JMCQUARRIE.co.uk

James McQuarrie is a London (UK) based User Experience Consultant who designs and helps build digital products & services that delight their users.

Introducing External links on NEXTFREE profiles

From the very start of NEXTFREE we have had a set of principles and beliefs that govern what we do and how we do it.

We believe that there needs to be an easy way for Freelance Contractors and Consultants to share their availability. NEXTFREE aims to do that.

We also believe that there are already too many places for professionals to maintain their online presence. We strongly believe that NEXTFREE should add as little as possible to what we call “your professional profile maintenance overhead”.

So, when it came to thinking about what information we ask you for when setting up your NEXTFREE profile, we kept it to the minimum we needed to get you up and running;

  • an email address, so we can contact you
  • your name, so clients and recruiters know whose profile they are looking at
  • your skill-set / area of expertise, so clients and recruiters know at a high level if you’re the type of freelancer they are looking for
  • where you work, so clients and recruiters know if you’re suitable for their role (unfortunately many roles are still location dependent)
  • your NEXTFREE date, so clients and recruiters know when you’ll be available for new work

That’s it.

We add a profile picture to your NEXTFREE profile using gravatar. The idea being that’s one less thing for you to add and maintain. More on this in a bit…

What we haven’t added, and are very reluctant to add, is a more detailed description of your skills and experience.

NEXTFREE is not meant to replace your CV, or showcase your work, or become the next LinkedIn. We want to help you share your availability. Nothing more.

The challenge is that for a client or recruiter to know if you are the right person for their role (assuming you are available) they need to know more about your skills and experience than a simple one liner can tell them. We had to find a way of not increasing your professional profile maintenance overhead too much, while providing more information to the very people your profile is designed to help.

Our solution (as the title to this post gives away) is to let you as a freelancer share links to external sites on your NEXTFREE profile.

You can now add a link to your portfolio, your online CV, your LinkedIn, Twitter, Dribbble or Github accounts. In fact you can link to any external resource that you think represents you best. You can link to as many of these as you like (don’t go too crazy, no one’s going to follow tens of links to look you up…).

These links appear on both your internal NEXTFREE profile (only visible to clients and recruiters who are members of NEXTFREE) and on your public NEXTFREE profile (which you can turn on / off in your profile settings).

You can add links to your profile right now by logging in to your NEXTFREE account and going to your profile settings screen (link in the top right once you’re logged in).

Back to your profile picture

As stated above, we deliberately choose to manage profile pictures using Gravatar initially to simplify the sign up and set up process for your profile.

Gravatar is, in our opinion, a great service; set up a profile picture for an email address and then you can use that picture over and over wherever you sign up with the address. If you change your Gravatar image, it changes wherever you’ve used it.

But, we’re learning that not everyone uses or wants to use Gravatar. In fact, many, many fewer of you use it than we’d guessed would.

So, we need to find a better way of managing your profile picture. We’re still debating the best solution. We could use a Twitter or LinkedIn, or other service’s image.

We could let you add, edit and save your own picture.

We could remove the image all together.

We’re not sure of the best solution. What do you think? What would you prefer? Let us know on Twitter @nextfree or by email at support [at] nextfree.co.uk

More about NEXTFREE

NEXTFREE is changing the way Freelance Contractors and Consultants share their availability with the World. If you are a Freelance Contractor or Consultant and would like to try our service for free you can sign up for an invite to our Beta program at Freelancer invites.

If you hire Freelancers and would like an early invite to our Recruiter Beta program when it starts (in the coming months) sign up for an invite at Recruiter invites.