Category Archives: Web Design

Tips for Building a Successful Web Design Business

Web design businessThe web design industry has become increasingly competitive over the past few years. As a result, many web designers continue to struggle to maintain an adequate client base and earn a significant income. Here are some tips which will help you succeed in the competitive web design industry.

1. Specialize

Many web designers make the mistake of attempting to offer a wide range of services to many different audiences. However, such an unfocused approach is likely to result in insignificant results. To succeed as a web designer, it would be advisable to specialize in terms of the services you offer and the market you are targeting. For instance, if you are good at building WordPress sites, you might want to specialize in that aspect of design. Similarly, you could consider having a specific target market (for example, educational institutions).

2. Invest in sales and marketing

Many web designers are so busy working on their customers’ projects that they end up spending little time promoting their businesses. This is a big mistake. For any business to attract new customers, it needs to have a proper sales and marketing plan. However, such a plan does not have to be too complicated. All you need to do is set aside time on regular basis for promoting your services.

3. Price properly

Proper pricing is very important for the success any web design business. However, when starting out, many designers undercharge for their services in an attempt to attract more customers. However, after charging such low prices, most people find it very difficult to raise the rates later due to fear of losing customers. Even though it might mean losing some customers, it is important to price your services properly. However, you need to ensure that the quality of your work matches the prices you have set.

4. Control your growth

As you select your customers, don’t make the mistake of accepting more than you can handle. If you take on too much work, you might miss your deadlines and end up disappointing your customers. In addition, the expenses involved might end up exceeding your earnings. Therefore, as painful as it might be, you might have to turn away some work so as give your best to specific customers.

5. Avoid distractions

Some of the distractions that negatively affect the productivity of a web designer include email, the telephone, family life and social media. These distractions can be minimized in several ways. First, you need to set specific times when you will be checking your email. This should not exceed three times in a day. When you are working, make sure your web browser remains closed, and that your Facebook and Twitter notifications are disabled. Similarly, avoid answering the telephone when working. If you work from home, it would be advisable to separate your family life from your work. If possible, work from an enclosed area where you can close the door.

6. Nurture repeat business

While promoting your services to new clients, you should also take time to nurture repeat business. Getting repeat business is less demanding compared to attracting first time customers. If you are able to convince previous clients to return, you can be guaranteed of a continuous stream of income for your business. The best way of winning back your customers is by exceeding their expectations. Here are some tips for doing this:

  • Offer value-added services – You could offer to include a useful feature on your client’s site at no extra cost. This will leave a good impression and will enhance their chances of returning in future
  • Offer useful suggestions – Instead of passively waiting for repeat business, you could approach your customers with ideas of how their sites can be modified. They might just like the suggestion and pay you to implement it.
  • Develop a personal relationship – You need to take time to connect with your clients on a personal level. Spend time with them and find out what they are interested in. When they see your sincerity, they are likely to return with more work.

Pros and Cons of Using Website Builder Tools

Website Builder ToolsNowadays, if you need a website, you don’t have to hire a professional designer to build one for you. Instead, you can create it yourself using a website builder tool such as GoDaddy, Volution, WordPress, Weebly, Squarespace, 1&1, Wix, Webs, Yola or Homestead. However, though such tools have their benefits, they also have their fair share of disadvantages.

Here are some of the pros and cons of using website builder tools.

Pros of Using Website Builder Tools

1. Reduction in cost

Before hiring a professional web designer, you need to ask yourself several questions. What will it cost to have the site designed? How long will the process take? What will it cost to maintain the site? In most cases, hiring a professional is a very expensive option. Using a website builder enable you to significantly lower the cost of building and maintaining a website.

2. No need for technical expertise

If you have little or no technical knowledge, creating your own website from scratch can be a very frustrating task. When it comes to using website builders, you don’t have to know anything about HTML or any other kind of coding. Website builders come with tools such as a WYSIWYG editor, a text editor, and a HTML editor which make it easy for anyone to build a professional website within no time.

3. Great features

Anyone would want to have a site with a unique design and great features. Most custom website builders out there offer professional templates with distinctive layouts. You can easily add guest books, forms, calendars, search boxes, maps and many other features to enhance your site’s functionality. At times, you might even get a whole suit of services such as analytics, search engine optimization, email marketing and hosting in one package.

Cons of Using Website Builder Tools

1. Rigidity

Many people would want to customize their sites according to their business needs. Though website building tools come with some great features, they are limited in terms of layout and design flexibility. For instance, the layout might consist of a menu at the bottom and a banner at the top. If you prefer having your menu on the left side, the website builder might not offer that option. The fact is that it is almost impossible to find a website builder which allows you to have all the functionalities and features you would want on your site.

2. Branding

Some website builder providers require you to have their logo or any other kind of branding on your site for marketing purposes. Such advertising tactics are common with free website builders. However, this ends up making your site look very cheap and unprofessional. As a result, customers are not likely to take you seriously.

3. Learning curve

A website builder will only benefit you if you learn how to make full use of it. The more features it has, the more you are required to learn. For instance, you might need to have a good understanding of interface design, color theory, information architecture, page design, and typography. If you are ignorant of such issues, making use of your website builder can be a very frustrating experience.

Conclusion

Before choosing any website builder, you need to take time to explore the options available. Consider the functional requirements of your site and find a tool which offers the necessary features and flexibility. Alternatively, you could hire a professional designer to do the initial work of setting up your site and creating a professional look. They could also give you an idea of how to maintain the site yourself in future.

Web Design – Costly Mistakes to Avoid

Web Design MistakesWhen designing your website, your main aim should be to improve the user experience of your visitors. When people have an easy time on your site, they are likely to come back for more and even refer others. However, many designers make mistakes which not only drive visitors away, but also destroy their credibility.

Here are some of the most common web design mistakes that should be avoided.

1. Slow loading pages

Web users would enjoy browsing a site which has fast loading pages. Most people don’t have the patience to wait around until a web page finishes loading. If it takes too long, they are likely to leave and go elsewhere. Therefore, don’t make the mistake of having slow loading pages which only contribute to a poor user experience. Generally, pages load slowly due to large or excess graphics or animations. Therefore, it would be advisable to keep the number and size of graphics on your site at a minimum.

2. Large or small text

Having text which is too tiny on web pages is another common mistake which designers make. Such text is usually very difficult to read. On the other hand, some designers have very large text on their pages which looks unprofessional and unattractive. To avoid making similar mistakes, take time to check the size of text used on popular sites out there. In addition, you could ask different people to read the text on your site. This will enable you to choose a size which would be comfortable for readers of all ages.

3. Poor color combinations

An attractive and harmonious color scheme plays a key role in creating a pleasant user experience. Therefore, when it comes to web design, having poor color combinations is unforgivable. Generally, it would be advisable to keep your color scheme as basic as possible. For instance, simply having a white background with back text can look very professional and attractive to visitors. Such a color scheme also makes your standard link colors very visible. To enhance the appearance of your web pages, you could add one or two colorful graphics.

4. Pop-up windows

Pop-up windows that appear immediately you land on a web page can be very annoying. In addition, they are an unnecessary distraction for visitors who have to close them first before accessing the web page. As a web designer, your main purpose should be to allow visitors to enjoy the content on your site. Pop-up windows draw the attention of visitors away from your site’s content and might cause them to leave permanently. In addition, such windows make your site look unprofessional and might be associated with spamming.

5. Links opening in the same browser window or tab

Some sites have links that open in the same browser window or tab, while others have links that open in a new window or tab. Most web users would prefer the latter option which offers a more pleasant user experience. This option allows them to access information in the new window or tab, and still be able to refer to the earlier web page. This ensures a more organized browsing experience for your visitors.

Web Design – Tips for Staying Inspired and Current

Web DesignThe field of web design is constantly changing, with new technologies being developed every day. Therefore, to stay competitive and relevant, every designer must strive to keep up with the new developments in the industry. Here are some tips which will help you remain inspired and current.

1. Explore a new idea with each project

Instead of trying to grasp every new technology all at once, it would be more advisable to learn one thing at a time. For every new project you undertake, apply a new technique. For instance, you could try out the latest coding technique or WordPress plug-in. This approach makes it easier for you to learn and master new technologies. In addition, it avoids monotony and predictability in your work.

2. Teach others

One of the best ways of keeping yourself updated on new technologies is by looking for opportunities to teach others. Seeking to educate others will compel you to carry out some research so as to have a good understanding of concepts. This in turn will enable you to pass information in clear way to your audience. Teaching can be done through commenting in forums, writing tutorials, private consultations or blogging. In addition, you could offer in-depth teaching on a specific subject by writing an eBook or publishing a podcast. Besides just offering valuable information, you could also make an extra income through teaching others.

3. Read widely

Reading is a great way of staying informed on new developments in web design. You can get a lot of fresh and quality material from websites, podcasts, blogs, magazines and screencasts. However, don’t only read content from the specific resources. To stay inspired and informed, you should always be on the lookout for new sources of information.

4. Browse galleries and showcases

Browse galleries and showcases can offer lots of insight on new trends in the world of web design. For instance, one of the areas that has evolved significantly is web design for mobile devices. There are many new concepts that have been developed for coding and creating interfaces for small screens. However, the idea is not to copy what others are doing, but to derive inspiration from it. When you see what others are doing, you will be motivated to be more creative and versatile.

5. Network with others

Building a relationship with others in the industry can be a very effective way of learning new things. Engage people in social media and participate in different forums discussions. Share information which might be helpful to others and ask questions where you need clarification. Such interactions will enable you to stay up to date on new developments in the industry.

 

The Benefits of Website Usability Testing

Website UsabilityUsability testing is vital for the success of any site. Testing the usability of your site will ensure a pleasant user experience for your visitors. Here are some of the benefits of website usability testing.

1. Uncovers problematic areas in your site

Usability testing enables you to find out exactly which areas in your site have a problem. For instance, if you have an ecommerce site, usability testing could help you discover a high shopping cart drop-out rate. This could be due to a lengthy or complicated checkout process, high prices or inadequate product information. Once the reason is clear, you can then take the necessary steps towards dealing with this problem.

2. Enhances your visitors’ brand experience

Improving your website usability will give visitors a pleasant experience of your brand. However, if visitors have a negative experience on your site, they are likely to leave and never return. Some of the usability issues that would put off your visitors include:

  • Misspellings
  • Broken links
  • Messy layout
  • Poor grammar
  • Site errors

3. Enhances visitor retention rate

Some people who land on your homepage will exit your site without visiting any other page. Website usability testing will help you figure out the reasons for poor visitor retention. The following are some of the reasons why your site could be losing many visitors:

  • Your homepage loads too slowly
  • People cannot figure out what your site is all about
  • Visitors are not able to find what they are looking for on your site
  • Your site requires users to download a plug-in before accessing the content

Some of the most effective visitor retention tactics include:

  • Grabbing the attention of visitors with exit pop-up ads
  • Offering frequent updates on the homepage. This will enhance the chances of people returning, even if they don’t visit any other page
  • Offering a great giveaway on the homepage

Usability testing gives you some insight into how visitors use your site and how they think. Having this understanding of your visitors will enable you to offer what they really need.

4. Boosts sales and profits

When usability testing enhances visitors’ brand experience, lowers the shopping cart drop-out rate and enhances visitor retention rate, the ultimate result is an increase in your sales and profits. To enhance your bottom line, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are the people you are targeting likely to purchase your product?
  • Can visitors find information on your products fast and easily?
  • Is the information currently available sufficient?
  • If you are selling physical products, have u provided clear photographs?
  • When customers make a decision to buy, how easy is the checkout process?