Elevated Web Design – 5 Must Know Business Tips

Whether you are a freelance web designer or looking for a salaried position business sense is important. What to wear, what to say, how to price, how to hire; these are all things you will need to know. Below are a few helpful business tips related to the web design industry.

1. Be Professional

For the freelancer the need for professionalism is as important as in the white collar world. First impressions are everything, if you’re gaining a new client or applying for a job some things are everlasting. You will need to be clean, dressed nice and mind your choice of words and topics. The handshake is important, not too soft not too firm. Looking and speaking in a concise, polite manner is key to executing a great first impression.

2. Be Prepared

Being prepared isn’t easy, but the benefits are great. First if you’re applying for a job, make sure you have researched everything about it. Going into a job you should know what the job is, if and why you’re qualified and have all of the important paper work and identification. Make sure to have pens and possibly spare paper. Being prepared means you’re organized and careful and this speaks volumes on one’s character. It seems like common sense but make sure you have gas in your car, directions to meetings and plan your time well. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

3. Pricing & Contracts

To get a rough idea of what you should be charging do some diligence. The occupational handbook is a good place to start. Check out your local competition and get a few quotes. This will help guide you towards a pricing model. Also consider you talent level and personal costs. How much is it going to cost you at a minimum to do any given job? Can you fulfill all of your promises? If not then perhaps you should reconsider. Also make sure you understand what any contract you use means. Know what you’re signing, and make sure your clients understand what they are shining.

4. Stay Smart

Some opportunities are great but others should be avoided. A bad job or client can rob you of precious resources; your time and money. A lot of customers will haggle with you on prices and try to underbid you, be wary of this and stand strong in your pricing model. The old adage “give them and inch, they take a mile” applies here. Don’t discount largely for these customers and insist that your pricing is fair and work excellent. Also as a web designer your reputation is everything. Never do a job poorly to spite a rude customer and never talk bad about an employer.

5. Network

Networking is one of the most important things in business. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. You could be the best designer in the world but web design doesn’t sell itself. Personal marketing and branding is the key to success, people have to be able to find you and for freelancers word of mouth is often their bread and butter. Knowing people also presents rare opportunities. When you know someone you can often gain inside offers, deals or tips. And when you’re in need having a strong base is always helpful.

These are good tips but always remember to study your craft, look for web design inspiration, learn how to write and design for humans.

Web Design Inspiration

Find a Theme for Your Website

So you’re excited about the possibility of building your own website, but aren’t sure where to start, right? Determining a website theme is probably the most difficult part.

There are so many ideas floating around, but your web design inspiration might be limited to just a few sites you’ve visited recently. The good thing about the Internet is you can have a very specific site theme but still reach a broad audience. Let’s brainstorm for a moment to get those creative juices flowing.

Narrow Your Thoughts

Don’t think too broadly about a web design theme. Narrow your thoughts to a subject you enjoy or something of which you have a lot of first-hand knowledge or experience. Think about your favorite hobbies or skills. Just about any skill or hobby you can imagine can be turned into a lucrative website!

As a beginner, it’s probably best to start with a niche website that focuses on one particular subject. A “niche” website usually has one theme, whether it be a well known theme or something that appeals to a very small group of people.

Design Your Website around What You Know

Perhaps you know a lot about composing music, cooking, sewing, riding a horse, herbs or geography. Maybe you’re a bird lover and want to create an entire site about birds, selling bird accessories, bird feed, cages, training materials for bird owners, etc. The sky’s the limit as long you focus on something that will help you reach your website goals.

Planning to Make Money? Do Your Homework!

If you plan to make money with your new website, then be sure to research your ideas before taking that final step of designing your site. Make sure your web design inspiration isn’t only based on emotions.

Research your topic or potential product to find out if there’s a market. Use Google’s keyword tool (you can find it by searching in Google) to find out how many people are looking for your product or service and the amount of competition for relevant keywords.

There are plenty of resources available to help you research your topic thoroughly before moving forward. Don’t skip this step, or you could waste months on a site that will never show profits!

Personal Only?

If building a personal website – not for profit, your web design inspiration might come from personal likes, favorite hobbies, favorite people, etc.

Your personal site will likely be designed to appeal to friends and loved ones, or to those online who share the same interests. This doesn’t mean that you should have a poor design for your personal site.

Try to design your personal website as professionally as possible to ensure it will be compatible with all browsers and easy to navigate for your viewers. If not, you’ll find that interest in your site will drop in a hurry!

Web Design Inspiration for a New Project

As a web design professional; starting a brand new website project can be a digital magical mystery tour, and in most cases you will have no idea where you will end up and what you shall encounter on your journey. As you meet each obstacle head on you will be challenged to overcome problems that will, over time make you much more of an asset to your web design agency.

Wouldn’t your working life be dull if everything was easy? I am going to take the first tentative steps with you down the long and winding road of website design and build and point out a few basics that will help you on your way.

Client Requirements

Firstly, we have to establish our client’s requirements for their website. This should be done before a single wireframe sketch or image is created. It is imperative to learn exactly what is required from the website and how visitors to the site will react with it. As a web design agency, your clients will want to know what is achievable and what is not. You are the experts after all; if your client’s proposals are unrealistic then they should be told at this stage. Once you have agreement on the main features and functions then you can proceed to the next step of the project with a clear idea of what is involved.

Competitor Analysis

This is an important stage of the process; by monitoring how competitors are tackling their customers’ demands you can gauge the ever shifting trends and latest technology. This can also act as a source of inspiration. By critically appraising your rivals latest offerings you can work out what works and what does not and how certain functions can be improved upon or tweaked to fit a design solution that you are considering to use.

Idea Generation

This should be one of the favourite aspects of any web design agency employee; this is what drives you; the chance to get your creative juices flowing. You will now sit down with an A3 piece of paper and produce a mind map. Mind mapping is a process of creating a diagram that visually outlines information. The mind map would typically be created around a single word or phrase that is placed in the middle of the page; associated ideas, tasks or words are added; spiralling out from the initial word or phrase. Major categories radiate from the central theme and secondary categories are sub-branches of the larger ones. Categories can be words, tasks, ideas, or any related items to the primary word, idea or phrase.

Once the mind maps have been drawn manually by hand, they can then be turned into high quality pictures or into a computer presentation when time allows. This can help you organise your project and it also helps with design and functionality decisions.

Inspiration Sources

Many web design agency workers find inspiration from real-life situations. I was speaking to a web designer recently about a project she was working on, it contained a page with a form on it that needed to be completed before the user could continue with the rest of their visit. She wanted to make the process of filling out and using the form much more straight forward. Following a long journey home one evening she pulled into her drive, turned off her car and pulled the key out of the ignition. And that was when her inspiration moment. She noticed that the interior light came on automatically so she could gather her belongings in the darkness. Meaning she would not have to manually turn on the light herself. With a flash of inspiration she thought how this could be applied to her form problem and immediately scribbled down a solution. She went back to her website and designed the form so that it appeared in a modular window on page load, which freed the visitor to continue around the site streamlining the user experience for them.