It seems like eons ago that web design started to revolutionize the way we consume content on the internet. Back then, we had to make do with websites that contained nothing more than text. Now, sites won’t get a second glance if they don’t have eye-catching visuals.
Web design has evolved significantly in its three decades of existence. Over that period, web designers have picked up a lesson or two that will remain applicable to web designers today and to many more generations of web designers to come. If you’re designing websites for a living, here are my top web design lessons that you may find useful:
1. Learn to adapt.
The evolution of web design is a continuing process. If you want to make something of yourself in the industry, learn to adapt to any changes that might come along in web design.
The rise of mobile, for example, has compelled web designers to learn how to make websites that will display well on smartphones and tablets. With more and more businesses wanting mobile websites, having the competence to create one means good things for your web design business or career.
2. Don’t blindly follow web design trends.
Some web design trends — like video content, for example — are likely to stick around for a long time. Most of them, however, are just that — trends, which tend to go as quickly as they come.
You don’t have to ignore web design trends altogether, though, because some will be great. Just be updated on the latest trends, pick a few that you think would work and use them. If they don’t work, consider it a learning experience and move on.
3. Don’t be a ‘yes man’ to clients.
It’s true that you are designing a website that is being paid for by a client, but you’re not doing your client a favor by following every single thing he or she asks for on the website. Remember, you were hired because you’re the expert.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to disregard everything they suggest. In fact, take their opinions to heart. It’s their website you’re working on, after all. However, you’re the one who has to decide if what your clients are suggesting will work.
If you think otherwise, then have the honesty and confidence to tell your clients what you have in mind. Remember, you can consider their ideas, but the extent to which you incorporate them in your final work depends on you.
4. Have the courage to say ‘no.’
If you own a bigger-than-usual web design company with teams at your beck and call, then take on as many clients as you want. However, if you’re a one-person team, don’t be afraid to turn down clients you can’t fit into your schedule.
You should also have the courage to say no to clients whom you perceive or believe to have the makings of a bad client, such as micromanagers or unethical entrepreneurs.
5. Ensure your rates reflect how good you are.
If you’ve been doing web design for a long time, then it’s probably safe to say that you’ve become very good at it. So don’t shortchange yourself by charging bargain-basement rates. Charge what you believe is a fair price, and never negotiate. If prospective clients are having second thoughts because of the cost, tell them what you can do to provide them a website that will match their budget.
6. Update your portfolio.
Keep your portfolios updated so that when prospective clients come calling out of the blue, you can send your portfolio out without delay.
7. Be more than just a web designer.
Most web designers have the technical ability, so what can you offer that will make you stand out? Providing value-added service is an advantage in just about any field. Instead of being just a technically proficient web designer, show that you’re also adept at project management, communication, problem-solving and more that could lead to positive results.
You are bound to pick up more valuable web design lessons over the years. The ones listed above are a good place to start.