Web Designer Hurdles to Overcome
As a professional web designer from top digital marketing strategies company for over ten years, I have had to overcome some hurdles, both in terms of actually designing web sites and training clients on the importance of owning and properly maintaining a web site.
Hurdle 1: Train Yourself
Imagine sitting to take a test for a subject you know nothing about. This is how a client might feel if you approach them and do not at least know some basics of web design. Whether you are working with software to design the web site or hand coding as I do, knowing how to use your tools is the first step.
One such tool every web designer needs, regardless of how you design the web site itself is communication. How well you know a subject can be seen in how well you are able to explain it to someone else. Imagine going to purchase a car and all the salesperson is able to tell you is that you put gas in it and turn the key. They are unable to tell you anything else. Would you buy a car from that salesperson? Probably not.
Remember, your client will most likely not be a web designer.
Hurdle 2: Training the Client
The first question I ask all clients is, “Why do you want a web site?” Silly question to ask a client, right? Yet the typical answers I get are mind blowing. I get answers like “everyone else has one” and “shouldn’t I have one?” Sure a web site is a helpful marketing tool to either share information about a company or product to generate customers and revenue. Remember, most of your clients are not going to be web designers and many might not fully understand what a web site can do for their business.
As a Web designer, your first job behind educating yourself on designing web sites is to train the client. This can include everything from explaining the difference between a web site and a web page. Try to avoid technical terms if you can. Do not dummy things down for clients, but do make sure to explain items in a way they will be able to understand.
For example, you might try equating a web page to a page in a book and a web site as being the whole book. Just as a book is broken into chapter, a web site can be broken down into sections, and then further broken down into pages.
A web site is not a magic bullet. It will not grow revenue all on its own.
Hurdle 3: Marketing
If no one knows about the web site, no one will visit. Simply adding the web site to a search engine might have seemed enough back when the web was young, but unfortunately today this will not work. Decide if you will be offering this service yourself or outsourcing to another company.
Business cards and other marketing material the client is using might need to be updating to including the web site address, especially if the web site is new to the client.
Hurdle 4: Don’t bite off more than you can chew
Do not be afraid to evaluate your abilities and scope out the pricing of other web designers locally. Most clients will want to work with local web designers if possible or at least my experience has been such.
Know your strength and weaknesses. This is where knowing the competition as well as those in related areas come in. Say you are really good at writing the code and laying out the page, but not so hot graphically. You might need to outsource this part of a project. Having contacts who are graphic designers might be of some value to you when you approach a client who desires a graphic heavy web site.
If you don’t know something, make sure this is communicated. Do not be afraid to let the client know you are unable to assist them or that you might have to do some research before committing to a project. The worst thing for you to do is to commit to something you know you cannot do and then not deliver.
This is where networking skills are very important. If your weakness is in writing proper code or graphics, network with something who can. Even networking with those in other areas such as the printing business might be beneficial, for possible mutual client sharing.
Hurdle 5: Sell Yourself
When you approach a client regarding designing or redesigning their web site, remember you are selling more than just a service. You are selling yourself: your experience, your reliability, your talent. This is where knowing your tools comes in. Remember, your tools are more than just your ability to design a web site.
First impressions are so vital as you never get a second chance to sell yourself the first time again. Make sure your attire is appropriate and you have a business card to present the client. Also, if you are familiar with the business or products, this could also be a plus to bring up in an appropriate manner.