Redesigning Surprise Highway

Transitioning from freelance to a business and ignoring our own advice

I started Surprise Highway in 2007 as a solo freelance developer. I quickly threw up a one page website and didn't touch it again for a long time. I worked from my home office and coffee shops cranking out websites. Work fell from the sky and life was good.

Things snowballed quickly to the point where I couldn't handle all of the work myself. So, I started subcontracting work to other freelancers. Through trial and error and some painful lessons I put together a team of highly skilled and reliable freelancers. We tackled bigger and more complex projects and in 2012 I hired Mike and Bransin full-time.

We were operating as a finely tuned machine, solving complex business problems with custom software and hand crafted websites. But, our website still looked like one guy slinging code from a Starbucks.

Old Surprise Highway website

RIP 2007-2012

A number of months ago I turned to our friends at Scribble Tone and hired them to redesign our site to better reflect our current business. Lizy and Travis quickly turned around a great design that is close to what you see today.

And then the PSDs gathered dust in my inbox. 

We were so busy building sites for clients that we never set aside time to build our own. We ignored advice that we typically give our clients.

We need content! Launch early and iterate quickly! Where's that content?

We were our own worst client. 

Finally we made our own site a priority. Over the past few weeks, the team spent a lot of time building it out, making it responsive and piecing together content. And today we launched.

It's not perfect, but it's a big improvement. I hate to think about how much business we lost by not launching sooner.

Now, I'll have more sympathy for the client who's behind on content or hesitant to push the launch button. Been there. Done that. Lesson learned.

Posted November 27, 2012 by Jason Siffring

Jason has over 15 years of web development experience and is the owner of Surprise Highway. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.

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