Inspired by a post called process over at The Watchmaker Project, I thought I’d share my general process of working and getting these pesky websites built.
I recently started a new job where I’m working from home. This has been a massive culture change for me but the work I do hasn’t really changed – it’s still web development with a main focus on Front-end – HTML/CSS. Over the last 11/2 years I have found myself writing more PHP and my skills have improved.
I’m salaried, so I don’t have to worry about measuring my time, but I do anyway – via a pen and notebook next to my computer. I do this because I like to be able to look back after a project has finished and see how long it has taken. It usually takes much longer than I first imagined so having my time documented is a useful learning tool. I never charge by the hour for my freelance work choosing to charge a flat fee on what the project is worth but having the time there teaches me to notice if a job was worth doing and subsequently recognise if future jobs will be profitable.
At work, we’ve just started to use Basecamp and it seems great for keeping track of everything. I use gmail for my email – setup with IMAP and all my email is filtered to go into set folders automatically so my inbox doesn’t get flooded with 20 facebook emails an hour.
I’ve got ichat and skype setup although I hardly use them.
I’m now Mac based with a shiny new imac and I use DreamWeaver almost exclusively for web development. That includes writing HTML, CSS and PHP. I find the usefulness of the built in FTP coupled with the ease of having all my files right there in the sidebar and the sitewide search feature too good to switch to another editor.
I’m running MAMP Pro for my local server testing needs – apparently you don’t need extra software on OS X for running local websites but I didn’t have the time to investigate that when I first got the mac.
I test my sites in Firefox using all the great add-ons like Web Developer Toolbar, Firebug, YSlow, HTML validator, Colorzilla, MeasureIt, Gmail notifier, Google Toolbar, and Screen grab! I’ve got Microsoft Vista running on Parallels so I can test sites with IE7 – I hope to get Windows XP with IE6 set up pretty soon so I can test fully.
So as not to go mad from staring at the computer screen all day, I try to take a break every 1-2 hours and I always try to leave the house every day – no matter what – usually by going for a ride on my bike somewhere. I also have NetNewsWire (Lite) running with all my blog subscriptions and I check the sitepoint forums and del.icio.us every now and again.
This setup works for me, so far. I’m glad I work from home and I’m also glad I switched from PC to mac.