Freelancer Friday: 13 Questions with Roger Johansson


Roger Johansson needs very little introduction. Most known for his blog 456 Berea Street. You’ll always find awesome great articles, book reviews, and even thought provoking questions.

1. Can you briefly tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a web designer/developer/writer from Göteborg, Sweden. I first came into contact with the Web in 1993 and have been working professionally with web design and development since around 1995.

2. How long have you been 100% self-employed?

Actually, I’m not self-employed at all. I am a full-time employee at a web agency called NetRelations, where I’ve worked since late 2002.

3. What did you do before you took the leap to full-time freelance?


4. Was it an easy transition and why?


5. Can you briefly walk us through a typical work day for you?

When I get to the office around 09.00, the first thing I do is check my email. If there is nothing that requires my immediate attention I’ll load up Basecamp in my browser to check if there has been any activity in the projects I’m involved in. Once any issues that I need to deal with immediately are taken care of I get back to working on one of projects I’m currently involved in.

Around 12.00 it’s time for lunch, which for me normally means eating last night’s leftovers from dinner. After that, a few of my colleagues and I go to our favourite espresso bar for a shot of decent coffee.

Then it’s back to work until around 18.00, when I get in the car to head back home.

6. In a typical week, how many hours do you work on the following:

  • Client Work: 40 (well, depending on if there are any meetings or
    other events that aren’t really client work)
  • Personal Projects: At the moment I have no Web related personal
    projects other than my blogs, so 0.
  • Blogging: 20
  • RSS reading: 5
  • Learning: 5
  • Other (describe)?:

These numbers are rough approximations, of course.

7. For you, what do you think is the best way to attract new clients?

Having a well-known blog has certainly helped for me, though I don’t depend on it the same way a freelancer may do. But making your name known in the industry is one of the best ways.

8. If you had to list several industry ‘mentors’ or ‘heroes’ who would they be?

Oh, tough one. I find it hard to mention names since I don’t want to leave anyone out. For me though, my “mentors” are the excellent people who got the web standards and accessibility balls rolling. I’ve learned so much from them over the years.

9. What is the biggest blunder you see other web design companies do?

Forgetting about quality assurance. It seems to be part of the web design industry to neglect QA, both when it comes to visual design, usability and accessibility, and the more technical aspects that affect things like interoperability and search engine rankings.

10. What is the most under utilized web element/technology in your opinion?

It depends on where you’re looking at it from, but I think CSS is not used as much as it should be, since the majority of sites still use old-school presentational HTML. Using current web standards – and using them correctly – is still quite rare.

11. On the flip side, what is the most over used web element/technology in your opinion?

Flash, closely followed by Ajax. Both can be used well, but most of the time people use them just because they can and because they think doing so will instantly improve their site or app. Ironically, those technologies will often have the opposite effect when they are not implemented well.

12. Rapid-Fire Recommendations (URL and optional comment):

  • Must read blog (other than yours): Hard to pick a single blog here as there are several I think are must reads. One that is really good but does not get the attention it deserves is Chris Heilmann’s Wait till I come!
  • Must visit website:, because there’s always something I need to search for.
  • Unusual site you visit daily: I don’t really visit websites that way, except to check various statistics related to my blogs.
  • Most inspirational site for you: Can’t give an answer to this one. I get inspiration from the total sum of everything I see on the Web.
  • Best site you’ve seen lately: Now I’m starting to feel boring, but I can’t think of anything here either. I just don’t browse the Web in the casual manner that many others do.

13. If there was one bit of advice would you have for those interested in creating or growing their web design business, what would it be?

Focus on delivering top quality and make your clients happy. Never ever stop learning.


  1. Agree – QA is overlooked and extremely important. When your users find bugs that you overlooked because of not thoroughly testing, your users will not trust you and may not come back. QA can be expensive, but you can’t afford not to.

    Good HTML/CSS developers are also overlooked – the role is downplayed.

    Thanks for sharing Roger.

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