As a web designer you’ve got plenty to think about, it’s a competitive international market and you want to succeed. You’ve got the skills, creative flair, and imagination but it might not be enough. In theory, the creams rise to the top but in practice, the pot may need a little stirring. So, here are 10 secrets (plus an extra one that you should never forget) that will make a difference, things not just to bear in mind, but to build into your everyday practice, and good habits that in time will become your standard web design go-to processes.
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1. Don’t Go Over 30% Innovation
Mega successful cooperation 3M has a well-documented 30% rule, which basically states that 30% of each division’s revenue must come from products introduced during the previous 4 years. The secret here is that 30% is plenty when it comes to innovation and new ideas. Graphic and artistic designers have a 60/30/10 rule of color, 60 being the dominant and 30 the new. Too many innovative things at once confuse clients and customers, mix up the known with the new, adding little by little to the already familiar, when the new becomes known – add something extra.
2. You Need To Understand Psychology
You don’t have to be a psychologist to take an interest and get some background, read some articles and books. Try to understand how site visitors react and think to designs, User Experience and User Interface design are essential. Add to this the vital role design plays in establishing trust in a brand, with almost 50% of people claiming it as the most important factor in establishing credibility. Design effects emotion (not only with colors but typography, images, and illustrations) and visual effects are the prime motivation in persuasion. And we need space, clarity, clearness of vision, and message. A little research can make a huge difference.
3. Get Familiar With The Audience
Who is this website aimed at and what is the aim? Unless you have this information you are fighting a losing battle. Research your client’s clients, and ask yourself the questions they want answers to. Put yourself in their shoes. Are they being informed? Are they buying? Do they want to find out about your latest product? Do they want to know what you do? Who you are? etc. Then focus the site around that idea, the site is there to do a job, it doesn’t matter how cool it looks if it doesn’t do the job, it has failed. Success will bring you more work, cool will get you fans -this is business.
4. Sell, Sell, Sell
Every web site is selling something, maybe not obviously but they are. You need to understand what this site is selling and how. Not every website is direct e-commerce, but the owners have a purpose (sometimes even they don’t know it) but you, as the designer need to keep this in mind, you need to understand it. When they say “we need a blog with a cool design” what is their agenda? Do they want to earn money from ads or generate traffic for another site that is selling something or else do they want to do the world a favor by spreading information with an artistic vision? It is, for sure, not the later. You might be selling an image, professionalism, a concept, credibility, brand identity, a sense – but you need to know what you are selling.
Do you want some design inspiration? Check out 30 Amazing Ecommerce Website Design Ideas.
5. Web Design Is… Marketing
All web design is marketing – to a certain extent. Your clients want an e-commerce platform to sell pants, the web design is their prime marketing. Don’t just add some pictures to view the pants and somehow work them into your design. The focus, the goal is to present their products in the best light and to get people interested enough to buy. To do that you need to know some things about marketing – what annoys the buyer? What gets them clicking on a Call To Action button? You design, you spin, you market, you create the look, you create the feel… big job, but doable.
You are not working FOR your client, you are working WITH them. This works best when it works both ways. They have to give you enough information, ideas, functions, and aims but equally, you are the expert. You have the experience and the know-how, don’t be shy to offer advice, you know what works and what doesn’t – teamwork is a two-way partnership. Agreeing to anything might get you to work at the start but will lead to problems and further disappointments down the line. Adding professional input puts you in a stronger position and leads to long-term working relationships.
7. Presentation is Everything
When you present your web design to your clients, you are presenting them with your joint vision. It needs to get them excited, they need to feel what you feel, and it needs to create an energy and a buzz. This is more than just another step in the process, this is really the make or break. Put the effort in to get it right, find some cool mock-ups, or make an animated video, to show them what your web design will look like live. They need to leave the meeting saying they can’t wait.
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8. Under-Promise and Over-Deliver
If you promise the world but deliver an atlas, nobody is going to be happy. Promise what you can deliver regarding skills, ability, and time frame, be upfront, and lay your cards on the table. If you don’t meet your targets it leaves a negative feeling. If you surpass them, it’s a major plus.
9. Admit Your Mistakes
You are not faultless. If your client says that something is not working for them, they could well be wrong and they just as easily could be right. Check it out, if you are right, explain it, and politely accept that they were right to contact you. If there is an issue, don’t try excuses, admit it, and put it right. Even if it’s a relatively minor misunderstanding, it’s better to keep on good terms and get it done. Admitting a mistake is not a sign of weakness, in fact, in business, it is seen as a strength. By being active and not defensive you show transparency and credibility, the clients understand that mistakes happen, but if they know you are there for them when they do, they’ll come back. And it keeps the lines of communication open.
10. Don’t Work Alone
As a web designer, your work is strongly connected with the work of web developers that will work on your design later. To a certain extent, your work is only as good as theirs. An understanding of what they do, how the code is implemented etc, will not only help your design but also improve your relationship with the developers. Our tip is… discuss ideas with them, take on board suggestions, communicate clearly… build an understanding. If you know a good development team, suggest them to your client, both parties will appreciate it and referrals work both ways.
11. Don’t give away all your secrets
Keep something back, like we are doing now!!!
Every little helps you get to where you want to be. These ‘secrets’ are really just good advice that top web designers, take into account automatically. They are the guiding steps up the ladder of success, and when you’ve made it you can make your own rules. But until then let’s go with the tried and tested methods that we know work.
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