Adapting a Pre-Purchased Template

My client, Bob Berliner, had purchased a Flash template that he really wanted to use for his business, but was having trouble finding anyone with the skillset to personalize it for him and incorporate an eCommerce platform where people could buy the pictures online that they had taken by Bob's photographers in various nightclubs and bars around Las Vegas. I accepted the challenge, ramped up my Flash skills and added graphics I created to reflect the Las Vegas Pics brand.

  • Client: Bob Berliner and Partner
  • Technology: Flash, Photoshop, Illustrator, HTML 4

It's Hard to Work With Someone Else's Code

I prefer to build from the ground up or at least use a simple, basic template like the one from HTML5, but many times while freelancing I would come across a businessperson who had purchased a template and then couldn't find anyone to make it work the way they wanted it to.

In fact, I bought the template to Comrie Consulting, for $9--I loved the look of it, but personalizing it has been another story. It came with so many pages I was overwhelmed with choices! I've had to hunt through thousands of lines of code to find the exact CSS that I want to change, then add a custom.css page, and make sure the whole thing doesn't break from my changes. So, in retrospect, it would've been easier and less time-consuming to just build this website entirely myself.

My Process for Las Vegas Pics

  • Interview business owner to determine his priorities for the website and what it needs to be fully functional.
  • Decide upon a fixed price to do the work; write up a contract.
  • Obtain template and some graphics from the client and then go through the code line by line so I could figure out how it worked.
  • Start manipulating the code to give my client the look and the functionality he wanted. This template had sound and motion that were intrinsic to it performing as it should, and it took quite a bit of time to personalize it without blowing it up (changing one little piece of code can have drastic consequences down the line if you're not careful).
  • Create the eCommerce front and back-end, allowing people to purchase their pictures directly online.
  • Finish the site. Get final approval from Bob Berliner and his partner and put the finished, working website online.

What the Client Had to Say...

"They (Indico) did an excellent job and are therefore highly recommended. After four unsuccessful starts with other web programmers we were admittedly very skittish at the time Indico was hired...

Indico proceeded to create our marvelous web site on-time and within budget, and were even paid above the agreed upon price because we were so happy with their efforts.

I wholeheartedly recommend them and will use their services again as additional work presents itself."

Robert Berliner,
Managing Partner,
Las Vegas Pics

What I Learned From This Project

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Working With More Than One Partner
Communication

Bob Berliner had a business partner whose ideas where slightly different than his own. I learned to listen intently for areas of commonality and focus on those aspects of what my clients wanted, while gently interjecting some ideas I had to make the site more exciting (using ultraviolet-type graphics) and easier to use for their clients who wanted pictures purchased off the website.

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Designing for Different Users
User Persona Development

Like most eCommerce sites I've worked on, Las Vegas Pics has a multi-fold audience. And no one type of user was any more important than another. For example, the site is designed to bring in new business by showing an exciting, flashy side of Las Vegas that the demographic of people who get their pictures taken during concerts or at nightclubs will be interested in, therefore drawing this User Persona into the site and giving them information as to how and where they can add this to their Las Vegas experience. The other User Persona is the person who has already had pictures taken. They need to easily navigate to the eCommerce page where they can view and order their pictures. This site worked for both groups.

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Under Promise, Over Deliver
Keeping clients happy

I was a little concerned at the onset of this project that my Flash skills weren't initially strong enough, so I made sure I had extra time to ramp those up and was able to finish well under the time that we had projected. Both Bob and his partner were very happy and gave me a bonus!

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Take Chances
Personal growth

This was the first time I'd ever worked with a purchased template, and the first time I worked with Flash at an advanced level. At the onset, I was nervous that I wouldn't be able to learn what I needed to and maybe I should just stay in my comfort zone. But I went for it, and it was a very rewarding experience as a professional web designer and a businessperson.