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Doing web work for your family

Posted by Michael, 10 February 2009 · 1,191 views

So my wife asked me recently to make a website for her. She is in to Fan Fiction and frequents certain sites, but she genre she is really in to does not seem to have a dedicated site for it, rather the various stories that would fit into this genre are spread out to various other sites. So of course, I say I will come to her rescue and make her a website for this. After all, if I do a good job, I figure I may get rewarded in kind for my efforts. :)

I've been working on this site for her for a while, and it's looking really good if I do say so myself. It's the first big project I've ever done starting off with Firefox and the various tools it has for web developers, and it has helped a lot. I can see as I work that all of my pages are validated, the source code is beautiful with proper indentation, no inline style declaration, no use of tables for anything but actual tabular data, nice semantic code and all that. Full PHP error reporting is turned on and all errors are dealt with. It's just overall a great little platform for her site, fully custom made so that I can add things in that she wants.

The problem is, whenever I ask for advice on how it should work, the response is inevitably "just do whatever this other site does". The other sites she frequents are running using eFiction, a free PHP story archiving software. So after about the tenth time hearing that I should just do what they do, I finally ask if she just wants eFiction instead of this software I'm developing. No, she says, she likes the custom work I'm doing.

I'm fine doing this work for her, but this is the sort of thing that, as a web developer, I don't like from my clients. Is it too much to ask that you have your own thoughts on how you want your site to work? We get this a lot in the IP.Board community too: "vBulletin has a mod that does this, can someone make an IP.Board mod that does the same thing?". What is the point, really, of us all just copying off of each other? That makes all of our sites the same, and then there's nothing unique to attract users, users could just go to a dozen different places to find the same thing.

Maybe this is a bit of a rant, but I'm sure we've all experienced something a bit like this from time to time.

Can we see what you've done?
It's not really live yet. I've been doing nearly all of the work on localhost.
When did you guys get married? I missed that blog announcement :)

Anyway, just start adding pics of yourself around the design and stuff and she will quickly come up with some ideas. I experience the same thing before.
We're not actually married, but since we've been together for 7 years and live together, it's easiest to just refer to her as the wife. :)
As a developer, you should keep things simple. Try to use text than a graphical website. Search engines might not pick up any visual stuff.

Nice idea, and good luck :D

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