Web design has indeed come a long way. From producing text-only websites at the beginning of the World Wide Web in the early 90s, web design has undergone (and is still undergoing) an evolution where just about everything—from jaw-dropping graphics to live video—can be incorporated into a website with ease.
Today, the world of web design solutions is more exciting and vibrant than ever, and it’s only bound to get more demanding and competitive as more and more people join the industry.
Over the years, web designers have found themselves in all sorts of situations—creative and otherwise—that have provided them valuable lessons that they now use as a guide as they continue to traverse the career path they have chosen for themselves. Here are seven valuable web design lessons that veteran and newbie web designers alike might find useful.
1. Be adaptive.
As mentioned above, web design is constantly evolving, and web designers must be capable of adapting to those changes if they want to survive in the industry.
One example of a significant change that web designers have no choice but to adapt to is the rise of mobile technology. Before the advent of smartphones and tablets, web designers only had to worry about designing for desktop. Now, with mobile users outnumbering desktop users, web designers are compelled to create mobile versions of existing websites or at least make them responsive.
If you’re a web designer and you don’t know how to create or care about mobile-friendly websites, you will be missing out on countless clients who will want to get a share of that ever-growing mobile pie.
2. Don’t blindly accept everything the client wants.
While it is important to always consider what clients want for their website, always keep in mind that you were hired because you’re supposed to be the expert, so act like one! Clients may have expectations or preconceived notions about the website they want, but more often than not, they are not the best design solution available. You’re the one who actually knows something about web design, so don’t just blindly accept them.
Instead of showing clients options, letting them decide, or worse, engaging them in a debate about which creative direction to take, take charge of the whole thing and present them your solution with utmost confidence. Listen to what clients have to say with humility, but in the end, you’ll be the one implementing the solution, and the degree to which you will incorporate their opinions to your web design, if at all, should be entirely up to you.
3. Offer more than just technical ability.
So your technical ability is topnotch, but the same goes for countless other web designers. So what can you offer that will make them hire you over your competitors who are just as technically proficient? Add more value to your services, and you’ll become a more valuable web designer to clients.
Being great with the technical aspects of web design is essential, but when you’re just as great at things like problem-solving, communication, process, project management, or anything that can provide positive results for your clients, you are offering a value add that they will undoubtedly appreciate.
4. Don’t be a slave to web design trends.
Remember the time when so many websites used stock photos for every single page? That trend has long since passed, and rightly so. They look unoriginal, and in many cases, cringe-inducing.
If you latched on to that trend when it started becoming popular and peppered your web design work with them, how do you think those sites are doing right now when people almost always bounce off once they see a photo of impeccably-dressed people with impossibly perfect teeth pretending to be in a corporate meeting or something?
Trends, as has been said countless times before, come and go. It’s up to you if you want to go with them, but always keep in mind that they could already be obsolete by the time you get the hang of a particular trend.
5. Know and assert your worth.
Many web designers, particularly freelancers, fear to raise their rates despite being very good at what they do because clients might shy away and find someone cheaper.
The longer you’ve been working in web design, the more efficient you presumably become with your work. So if you’re still charging the same rates from a year ago, then you’re earning less compared to the previous year. You’re doing the same work at a faster pace, but you’re receiving the same amount, without taking the value of your efficiency into consideration.
If you know you’re good, then let your rates reflect that. And as much as possible, don’t negotiate price. If clients say they can’t afford your rate, then talk about making the project less complex (and decreasing your labor in the process) to justify the lower price.
6. Update your portfolio.
It should be a given for creatives to always keep their portfolios up to date, but unfortunately, many of them tend to forget or even neglect to do it. Creatives—web designers included—should always have an updated portfolio that they can email at a moment’s notice. You don’t want to rely on a portfolio that you have to hastily update because a client suddenly walked through the door and asked to see work samples. Always be ready for new clients, and an updated portfolio helps you put your best foot forward at any time.
7. Learn to say “no.”
As much as we want to engage every single prospective client, it is simply impossible to do so, especially when you’re just a one-person operation. Then there are clients who are micromanagers, who are very hard to reach, don’t respect your time, or are simply bad clients. There are also people who ask you to do websites to serve agendas that are not in line with your morals or ethics.
Learn to say no to such clients, and you’ll be better off for it.
These are just some of the many lessons a web designer can pick along the way. Without a doubt, you will pick up some of your own as you go along your web design journey. Just don’t forget to share what you learn with others.