So You Want to Be a Freelance Web Designer?

So you’re currently working 9 to 5 or exploring different jobs and their perks. One thing is for certain that this isn’t the job for everybody. If you’re the type of person who likes to work fixed hours on a fixed salary then this isn’t for you. If you’re a dedicated professional who spends time valuing their work and clients then perhaps you should read on.

I was recently asked via email what the necessary skills are to become a web designer. I was asked a few questions such as if having qualifications would increase the chance of attracting customers, what the hours are like, how long it takes to complete a typical project, do I work alone, how I communicate with clients, what the money is like and any other advice I may have so I will try to cover as much as I can.

The Freelance Lifestyle

The freelance lifestyle is a very flexible one. You’re the boss and you make all the decisions. You decide when you work, what you work on and how much you charge. As a freelancer; you’re the brand and the business. The two most important factors that you need for the kind of career is focus and strategy. You should be able to avoid bad habits and set times where you can work without disruptions in a calm environment. You should be able to set yourself goals and have some experience of being able to market and run a business.

Personally, I love the lifestyle, I can easily balance my work and social life so I never feel overworked but you should put in just as much hours as a 9 to 5 to focus on your work. You also get the opportunity to learn a lot as there are amazing communities that support people like us with their blogs and articles which help us learn as we work like Smashing Mag which I rely on all the time. In fact, this is how I managed to learn everything I know about web development and it’s what makes the Internet great, having the ability to share your knowledge with the world!

What Skills You Need to Start and How to Avoid Legal Issues

Well, if you’re looking to start learning web design and development you should probably start off with some books. I started off with HTML for the World Wide Web many years ago by Elizabeth Castro. One thing you should know about the web is that technologies change on a daily basis should you should keep up to date using the blogs and don’t rely on the books. This is why there is no single qualification you can obtain to become a web designer, because by the time you could finish a 2 year course on web development, so much would have changed that you’d have to do the course again!

Once you’ve mastered basic website coding like HTML you may want to go on and learn things like JavaScript which allows you to create nice animated effects in your work; learning to use a framework such as jQuery makes it easier to do the things you want and code it as well. If you want to get into hardcore development you should learn to create online databases and server side coding with PHP and MySQL which is the most popular open source database on the web. You can also use these ready made frameworks such as WordPress and other content management systems which make use of server side coding and have a back-end (an admin interface) already in place which allows you to easily manage a website and all you need to do is built your theme on top of the framework.

So that’s the development side covered. Regarding legal issues, it can differ by country. But if you’re living in the UK like me the only thing you will need to worry about is registering yourself as self-employed which is a very simple process and can be sorted with HMRC. Apart from that you will just need to make sure you pay the right amount of tax each year, if you’re smart enough to do this yourself that’s great otherwise you can use an umbrella company which manages your accounts at a low cost and take care of all tax issues for you.

Other Things You Will Need to Know

Okay, so you’re a certified developer, you’ve got your clients lining up, legal problems out of the way and you’re ready to go. But how’s this all going to work? You need to know if you’re going to be doing the designing as well, if you’re not, it can cut quite a bit of your net home pay because you would have to hire a professional to do this work for you.

This can work the other way if you do the designing yourself and hire a developer to code it so have a mix of design and development will allow you to take on whole projects yourself. Learning design can be done through practice. But you can do a course at university in graphics design which will definitely make you more employable and attractive to potential clients (also known as leads). In terms of what you need to perform this kind of work, you’d probably want a high performance Mac desktop or laptop if you need to travel around a lot to see clients. This is especially useful if you’re prepared to travel to different countries for your clients because this is an international game and is not just restricted to your local areas.

Finishing Touches

When you think you’re ready you start proposing to potential clients and build up a portfolio, a website which is essential for showcasing your work and explaining yourself to leads. Your work should be able to speak for itself and eventually the clients will find you. Getting yourself familiar with marketing techniques such as SEO (search engine optimisation), social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook and paid advertising will all help get yourself out there.

For your rates, you should charge how much you think your work will be worth, you can base this by project or as an hourly/daily rate depending on how long you believe the work will take to complete once broken down. As you build up your portfolio and improve with your skills and experience you will be able to charge more. It is a competitive market so you will need to stand out from the crowd to attract customers. Depending on the client, you should arrange meetings at different stages of the project if they’re local or phone them regularly if they’re international. Some clients may be too busy to be updated by phone all the time so it can also be useful to communicate only via email. It’s your business, you decide.

Major Benefits of Working With a Web Design Agency

Most of the business heads of startups will be undergoing this question, website design agency or freelancer? At present, this thing is a long running debate that every company head will face in opting the right person or team for their online business. So one should be vital in making the right choice.

Benefits of Working with a Web Design agency

Dedicated team:

Generally, the entire team of a web design agency will accommodate all of your web design and digital marketing needs. It consists of various multi-faceted talented team players who can cover many areas of web design and development; as well as digital marketing. This means that everything related to your business including the design and marketing needs are taken care by the same team in the same place; that means you can get the complete end product of you business from a single source i.e. Through a web design company.

Flawless service:

Working with a web design agency, you will obtain an ongoing service and support such as SEO and marketing services that not only portray more custom to your business but it also builds efficient campaigns with mutual communication.

Wider range of resources:

The major benefit in working with website design agency is the fact that they offer handful resources when compared to a freelancer. This includes a broader range to software licenses all these serves more possibilities for your website.

More Efficiency:

Working with a proficient team that are based under the same roof has its own benefits; one of these benefits is the efficiency of implementation when it comes to functioning on a project. An agency consists of different skilled people in a team integrated with the ability to implement multiple tasks across different areas of a project in whole to get greater efficiency.

Experience:

Experience comes with proficiency and familiarity to particular industry that tends to overall quality and victory of a project. The height of experience is a quality subjective to any agency. An agency will be capable to take and more patrons at one time as there are more people on board who possess more skill in dealing with numerous clients.

Importance Of Professional Web Design For Business

With the technology innovation and increasing numbers of internet users, having a website for every business is very important. Many companies and professionals are opting to establish a web presence through developing a website that serves as their virtual location to easily connect with customers or clients locally or worldwide. Having a professionally designed website can provide a business with several benefits. Let’s break down some of the importance of having a professional business website;

1. Your business is accessible 24/7

Having a website allows your business to function 24 hours a day, 7 days a week as your business information, products and contact details are always available on the site. It would be a huge advantage if your industry is running for international customers as whatever time zone or country they may be, they can always visits the website anytime.

2. Reach audiences and customers worldwide

Having a professional website for business gives an opportunity to reach millions of audiences worldwide. Meaning the more audiences who visits your site, the higher potential customers you can get.

3. An impressive website can boost up business credibility and customer’s loyalty.

As potential customers stumbled on your page, they might have a first impression and upon reviewing your impressive and easy to navigate website, it can definitely boost their interest and it develops trust while improving your company’s credibility.

4. It saves you thousands of dollars

Having a website can definitely save you thousands of dollars. Why? No need to print materials for your advertising campaign as there are numerous networks where you can promote your website with your service and products at no cost, no need to hire too many employees to handle accounts or administration and no more paperwork to do as all transactions can now be done online and most importantly, it doesn’t require you to pay too much on your electricity, as long as you have your laptop or personal computer, you can maintain a just enough power consumption to smoothly run a business.

5. Keep ahead of your competitors

Your competitors absolutely have a website and glad that your business has it too. By having an online presence and professional website, you can keep track of your competitors and therefore come up with a more effective and continuous strategies to further improve your business.

These are just few of the several importance of having a good and professionally designed website. Moreover, hiring a website design company is also an essential factor to keep in mind when planning to have a website for your business or services. When searching for one, make sure that they have these characteristics; technical and creative expertise with understanding with the latest web design features and site usability, can provide quick and accurate design samples, can help with the maintenance and the one who will respect your privacy and could go within your requirements. It may take some time, money and effort to build a website, but when you think of the advantages and the overall results it can present to you and your venture, you will realize that it is well worth.

Importance of Good Web Design For Your Business

We get better design when we understand our medium. Yet even in this global communication age, many people don’t understand the importance of web design. A good website design plays a major role in its visitor’s choice to either stick around or continue surfing. Graphics, layout, load time, fonts and ease of navigation can all influence the visitor in all means. If we want better sites, better work, and better-informed clients, the need to educate begins with us! Despite the importance of websites as a sole channel of communication in e-business, little theoretical knowledge is available in this article like, how websites may influence on your online business and your customers’ attitudes and behavior.

Web designs for personal fame and web designs for business identity are two entirely different elements. If you just want your own personal website, then colors, layout and graphics are according to your choice and taste but when it comes to a business perspective you need to have a professional touch that should be descent to look at and most importantly its flawless functionality. An effective website design plays a critical role in attracting and maintaining customers’ interest.

The major ingredients that influence on a good design layout are:

Look & Feel
Smooth & clear navigation
Comprehensive Functionality
Compliance with W3C standards
Cross Browser Support
For what purpose it has been designed

In this mass communication era World Wide Web (WWW) means ‘Business’. It’s the most important branding tool through which you can make your money and time. Companies or small businesses should have a better reason to be on the Internet. Mostly it starts with an idea, a product or a service. And unless you want a personal home page, you better find out first if there’s a market for that idea, product or service. Internet presence comes down to three things: marketing, promotion and fresh but valuable content. Web design for business is largely based on the services or products that you offer. If you cater to professional business clients, you need a very professional-looking website to generate great web traffic and leads. Getting traffic to your website is the most important factor. However, once you get people to your site, you need to grasp their interest to stay more.

Why you need a good business website?

Enhances your Brand awareness in the market.
Enhances your Product/Services awareness among your customers.
Boosts-up Lead Generation for your business.
Speeds-up your Lead Responses.
You can reach to New Customers.
Adds a New Sales channel.
Increases your Sales through existing channels.
Improves your Customer Service and Support.

Steps to Hire the Best Web Design Agency for Your Online Presence

Website Designing is a specialized area that includes a wide range of service providers such as professional web designers and web developers who may be freelancers or part of little and mid-level Web Design Agencies with expert team members and potential to offer extended services.

Web Design companies constantly try hard to exceed the needs and requirements of their customers in giving out affordable services; conversely, companies who need a web presence have to be tremendously vigilant in selecting the precise web design company principally as the service provider has to instinctively recognize and offer what the business needs for a nourishing web presence. Crucial things such as easy navigation, responsive design, and flow, SEO optimized etc. besides website should be attractive but fruitful enough to alter prospects into clients.

Every business that requires a web presence has to ask frankly some very relevant questions; these could be modified depending on the need-of-the-hour but largely wrap the following areas.

• The web design agency portfolio, qualifications, and experience should be checked initially. Generally, an experienced company has grossed its status by durability which is a quite good sign of skill and the constancy of the venture. It also transforms into outstanding design work and reputation for exceptional customer service. This is very imperative because various start-up companies die out leaving an association embarrassed when looking for upgrades and continuance. Any design agency with the good amount of experience, customer interaction, and worth portfolio is the best one to try.

• Any company should have dedicated and skilled employees. The agency does not have to be a giant one, but precise skills need employees to have those designations like web designer, developer, graphic designer, team leader, project manager, etc. along with capable sales & digital marketing persons.

• Any agency should be capable of fulfilling all the needs of a customer besides web design. The effective company should have an idea about digital marketing, content maintenance, search engine optimization, social media optimization and many more. The services offered have to fit the requirements and expectations of the business looking for the services. Besides, competence, in particular, areas such as quality checking and testing, programming, operating systems and conventionality to web principles is a necessity.

• Eagerness to comprehend the business knowledge and should offer an official proposal to all clients. Any professional agency that takes a certain time to realize what the business requires in terms of present business market, increasing sales and profits, future branding and many other features will obviously play a major role in designing a company website that plays an enormous part in brand and digital marketing objectives.

• The professional proposal of the company should comprise practical timelines with efficient tracking of layout approvals, modifications and amendments such as work reports and give fresh targets at every stage with suitably co-ordinated attempt from the rest of the team members.

• Any website design company that charges a complete upfront payment should be set aside. Only those companies who intend payments on stage by stage basis with approved deliverables should be buoyant. It may also be essential to know if payment policies comprise outlook maintenance, giving updates and latest versions, offering relevant content, testing and many more.

• Privacy of website information is tremendously vital as the agency may have access to perceptive information that cannot be hacked. Besides, the notion itself should be kept in stern secrecy to foil competitors and business adversaries getting a clutch of it and taking away the innovation of the design.

• If the agency is in the tradition of outsourcing valuable business components to third parties, it is always good to identify what components and who the third-party companies are. It is also essential to know if they are in some other geographical places.

Most of the companies make one critical mistake in choosing a web agency that quotes the cheaper price. A web agency that quotes a cheap rate is not always the one with best designing service. At last, of the project, a poorly designed website can irritate the business as well as users resulting in pitiable impression, huge loss in sales and profit and fetch down the web presence also.