Being a freelance web designer is an interesting job, and there are many people who learn and experiment with it as a hobby too. As a skill, it will be relevant as long as the World Wide Web exists. Though there are courses taught in web design, many of the required skills can be self-taught successfully. Since this is a continuously changing field where updates and preferences change really fast, there are many different methods to approach this career when working on a freelance basis.
Improve your Skills and Experience
It is important to work on acquiring these skills and then to practice continuously, keeping on top of the latest developments and tech. Having a portfolio to firstly bring in work, but secondly use to develop your skills and show off your portfolio of work is also crucial.
Develop and Enhance Skills
Since the field of web design is constantly swamped with new developments, it is essential to keep yourself immersed in the community and pick up new developments in order to be competitive. Being able to integrate new ideas with your specialisation can also be enjoyable and exhilarating.
Communication and Marketing
An eye for aesthetics and a gut instinct of what a clients requirements need to convey must be developed in order to succeed in this field, especially when working on a freelance basis. Not only is it necessary to provide excellent work, but it is also important to be able to inform the clients why your work is perfect for their needs and business model. Since most clients would not have much specialised knowledge, you must acquire the communication skills to be able to discuss their requirements with them in simple terms and educated them on why ‘what they want’ is not always the correct commercial option.
Organisation is very important if you plan to work from home. It is easy to get distracted and start watching a movie instead of working on your project. To avoid this, it is a good idea to create a work calendar and schedule all projects or use a project management tool such as BaseCamp or Podio. Try to keep to the schedule every day, and your projects should be launched or delivered on time, giving you more time for developing more projects, expanding your brand or developing your skills sets. Either way it should make you more profitable as a business or sole trader.
Another thing that would be helpful is planning the entire website before starting work using wireframes for the layout and detailing the sites features and functionality. While last minute changes and adjustments might be needed when the client changes their mind (this happens alot), this issue should be reduced before undertaking visual work or development if you design in browser. This will save time, money, effort and helps you stick to original budgets.
Web design requires a plethora of various different skills, and sometimes one person may not be adept to deliver all aspects of a project’s requirements for clients. Various aspects of brand and design may need to be built up first, so collaborating with a talented graphic design would be a major asset. Also the back end development required may be beyond your knowledge base or even in a language that you have no experience, so working with developers on projects is key to sealing a wider base of clients.
The idea of collaborating is not always received in the industry, but as a successful freelancer its key to have as many ‘high quality’ contacts in industry that you can call on to collaborate with to firstly allow you to seal more and larger contracts, then secondly to be able to market and offer a wider selection of services, again resulting in more contracts. This also allows you to gain more experience and develop yourself and in return collaborators may bring you work in return.
Mathew Porter has over 8 years industry experience and has worked for a variety of Agencies and Retailers in House, developing a wide skill set and knowledge base of various online technologies and disciplines.