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As a designer, your business is one of the most important things you have – here’s how to creatively improve it, and how Webydo can help you with that. MakeUseOf community save 15% on their Webydo professional plans with offer code ‘MakeUseOfVIP15OFF‘.

Do you have your own web design company? You probably get a lot of satisfaction from the creative aspect of your work — expressing your artistic flair and spreading your work across the Internet — but perhaps not from the tedious project management side. Running a business is very taxing; having to deal with demanding clients, meeting deadlines, executing revisions, managing your clients expectations, monitoring employees and contractors, billing and payroll, switching between various platforms for handling various tasks — it’s a lot of effort.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There are various tools available for organizing your workflow, and streamlining your business. Ultimately, the less time you spend dealing with distracting, non-essential tasks, the more you’d be able to focus your energy on designing and delivering high-quality projects, which is the whole point anyway.

All you have to do is follow these seven simple practices.

1. Centralize Your Projects

If you have a lot of clients, you’ll probably be all too familiar with the struggles of keeping your projects centralized. Without any sense of organization, you’ll soon find your projects sprawled over thousands of disparate folders on your hard drive, with client correspondence diffused throughout your inbox without any real structure. Tracking any sort of client information, their project requirements and expectations will be a pain, and in the end, so will billing.

Instead of using separate platforms to design your clients’ websites, keep track of their details, and manage billing, why not use a service that can centralize your entire operation? Webdyo does exactly that — it allows you to manage unlimited websites from a single dashboard, assign permissions to your clients and enable them to view the project’s progress at any time, and lastly, efficiently bill your clients and get paid for your creative talent. This can all be accomplished from one convenience dashboard.

Rather than be bogged down by the struggles of client administration, you should work smarter. You’re a creative, so stay creative.

2. Reduce Reliance on Outsourcing

There are only so many hours in the day. I know that, because I’m a freelancer myself. Sometimes, it can be a challenge to meet your client’s demand. Some have taken to outsourcing. Although, this comes with its own drawbacks in terms of quality and cost effectiveness. By outsourcing your work, guaranteeing a certain level of quality can be tricky. Worse, your client might notice that the delivered work was not yours to begin with. Not to mention, outsourcing takes a sizeable chunk out of your paycheck.

webydo-outsourcing

One option is to take advantage of tools that enhance and improve the development experience, making the urge to outsource much less appealing. Perhaps you’d like to make it easier to use existing web technologies such as JavaScript or CSS easier by taking advantage of a preprocessor like CoffeeScript, which transforms the complicated syntax of these languages into something vastly more understandable, readable and writable, resulting in much improved developer workflow and increased productivity.

How would that work? Well, you’d start off with a vision for your design, and start working on it using these human-friendly markup, layout and scripting languages. You’ll find you’re spending less expensive developer time and effort on the development process. Once you’re finished, you merely compile to HTML, CSS and JavaScript. This is either accomplished with various simple command-line utilities, or with a specialized program, such as Hammer for Mac. And you’re done.

Another potential option is to switch to an entirely code-free solution. After all, why should you get someone else to create your vision?

Traditionally, designers were at the bottom of the pecking order, with 70% of project budgets going towards developers.

The code-free option can save you a great amount of time and money by reducing the need to hire and coordinate with a web developer. Projects will be delivered faster and you will have greater quality control over the finished product. Outsourcing can truly be an expensive productivity killer.

3. Expand Product Offerings

As a designer, your primary offering is your design services: taking website specifications and turning it into something beautiful. But you could be doing so much more for your clients. In addition to delivering exactly what your client wants, you could also include several value-adding features to enhance their experience. Most clients expect very basic websites, and they often don’t consider what will happen to their site if traffic spikes, or if the server crashes and data is lost. Another important factor that’s often overlooked is future-proofing.

By thinking of these scenarios and relaying them to your client, you’re doing them a great service. How about taking it to the next level and offering it as part of your package? Deliver your client’s pixel-perfect website, host it for them on a blazingly fast cloud server, optimize it for search engines, and enable them to sell goods and services online. You’ll certainly increase client loyalty, and turn a one-off job into recurring payments.

4. Appeal To Everyone

There’s a big difference between a large, corporate client, and someone who just needs a website for their band, or their independent store. Most design firms cater to one category or the other. But why should that be you?

Why not appeal to all segments of the market by varying your offerings? Smaller clients with restricted budgets prefer the no-frills option. With Webydo’s drag-and-drop interface, you can easily design pre-set layouts and customizable website structures. These can be used to design smaller budget projects quickly and easily, allowing you to accept clients that you would normally pass on.

Larger, more demanding clients is where the money lies, but you’ll also have your work cut out. Managing these clients can be very time consuming, so be prepared and organized. In the end, if it works out, it’s rather rewarding.

5. Enable Your Clients

So, you’ve landed a new client. Whilst you work on your design, why not also involve them to get their feedback as you build their website? Traditionally, this has been done with countless meetings and furious minute-taking. This is time-consuming and awkward, as you have to arrange to meet at a convenient time, and rendezvous at a mutually acceptable location.

webydo-rdv-meeting

One option is to give your client access to a development server, although this comes with its own costs, can be time-consuming, and doesn’t really provide any value to the client. An alternative is to use Webydo to involve your client through each step of the creative process, being completely transparent and open to suggestions whilst restricting their access to fundamentally change your design.

You can also use Webydo as a content management system (CMS), allowing your clients to change and modify text, whilst ensuring the integrity of your work.

By enabling your clients and involving them throughout the creation process, they’ll feel as though they’ve contributed to the final design; making the entire experience more pleasurable.

Again, it’s about building relationships and repeat customers, so be sure that they’re pleased with the end result.

6. Use Cloud-Based Solutions

As a business owner, you’re almost certainly incredibly busy. It comes with the territory. I’d also bet money that you are constantly traveling from the office, to meetings, to the airport.

webydo-cloud

Sure, you may work locally on your laptop, but as with anything web-related, it’s always a good idea to have redundancy. Using a cloud-based solution is just that. Cloud services are accessible from any connected device; from your state-of-the-art smartphone to your client’s 10-year old computer.

Utilizing cloud services also benefit you in terms of operating costs. Web design software can be expensive; and if you use more than one, they quickly add up. Cloud-based solutions like Webydo, charge a low monthly or yearly fee for professional web design software and advanced hosting and are constantly updated. You’re free to focus on your web design business and on maintaining your own productivity.

7. Brand Any Aspect Of Your Business

The unfortunate thing about relying on third-party tools for your business is that they don’t carry your brand, and your image. Wouldn’t it be great if you could offer your client an awesome content management tool, whilst branding them with your logo — something the industry refers to as white labelling?

webydo-label

Unfortunately, a lot of services – like Github, BaseCamp and PayPal – don’t allow you to do this. Which is a pity, as it allows you to communicate an image of professionalism and attention to detail. But Webydo does. With their unique white-labelling offerings, you’ll be able to give your clients robust, beautiful tools to carry on utilizing their website, whilst retaining your own branding.

Practice Makes Perfect

From ensuring your branding touches every part of the design experience, to empowering your clients throughout the design process; following these strategies is a sure-fire way to improve the way your web design business operates on a daily basis.

Webydo is a community-led platform offering professional B2B website design cloud software for graphic and web designers. With Webydo designers are enable to create, manage and host innovative pixel-perfect websites for their clients with custom-tailored design and built-in CMS, without writing one line of code.

Image credits: Shutterstock, Shutterstock, Shutterstock

  1. Ryan
    October 2, 2014 at 11:36 am

    Hey Everybody,

    Thank you for checking out the article and for all the comments.

    Although it was a sponsored article, I believe Matthew brought up some great observations about the difficulties experienced by freelancers and small design agencies.

    As Jackson has mentioned, if you removed Webydo mentions, the article is still relevant and meant to provide some food for thought. Webydo was created by designers, for designers. Our community of designers have experienced these problems first hand. We are trying to address these issues and empower designers to focus on what is important for them- the creative aspect of web building creativity in their design. If you have any additional questions or comments, we look forward to reading them here or you can email us directly at community@webydo.com.

    -Ryan

  2. rajk
    September 28, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    this company probably paid so huge amount to sponsor a little on MUS, but get the link on nofollow?? mean the company will never rank well in search... Uffs.. pitty marketing.. so sad for company

    • Jackson Chung
      September 29, 2014 at 1:42 am

      Google's guideline recommend nofollowing links on sponsored content.

  3. SMMTIPS
    September 28, 2014 at 6:15 am

    Great pratices Matthew! I'm very dependent on outsourcing thesedays lol. Make me get rusty hahaha

  4. Anonymous
    September 27, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    Webydo..?

  5. Tulos
    September 25, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Firstly, it's disappointing to see such blatantly sponsored content show up on this site. Admittedly you were quite clear about it's sponsored nature, which is good, but nonetheless it brings nothing of value to your audience. It's an extremely transparent way for you guys to make some money - but at the risk of wasting your audience's time.

    Secondly, the entire article reads "this is a problem - this is how our platform fixes it". These aren't tips or good practices, they're just selling points for Webydo.

    Lastly, and perhaps most hilariously bad, is that the opening image in the article is a stock photograph of a laptop screen, yet the "content" you've filled the screen-space with isn't even perspective skewed to match the perspective of the screen itself. You've placed a straight-on non angled picture of a website on a screen that's at an angle! How bad is that? And yet you're targeting web & graphic designers?

    The longer I look at it, the more hilarious it is that you guys thought it was okay to publish with that heading image.

    • catpele
      September 26, 2014 at 1:21 pm

      Spot on, Tulos.

    • Matthew H
      September 26, 2014 at 2:15 pm

      Hey Tulos!

      Thanks for your feedback. Like many sites, we often run sponsored pieces. These are an essential part of making ends meet, but we do make an effort to be upfront with our readers.

      Your thoughts on the piece and the featured image have been noted, and we'll keep them in mind in the future.

      Thanks for taking the time to write to us,
      Matt Hughes

    • Jackson Chung
      September 29, 2014 at 1:41 am

      Hi Tulos,

      We make it a point to be as transparent as possible when it comes to sponsored content. Secondly, we don't accept third-party articles -- that's to say that even though an article is sponsored, the author writes and stands behind the content, and the site stands behind him. Now if you were to remove every instance of the sponsor from the article, his advice still makes sense.

      The header image was approved by the sponsor. I definitely felt the need to swap it, and I voiced my concerns, but overall, they made the final call.

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