Top 10 Mistakes Web Designers Make
All around the world, thousands of new websites are created every day; by hobbyists, business owners and professional website designers. It is the professionals who are experts at knowing the elements of a great website and how to meet the needs of their clients. However, there are challenges that the designer faces that have nothing to do with the functionality or esthetics of the website. These challenges include knowing that the website has to be created to solve the needs of the client in matters of practicality, function and usability (as well as how the site looks), and incorporating these elements into the project seamlessly.
Equally important issues include maintaining clear communication with the client as it relates to your services, payment terms, expected deadlines and other contractual matters. Many web designers and clients have had unsuccessful business relations primarily due to miscommunication or ineffective strategy. The key to success is to keep in mind that contracting with a client on a project can be thought of as sort of a promise (from you) to professionally deliver their content, usually in a certain amount of time, in exchange for payment.
A great web designer will also see this scenario from the client’s perspective, which is that they (the clients) perceive that the professional designer promises to increase their visitors, sales and leads. In the average client’s mind you are the miracle worker; all you have to do is create their website and “Viola!” their business is an overnight sensation. While you do wish them all the success they can handle, as a professional web designer you also know how important marketing and other matters are to the business website.
For these and other reasons, it is imperative that the web designer avoid common mistakes that can result in unsatisfied customers or the potential for loss of business via the angry words of a disgruntled client to potential customers. Here are the top 10 mistakes web designers make when negotiating with clients.
1) Scope Creep
Allowing the client to alter the deliverables after a price has been agreed upon. Make it clear from the beginning the exact scope of services for which the client is paying; any additional services will result in an increase in costs.
2) Always Saying Yes
If you’re accepting every project that comes your way – just because they have money and are willing to give it to you – you’re doing yourself a disservice. When you do accept a project, make sure you are not overwhelmed with other work; this ensures you are able to deliver quality work in a timely manner – a sure way to increase your client base from referrals.
3) Too Low Pricing
Charging too little is not only a disservice to you, it is a disservice to your clients as well. By charging too little you are conditioning your clients to expect low prices…in the end this hurts both of you. Additionally, extremely low prices can send the incorrect message that you are inexperienced, or even worse, your work is sub par.
4) No Contract
Sure, they’re nice, “honest,” people! But so were Bonnie & Clyde. Sign a contract – for you, for them. TIP: don’t call it a contract as it has a slight negative connotation – use Our Terms of Remarkable Service, or similar. Whatever title you use, just make sure it is written in easy to understand language while spelling out the terms clearly.
5) No TLD
Without a Target Launch Date you’re project may end up in web design purgatory. Have your client sign and commit to help you launch the site by a specified date. This is another issue that protects both you and the client as well as avoids confusion and misunderstanding between the two parties.
6) No Warranty
You must provide a warranty with each website you build. This makes you more reputable, gives the client peace of mind, and sets clear expectations so your client knows exactly what and when you will charge them for changes. It also provides you with more incentive to do the job as close to specification the first time, saving you time and money.
7) Not Asking for Referrals
If you’re not confident enough in your skills and customer service to ask for referrals at the end of each project – you’re in the wrong business. At the end of each project ask: “Who do you know that could also benefit from my service?” Remember, from small companies to Fortune 500 enterprises, word of mouth provides the greatest source of repeat business and revenue.
8) Getting Trapped
The Artisan Traps kills more web design businesses than anything. Take an honest assessment to determine if you are operating and/or working in your business in a cycle that is limiting its growth. Identify how and where you fall into the trap, and then build your own fulfillment model.
9) Chasing Magic Bullets
There’s always the latest and greatest thing that could catapult your business to success – don’t fall for them. It’s the small, unglamorous, things that ultimately lead to success – especially when these tasks are performed consistently and with the highest quality possible each and every time.
10) Confusing the Means, End, and Byproduct
Get a clear understand of your client’s goals (the End). Be clear about the Means required to get there. Don’t get wrapped up in the Byproduct. All too often web designers get so caught up in building their portfolio and trying to win a design award (both byproducts) they completely lose site of the END. When it comes to superb web design, the project begins with the End, and it is the focus until the project is complete.
Hopefully, this information has been helpful to you in your own web design business. The good news here is that you are able to learn from the mistakes of other web designers to avoid some of the problems they dealt with in running their business. As you noticed as you read this article, there are a few recurring themes that will help your client interaction to run more smoothly. For instance, in all transactions make sure you and the client are communicating clearly, openly and honestly. Although some issues may be a bit uncomfortable to discuss (like money), laying the cards on the table in writing will avoid problems and result in both you and your client building a business relationship of respect and trust. With these two as a foundation, any misunderstandings or other issues can be cleared up and the project can move forward satisfactorily.
As a professional web designer, you are well aware that elements of your work are subject to the personal taste of your client, so you are well prepared to listen to the opinion of your design from clients without taking it personally. However, never lose sight that you are being paid for your skills and experience to design their website to communicate the client’s brand based on your professional expertise. As such, have the confidence that you can and will deliver an excellent, well designed and functional website to each and every client who seeks your services.
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