Life as a bespoke website designer

Musings on life as a bespoke website designer providing bespoke website design

Being a freelance bespoke website designer isn't always what it's cracked up to be! It's nice to be able to offer people the chance to have a website design exactly how they want it, but sometimes it's hard to deliver on all fronts due to budget constraints or wild imaginations that some people have when it comes to trying to make bespoke web solutions to make something come to life in web design format that they have sketched out on paper.

I'm all for imagination and interesting ideas as it is a nice break from the norm, but there needs to be a bit of realism and understanding in what can and can't be done. I like to ensure that all bespoke website design projects that I am involved in also have good usability, good navigation and that they are seo-friendly. Despite this approach and my misgivings about some design concepts that come my way, I endeavour to try to accommodate most requests and where something isn't possible I'll come up with an alternative solution.

How great am I?

Web designers like myself usually bang on about what they can do and how great they are, which you have to do to some extent to engage the reader and attract new business. If you've found this post by perhaps searching Google for "bespoke website designer" then hopefully you are looking for a quote for a new project, or perhaps you need some help with updating an existing website. I'm happy to quote for any project, but if it's one that I can't take on for whatever reason I'll tell you rather than quote you some silly figure just to get the work in.

"I can do this and I can do that", but I also like to provide a personal service to clients and whilst the phone isn't my favourite thing in the world, I am happy to chat through projetcs and ideas, but I try not to bug people too  much and use email a fair bit to engage with people or to expedite requirements. If I spend all day on the phone then I'm not getting your project done.

I've worked for some large companies over the years and have been lucky enough to of had a nice steady flow of individuals and small businesses coming my way since I first become a freelance web designer back in 2003 odd. Client retention is good and always the number one aim, and whilst I admit you can't please all of the people all of the time who are looking for a dedicated web designer, I've had the pleasure of meeting and talking to some lovely people in that time.

So what's next?

There are always new challenges to deal with and the future look exciting with the advent of mobile websites, responsive web design and the ever present challenge of seo (search engine optimization). With seo in mind it would be great if you can mention me in your Facebook account or even to a friend as well, if you've got this far down the page you must be semi-interested in bespoke website design, you may even want to take that extra step and be bold enough to request a quote!

Don't worry I don't bite, I'm only a bespoke website designer.

The Heartbleed Bug

The Heartbleed Security Bug – Should I Be Worried?

You will have doubtless heard in the media about something called the Heartbleed bug. In a nutshell, it’s a security vulnerability that has affected a vast number of computer servers. But is it something that you personally need to be worried about, and, if so, what should you do about it?

This blog post discusses the Heartbleed security vulnerability in more detail, and aims to give you information and advice on what you might need to do if you’re affected by it, either directly or indirectly.

What exactly is the Heartbleed bug?

Heartbleed is the colloquial name given to a bug report called “CVE-2014-0160” for the OpenSSL cryptographic library. The reason why this is making headline news in the world’s media is that it is a major security vulnerability in what is widely used on the Internet’s Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol.

In layman’s terms, if you try to access a website that uses the TLS protocol (i.e. it would have “https://” in the address bar), the underlying software behind that protocol could possibly be vulnerable to hacking attacks from the rogue elements of society.

We are often told to make sure any websites that process or collect personal information from us, such as usernames and passwords, credit card details, address data and so on, use the TLS protocol to encrypt that sensitive information because any data sent over unencrypted web forms (websites that have “http://” in the address bar) is sent in plain text.

Obviously if a massive security hole such as the Heartbleed bug is known to the world in this supposedly secure data transmission environment, it can have huge implications for a lot of things that we do online on a daily basis, such as using our online banking, sending and receiving email, and so forth.

Should I be worried about the Heartbleed bug?

In a word, possibly. The one saving grace about this whole saga is that the developers of the OpenSSL cryptographic library released a patch (security update) on the 7th April 2014, and only made public this vulnerability on the same day.

Many well-known online services vendors such as Google have been working behind the scenes to update this library on their servers before the announcement. I would recommend visiting the websites of any secure online services to learn if you might have been affected by this security bug.

Can I check if the websites I use have been patched yet?

Absolutely! There are many websites such as Norton Safe Web’s Heartbleed Check that can tell you whether the websites you visit have had their OpenSSL cryptographic libraries patched or not.

For each website you visit, all you have to do is simply type in the URL (website address) into the checker and it will instantly tell you whether it is secure or vulnerable from the Heartbleed bug.

Should I change my passwords?

There is mixed debate about whether you should do this or not. If any of the websites you visit are known to have been affected by the bug, you should first determine whether their web servers have been patched by using a Heartbleed vulnerability checker such as the one linked to above.

Once you can confirm that the site is secure, you should then log in and change your passwords.

The BBC are also reprting a new threat of a cyber-attack.