even web designers/developers use a WYSIWYG software to build the websites… I personally dislike those and would rather script line by line, and in order to do so, one needs to know more than clicking on a few buttons to create a table and insert an image.

    On another note, there are people who know the syntax of HTML, but one should not call himself an “HTML Expert” if he doesn’t understand the logic. There are some really bad programmers out there, and it doesn’t mean that you know the language that your code is clean, logical or even understandable.

  40. absolutely amazing!

  41. Down with proprietary web pages! Push for open standards when you can. The bean counters might own the machines and the pipes, but they don’t own the Web.

  42. I appreciate your dedication and commitment to the latest of the emerging web technologies like active server pages, php, mysql, etc. however I would not underestimate programmers who have solid HTML and related skills as these are the foundation upon which websites are built. There are still millions of web-surfers who have older browers, older machines, so don’t neglect them by creating webpages with only the latest technologies. It is like saying DOS is out…you can still do great things to keep your hard drive well with DOS commands. As technology unfolds, we must both move ahead as well as keep the best of the past, don’t you think? Regards, Keith Johnson, Author “365 Great Affirmations”, Hallandale Beach, Florida, USA.

  43. Fem

    Just stumbling through here and noticed that no – one has yet challenged the author’s assumption that all web designers are male.

    I assert the right of every woman to be equally crap at designing websites.


  44. LOL@Fem. That’s awesome.

    To all you “HTML expertise matters folks”: I won’t say it doesn’t matter, but it’s really pretty far from the top of the heap of concerns. In most cases, most HTML work is best left to tools like Dreamweaver or whatever. As a web site developer, your primary qualification should be your ability to get results for your client.

    Here’s something I used to hear about that drove me crazy when I was in the biz: “webmasters” who bragged about doing all their HTML “by hand”. Oh really? And you want to charge me be the hour? Awesome.

  45. Though the article is good, it is not great. All these signs are too obvious. I would still want to know how to separate an exceptional web developer from the average ones.

    The ones you have listed here are only the really bad signs and thus too obvious.

  46. One misconception about my article, and it could be a consequence of my writing style, is that having HTML expertise isn’t important — false. I guess my point was that HTML isn’t anything to be THAT proud of. I taught myself solid HTML when I was 15. HTML expertise should be assumed.

  47. Steve Keller

    More developers should spend their time making their customer’s business sites accessible to mobile users and drop the Flash and other annoying features. I am finding that I use my iPhone constantly when shopping to locate businesses or check their sites or compare prices. Less is more.

  48. Allen

    You had me up until number 9. I am a web designer, hopefully not ‘that guy’. Whether or not I like it or you like it, 99% of the world uses Internet Explorer. That makes IE the standard. If you are too arrogant to recognize that, it makes you ‘that guy’. We all work for the customer. Other than that, good insight. Not original, not funny, not 100% accurate. But good.

  49. @Allen: I’m with you 100%. I’m saying that I code a website to look good in Firefox, then look at it in Internet Explorer and fix its issues so it looks good in both.

  50. shawn

    1. a webmaster is still a useful term that doesn’t always apply to a designer. Some people higher designers and they are the “master” of the content and managment of that site post production. they still are the webmaster.

    2. Code level = good website, really? You started digging on Front Page and end up dissing most people I know who create great websites. Yes they may tweak the code but very few write from code and you can usually spot the ones who do.

  51. shawn

    Allen, you are about 10% off.

  52. Uh... Whats my name?

    IE sucks. Just because everyone uses it, and microsoft made it, doesn’t mean it is the best browser. People only live with IE because they have never even heard about Firefox. My IE has completely crash, and I can’t use it IE SUCKS!!!

  53. Cide

    this is what really defines an amateur vs a professional:

    Any real Web Developer knows that he doesn’t make the rules. Follow standards in the initial build and then fix it in Internet Explorer — that’s the flow. No responsible programmer would place a “best if view in…” message on the front-end of a website.

  54. Boy, the front page reference is really spot on. anybody that uses that program should have their head examined.

    i have a friend who calls himself a web designer and i looked and he uses front page. yuk.

  55. robothy

    I think this is a great article, but I also disagree with #5. I’m relatively new to the web development scene, so I don’t have a “sizeable portfolio”. I have one website which I coded from start to finish using a simple text editor, and it was good enough to get me a job with a web development company. So everyone has to start somewhere and needs a helping hand at some point.

    Also, I began to learn to code using FrontPage. It was helpful to be able to switch between design view and code view to see what certain pieces of code do, etc. So FrontPage in my eyes is similar to stabilisers on a push bike. Very uncool, but it helps you to start with. Any developer that is worth a penny should be able to code a site from scratch with a simple editor.

    Oh, and my alternative to “webmaster” would be admin or administrator, as you would administer the site.

    Finally, I see nothing wrong with putting a simple text link back to your company at the bottom of a customers website, if they’re okay with that too – unless you’re ashamed of your work??

  56. @Robothy: Ashamed of your work? Absolutely not. How often do you see a “Made by…” during a TV commercial? It’s your customer’s “commercial” — you just shot it.

  57. Personally I like to use the professional title webmaster because it gives me a feeling of accomplishment and control.

  58. Hi David! I’m reading you from Brazil. Your article really seems to be obvious, but this is the reality in 90% of the prospects. I have a team building websites since 1999 and we face the same problems here and, unfortunately we, sometimes, loose some contracts to a “webmaster”. Some clients simply can’t assume web’s potential in their business and they are cost-oriented instead of result-oriented. I believe there is a long long looong way to change this status: ’till there we’ll try to avoid this traps (clients that hires that guy) and keep getting the good ones! Hugs!

  59. Wow, thats a great post. I agree on every point except the footer link. There have been a couple “Web Masters” in my clients history too.

  60. Although I agree that most real web developers don’t refer to themselves as “webmasters” (this was also brought up in an interesting article I read in Wired a while back) I don’t think that the term is completely antiquated. In my experience, it has generally been reserved for people who “manage” but don’t “do.” Although it takes some getting used to, I’ve worked under people whose job title is Webmaster but do very little actual web development, they’re mostly project managers. If a developer does market themselves actively as a webmaster, it just means they don’t keep up with modern web development trends.

  61. I agree 100% with the anti-frontpage rule saying that a good developer should write at code level. I don’t even know how to use frontpage/dreamweaver/fireworks nor do I ever intend on learning. My text editor and photoshop is all I need

  62. reader

    I loved #7.

    “I’m an expert in HTML 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, 4.01 AND HTML 5.0!!!”

  63. ln

    Hilarious write-ups, and some good valid points. Before anybody takes this too seriously, though…

    Any developer / designer with a degree knows that Microsoft FrontPage most definitely isn’t a professional tool.

    The fact that he prefers X hammer and Y nails makes him an incompetent moron. Brilliant!

    If you’re a “designer with a degree,” i.e. an art or photography student who “does websites on the side” and wants to fit in with the geek clique, you might buy into this. The reality is, if you know what you’re doing on the code level, you can successfully design any kind of website with ease in any functional development environment, including Frontpage / Sharepoint Deigner.

    He Mentions He’s a HTML Expert. Who the hell isn’t?

    Most people aren’t, and that’s the reason minimum wage office workers aren’t delegated to write websites. It’s called specialization, and a true HTML expert will be able to write a better website in less time and with less markup than a non-expert. If that is a skill you possess, and it fits the job, then it should be mentioned. Period.

  64. qwan

    Great article,
    But a few questions what the hell do you do when your client wants a flash intro, and a damn counter??
    I think i will take a print our your article and show it to those clients, and tell them this is a big no-no.
    I just came here to see if i fit in.
    The only thing I “used” to do was your point number 3. But that was 10 years ago, seriously it was really 10 years ago, where I would pride myself in knowing all the possible search engines coming out, but I would not call that an “inflated” number I actually knew that many websites and had tools that could submit it.
    But since 7 years I have stopped doing that since the whole SEO scene has changed, I am glad I am 100% “hire able” according to your list. :-).
    Except for one thing, I dont know if you were making a point with a cartoon photo, but I have a huge tummy :-( and I am going to lose that too.

  65. He he he he he! Ah, nice one my friend, very nice. I laughed for hours after reading this.
    The important bit is knowing how to write. Thanks a million. At last someone has recognised the shortcomings.
    Cheers. Have great Christmas. The Baldchemist

  66. I am not so sure about Number 9, some browsers….. did I said IE? don’t get display your site like you actually planned it or at the same Quality.

    But all above (except that one), I agree with you.

  67. You said :

    He Created a Cool Website for [Insert Family Member / Friend Here]
    Your business needs someone who’s been there before. The most common answer to my “Who was he and what business did they work for?” question is “Oh, he did a website for the CEO’s daughter’s [insert lame organization here].” I honestly hear that friend-of-a-friend story all the time. Choose someone with a sizable portfolio that can provide references.

    So how is someone like me, who does actually know how to build a decent website, supposed to get started if nobody hires him/her?

  68. Completely agree.. and very true :)

  69. jay

    All of that is so true, but however till now as I am only in school i HAVE ONLY been asked to make FREE VOLUNTARY websites, therefore I do put my name is good font at the bottom. Anyways, the list is AWESOME and funny.

  70. jay

    and IE IS RUBBISH , I think Microsoft developers were drunk at the time of developing IE seriously, god help IE. Mozilla is the best.

  71. jack

    10) he writes useless blogs on terrible “web guy’s”

    Customers don’t care how you made it as long as they are happy with the end result.

    Sorry if everybody doesn’t fit into your description of a web designer, maybe I should move back to my moms basement and practice up like the rest of you.

    that is all.

  72. really great post…that’s exactly what you shoud try to explain to your clients

  73. ren

    Thank you so much for this I’m self taught and my confidence is low
    Now I feel I’m doing it the right way. Thank you.

  74. Dave

    If you mentioned ColdFusion to me, if wanting a job. I’d show you the door. ColdFusion os so old it’s hardly used these days.
    Yet, you bart on about HTML? Joke!

  75. i totally agree with the frontpage one. i have had so many people tell me they are “webmasters” or great with html and when i ask them what they use they say frontpage or the freewebs WYSIWYG editor… i stand there and look at them…..they usually get the hint haha…

    but i do display xHTML/CSS on my portfolio because some potential clients dont know what PHP or Javascript is and all they know is that thier website needs HTML to run and they NEED to find someone who know how to do “that stuff”. So yes it is kind of redundant to say im a PHP/MySQL and say i know HTML/CSS but it makes it idiot proof for the client.

  76. Keith Wolf

    Great article, glad to know that despite my relative inexperience compared to the 10+year gurus, I don’t fit any of these items on the list. I have read every response to this article here and I cannot believe people’s misunderstandings of # 7. A true web developer with any proper and standards-based experience should be an HTML expert by default. It’s good to not hide the fact, but throwing it out there “yeah I can master your web pun? site with my expertise in HTML” to many clients who have at least some understanding of the web world will make it clear to them you’re just trying to use terms to show off.

    That sizable portfolio you mentioned should do the showing off for you.

    And for someone who’s new to the web dev world, yeah it can be difficult to get into developing web sites for medium sized businesses at first, but that’s a good thing. Starting small for non-profits or in an intern-like position helps hone the skills that should be expected of those companies we put on that pedestal. If we have the experience that’s required, then our portfolio will already be big enough for many of those jobs.

  77. haha gave me a chuckle

  78. Absolutely. The only one point I don’t agree with is about

    Choose someone with a sizable
    portfolio that can provide references.

    If the person is inexperienced, this doesn’t mean he can’t do a brilliant site for you. Everyone is hired for the first time without a massive portfolio. Otherwise, how should young specialists find a job?

  79. Amy Stephen

    He thinks Comic Sans ROX, too! Nice piece, thanks for the giggle!

  80. I actually try to be clever with my “designed by…” links. I change the text to match the website, for example if I were designing a site for a wine store I might put “This website was uncorked by SoHo Consulting Group”.

  81. Don’t hire any web person who can’t code (XHTML, CSS, etc) by hand, that’s the first of many points before hiring anyone to a web position.

  82. Hey, how come you don’t have a traffic counter on your site? ;P

    You really hit the nail on the head with these items. I cringe each time I run into someone like this.

    Cheers David!

  83. Great post and had me chuckling in places! So So true.


  84. Me and the wife argue about #6 a lot. She wants it and I don’t.

  85. Haha, great article – made me chuckle.

  86. Nice article. Do you have “9 signs I should hire that web guy” ?

  87. Matt

    Reading this made me think of a past event that happened to me:

    Another freelancer and I were competing for a local web design bid. This was early into my career and Ruby on Rails was still in development. The other freelancer stated that he was a “Microsoft Frontpage Pro” with “Certifications” and also could demonstrate a “professional HTML writeup”. I argued that I was somewhat experienced in Javascript and was skilled in a new web framework called Ruby on Rails. As many funny stories go, I wasn’t chosen. The basis of this desicion was that “While the business appreciated your effort, we need to go into a direction that will best represent our company” and “we want to make sure that all our users have the ability to view our pages” as if Ruby on Rails required a special web browser.

  88. Bringning out the lols! :-D

  89. Great post! It’s funny because it’s true!

    Not completely with you on #4 but I can definitely relate to the rest when setting up my photography website last year!

  90. While I’ve never heard any one boast of being FrontPage expert (in fact I believe its been succeeded by MS Expression Web) I say if notepad can be used why not FrontPage or any other development tool.

  91. Great list, but I also disagree with #4. It’s important to sign your work as an artist, and to lift your Google PageRank when possible. It also makes your client look more impressive when they can boast that their site was designed by a professional. Don’t laugh – it’s an unconscious assessment we make when we scan a Web site and happen to notice the Web designer credit. Of course, a bad assessment will be attached to your designer’s name if the site looks lame.Your other points are spot-on. For the tech-savvy client, I would add 10) the designer uses font tags for styling and tables for layout.

  92. Keith Wolf

    @ Dawn Pedersen

    “It’s important to sign your work as an artist, and to lift your Google PageRank when possible. It also makes your client look more impressive when they can boast that their site was designed by a professional.”

    I disagree with Dawn on that. Just like the post said, the site is a marketing tool for your client. Unless you are doing free work (like, I understand doing this when developing a site for charity or such) your name should not be obvious. It would be like McDonalds TV commercials having the advertising agency’s logo in the bottom left of the screen; there’s a reason it doesn’t happen.

    The closest I have been to doing that in my paid work is adding myself in the contact mail form. The subject drop-down has an option for website questions and it directs to me. That’s it.

  93. qwan

    @ Keith Wolf

    I disagree with Dawn on that. Just like the post said, the site is a marketing tool for your client. Unless you are doing free work (like, I understand doing this when developing a site for charity or such) your name should not be obvious. It would be like McDonalds TV commercials having the advertising agency’s logo in the bottom left of the screen; there’s a reason it doesn’t happen.

    I would disagree to that, There are many major corporations that still show the designers name as that reflects on the company.
    You T.V commercial argument is lame. They do not do that because it will spoil the ad, but the same MCdonald print commercials have the agency’s code in small print at the side, in newspapers and magazines.

    Putting a link can also be beneficial to client and designer it can increase both their page ranks.
    But I do not think a designer should insist, request is the key word here.

  94. I appreciate. I love “webmasters” who believe in flow and consistency in website. User friendly and interactive web sites win the race!

  95. Keith Wolf


    But I do not think a designer should insist, request is the key word here.

    That’s fair enough qwan, whether you feel it’s best practice or not, it’s always best to get the clients consent first. Personally I put my name / web address in comments at the top of all front-end code. I actually have gotten one new client by doing that.

  96. mew4ever23

    Great list. My favorite points and responses to them:

    6: He’ll make a splash animation.

    Splash animations are a waste of everyone’s time.

    7: He mentions that he is an HTML expert.

    Honestly, if you aren’t an HTML expert, you have no business being a web developer.

    9: Best viewed in…

    You never see these on professional web pages. Why? Because good web developers test their pages in a variety of browsers and fix it if it doesn’t work.

  97. hahahaha this is a brilliant post, thanks for the share of information and thanks for the laugh



  98. I had a really good laugh after a long business day.I cannot agree more, thanks for sharing!

  99. Awesome! didn’t have any clues to get flaw ur points…:)

  100. great tips.thanks for sharing the tips.

  101. Keep putting “designed by” on your client’s site. It makes it super easy to point out all the unprofessional designers to my clients.

    Seriously though, you wouldn’t put “designed by” beside their logo or in their brochure would you? Of course not, it looks super dorky.

  102. I have not find it useful or say very informative but sure it was funny.
    It was good for fun. :)

  103. people SHOULD put best viewed in firefox as a conditional for IE viewers (if the clients don’t mind :D)

  104. Just one thing about point 5. I only worked on intranets, although I developped great things, they hardly are avaible for a portfolio as they’re private. The good part is that I’m able to explain what I did, but if a customer really wants a browsable sites portfolio, I’m out.

  105. Fun article, but if you want to hire, then make sure the “webmaster” knows how to write and for who.
    We never ask what a client wants but take the high ground and advise on what works ( and we have a long list of very happy clients).
    You need to know how business works and how to apply it to clients. It’s not just about codes and such but about good old fashioned service.
    Code crunchers are a dime a dozen.
    Thanks for the laughs. By the way, never educate a mug.

  106. hehehe this remember me to some of my friends, are exactly like they

  107. idomain

    #1 – Agree
    #2 – Agree
    #3 – Agree

    #4 – Not agree. Yes, the customer paid the design, but what they’re actually paying is the usage fee, rather a 100% take-away-and-do-whatever-you-like-and-want type of fee. “Designed by…” doesn’t exactly fully acted as a billboard, but a kind of producer type of ownership, which the contracts can take the stands. If “Designed by…” isn’t a professional thing to do, have a look around on Coca-Cola cans and bottles, Sony, Canon, Olympus, Nikon’s camera bodies, better yet, every single different car company logos which got mounted onto their cars, customers bought the cars, so far I have not seen any car company logos got replaced with the buyers’ names or a car without any car company logos on it.

    #5 – Agree

    #6 – 50% agree. Splash page with Flash has became less popular these days indeed, but it has had its own glory back then. Part of the reason for this I’d assume, is the money business. Less people can afford Flash designs and developments these days, and at the same time many low quality and cheap Flash designs got surfaced along the recent years, which somehow made people think Flash is bad and takes long time to load, do bare in mind, many heavy-loading Websites do still exist today which can also be contribute by the amateur designers and developers. A real professionally-made Flash contents still worth waiting I personally think, especially the Internet speed is getting faster year by year compared to a decade ago.

    #7 – Agree. If I’m buying a car or an office building, why would I want to know some guy’s an awesome engineering expert, just get me the product! A good Website isn’t just made up by the HTML you know, I would be really curious about how my site will look like in the end if the guy or gal only knows about HTML, better yet, knows nothing about any languages.

    #8 – Agree

    #9 – Not fully agree. “Best if viewed in…” Message is simply acted as a suggestion to its visitors, does anyone who’s reading this reply ever followed every received suggestions from people around you? No, I doubt it. It’s the developers’ duty to make sure the site “would” worked fine on most of browsers, but hey, we’re the designers and developers here, not the magicians alright.

    There’s much more issues beyond this, but these are just my 2c.

  108. Very nice list. Some comments however.
    #1. Totally true, calling yourself anything except moron or idiot is sooo not done …
    #2. Tested frontPage ages ago, hated it and would never ever use it. But hey, maybe someone else does …
    #3. Correct
    #4. There is no rule on that: business cards don’t mention it but folders etc. often do mention who printed it. Books mention who shot the pictures. Over here in Belgium on-car-advertisings are seldomly signed but the huge billboards for real-estate projects are all the time. So I wouldn’t see any real reason not to sign your work certainly when you retain the copyright
    #5. Creating sites often starts with people you know. And I happen to like CEO’s daughters …. :-)
    #6. Flash should really only be used when absolutely necessary. ANything actually. 95% of cases: start with HTML and CSS and use the rest only to spice it up a bit.
    #7. Mentioning that I am a HTML expert is not to show off. It is to explain the client that I am not like the Frontpage/dreamweaver guy who doesn’t know that a meta-generator tag is not absolutely necessary. (allthough I must admit I am using a lot of wordpress lately to create cheap, good-looking an easy-manageable sites)
    #8. Some people really ask for a counter on their site. I tell them they can choose a freebie with advertising or a very very expensive one without … :-)
    #9. I really like “Best viewed in …” sites. They give me the opportunity to actually prove that the competitors are totally incapable of creating a standards-compliant site

  109. You read my mind, :) nice post, nice to get some reassurance that its not just me thinking that a link back to the developer is unprofessional, you don’t see credits at the end of advertisements on tv..

  110. @Gekko: why not write your own counter… ??

  111. alan

    @jack: your mom’s basement? is that a proposition? and more importantly, is she hot?

    seriously though, I agree with this post. And i don’t agree with the large amount of pedants above who defend MicroShit FronPage, regardless of whether or not *you* are a professional, M$ frontpage is not a professional *tool*. It makes fat websites and whores you to microsoft.

    However I am sure any pro’s would already know that, and can make an informed decision about what IDE they want to use.

    I code line by line, every time. I prefer Eclipse most of the time, Vi or Vim via SSH otherwise. its the way I always have, and although I have tried several frontpage-types I have found no improvements in either time saved or the quality of the final product. It might make it easier but it does nothing for your knowledge or ability as a programmer.

    As many others have mentioned, a small unobtrusive “made by me” link is OK IMO so long as whoever you are making the site for agrees, and it’s free or very cheap. The other situation where it would be OK to do that is if the site was for your company, or your company was launching a service or site, i.e no clients involved.

    David, I’m glad to see there are atleast some web devs out there with their priorities straight, as I can tell by #9 :)

  112. Good list. I call this 9 commandments. :) I’m probably guilty with #4. :0 But it’s really good you’ve list this one so we can kiss goodbye to the old way of doing things.


  113. but but but everything is best viewed in Google Chrome!!! We must tell everyone and rid this world of that retched browser Internet Exploder(Explorer)!!! Sieg Heil Google!!!! lol XD

    OK but on the serious note i slightly disagree with line 4. I have worked for a couple companies that tell us to throw a powered by (comapnay name) in the footer. Its just a small amount of text which no one looks at or notices. Its really mainly there for backlinking and ranks. If you have a good relationship with your client why not right?

  114. Nice article. though i would like to comment on no 4. As for me this is a way for freelancers (not proffesional freelancers) to be able to get some jobs. Though others might disagree

  115. About point #4. sometimes another web design company put on their portfolio links to websites that you designed, so i think putting a “web design by…” at the footer is a good way to stop all those credits stealer.

    About point #2, i think everybody should work with the tool he or she feels more comfortable with, so if you program better using a crappy tool like frontpage, it is your decision.

  116. I love people who think they are experts, I get to fix there mess later and charge a decent buck for it.

  117. right on the spot! no more ´designed by…´!

  118. OK, just removed the counter on my home page and the red flashing title on blue background. I can comment now.
    Haha, so funny. I love it.

  119. Gavin

    @Danny: I think just assuming that anyone who uses Dreamweaver is not a “good developer” is a bit insulting. I use dreamweaver for all my projects, and yet I never use the design view window, i use the the code window and hand write my code the same as you do. Dreamweaver is a useful tool for managing your files and projects and makes the process of hand writing your code easier. I dont know if the FrontPage guys use it the same way, i’ve never used the program myself, but I’m sure they are as tired of listening to comments like this as I am.

  120. +1 to the argument that Dreamweaver is a valid development tool.
    +1 to the tasteful footer credit argument.

    Also, putting a sitewide link back to your site (like in a “Designed by x” in the footer), can be devalued or even penalize you in Google. So, I’ve started adding nofollow to all internal pages, and leave one pure link back on the homepage.

  121. Noticable points on the post. Great comments too. All these things must be in mind of each and every freelancer either developer or the designer.

  122. Alex

    @Jorge: Me parece increíble que este tipo de cosas ocurran. ¡Qué vergüenza!, qué manera de destruir esto. Y se hace llamar “el maestro”, madre mía.

  123. @Keith Johnson: HTML is not the foundation of websites, it is merely the markup by which is most commonly used by browsers to display information. DOS is a dinosaur. So is IE6. It’s 2010, lets all move on.

  124. @Keith Johnson – Sorry, forgot to mention, I do like your enthusiasm.

    Good article, I would agree with all, except #7. Sometimes it’s quite relevant to know whether the person I’m about to hire is an HTML expert. I may hire a WebSphere Portal developer that I may need to develop Portlets, if he doesnt know HTML or JavaScript, I dont take him/her. And I will know if they say they are an expert and really arent.

  125. The Last thing you said is a bit confusing
    i won’t make the website work even if he gives me 99999999£ (well why lying ? ok if he gives me more bux for the IE6 i’ll do it for sure)
    the IE6 is gone people
    maybe you find some bugs in IE7 to chrome
    but that bug won’t block me even for 1 hour
    maybe it takes longer with IE6 but it worth for the extra $
    Best Regards

  126. I would like to have a site with David Walsh name at the bottom ….

    Great article… but sometimes the client is the “webmaster” and we have to comply.

  127. For all these commenters who declare that IE is 90% of browser activity, I encourage you to look at this: http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_stats.asp I absolutely agree that a website should be designed first for Firefox and then corrected for IE and other browsers.

    It is so irritatingly simple to put an if-IE, then(code) clause in your code for users who prefer IE, i don’t understand why people don’t do so more often.

    • Andrew, IE my not be 90% of all websites but you need to make that decision based on the clients traffic and not based on anything else. You cannot say “I don’t support IE8” when the customer has 20-40% of traffic from IE8. Progressive enhancement is the key.

  128. RedFox

    Totally true and funny!

    I never coded dynamic site line by line, I mostly use CMS and customize it to my needs.

    Don’t know how to do php and java from scratch, but I can modify it to my likings.

    I can design well, so i consider myself designer!

  129. Thank you man for this post! But tell some other tests to distinguish between good and best guys!!

  130. Mary

    You people need to get over yourselves! Arrogance sucks!!!

    Also………….it’s not just “guys” out there! Plenty of women doing the IT jobs and “web designing” work!

    Firefox, Opera, Safari, Chrome, IE………….none are better than the other. They all have their uses, except for maybe Chrome……….another way for google to garner data.

  131. LOL re: the ‘page best viewed in’ bit. Haven’t seen one of these beauties in a while but reminds me of the good old days everyone wanted to see a visual stat counter on their site to tote how popular they were (… or weren’t online)…

    Ahh… ignorance can be bliss, can’t it? … not :-)

  132. Only too true. Go onto the “webmaster” forums and you can get an idea on just how many people out there consider themselves experts. An enjoyable blog. Thanks for sharing.

  133. Great article, I’ll pass it onto my colleague who is doing a little research on that. Thanks!. I’m currently working on Fishbone Diagram project.

    • I also have to disagree with your thing about html and the metaphor. The metaphor is wrong – HTML is the parts on the car that the customer needs to know about, the banana is the wrench. I also couldn’t help but notice what you advertise at the bottom of your website.

      I am a 27 year old Web Developer and MooTools, Dojo, and jQuery JavaScript Consultant working from Madison, Wisconsin. I am a Software Engineer for SitePen, the prestigious JavaScript development shop.

      Change #7 – or change your footer :)

    • NewBorne

      You completely miss the point on #7. He’s advertising for himself on his own webpage. The mark of “that guy” is when “that guy” is advertising for himself on his clients website.

  134. “Follow standards in the initial build and then fix it in Internet Explorer — that’s the flow”

    So so true!

  135. Anton

    You wrote this two years ago, and it is still so true today…agree 100%. Seriously does anyone actually still use (ever used) FP?

    • Selvol

      The thing about Front page is (No I am not sticking up for MicroSoft) it can be useful. About 12 years when I was first discovering HTML code. If I came across a web page that did something cool. Like the cursor trailers “LOL”.
      Frontpage was used to help me understand what code did what.

      I have not used FP in about 12 years. But it did help.

      So if FP is all you have.
      The let it be known it can be helpful.

      Good post.

      This comment is best Viewed with IE3 at 2002×12200

  136. Now everything is clear for me..and Thing’s that i should avoid..
    Haha somethimes I’m kinda like that on number 4.But now I realized that being professional always keep you behind the curtains..We may be a good developers but don’t put in the signature on clients’ websites.

    Thanks men..
    cools stuff from a great guy

  137. Soooo true. people ask me why i don’t put my company name under sites i built, i just tell: “i’ve been paid for the job”. Cool blog post David.

  138. I do not agree about the HTML expert point. Yes many people can code HTML but is it validate? Is it up to date? Is it cross platform etc. There is a difference between a good HTML coder and the “well who doesnt” type of HTML coder.

    • t0dd

      What is this “flash” you speak of? =)

  139. Nathan Jones

    What if you really ARE a webmaster who is really good with HTML?

    You are visitor: 12047216 !

  140. jp_

    I am the only web person (out of 45 staff) at the non-profit where I work and my official title is “Webmaster.” I must say I am somewhat embarrassed to use the term, because it is so dated and has an amateurish connotation.

    I am not sure what I would want to change it to though. I am, in essence, a web manager – responsible for anything that touches the website. From posting new content to doing user testing to some light coding. I source talent for, and manage web projects as needed.

    • You should try and change it to SysOp atleast then you could be old school style lol

  141. Generally, this list is beneath common sense; It’s just obvious. I came in expecting things like: “You ask them what the modern way to do ____ is, and they don’t know.” or: “You know things about their development language that they haven’t heard of, and it comes up more than a few times, and you’ve never made a website”, or: “You ask them what publications they read on their field and which experts they like, and they give you a blank look”.

    That said, I disagree with number 4. When I see a great website, I want to see who did it. I want to learn from them, I want to do work like that, and maybe I want to work with them. A little “0.85em” link to the creators in the copyright section lets me do that. It should be unobtrusive, and blend in with the site enough that only people who are looking for it can find it, but I think it’s a good idea. It should, however never be a plug. It’s a signature, and shouldn’t interfere with the work.

    I also disagree a little with number 7. I think that there are appropriate ways to tell a client what your strengths and weaknesses are, early in a project. You might say: “I’m pretty good with HTML/CSS/JavaScript (read: I’m great at it, and modest too), but my flash skills aren’t that great. If you want flash, I can help you find a guy to do that part.”

  142. How about “We’ll program it using one of the Java-Script programming languages” ( meaning jQuery or Moo or YUI ) , I worked for someone that said that once and after having to go outside to smoke a cig because I couldn’t stop laughing I was like wdf are you talking about, those people will look that up and think your a total moron

  143. Hey, is this actual??? I thought this applied in good’ol 90’s !!! I’m sure they all had a (front)page on Geocities!

  144. New Girl on the Block

    can’t stop myself from laughing here because… I just finished my Co-op/Internship in one company and the head of the team call himself “WEBMASTER” and that also stated on their website…I think I’ll warn him to read this or just tell him to change his information on their website :)

    I must say too that I enjoy fixing the IE problem once I’m done with all the work….

  145. t0dd

    Great article! Made me smile.

    HTML really is nothing to brag about it. It’s not a language, per se, just markup…an opening tag, the occasional attribute and a closing tag. I taught my 9 year old HTML.

    I think it’s less effective to try and impress a potential client with the number of acronyms you know vs. showing them what the end state or possibilities are for their web needs. Meet with them over coffee and have some live examples ready to go on your laptop of a sexy UI you put together.

    Create your own dot com and put your money where your “mouth is”.

    I write all my code on a simple text editor (I’m in love with Sublime Text 2) and use the browser and firebug (or relative browser dev tool).

    And yes IE is evil….. but it sure provides some great job security for those of us who can workaround it’s quirks.

  146. Enjoyed a lot and read the every words and lines. Its fantastic. I have also seen some guys who do the same thing.


  147. Florencia

    He uses the tag I’m a marquee loverwith great pride.

  148. Great article! Although, I somewhat disagree with the addendum to number 7. It seems to me as an applicant at least mentioning that you know client and server-side scripting languages (as well as associated libraries and frameworks) would be relevant / a feather in one’s cap.

  149. Great article !
    I would like to add another point
    So guys say that i am expert of every thing ( php,asp,sql,jquery,ajax,and CMS and any framework ) and his age may be 25 to 28.
    He may be a genius or know nothing about this
    on my point util go to a certain age a man cant be expart of every thing

  150. Dobie

    i beez deh macromedia shockwave flassh movy creater. hire me to make your web page NICE!

  151. Some Guy

    This article belongs to 1999

  152. LOL still funny even i read at 2013

  153. You need to z-index your “newer” and “older” divs. “Newer” goes under your vimeo, and “Older” is set to overflow: hidden which cuts off your links. Make it honor the ul or add a scroller dude!
    For what it’s worth coming from a guy who uses a “Powered By” footer link. I’m so 90’s. I’m blushing all the way to the bank, man!

  154. I almost spilled my coffee from laughing at the part about footer links. Good read!

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