Web design has become a profitable niche for freelancers in the last few years, especially with the popularity of the WordPress platform. Tech blogs, e-commerce sites and general information sites all prefer to have a custom-designed blog to help sell their offerings worldwide.
To capitalize on the earning potential of web design industry there has been surge in the number of custom service web design providers. However, only a handful of freelancers are able to sense the change in the industry dynamics and add value to their creative ideas during implementation.
In order for you to stay competitive, effective, and yet innovative with your web designs I propose the following ten guidelines:
1. Design Based on the Customer’s Requirements
More often than not, the web designer concentrates on delivering a low quality site skeleton due to budget constraints.
However, this tactic often backfires since the designer leaves out vital aspects of the customer requirements. The best way to understand the customer is to discover their needs and address them during the design process.
Design fiascos are an aftermath of a poor interpretation of business requirements and sometimes a lack of technical competence on the part of the designer. Therefore, it is imperative that you to brush up on both technical skills and soft skills.
2. Factor Google Panda into Your Design
Design components do not stand alone. In the future, freelancers should align their work to Google Panda standards.
Google has recently included page load speed as one of the factors that determines the page rank of a website. Using heavy design components can slow Http request-response times considerably. This, in turn, may negatively impact the rankings of the site.
So, whether you like Google’s big brother attitude or not–as a designer you should comply with the latest policies of the search engine giant.
3. Work in Sprints–Use the Agile Scrum Approach
Rather than adopting the big bang approach using the conventional SDLC waterfall implementation model, try out agile development. This works especially well when looking at mobile web development.
Why not deliver creative design in a sprint of two to four weeks with dedicated and skilled resources? Agile development is the latest method used by freelancers and customers who want faster results.
4. Manage Review Schedules
The majority of freelance professionals fail to employ an active review mechanism during the course of the project. In order to achieve 100% customer satisfaction and achieve cutting edge design, designers should include a review mechanism and encourage their valued customers to keep up with the review cycle.
5. Benchmark Your Designs
Do you benchmark your creations with the best in the industry?
If not, then you are probably delivering designs that don’t meet the mark. More often than not, without benchmarking, you’ll find that your customers complain about lack of features. As a best practice you should benchmark against innovative design standards to boost business productivity.
6. Do Not Reinvent Everything
Are you the “Apple Computer” of your field?
If you answered “yes,” note that even Apple does not reinvent everything. Standard design templates should be used and scaled up (or down) to meet the customers’ specific requirements. Not all projects require that you start from scratch.
7. Keep Your Pricing Competitive and Attractive
One of the major factors that will drive the demand for web design services in 2012 is the pricing component. The best league designers have already started offering repeat business discounts and freebie deals. Is your freelance business proposal to prospective customers competitive?
8. Maintain a Web Presence
Have you done work for customers, but don’t yet have a website for your own design business?
Not having a website can be the biggest blunder that you can commit as a freelancer. Having a web presence adds credibility to your business and provides you with an opportunity to showcase your portfolio.
9. Learn More with Social Media
If you want to keep up with the latest trends for web design, there is no better avenue than Facebook or dedicated design forums. Ideally, you should follow the best designers in the industry to understand where the industry is moving.
Additionally, it helps to create a dedicated Fan Page to develop hot leads.
10. Don’t Start from Scratch
The design arena has changed radically in the last few years.
Taking an idea from concept to creation can take less time too. There are ready-to-use design frameworks, vector designs and templates available for free (or at competitive rates). These should be leveraged by designers.
Before creating something new from scratch, check to see if there is a tool or template that you could use to save time.
What web design guidelines would you add for 2012?
Image by Francesco Rachello