10 New Guidelines for Web Designers for 2012

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.

Your Turn

What web design guidelines would you add for 2012?

Image by Francesco Rachello


  1. says

    I like the Google Panda bit about site loading speed.

    What I can say is continue on improving and progressing with your skills. Upgrade to mobile development as well. Consider that most people are going more mobile and the 960 grid might not be suitable for their itty bitty screens :)

    Levelup them skills to HTML5 and CSS3

  2. Minna says

    A note on the point on agile development – scrum is just one framework, though it happens to be the most commonly used. Also, agile doesn’t necessarily equal faster development. It’s more iterative and collaborative, which allows for more efficient/effective delivery of a product. Don’t adopt an agile approach just because it’s a buzzword or it’s “popular.” Everyone involved in the project MUST buy into it, and that includes the client. It’s easy to understand but difficult to implement well. Trust me on that one :)

    Some resources:
    http://agilemanifesto.org/ – the core values of agile development, created 10 years ago, which I think is also when the website was created (and hasn’t changed)
    http://scrumalliance.org/ – bunch of good info and discussion about scrum

  3. says

    While I’m all for getting a clients site done on a timely schedule, I feel that the usage of templates are getting out of hand and in many cases kills creativity.

    One item that I’m surprised wasn’t on the list is mobile responsive sites. Especially with the growing number of people who now are on mobile devices vs desktops.

    While this article does show a bit of potential, it feels as if it was just thrown together.

  4. says

    Not starting from scratch is important for web designers and website owners alike. Many people pay a lot of money for “unique” designs only to find out that the designer used a template from another site they created. You might as well just go with a template design because that’s basically what you’re getting.

  5. says

    Instead of using web templates, why craft out your own set of template functions you will build into each site? That way you can design each website in it’s unique way and yet not run into the fear of ‘what if it could do this, what if…what if etc…’, since all functions remain the same for each site.

  6. says

    I would say: “Be a mirracle worker”

    … deliver earlier than you have promissed. our problem is keeping promises, we know that :)

    another thing – stop wasting time on fixing your own servers or thinking about them – get reseller account. Hosting business has to be separated from web design and development business.


  7. says

    A professional web solution company provides web design and development, content development, SEO services, technical back-up & web maintenance at affordable price.

  8. says

    A serious web designer SHOULD NOT use templates. Yes, you use ‘code chunks’ to deliver a faster design, but these ‘chunks’ should be the ones you’ve created and designed. Since many sites look similar or have a look that’s easy to accomplish, it’s good to have some sort of a ‘modular’ system in place and use /tweak your codes. But using templates others created is just wrong. In the end my clients pay for an unique design, not template editing.

  9. says

    Have you given any consideration at all with translating your current site in to French? I know a several of translaters right here that will would help you do it for no cost if you wanna get in touch with me.

  10. says

    If you use a half-decent CMS, you should be able to export solutions after you build them – especially if they are commonly used from site to site. Then you can sell those solutions as a product or add-on.

    With Aegir and the Features module, that’s one of the many reasons that I absolutely love Drupal. Build it once, export it, refine it, update it, and keep common site features consistent from client to client.

  11. says

    We have create a online content management system ( CMS) no installation is required.
    Works with most of templates available after slight customisation. your existing static pages website can be migrated to Joysite and then it becomes easily self editable website. It make updating your website very easy.

  12. says

    Great post as usual. I would just one more point, when a potential client requests a web 2.0 type site sort of you probably call don’t reinvent the wheel, run like from fire, in 99% of these cases these clients will never be happy and will never finish the project.

  13. says

    The websites have become nowadays the default form of communication with clients and customers, so the production and the design of the site is primary but to keep up with the trends in the Internet world is as important because that´s where you can far outweigh the competition,

  14. says

    I’m amazed, I must say. Rarely do I come across a blog that’s both equally educative and amusing, and let me tell you, you have
    hit the nail on the head. The problem is an issue that not enough folks are speaking intelligently about.
    I am very happy that I stumbled across this in my hunt for something
    relating to this.

  15. says

    when it comes to 10 New Guidelines for Web Designers for
    2012 | FreelanceFolder, everybody has their own opiniun.
    i do not disagree with you. but not all the points giving are great %90
    are but all the same i really do enjoy the article. :)

  16. says

    Post notification on your website to collect emails.

    As long ass you can be perceived as professional,
    you are entitled to your opinion. A website developer’s work isn’t complete
    until the webxite is thoroughly proofed for any text, image
    placement or link errors.


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