Table of contents
In the previous installment of my journey, I recounted my humble beginnings in the tech world, where curiosity and determination led me from tweaking website content to mastering the intricacies of HTML, CSS, and frameworks. With the foundations firmly laid, the second phase of my tech odyssey brought me to new horizons, introducing me to the world of site builders and eventually launching my own web design and development agency.
Embracing Site Builders and Finding Comfort in Webflow
As my skills expanded, I began to explore content management systems (CMS) and site builders like WordPress, Wix, and Webflow. Each had its own appeal, but Webflow's unique combination of design freedom and code export functionality caught my attention. It provided the best of both worlds—allowing me to design visually while retaining the option to tweak the underlying code. This flexibility resonated with me, and I soon found myself gravitating toward Webflow as my go-to tool.
Webflow: A Blend of Ease and Control
Webflow's user-friendly interface simplified the design process, enabling me to create visually stunning websites with ease. However, what truly stood out was its code export feature. This functionality empowered me to make customizations beyond what the visual editor offered, providing an ideal bridge between design and development.
While Webflow offered its own hosting solution, the pricing didn't align with my needs. Instead, I explored other hosting options that allowed me greater control over my projects.
Birth of a Web Design and Development Agency
Empowered by my proficiency in Webflow and my eagerness to apply my skills, I decided to take the plunge and establish my own web design and development agency. Armed with a growing toolkit of knowledge and tools, I ventured into the world of client projects.
Crafting a Toolkit for Success: Transitioning to Netlify
In my agency, I adopted a versatile set of tools that allowed me to deliver top-notch results. Webflow remained my design playground, while I turned to VS Code for fine-tuning code aspects. For form handling, I opted for Formspree to retain flexibility, considering Webflow forms were limited to their own hosting. To manage version control and collaboration, GitHub became an indispensable companion.
In the early days, I was utilizing SiteGround as my hosting provider. However, around 2018, a pivotal shift occurred as I embraced Netlify due to its advanced features and seamless integration with my workflow. Netlify's ability to offer free hosting, coupled with its custom domain support and SSL security, made it a perfect fit for my agency's evolving needs.
From Foundations to Complexities: First Clients
My first client, an Engineering and Construction Company specializing in civil and structural projects, provided me with the opportunity to apply my skills to a practical setting. Their focus on pre-engineered buildings and warehouses was a perfect match for my evolving expertise.
A Growing Portfolio
With each successful project, word spread, and referrals led me to my second client—an exporter and distributor of high-quality Fly Ash. This client's satisfaction bolstered my confidence, and my portfolio began to expand. Two NGOs, a Real Estate company, a manufacturing firm, and multiple Travel and Tours companies, along with an Astrologer, Numerologist, and even a Temple, all became part of my diverse clientele.
Introducing E-commerce Suited for the Indian Market
As I continued to evolve, new horizons beckoned—specifically, the world of e-commerce websites with shopping carts. This marked a significant shift from my previous focus on static websites. During this exploration, I came across multiple e-commerce options, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Platforms like Shopify, CS-Cart, SnipCart, and Ecwid were in the spotlight.
After careful evaluation, I chose to work with Ecwid. Its ability to seamlessly integrate shopping carts into static websites, coupled with an array of robust options and plugins, made it a standout choice. Additionally, Ecwid's offerings were particularly well-suited for the Indian market, aligning perfectly with the unique needs of my clients.
Diversifying the Portfolio with E-commerce
With the incorporation of e-commerce capabilities, my agency's portfolio began to diversify even further. The introduction of shopping carts opened doors to a range of projects that catered to businesses aiming to expand their online presence and tap into the burgeoning e-commerce landscape.
Learning Integration Tools: Zapier and Integromat
As my projects grew in complexity, I recognized the importance of seamless integrations. To bridge the gap between various SaaS applications and create dynamic workflows, I delved into integration tools like Zapier and Integromat. These tools allowed me to connect different apps and services, automate processes based on events and webhooks, and enhance the overall functionality of the websites I developed.
Slow and Steady Growth
Over a span of four years, from 2016 to 2020, my agency's reputation grew steadily. I embraced challenges and diversified my portfolio, learning and adapting with every new project.
The Unforeseen Challenge: COVID-19 and the World Shutdown
The crescendo of my journey so far was met with an unforeseen obstacle—the global COVID-19 pandemic. As the world went into lockdown, businesses faced uncertainty, and my agency was not immune. The sudden halt to projects and the uncertainty in the business landscape posed a great challenge—one that would test not only my technical skills but also my resilience and adaptability.
In the next installment of my journey, I will delve into how I tackled this unforeseen hurdle, adapted my strategies, and emerged stronger on the other side.
Stay tuned for the continuation of my tech expedition, where I navigate uncharted waters and uncover the resilience within me, both as a tech enthusiast and as a business owner.