Barry McGee avatar

Barry McGee

Software Engineer

Re: The Elephant In the Room

Sarah Parameter recently penned a blog post asking if work was drying up for freelancers working in the web industry.

It sparked quite a bit of engaging discussion and I also chipped in with my two pence.

In the spirit of #indieweb and making sure I retain my own content for posterity, I'm reproducing my reply here.

To mark this reply up semantically using Microformats it seems I can use rel="in-reply-to" in a link anywhere on this page linking back to the original post.

I like the idea of having a central place to reflect all my writing on the web, including comments in other places.

However, I think I'll limit it to comments of substance, might be a bit overkill for every 😂 on Facebook...

In reply to: The Elephant In The Room

I’m not surprised the days of freelancers & small agencies living comfortably off high fidelity brochure/campaign sites are over.

I know of London based agencies who, a couple of years ago, regularly pitched simple ~5 template brochure sites for £75,000. It was only a matter of time before businesses seriously looked at big outlays like that and considered their return.

It’s simply makes more business sense to spend marketing/campaign capital on the walled gardens of social media where their customers already are than it does to launch a standalone campaign site for a limited period and face the uphill struggle of driving traffic to it.

There has also been a lot of derision in the design community recent years about web design becoming homogeneous due to the rise of patterns & frameworks, like candlemakers complaining that bulbs provide light too consistently.

Users don’t want to relearn how to use the internet every time they visit a new site – they want to complete a task at hand, quick and with as little friction as possible. Many businesses have realised you can get a very long way down the road simply using a framework out of the box.

Another reality is that fixed price project model is badly busted and no longer works for clients or freelancers/agencies.

The web is now mature enough that clients are fully clued in to what’s possible and they want it all while providers undercut and compete on price to win a declining pool of available work. The end result is projects that are over-promised, under-costed and ultimately over time not to mention all the pain that comes that relationship.

However – I see lots of reasons to be optimistic.

While brochure sites may be declining , web apps are exploding. Strip back all the tools and frameworks and they all still boil down to the same three magic ingredients that we’ve been crafting for the past 20 years – HTML, CSS & JS.

Put the time and effort in to skill up a little and you’re using those same core skills to build native apps (using React Native for example)

While work in traditional off-site freelancing is in decline , consider contracting – embedding yourself within an in-house team for a set period. In-house teams will always have resourcing issues – resulting in overspill.

Many in-house teams also experience productivity/process issues and benefit from an outside perspective.

I’ve been contracting for the past four years in London and work is everywhere.

Sarah mentioned in her original post that things have changed significantly in the past three years – I think we should always expect that in this industry. I don’t expect my job as a Front End Developer to exist in ten years – it’ll have evolved into something completely different without doubt.

In the big picture, the web industry is still in it’s absolute infancy yet is irreversibly changing how the world lives – it’s inevitable that we stand on quicksand, the trick is to keep moving with it.