Starting a new chapter as a full time freelancer

  • 📖 ~3 mins to read

For the past 7 years, I’ve been doing freelance projects on the side.

At the back of my mind, I’ve always had this thought of one day taking that final step into full-time freelancing. The problem, I was holding out for the perfect time to take that leap.

As the years have passed, however, I realised waiting for the perfect moment would likely never come – there will always be things to do or improve.

Around 2 weeks ago, it became ever more apparent how finite time really is and if I’m going to spend so much of my day working, then I should spend that time working towards my own goals.

Somewhat unknowingly, my wife and I had saved up enough money to keep us going for almost 6 months if I didn’t land a single project. On top of this, I had a surge of freelance project enquiries come in.

All of these things combined made me realise, if there was ever a sign to take that leap, this was it.

From the 7th September, I’ll be available for design and development projects on a full-time basis

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What do I do?

For anyone who doesn’t know what I do, I’m a UI/UX designer and front-end developer.

My focus is on designing and building custom digital products and JAMstack websites.

An overview of what this might include:

If you need help with any of the above I’d love to hear from you. You can send me an email directly to hello@robsimpson.digital.

JAMstack websites

For many sites, all you want is an easy to use CMS. Prismic and DatoCMS have incredibly intuitive interfaces, making it easy for content editors to pick up.

My stack of choice for static marketing websites is to use Gatsby with a headless CMS like Prismic or DatoCMS, deployed to Netlify. Some key advantages you get for using a stack like this are:

  • Improved performance as the content is built into pages at build time and not when a user visits the page
  • Improved security as your site is essentially a bunch of static pages; meaning your surface area for attack is greatly reduced
  • Cheaper hosting as your site is a collection of static pages served through a CDN
Prismic content modelling for an image component

Wireframing

Wireframing is a key part of any project, it helps to put the focus on the content hierarchy before getting bogged down with aesthetics. I always do lo-fi wireframes, followed by hi-fi wireframes in Figma.

These hi-fi wireframes are then turned into a clickable prototype so people can see exactly how things will work – it’s much cheaper and easier to catch issues early on.

Hi-fidelity wireframe for a mobile food app designed in Figma

Web and product design

I then use these hi-fi wireframes and begin to style them up. I like to share ideas early and often so there is no grand unveiling at the end – which would likely leave you feeling blindsided.

Mobile web app designs for Harwell Hub

Styleguides

During the design phase, I’ll also create a style guide which includes the base styling for the project – colours, typography, icons etc. This helps to keep a project consistent as it scales and provides a blueprint for developers when building the project.

Styleguide containing an accessible colour palette to be used in an interface

Pattern libraries

Gone are the days of building restrictive page templates, it’s far more efficient to build flexible component-driven interfaces. This makes the interface far more scalable, as features can be added, removed and moved around with far less effort.

It also means you can scale to thousands of pages with just a small number of components.

Atomic design pattern library built in Storybook

UI animation

Micro-interactions are becoming expected in today’s interfaces. Plus, it has some real benefits when it comes to the user experience and can reduce cognitive load for users when done right.

Custom page transitions on David Sewells website

Accessibility optimisation

The biggest misconception people have when they hear the term accessibility is that it only benefits a small number of people.

However, government statistics show that roughly one in five people from the UK have reported suffering from some form of disability, whether visual, auditory, motor or cognitive.

Viewed from a business perspective, it just doesn’t make sense to ignore upto 20% of the market share.

For more information you can read my posts on why accessible websites are good for business and how to write acessible content for your website.

Accessibility testing of de Pastory website using tota11y

Performance optimisation

There are several reasons to focus on performance, ranging from better SEO, lower bounce rates and improved user experience — all of which results in more leads and revenue.

Performance testing of David Sewells website using page speed insights

I’d love to hear for you 📬

That’s it in a nutshell if you need help with any of the above you can send me an email directly to hello@robsimpson.digital, I hope and look forward to hearing from you.

FAQs

Can you design your own websites?

Yes, I take a strategic approach to designing websites and products. I like to understand the goals behind the project and design a solution that works to solve the problem(s) that sparked the design in the first place.

Can you code your designs?

Yes! I’m extremely proficient with HTML/CSS/JS. If you need a CMS solution, I’ll use a headless CMS like Prismic or DatoCMS coupled with Gatsby and Netlify (if I believe this is the right solution for your project).

Will you code an existing design?

Yes, I often work with clients who have already commissioned someone else to design their website/product and only need help to turn those designs into code.

Is every website you build mobile-friendly?

Yes, but not every website is automatically created to be mobile-friendly or “responsive”. Whilst it has become expected, it does require extra time to create a responsive website that works great across different devices.

Rob Simpson

Freelance UI/UX designer and front-end developer