When I went back to school six years ago, I really wanted to be a web designer. As it's turned out, I'm not doing it for a living, so I piddle around with my own site, and try to help others with theirs. But having been burned a couple of times, I'm feeling the urge to rant.
Let me tell you about my recent experience with web design. A few months ago a friend approached me to help her out with a pro-bono project for a woman she met last summer. This woman is a former peace activist in her late sixties, lives very simply on about $400/month (or so she says), and makes jewelry from recycled items. My friend designed a logo for her and agreed to to all the print work, could I do the web design. Sounds like a great and worthwhile cause, right?
Well, after we meet and I tell her I can have a minimal, bare-bones page up in a couple of weeks, she starts hounding me: When are you going to get the rest of the pages done? When will there be images up? I don't have a CD burner, will you come up to my house out in bum-f*ck Egypt and get the files? Can I call you at work every day and talk for 20 minutes? What's taking so long, all you have to do is post the images, why is it taking so long? It would be so much easier if you'd drive 30 miles to my house... You get the picture.
No, I wasn't cranking things out in record time, but A) I work full time in front of a computer all day, B) she said she was not in any hurry, and C) just because it's on a computer doesn't mean you just push a button. I was having to edit some really bad photos (which she kept complaining about, saying things were upside down or sideways. How the hell was I supposed to know?) and it takes time.
I cut her loose, and she was flabbergasted. She just does NOT understand, she's been SO grateful for all my help, what is the problem? And she is still calling my friend, asking her to print up business cards. On her employer's equipment. With no compensation, of course.
A few months later, another acquaintance approaches me about building a site for him. He's a very talented comic-book artist/author. Says he wants to pay me, doesn't have much now, I say no problem! when you get rich and famous I'll send you a bill.
He sends me a really well prepared layout of how he wants things to look. I build him a basic structure with a template, several pages, rollover buttons, spent god knows how many hours on it. Wait for feedback. It's fabulous, MARVELOUS, he could not be more pleased. OK, send me some images. Nothing happens. Time goes by.
Suddenly it's time to get busy. Gotta have something done this fall in time for a big show up in Portland. Where are you? Answer me! did you get the images I sent you? No, I didn't, could you resend them? No answer. I write again, hey, what's happening, images? Are you alive? No answer.
Finally last week I wrote a rather terse note asking if he was indeed still alive, as I'd like to clean up my hard drive and erase the files if they're not needed. Aha! an answer. No, sorry, I got someone else to do a much fancier site for me, sorry I didn't let you know.
So tell me, am I just having a string of bad luck here, or should I abandon all hope of doing favors for friends and keeping my sanity?