With the rise of website builders, the need for small businesses to employ a website designer has decreased, despite the fact that a bespoke site will always be better than one based on a standard template. The functionality of website builders continues to develop, and with the comparatively low costs associated with these sites, it’s understandable that cash-strapped start-ups choose to economize on their web design.
Of course, developers and designers know that small businesses would probably do much better if they had a website designed from the ground up to their precise specifications and many companies who start with a simple website come to realize the benefits of using a design service once they are established. It means there is still a vast market for website developers and designers, but to build a reputation that has clients queuing for your services, you need to excel on all your projects and establish a proven, high-quality track record.
To succeed as a web designer, you need to attract the right clients and build up a good reputation. Marketing is an essential tool for attracting clients and developing a solid reputation, and if you don’t put enough effort into your marketing strategy, you’ll never get enough of the right clients to make your business viable. If you’re a designer, you should have quite a considerable background knowledge of marketing, because the websites you design are vital marketing tools for the owners. Therefore, you should have an advantage in that you’ll have a good grasp of how to design effective marketing materials.
Your main challenge will be defining your niche and your ideal customer. The most successful marketing strategy for a small business is to have a clearly defined target market and focus your advertising on the platforms those ideal clients are likely to be using. For example, you could specialize in designing websites for veterinary businesses, and target your advertising to professional veterinary publications and websites. Go for a niche where you have the expertise in the subject to add value to the project, so if you’ve got a background in banking or accountancy, target your marketing on finance websites.
If you have a niche that reflects your skills and knowledge, you’ll have the edge over a designer who takes on anything and everything. After all, when a business owner is paying for a website design, they’ll feel a lot happier knowing that the designer has a good grasp of what the business is about, and an understanding of the market and terminology.
Who is your client?
The first fact to establish is who your new client is because this will enable you to communicate with them effectively. Some business owners know virtually nothing about website creation and will feel lost and embarrassed if you start throwing lots of technical jargon at them. Others will have a good working knowledge of HTML and website design principles, and may indeed have valuable input into the process with their specialist knowledge of their field. If you were to talk to them as if they knew nothing, they would likely be frustrated and feel insulted. You’ll also get clients who want to be completely hands-off and leave everything to you, or there are the clients who insist on being involved in every step of the process. To be a successful developer or designer, you need to understand a little of human psychology so that you can build productive relationships with your clients.
What does your client want?
It’s very important to be clear from the outset what exactly your client wishes to achieve with their website. The best designs will be a combination of the developer’s technical expertise in building a site that meets all the customer’s requirements and the industry-specific knowledge of the client. You’ll probably have to ask a fair amount of questions to get the precise answers you need to create the optimum site for each client, but this is an integral part of the process if you don’t want to have disappointed customers and be faced with re-working the design. You would need to know exactly what they want to include on the page or section of the site that covers this topic so that you can design the page accordingly.
However small or large your team is, the best results are achieved by working in collaboration with other colleagues. You need to have at least someone review your design and check for errors, inconsistencies, and that it meets the client brief. Some of the best designs are achieved through collaborative working, where two colleagues work together to produce a design. This works well when the people involved complement each other and bring out the best in one another. Together, you can push each other – in a positive way – to produce your best work, and you’ll have inbuilt checks and balances if there are two pairs of eyes on the project.
The most efficient way to collaborate is to use a secure virtual data room, a hub where you can safely share documents with your colleagues and access them from wherever you are. You don’t need to be in the same office, or even the same country, so you can team up with anyone, anywhere to work on your project.
Using a system like this means that even as a freelance designer, you can join forces with other designers around the world to work on specific projects together. Instead of being alone and somewhat isolated, you can develop your business by forging partnerships with like-minded colleagues. This method of working is an ideal way to manage projects and share information, helping you complete higher quality designs well within the predicted timescale.
Finding clients as a website developer or designer is only half the battle. If a client doesn’t feel they are getting what they want, they can easily go to another professional and engage their services instead, so keep ahead of the game by making sure you and your client are on the same page.
Republished by Imagincreation