Monday, August 27, 2012

The shady web design project

All names have been changed for this post. Any names you see here have been made up. But the story is real.

Jumping in...

So, I do web design for a living: officially by day but I also freelance at night.

One day I get a call from a very nervous-sounding gentleman.
Dude: "Hi. Um, I'm calling because I need a website designed. Will you do it for me?"

me: "Tell me a little about what you need." (my standard response).

him: "Um. Well. I just called like 10 other designers but no one else will do it. They just won't. They hear what I do and they hang up. But it's not like I'm doing anything bad or wrong, it's just um, an unusual business."

me (thinking hmmm, he must have seen the disclaimer on my website about how I will not consider any job whose ends or means are unethical; and yes, it's there because I have been asked): "Well, what type of business is it?"

him: (sighing loudly) "Um. It's a male entertainment company. But just until I get back on my feet! I'm only doing this right now while I'm out of school."

me (flicking imaginary cigarette in boredom; like I care why he chose any given profession): "Well, I don't do websites that aim to swindle money out of people but tell me more about what kind of site you need and I'll see if I can help."

him: "Well, I'm a male dancer. And I want to set up a simple website with just a few pages that tells people about my service and has pictures of the dancers. But don't worry! They will all be wearing clothes. At least bottoms! No nudity. Well maybe the rear will be exposed but that's it. No frontal nudity! I promise."

me (now amused): "Well, I require 1/3 down to start, 1/3 at the halfway point and then 1/3 when the job is complete."

him: "YES! That sounds AWESOME. Sign me up."

me: "Ok, let me get some information from you then." I pull out a notebook to begin my client checklist. "What's your name?"

(note: names changed! But this is very close to the, um, essence, of how the conversation ensued.)

him: "Richard Hard."

me (not noticing odd name): "Ok, what's your address?"
I jot down all his information. Yeah, his name may have been unusual but whatever. I didn't really even think about it -- the world is full of the oddly-named; like "Gaston Feeblebunny". So I barely register this and continue moving through my list. One last question before I'm done.
me: "Ok, and lastly, what's your email address?"

him (coughing): "Um. Ahem." (voice lowered, hand cupped over mouth) "**" (**not a real address).
I started laughing. "Alright, RICHARD. When would you like to meet, RICHARD?"

I still don't know what the dude's real name is. He paid me in cash and money orders so there was no real record of his name. But I built him a site. It's still out there, even though I dropped him as a client years ago when he started to seem shady.

So this is me during the design stage; pulling images into photoshop to design a template.

This WAS a fun project.... though I like working on science & educational sites much better, they don't make for quite as interesting of a story...!


  1. And what a resume builder!

    Tell me, if you had done something incredibly clever and innovative in the design, would you have been comfortable passing on the link to potential clients as part of your portfolio?

  2. I only put the really great stuff in my portfolio. Even ugly designs, when demanded but something I hate, I won't include. I never did include this one. In fact, I probably wouldn't even take it on next time, because I've become much more discriminating (this was back when I first started freelancing over a decade ago).