Tips for New Designers
As I am celebrating Designbit’s birthday and looking back over the journey I have been on over the last year. I realised just how much I have learnt about the technologies and design industry itself, for anybody new to web design I want to save you some time and offer some design tips and hints.
KISS (I meant the acronym)
KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) a lovely term obviously coined by some Yorkshire farmer talking about mud or beef or cheese – but annoying as this phrase is it works well. If your not that confident about your design skills or illustrator / photo-shopping then keeping things simple is the best way forward; simple typography; keep the amount of fonts down to increase neatness.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel on every project; most companies just want a website that will get their message across and achieve their main goals if they want you to reinvent the wheel they will pay well for the extra work. So layouts can be simple easy to use and dependable, top main navigation a sidebar for lower navigation and obvious content areas.
One of the most common comments I receive when I show potential clients some of my works is that its “really simple to use” and “obvious”. You don’t always have to use flashy graphics with gradients, shiny effects and buttons for links and most the time this is unnecessary as fundamentally the Internet is full of hyper linked web pages linked together by blue underlined links – this is web education 101 and what your mum, brother and grandad will know about how the Internet works.
Learn a CMS
If you want to make any company happy nowadays you will have to supply them with a means of controlling content without having to rely on a expensive web designer to change the coding every time they want to update the website.
A Content Management System will allow the client to log in add/edit/delete and manage the whole website from any PC with a Internet connection. This is a big step up from static HTML and probably looks very scary but this will really differentiates you as a designer to your potential client. I use WordPress, Shopify and Joomla and have found them invaluable tools.
Get a reseller account
Web hosting can be quite expensive for companies and often the idea of having to pay for hosting as well as your design services to smaller clients will put them off – if you can include web hosting for a year with your design / re-design then it may sway the deal. You can also reliably host your own company website and any extra projects you delve into.
Make industry contacts
Often you be asked questions by client that you do not know the answer to, the client doesn’t know how many different subcategories of web design they’re are and probably doesn’t know the difference between web design (design and front end) and web development (programming / back-end).
If you have a programmer / SEO/ designer / CMS expert / industry contact then you can say yes to their questions safe in the knowledge that you have the contacts to get the project completed and gain the clients trust with positive answers.
You are not lying to get the project, you are being hired to solve their web design needs and everybody in every industry outsources. I have lost count of the amount of times I have picked a industry contacts brain about their specialist subject and it has had a positive effect on my project. I have a handful of developers / designers that I can rely on and I know their rates of pay and how busy they are at all times.
I often challenge my peers to bets about marketing (how many diggs you’ll get), design competitions (logo design etc) and often lose dreadfully but its a great way to learn from one another and gauge how each other works and if you can work together on future projects.
Drop the dead donkey
If you try a side project that’s soaking up your valuable time and funds that isn’t working don’t be scared to drop it – I have just done this with a project I have invested in and now another great idea is getting that attention.
Drop the dead donkey
If the client is really indecisive, rude, overly demanding, wont pay a deposit, then don’t be scared to drop them – they will be more hassle than the projects worth. They are really nice companies and individuals out there looking for other nice professional people to perform services for them.
I cant believe the fantastic clients I often work with, really nice genuine people who are fair and respectful – I didn’t go freelance to work with anybody else.