Web Design has become one of the most popular and therefore competitive businesses to start up. Many young independent designers find themselves running their own business within the first year of freelancing without knowing much about how to run a successful business. Below are a few suggestions to get you up and running like a pro.
Make Sure Your Website Is Top-Notch
- Do not, I repeat, do not, start a web design company without a well-designed, well-thought out website of your own. This is a crucial initial step, since your website is the main window prospective clients will look through when deciding whether or not to hire you. Obviously, no one will hire a design company that can’t design!
- Do your research on best principles in UI; you want a site that is well organized so people can see exactly who you are, what you offer, and how to get in touch with you.
- Build a sitemap now, Google loves to crawl sitemaps and therefore your site will display more prominently in search engine results.
- Build on a framework that allows for growth and frequent updates: WordPress or Drupal are great platforms that allow you to grow your site naturally, adding pages, categories, new navigation etc.
Hire or Partner With The Best Design Talent You Can Find
There are many sites that showcase up and coming designers looking for work. Dexigner showcases some beautiful work as well as sites like Behance, Carbonmade, and Viewbook. You can find some great people to partner with and in most cases contact those people directly through these websites. If you aren’t a flash expert, partner with someone who is, this way you can say you are! If you are lucky enough to have start-up funds, offer employment to the people you work well with and who compliment the design skills you have so as to expand what your business can offer to clients.
Keep An In-House Marketing (Wo)Man
Having some marketing experts around will be crucial to your start-up’s success; not only to market your own business, but to be able to offer these services to your clients. Most clients will need not only web design, but content production and promotion, social media marketing, SEO services, email marketing etc. If you’ve never done these critical tasks for yourself, spend some time researching them and experimenting and then find some partners who can help you figure out what to offer your clients and how to package and promote these services on your website. You’re more likely to land clients if you can offer them a one-stop shop experience, then if they have to worry about hiring multiple firms.
Last But Not Least, Don’t Be Afraid Of Change!
The web grows and changes organically as individuals and companies create and develop new technologies, new languages, new graphic design standards. Any successful web design entrepreneur has to be on his or her toes to keep on top of all this change. You have to be the kind of person who can thrive in a an atmosphere of flux- seeing the change as a positive growth impetus as opposed to a person who fears change and likes everything to stay the same. Be honest with yourself on this front, it will save you a lot of headache down the line. For instance, developers who, back in the day learned HTML, had to learn (X)HTML a few years later, an now with the emergence of mobile design have had to learn HTML 5. There is always some new trend emerging in design. A good way to keep on top of trends is to be a regular reader and participant on industry blogs such as Smashing Magazine, Web Design Ledger, Just Creative Design etc. In fact, here’s a list of about 20 of the best blogs you should keep up with.
Hopefully these tips will be helpful to those just starting out, but feel free to ask me any questions, in the comments section below, and good luck!