November 23, 2007 in Design Process, Misc

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.

Be competitive

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.

About Anthony

Anthony Brewitt is Design Bit, has been for years - he's an experienced WordPress Designer, and Muggle-born Marketing Philosopher. Let’s talk about your website; your marketing, blog design, and that cool new mobile web thingy. Contact Anthony

17 Responses to Tips for New Designers

  1. A very good article…..thanks for the tips…!!

  2. I dont know about host8ing there site because that mean you are efectively a 24/7 support team for the client, but good article anyway.

  3. @Akshay, thanks for reading I hope it helps.

    @ Grant, Thanks for comment! – I agree with you in principal and you are right that you you will need to specify exactly what the hosting entails to avoid the scenario you described.

    As a freelancer sometimes you need to clinch a deal and offering an incentive is a great way of doing this without affecting the price – especially if you already have a reseller account.

  4. wow, i had been designing my website for a while now, and some of the tips are still new to me, gata learn these.
    thx for this GREAT post

  5. Great, great article.

    Joomla.. picked for the time taken to learn I presume, being much quicker than the likes of Drupal?

    One of the best 2.0 style designs I have seen, and probably a contender to knock dan cedarhom’s famous homesite off its perch?

  6. BTW: I am with you 100% about the Business CMS web sites, since i am using joomla I see the response of my clients, they love to do their own updates and found it easy as well.

  7. Thanks for comments – Joomla Mainly because its a great solution for a website with user groups, I also have a friend who’s a Joomla backend developer 🙂 For me WP for most SME’s and Joomla for a little larger websites with multiple users or even a community. Drupal is supposed to be very good also, but I haven’t used it yet.

  8. Is getting reseller account hosting is really worth it?. I do agree that Joomla is much ok that Drupal but anyway your articles is indeed great as I can see your points there. I do believed that making simple design is much better since the main purpose of clients is to get there message across and achieve there main goals.

  9. There is some excellent information here.

    The reseller accounts here in the UK are very expensive, I use hosting in the States. Do shop around because hosting services vary.

    The CMS is great, allowing users to be in control of their site. This saves the client buying programs like dreamweaver, and if you let the clients update their site, after a project they can’t moan at you, cause it is not getting any visits.

    Making industry contacts is vital, I have a few and it does help.

    Many Thanks

  10. Of course a good piece of information for all those who are new in this field. Great effort made to put in these infos .

  11. Great article and very useful.

    What I would say following on from the CMS systems is possibly trying to build your own simple CMS rather than diving straight into complex hard to edit software like Joomla.

    Once you have mastered basic PHP combined with MySQL, building your own small system that can support WYSIWYG and uploading files is not that hard.

  12. Lot of very useful information is provided in this article. This provides a right direction to the new web designers. Now a day’s website design in UK is growing fast in the market, so there are lots of opportunities are there for new web designers in this field.

  13. Unique website design information is here. This information helps a new web designer that how to a make most attractive and search engine friendly website design structure. Most of London webdesign agencies use the same procedure.

  14. Very helpful and information for starters like me 😉 Have been reading articles from your website. You guys are really doing a great job!

  15. Some good tips. As a freelance web designer these are things I’ve learned myself over the years. Nice site by the way.

  16. I would always recommend including a CMS, however you need to make sure your clients can use it. In our experience there can be a lot of problems with using a open source CMS. I would recommend building a relationship with a developer and offering a custom built CMS that is really easy to use. It will set you apart from the pack.

  17. Thanks for the info – I think I’ve got a few dead donkeys to drop right now. On the CMS side, I use Flash exclusively, which can make CMS awkward. It is possible in a limited way, but not exactly swish.

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