Find Web Developers
Find Web Developers

So You Want to Be a Freelance Web Designer?

August 12th, 2018

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.

Things to Consider in Website Development

August 11th, 2018

1.Reason behind getting a web presence: How important is it for your business to have a web presence, and what kind of functionality within your website would you benefit from? Are you in an industry where having a website is mandatory to be competitive? These are the questions that need to be answered first before venturing into getting a website.

2. Domain Name: You will need to check if the domain name you want is not already registered (best to outsource if you are not technically qualified) and taken by someone else – if so, you might need to register one that is close enough and simple/catchy enough for your customers to remember.

3. Prepare: Put together a plan (similar to your business plan) on how to design, build (best to outsource if you are not technically qualified) and market your website

4. Content:Content is king on the web and for your sites SEO performance (for your site to found easily by your customers and top ranking in Google) – hence it is important to put together content that is most relevant to your products/services and punchy in nature. Try and build a draft in MSWord which will include a dummy layout (for images and text) AND include the content – This will provide you a good idea of how your website will look on the web.

5. Research: Look at websites relevant to your or complementary industries and make a note of the ones you like both in terms of look and feel and content. Please note – simplicity is the key for most websites, as it is proven human nature to find the required information within 3-4 clicks.

6. Select Your Website Developer: Select a good web designer by asking relevant questions to ensure they can understand your requirements and deliver a good product. Would also be a good idea to review their projects and ask for case studies..etc to clarify expertise in the area.

7. Project Development: It is important to be involved in the project and would be beneficial to instruct the developer to design the underlying architecture with scalability in mind – to ensure flexibility in future if the business grows.

8. Marketing your Website: It is important to device a marketing strategy [both online and offline] with your developer to promote your web address:

  • Traditional: Make sure to include/update your web address in all your existing printed/media business cards, brochures, adverts…etc
  • Online: This is equally important (it might be good to discuss with your developer and also look at other topics in the blog – SEO/Online Marketing..ETC) to ensure your business can be found online easily by your potential customer and there are many tools/strategies stated below that will assist you in doing so:
  • Search Engine Registration [Make sure your business is listed with the main search engines]: Google/ Yahoo/Sensis/ Nine MSN..etc
  • Analytics: There is rich data available on your web traffic which can be accessed through search engines like Google, which can then be used to analyse and develop better strategies to maximise sales, traffic to your website..etc. (Best to engage your web developer on this)
  • AdWords and Email Campaign: This is a new wing of marketing for most companies in addition to the existing traditional methods – which allows you to accurately track your marketing spend and calculate ROI [Return on Investment] due to the accuracy and availability on rich data tracking on your AdWords and email campaign from service providers such as Google.

Quality Attributes of the Best Web Design Firms

August 10th, 2018

Due to increasing internet marketing, the demands of web design firms are increasing considerably. As a result there are plenty of companies available to choose from and all promise to offer efficient service. However, not all companies can stand to their promises. There are certain quality attributes of best web design firms that make them complete and worth dealing with.

Highly Qualified Experts

A good design company will offer the client with great service at affordable price. It will offer all e-commerce web development services in professional way with best website designer, SEO services, internet marketing consultant and professional web developers. Other services include content creation, creative web design, web hosting and other things that are needed to complete a website with affordable website design cost.

Quality for the Value

A good web design firm should know how to balance between quality and price. Many companies ask for high price and end up giving simple and amateur website. A best web developing company will follow certain principles to make an original site. Pricing is set depending on what you expect from the sites. Website can be extremely simple with few graphics and which can be cheaper. However, there are certain website that is in great demand, which contain forums, flash graphics, data bases, and shopping cart.

Ability to Meet the Deadlines

It is necessary for any web developing company to meet the deadlines no matter how long the project is. Time and money are the two factors that company should never take lightly. The client’s investment is the biggest asset for their good profile. To satisfy them by fulfilling their development project in the given time is the company’s primary goal. The company should make sure that project end up with smooth operation. it is the responsibility of the designer to sent their weekly project reports to the clients, this will give an idea about the work process of the company.

Good Portfolios

A company must know that clients will get convinced to hire them only after looking at their portfolios and contacting some references. Hence, such companies should have a variety of portfolios and projects that can impress the clients. It would be an advantage for the company to show the clients the site they can visit and surf through different sites. the samples and portfolios should be organized enough so that the client can know that the company has the experience of delivering what they need

The Company should be Certified

A web design company is considered as the best only if it is an ISO 9001-2008 certified company. The company should be extended with its series in web development, web design and other internet marketing sources. The company should offer creative, quality and quick website design solutions to the clients. The clients should enjoy all the services at affordable price. Web design firm should keep in mind that website is the online reputation for the client’s business

Once you find the necessary quality attributes of the best web design firm, you can be sure to hire it. Remember; when it comes of hiring a web company, you should keep in mind the above factors. If you are not sure about which line to go for, internet marketing consultant can be helpful.