In many ways it’s easier to be a web designer today than ever. New tools, templates and frameworks take much the design and development process out of the equation, opening up the industry to newcomers like never before.
On the face of things that sounds great, but it also makes life as a web designer increasingly difficult. Not only are you facing more competition with every year that passes, but a more streamlined production process puts the emphasis on lower fees and faster turnaround. That leaves you with less projects that come with the kind of budget you deserve to be working with as a professional web designer. And to get those better clients who are willing to pay for the best you have to offer, you may need to expand on the services you can provide for them.
Take your coding skills to the next level
The obvious answer is to work on your coding skills so you can offer your clients more on the development side of things. There’s nothing like handing your clients a complete, fully furnished website – all the way from the design process down to the final line of code. And with all the frameworks and other tools available these days, just about any designer can hand over the finished product. But that doesn’t solve our problem.
To make your coding skills really count and bag those better paying clients you need to get yourself above the standard crop. And, no matter what your current coding skills may be, the chances are you can step up your game and win those bigger projects.
Frameworks and tools are great for saving time, but the real money is in projects where you have to get your hands dirty and code customised solutions your clients won’t find anywhere else.
Master the art of web content
Content is all too often seen as a bolt-on in web design and development, which is crazy given this is precisely what people are looking for when they go online. The best designs start with content and build themselves around it, so you have a lot to gain by mastering the art of web content.
You can sell this in two ways to your prospective clients: first of all, in the sense that you’re doing your job properly – unlike the vast majority of designers. And, more to the point, you have a more extensive service to offer these clients (in exchange for a very reasonable fee, of course).
Mastering the art of web content is no easy task, of course, and you’ll need to start with some copywriting 101. But content is becoming increasingly visual and you’ll be adding a nice top-up to your wage by including infographics and custom visuals for your clients’ marketing needs.
As for the copywriting itself, you’ll see the full benefit when it comes to offering clients complete landing pages for their PPC campaigns, product launches and other ventures. These landing pages are vital to some of the most important conversions your clients will have. And, if you can hand them over complete landing pages with designs and content that help maximise sales, you’re on to a winner.
Become a conversion specialist
The clients that pay big money demand big results – and that’s fair enough. But it means you have to know how to deliver where it counts – and that means web designs that convert traffic into paying customers. Build yourself a portfolio and a reputation as a designer who brings in the money and you’ll have big-paying clients coming to you in no time.
This starts with becoming something of a user experience guru so you can create designs that get results from the go. But you’d be mad to stop there. Offer to stay with your clients for the duration and offer a long-term service that includes analytics, A/B testing and conversion optimisation. Suddenly, you’re not handing over a design that gets results for the initial honeymoon period, but rather a website that will constantly improve and help them get the results they need long into the future.
Delve into marketing
The last two points we covered are key players in the wider marketing strategy that comes with owning a website. You can take things further though and offer your clients any range of marketing services to help them get the most from their online business.
Whether its content for social media marketing, wider brand design or material for their offline marketing efforts, you can start with services that aren’t too far removed from your existing skills. With time you can take things as far as you want to – let’s say content marketing or PPC to go with those lovely landing pages you’ve started to offer. You could even go full whack eventually and offer a comprehensive marketing package to accompany your web designs, which are already geared to getting results.
Build or join a team
Each of the points we’ve covered so far can be added to your expertise on their own, but all of these services work best when they work together. If you like the idea of offering your clients the full package of web services, though, you won’t be able to do it all by yourself.
Instead, you might want to start or join a team of creatives that can cover the full list of services you want to offer. Team up with the right developer and the pressure to master code is off your shoulders. You can say the same for getting a content specialist, marketer and whichever other pros you feel your team needs.
Sure, you’ll have to share the proceeds between you, but you’ll hit a sweeter spot between quality and turnaround time that not only helps you win bigger projects, but also make them more profitable.
Offer long-term support
We’ve touched on this in a couple of previous points today, but it’s worth exploring every avenue where your clients could need long-term support. This is true for one-man bands, but especially for teams that offer more comprehensive services. Of the website owners out there, the vast majority are going to fall into the categories of either not being technically minded or far too busy to get involved in the technical stuff – and many will fit into both.
There are countless long-term services you can offer clients to make life as a website owner easier for them and keep the money rolling in for yourself:
- Website maintenance
- Regular blog content
- Content marketing
- Analytics and performance
- Conversion optimisation
- Social media management
- PPC management
- Search engine optimisation
- Offline material design (leaflets, business cards, etc.)
- General support (dealing with host providers, for example)
The list could go on, but the point is you get the opportunity to develop a lasting relationship with your clients by offering any or all of the above. And what happens when the time comes for a new website design or any other service on your list? They tap you on speed dial and you have another happy customer coming back for more.
Making it as a designer in the modern day
So, while the bar for entry-level designers and developers seemingly drops every year, the standards at the top of the industry continues to rise. Which means you need a game plan to keep (or get) yourself out of that pit where clients are only interested in how quickly and cheaply you can get stuff done.
The work is still out there; it’s just harder to find amongst all the low-budget gigs where people simply want a website and almost anything will do (or worse, those who want everything for nothing). And I’m not saying the only way to win better clients is to expand your services, but the more you have to offer prospective clients, the more reason they’ll have to invest in you.