Web designers have their work cut out for them. They must first be fully conversant with a range of technologies and software; they also need to be excellent designers and communicators with good business acumen. It means being well organised, hot on your marketing and
There is a lot of competition out there for web designers. Sure, people will always want websites, but there are a lot of designers ready to do the job. What’s more, a lot of people are trying their hands at building their own sites, thanks to sites like Squarespace and WordPress.
Here are the things we think any web designer must get to grips with if he or she is to become truly successful:
Listening as well as talking
Communication is crucial for almost all businesses, but particularly so in web design. If you aren’t able to listen to your clients’ requirements, mistakes are inevitable. That will either lead to hours of extra work and corrections, or a poor reputation.
Some clients aren’t too sure what they really want, or able to articulate their visions. This is why it’s important for the web designer to elicit the information from them. Once a clear picture is formed, it can be relayed to the client and confirmed. This way the client will feel that you’re professional, serious, and that you know what you’re doing.
Furthermore, the chances are your clients will want to be guided, or at least reassured. If mistakes happen, you’ll need to be able to resolve them effectively. You’ll also need to be self-honest and open to criticism, but these are good things; analysis and feedback are always useful… they help you to develop.
Consistently update your skills, equipment and software
New technology springs forth at a dizzying rate. Unfortunately this means that you’re tied into investing in it regularly; if you don’t, someone else will, and it will put them ahead of the game. The same goes for software, and if there is a new technique to learn, make the effort to add new skills to your repertoire.
It can feel like a pain to have to train on new software repeatedly, but it’s always another string to your bow and can lead to more work. Those who always make an effort to learn will always be one step ahead. It means keeping up with trends, and checking what’s becoming obsolete.
The same goes for your equipment. You may not have to spend silly money on constant upgrades, but know when it’s time to upgrade to technology that performs much better.
Master the marketing
Not everyone enjoys blowing their own trumpet. Yet in a competitive industry like web design, it must happen. The best way to do this is to have something to back it up with. A shining portfolio of your work and excellent customer reviews is a great start.
Obviously it takes time to build this up, but it’s all the more reason to take care from the start. Experience is gold in the web design industry, and when people start to know you as a great designer, they won’t mind being open about it. This is especially so if you incentivise them in some way.
You’ll need to market yourself online just as any other business would, or you risk being ignored. This means being active on social media, encouraging your previous clients to spread the word, and having excellent promotional materials that showcase your work.
Work well with others
At some point in the process you’ll probably need to rely on other people to help you get the job done. It’s a good idea to develop a network of reliable contacts that you can turn to when something is beyond your remit.
For instance, not so many web designers also make fantastic graphic designers. If you fall into that category, it’s sensible to connect with a graphic designer that can complement your own work.
Similarly, when you try to do everything yourself, you risk overloading yourself with stress – or not doing any of the tasks properly. Delegation can lighten your load and actually ensure the end result is superior to a one-man job.
Working well with others is a great tool for polishing your communication skills too. Collaboration can make your day go that little bit more smoothly; it can free up your precious time, and lead to some great working relationships – even friendships! Lastly, if you are thinking of ever setting up your own design studio, you’ll have a potentially ready-made team to get it off the ground.
So what does a successful web designer look like?
Success is largely about common sense, ‘can-do’ attitude and self-discipline. If you’re committed to the process and genuinely want to create amazing products, you’re halfway there. Successful people look something like this: they’re excellent communicators who work well with others, welcoming feedback and keeping their skills updated. They aren’t afraid of talking about themselves and their work, and they listen carefully to everyone they work with. With a little practice, that will soon be you.