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Can Web Designers Save the World?

I know this might seem like an odd question to ask. After all, it’s not like we’re living in a villain-filled Gotham City in need of saving.

When it comes to asking the question, “Can web designers save the world?”, I look at it like this:

Superheroes don’t exist in real life, so there’s no way that one single person on this planet is going to “save” the world — web designer or otherwise. But heroes that fight small battles that add up to larger wins for humanity? They certainly do exist and web designers collectively have the ability to help shape and save the world this way.

 

How Can Web Designers Save the World?

We see it all the time from those around us: People who donate blood regularly; Volunteers who rebuild homes and cities after natural disasters; Households that practice sustainability through recycling and composting.

These might seem like small acts of kindness on an individual level, but when you put everyone’s efforts together, there’s a lot of good being done for the world.

Web designers can make contributions of their own, too.

1. Work for Clients Doing Good

I know it can be hard to be picky about who you work with. But when you reach a point in your design career where your revenue stream is stable and you feel confident saying “no” to clients that aren’t a good fit, you may want to factor this in.

In other words, rather than say “yes” because a client can afford your rates, build websites for businesses that:

  • Have sustainable initiatives;
  • Lend support to their local communities;
  • Take really good care of their employees;
  • Build products that make the world a better place;
  • And so on…

By building websites for companies like these, you’ll empower them to spread their positive messages and missions far and wide.

2. Design Accessible Websites

It’s not just the World Wide Web Consortium that promotes a “web for all”. Accessibility is an innate human right that governments are now taking action to protect as well.

As a web designer, you have a crucial role to play in this. If you aren’t yet in the habit of making your websites accessible, today is as good a time as any to start.

Keep in mind that it’s not just about making a website easy for impaired visitors to navigate or see. Accessibility means making it so that everyone can access a website equally. For instance, building a progressive web app would allow a business to get its website into the hands of people in developing parts of the world that might not always have fast or reliable Internet access.

So, don’t forget to think outside the box for accessible solutions.

3. Practice Ethical Web Design

The Internet has done a lot of good for this world, but as we grow more permanently connected to it and our devices, users have begun to experience a slew of negative side effects.

While you don’t want to keep people from the web or the companies and services they need, you can make better choices about how you design online experiences for them. Namely, you can use ethical design features and techniques to encourage healthier online habits.

Many apps, for example, now come with daily time reminders.

Although this solution wouldn’t work for a website, you could try to accomplish something similar by reducing the number of push notifications or emails sent from your site. You use these elements to promote re-engagement with your website, so by reducing how many or how frequently they go out, you can keep users from aggravating their addiction to the web or their smartphones.

4. Use Eco-Friendly Design Tactics

If you want to help save the physical planet we’re on, utilizing eco-friendly or sustainable design practices would be a good idea. You may be using many of them already without actually knowing it.

For instance, many leading web hosting providers are investing in renewable energy to power their infrastructure and, consequently, their customers’ websites. It’s a simple thing — switching to a “green” web hosting plan — but it can have a significant impact on the planet as more and more companies head in that direction.

Certain choices you make for the websites you build can help the planet as well. For example, by creating more efficient user pathways, people won’t spend as much time on your website and, hopefully, online. Even things like minimal design, image optimization, and caching can help as your server doesn’t have to waste so much energy trying to serve it to visitors.

5. Lend Your Skills During Global Crises

As I was looking over recent research and reports for web designers, I discovered an article from Dr. Stephanie Evergreen on Fast Company. It suggested that web designers had an important part to play during global crises, like the Coronavirus pandemic.

As a data visualization specialist, she knows how much easier it is for consumers to understand data and directives when it’s designed visually. And we’re not just talking about laying out statistics in a table. She cites various examples of creative graphics that spell out difficult-to-understand concepts.

This graphic on the Australian Government Department of Health homepage, for instance, is a good example of that in action:

Australian Health Department - Coronavirus Graphic

The graphic on the left could’ve just been a boring text banner (like the one on the right) or, worse, a cheesy stock image of people coughing. Instead, the designer made a great choice by creatively depicting and labeling the most common symptoms of the virus.

Whether you’re tasked with designing something like this to help in a crisis, or you normally work with medical or scientific organizations, your ability to translate quantifiable data into beautiful graphics can make a world of difference.

 

Wrap-Up

Will you, as one web designer, be able to save the world? Eh, probably not. But your contribution made alongside other web designers definitely will.

Just remember that saving the world isn’t always about cleaning up the planet or locking away criminals. The people that you choose to work with, the design techniques you use, and the kinds of websites you put out into the world can have an impact, too.

 

Featured image via Unsplash.



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Top web browsers 2020: Firefox sheds share, falls behind Edge

Firefox last month continued a march toward ruin, falling twice its average loss over the past year and losing its place as the world’s second-most-used browser.

According to data posted today by analytics company Net Applications, Firefox’s share in March slumped to 7.2%, down four-tenths of a percentage point. It was the fifth month in the last six in which the browser shed users – and much more importantly – a record low since Firefox climbed out of obscurity to threaten Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) 15 years ago.

This record was the second in a row for Firefox, after February’s debut below the 2016 slump that previously marked the browser’s trough. Two do not a dataset make, but if a legitimate trend develops with, say, another month or two of declines, Mozilla will be, to say the least, in deep trouble.

Notably, Firefox’s fall meant it ceded second place to Microsoft’s Edge. Although Mozilla’s browser had handed second place to Chrome in March 2014 as the latter climbed ahead in the race against the still-dominant IE, Firefox resumed the silver spot in December 2018 when Microsoft’s browser lost it for good.

Computerworld again has had to adjust its forecast based on the latest losses. A month ago, that prediction – based on Firefox’s 12-month average – signaled the browser would fall under 7% in June; now, that mark should be reached in the first few days of May. By year’s end, Firefox’s share could be as low as 5.6%.

Now No. 2, Edge

Microsoft’s browsers – IE and Edge – lost three-tenths of a percentage point in March to end at 13.5%.

But as has been the case recently, the Redmond, Wash. company’s two browsers forged different paths, with Edge rising and IE falling. IE shed half a percentage point last month, plunging to 5.9%, while Edge added two-tenths of a point, climbing to 7.6%, another record high for the five-year-old browser.

Edge’s increase was the fourth consecutive, matching the longest stretch yet of that browser’s gains. In the last two months, Edge has added nearly six-tenths of a percentage point to its total, which represented a growth rate of 8%.

That two-month span was not randomly selected; February and March were the first two complete months after Microsoft released a stable, polished version of the revamped Edge – built atop Chromium code, the same that powers Chrome – on Jan. 15.

Yet the cause of that increase remains unknown. It may be that Microsoft’s decision to clone Chrome is behind the increase, but it is far from certain. More data is needed.

There was a positive-for-Microsoft signal, however. March’s percentage of Windows 10 PCs running Edge – assuming that Edge on Windows 7 and macOS has added little to the total – was 13.2%, tying the record previously set by the browser several times since its introduction. The growth on Windows 10 may be from the beginnings of Microsoft’s automatic swap of old-Edge for new-Edge, even though the firm promised it would not make the latter the default on systems where it wasn’t already set so.

IE’s downturn, meanwhile, was also a positive for anyone rooting for Windows. The browser – in this case IE11, last of its kind – is on what appears to be its deathbed, now under 6% and by all rights should slide under 5% by the end of July. Getting rid of IE – along with its ancient technologies and security vulnerabilities – will be a win for everyone, even if that means shifting legacy labors from that browser to the IE mode inside Edge.

Chrome jumps, again

Chrome leaped 1.2 percentage points last month – the most since September – to reach 68.5%, the highest mark since July, when the browser peaked at a tenth of a point higher.

The increase improved Chrome’s 12-month forecast, putting the browser on a slow river of growth: The prediction now pegs Chrome at around 69% by the end of this year. Computerworld wouldn’t be surprised if that didn’t pan out, however, as the two times Chrome crested 68%, both because of 1.2-point or larger increases, it immediately slumped, albeit not by as much, the month following.

Elsewhere, Apple’s Safari slipped three-tenths of a point to 3.6%, and Opera Software’s Opera remained flat at 1.1%. Safari’s impressive growth of last year, estimates that were flawed because Net Applications counted iPads running iPadOS 13 as macOS devices, was erased from the record when the metrics vendor revised several months of data. By March, Safari had settled into a dead tie with its year-ago number. All the fuss, then, had been for naught.

Net Applications calculates share by detecting the agent strings of the browsers used to reach the websites of Net Applications’ clients. The firm counts visitor sessions to measure browser activity.

Have work-at-home, stay-at-home orders impacted the browser shares?

To answer that question: Who knows at the moment? But the general drift of the browser shares does hint at an affirmative.

The downturn in Firefox’s fate, for example, makes sense, as it’s the least likely of the top three – Chrome, Edge and Firefox – to be favored by IT. Sent home to work with company devices or told after that to download the preferred browser to their personal PCs to, say, access corporate assets, Firefox may have been replaced in many instances, if only temporarily, by Chrome or Edge.

Meanwhile, Chrome, and to a lesser extent Edge, might have received usage boosts based on the same conceit, that commercially-approved browsers – and both those would certainly apply – would benefit from a mass work-at-home order as has happened in large swaths of the U.S. and elsewhere.

An April of continued gains by Chrome and Edge – and a concurrent loss by Firefox – might confirm the theory, since few companies, at least in the U.S. asked employees to work at home all that month. (Microsoft and Google, for example, ordered theirs home in the first week of March.)

If the COVID-19 pandemic did spark a browser usage shift, will that become permanent? Too soon to know.



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12 Best Web Design Podcasts for 2020

If you’re self-isolating thanks to Covid-19, or simply a fulltime remote worker, keeping in touch with the industry can be tricky; There aren’t any water-coolers to gather around, and your cat is less knowledgeable about CSS than she likes to pretend.

One of the best solutions is web design podcasts. They’re a great way to grow your skills and ideas, while enjoying a fun, informal chat. Web design podcasts are entertaining, insightful, and easy to consume, even when you don’t have a great deal of time or focus to give. 

We’ve put together this list of some of the top contenders to inspire you, no matter how long you’re working from home. 

 

1. Resourceful Designer

Resourceful Designer is both a graphic design podcast and a blog, so you can choose to access content in the way that’s most suitable for you. Both tools are designed and managed by designer Mark Des Cotes, who provides endless access to useful tips and resources for professionals. 

Intended for passionate designers who want to turn their talents into a paying career, the resourceful designer podcast will help you to grow. It shows you how to deal with deadlines, manage your home office, and find new clients. There are hundreds of episodes to explore, and you can listen in whenever and however you like.

resourcefuldesigner

 

2. Syntax

Syntax is a slightly more specific web design podcast, created for people who want to learn a bit more about web development based on CSS and JavaScript. The podcast, hosted by Scott Tolinski and Wes Bos, provides guidance from dedicated developers and full-stack designers. 

If you want to go beyond the basics of web design and explore what’s possible with things like code and frameworks, then Syntax is the solution for you. Both hosts for this site have endless experience with running online courses, and they’re great at breaking down the complicated parts of complex topics, so they’re easier to consume.

syntax

 

3. Motion and Meaning

Another of the best web design podcasts on the market for 2020 is Motion and Meaning. This unique podcast explores the importance of movement and dynamic design in user experience. If you want to play around with more immersive experiences on your websites, but you don’t know how to get started, then you should definitely listen in. 

Hosts Val Head and Cennydd Bowles will guide you through digital design concepts like progressive enhancement, web animation tools, and UX choreography. This is a great podcast for anyone who wants to take their design skills to the next level. 

motionandmeaning

 

4. Developer Tea

Developer Tea isn’t exactly the most long-form podcast on the market right now, but it’s a great option for designers and developers who want to top up their knowledge as part of their afternoon coffee break. The regular selection of new podcasts will give you insights into things like how to make your work more satisfying, or what you can do to speed up production.

The host, Jonathan Cutrell, is fantastic at delivering thought-provoking ideas, state-of-the-art resources, and tips into a range of topics, from career development, to coding, mindset, habits, and problem-solving too. 

developertea

 

5. User Defenders

As user experience continues to stand out as one of the most critical considerations for business leaders today, podcasts that focus on UX are going to be great for 2020. One of the most popular options for this year is User Defenders, a podcast that covers everything you need to know about user experience and its role in digital design.

The host, Jason Ogle chats with amazing UX designers from around the world, each one offering a unique insight into how other professionals can connect with end-users through design. This is a great web design podcast for people who want to learn about all things web development while gaining insights from other professionals. 

userdefenders

 

6. Front End Happy Hour

While many of the leading web design podcasts are quite professional and formal, there are a handful that combine professional insights with fun. If you like the idea of discussing web design over a glass of wine, the Front End Happy Hour could be the perfect podcast for you. 

Published on a weekly basis, this podcast not only discusses important topics, but also welcomes experts from organizations like LinkedIn, Evernote, Netflix, and many others. It’s a great way to discover how the minds behind some of the world’s biggest websites tick. Additionally, the topics are broken down into a useful and easy-to-consume format. 

frontendhappyhour

 

7. Design Life

Being a successful designer is often about keeping up with the latest trends, from the color of the year to new UX strategies. However, when you’re staying up to date, it’s also nice to connect with experts that you can relate to.

Unfortunately for women in the web design world, there aren’t as many inspiring podcasts hosted by women. That’s why Femke van Schoonhoven and Charli Prangley created Design Life. This podcast discusses the ins and outs of being a woman working in tech. There are also insights into the latest industry news, landing clients, and how to create a portfolio. 

designlife

 

8. JavaScript Jabber

If JavaScript isn’t something that you enjoy working with, then this isn’t likely to be the best web design podcast for you. However, since about 94.9% of websites use JavaScript, there’s a pretty good chance that you might want to know more about this language. The JavaScript Jabber podcast concentrates on keeping experts up to date on the world of ECMAScript.

Every episode features a new crucial topic and a selection of amazing guests too. You’ll learn about everything from JS communities to building your career. However, you are expected to have a basic knowledge of the language when you tune in. 

javascriptjabber

 

9. Code Newbie

From a podcast designed for growing professionals, to one that’s all about supporting beginners in the design world. Code Newbie is a podcast that covers unique stories from people who are pursuing their dreams of full-time design and development jobs. Designed for those who need both inspiration and guidance, the website covers a range of different topics. 

With this podcast, you’ll discover interviews from front-end developers, programmers, and a bunch of other people who have discovered how to be successful in the world of code. Additionally, the podcast approaches each topic in an easy-to-follow manner, so it’s great for newbies. 

codenewbie

 

10. Adventures in Design 

Another excellent web design podcast for those who need a good combination of information and inspiration is Adventures in Design. This podcast, hosted by Mark Brickey, takes the format of a daily talk show for people who want to learn about all aspects of design. The podcast conducts interviews with creatives and well-known designers, as well as offering tons of information for professionals and freelancers. 

This particular option has a unique structure, however. You need to pay a monthly or yearly subscription fee to listen in. While most podcasts are free, the AID network can offer something incredibly useful and exciting, if you’re willing to shell out some cash. 

aidnetwork

 

11. Design Details

All great designers know that the smallest details can transform user experience instantly. That’s why it’s essential to get deep into the different components of every design. With the Design Details podcast, you’ll have an opportunity to learn more about the small changes that can make a big difference to your development efforts.

The hosts, Brian Lovin and Bryn Jackson, interview some of the world’s most brilliant developers, including those behind apps like Google Search, Stripe, and even the social site, Instagram. Despite some high-profile guests, the show is fun, insightful, and informal – great for those who don’t want anything too deep. 

designdetails

 

12. Responsive Web Design 

Last but not least, we have an oldie-but-goodie. The Responsive Web Design podcast is hosted by Ethan Marcotte and Karen McGrane. The hosts focus on interviews with leaders in the responsive design world and discuss strategies for implementing various designs into websites. The interviews touch on a number of incredible industries and deliver exciting perspectives into design. 

Previous guests on this podcast include people from companies like Expedia, Microsoft, and even the Guardian newspaper. The Responsive Web Design podcast has received critical acclaim over the years. Although there hasn’t been a new episode for a while, it’s well worth going back through the 157 episodes for some incredible tips.

rwd



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The Latest Research for Web Designers, March 2020

While it’s important to know about the latest research and surveys impacting web design, I think it’s just as important to stay informed about news that may affect your work as a designer.

As such, this roundup of the latest research for web designers includes a mix of reports along with some news and facts about something that people are talking about all around the world: the coronavirus.

 

A Better Lemonade Stand Analyzes the Best Remote Working Locations

With the help of Nomad List, A Better Lemonade Stand has aggregated a list of the 20 best places to work remotely.

While finding a place to live can be a very subjective matter (for instance, some people prefer colder locales or warm ones), this list takes into account factors that can have a serious impact on the work of a freelancer. For example, this is why Auckland, New Zealand ended up taking the #1 spot for remote work:

Latest Research for Web Designers - Nomad List ranking for Auckland New Zealand

The other cities to round out the top 10 are:

  • Bengaluru, India
  • Budapest, Hungary
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Dubrovnik, Croatia
  • Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
  • Krakow, Poland
  • Lisbon, Portugal

I’d argue that it’s high scores on factors like the following that make them the best spots to work remotely from:

  • Cost
  • Internet speed
  • Free wifi in the city
  • Places to work from
  • Walkability
  • Happiness score
  • Quality of life

If you’ve been considering a move and you want it to not only be a place you love but that’s good for your business, one of these nomad-friendly spots might fit the bill.

 

Hubspot Gives Us a Comprehensive Look at the State of Marketing

As always, there’s almost too much information to digest in Hubspot’s annual State of Marketing report. But that’s not going to stop me from highlighting the points you can use to bring more money into your business:

Website Upgrades Needed

According to the survey, 63% of respondents are looking to upgrade their websites in 2020. If you have experience in and enjoy doing website redesigns, hop on this opportunity as soon as you can.

Maintenance Pros Wanted

Sometimes it’s not the design that needs to be tweaked. Rather your clients would benefit from a technical tune-up along with ongoing maintenance.

When asked which tactics have been the most beneficial for improving a website’s performance and search ranking, here’s what respondents had to say:

Hubspot State of Marketing - Website Fixes

You could easily create a recurring revenue stream around these maintenance tasks.

Visual-Heavy Content Marketing is a Must

Marketers use a wide variety of content in their marketing strategies:

Hubspot State of Marketing - Content Types

If you’re in the business of building websites, you should also be helping your clients create graphics for the media above. For instance, you could provide ongoing design services for:

  • Blog (and promotional social media) graphics
  • Videos or just video cover images
  • Infographics
  • Templates for case studies, ebooks, and white papers

Just because your job is primarily to build high-converting websites for clients doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be looking for other ways to serve them.

 

The Coronavirus’s Impact on Freelancers

With so much news about the coronavirus out there, it’s hard to know what to focus your attention. If you’re a freelancer, then these are the statistics and research you should focus on:

Conferences Around the World Are Being Cancelled

Business Insider and the LA Times rounded up lists of conferences that have been cancelled, rescheduled, or restructured because of the coronavirus:

  • Adobe Summit (it’ll be online instead)
  • Facebook’s F8
  • Facebook’s Global Marketing Summit
  • EmTech Asia
  • Shopify Developer Conference
  • Google I/O
  • Google Cloud Next ‘20 (rescheduled as an online event)

And for those of you who work with WordPress, WordCamp Asia was cancelled.

WordCamp Asia Cancelled - Coronavirus

Considering how expensive and time-consuming professional design conferences can be to attend, these cancellations might not be as big of a disappointment to the freelance community. In fact, it might bring a change to the professional conference landscape, with more of them hosted virtually so that it becomes cheaper, more practical, and now safer to attend.

Some Freelance Gigs Are Drying Up

In particular, it’s Singapore’s population of freelancers that are feeling the effects of the coronavirus, according to a report from Vice.

It makes sense. As businesses close down their offices or their operations altogether, the contract workforce who works behind the scenes for them is going to be impacted as well. This is especially problematic for those who build ecommerce and retail websites. With many products manufactured in China (31.3% of all apparel and 37.6% of textiles are manufactured there, for instance), inventories are waning and many retailers are having to wait out the virus to resume operations. 

The Singapore government recently announced plans for its 2020 budget, which included contributing SG$800 million towards curbing the effects of the virus on the country. Additional support is to be given to industries the most severely affected by it as well.

While the country’s budget doesn’t account for freelancers (as I’m sure will be the case in other countries), the freelance community itself is stepping up.

Nicholas Chee, who runs a video production company in Singapore, started a Facebook group for freelancers who’ve been dealing with lost gigs as a result of the coronavirus. It’s called SG COVID-19 Creative/Cultural Professionals & Freelancers Support Group and is giving the freelance community a way to support each other through this crisis.

Web Designers May Be Able To Help Stop The Spread of Coronavirus

It’s not just Facebook groups that are going to help freelancers get through the coronavirus crisis in one piece. According to Dr. Stephanie Evergreen, web designers might actually be able to help slow down or stop the spread of the virus itself.

In an article she wrote for Fast Company, Dr. Evergreen, a data visualization specialist, demonstrates how more eye-catching graphics can better educate the public on what’s going on and what they can do.

For instance, she shares this graphic from the World Health Organization:

World Health Organization - MERS Cases Charts

While it more effectively lays out this data than a wall of text would, it’s not going to do much to capture anyone’s attention.

It’s more important than ever for public health agencies to use data visualization to communicate with the masses, as the public is bombarded with more information each day and in need of a way for the most pressing issues to cut through the noise.

Quantifiable data, instead, should be presented like this graphic from the Florida Department of Health

Florida Department of Health - Influenza Activity map and data

It does both a good job of capturing attention and informing the public of what’s going on.

Bottom line: if your website is tasked with communicating critical data to the public, see if there’s a way you can lend your design skills to it. While a writer can clearly communicate what’s going on, graphics are more likely to grab and hold their attention.

 

Wrap-Up

While annual “State of” reports always tend to wind down around February/March, we still have a wealth of data coming in that not only affects your design strategy but your business strategy too.

Keep your eyes peeled for the next edition of the latest research for web designers as we’re sure to see the first quarterly reports come out for design, marketing, SEO, and more.



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5 Non-design Skills Web Designers Need

Being a great designer isn’t the only skill you need to grow your career over the next decade. Here, we take a look at the top five skills you need to cultivate to be successful in the 2020s.

Whenever a company posts a job opening for a web design employee or freelancer, they typically include a set of hard and soft skills they’re looking for.

Hard skills are design skills that are measurable and well-documented. For instance:

  • A degree in a web design-related field;
  • Aptitude with Sketch or Photoshop;
  • Training in color theory and responsive design.

Your portfolio and résumé serve as proof of hard skills.

Soft skills, on the other hand, are non-design skills that make you a good person to work with, but aren’t as easy to verify. While an employer might list out the qualities they’re looking for, they’re often subjective or vague, like:

  • Meets deadlines;
  • Team player;
  • Goal-driven.

It’s easy to dismiss these kinds of soft skills because they seem arbitrary. Of course I have them, you think.

The truth is, real soft skills not only help you stand out from other web designers, but they affect how successful you’ll be in running your own business.

Let’s take a look at what the most important of these non-design skills are and how they’ll help you go farther in your career.

 

1. Sales

these kinds of sales skills allow you to build stronger relationships with prospects

It’s easy to equate sales with associates who approach you in stores asking if you need help, or with reps who call you to see how you’re feeling about the free trial of their product. The problem with that particular sales approach is that it often makes one product seem just as good as another: Oh, you didn’t like that style? Let me see if I can get you another.

For you, this isn’t about negotiation or compromise nor can it be a numbers game. When selling yourself as a web designer, what you really need to be skilled in is the following:

  • Knowing your niche so well that it’s easy to find your target clients;
  • Knowing what exactly their pain is so you can quickly get the conversation started;
  • Knowing how to position yourself before them as the solution.

For web designers, these kinds of sales skills allow you to build stronger relationships with prospects so they easily and inevitably become your clients.

That said, one of the sales skills you can borrow from professional sales people is the ability to let rejection roll right off your back. In other words, it’s going to be tough — especially early on — when prospects say, “no, thank you”. It’s natural to want to take it personally. Just keep in mind that once you perfect the right sales approach for your business, this’ll be something you have to deal with less and less.

 

2. Finance Management

You might be thinking that you’ll just offload your finances to software like QuickBooks or Xero or you’ll hire an accountant once you’re making enough money. But finance management skills go beyond being able to balance your profits and overhead costs.

There are a number of things you need to be able to do properly manage your cash flow. For example:

  • Research industry rates so you can set competitive prices. Then, be able to negotiate for higher rates with clients.
  • Confidently talk to prospects about your prices and convey the value of your services in a way that none of it is called into question.
  • Create business proposals and contracts containing critical details about your prices, fees, payment schedules, etc.
  • Be able to confront a client who hasn’t paid on time, assess late fees, and take action to track down non-paying clients.
  • Set and stick to budgets for your business and personal life so you don’t go crazy buying things you don’t need or spending money you don’t have yet.

Master these skills and profitability will never be an issue for you.

 

3. Project Management

Things are going to get very hectic for you the more clients you add to your roster and the more services you offer.

The easiest way to keep everything in order when you’re bootstrapping your business (i.e. doing it on your own) is to get really good at project and time management.

Here are some things you’ll need to be able to do to dominate this non-design skill:

  • Create processes — for yourself as well as your client projects;
  • Document your processes and keep them organized;
  • Use the right tools and resources to streamline it all;
  • Predict accurate timelines, set milestones, and deliver by them;
  • Monitor your time and stay focused.

What’s nice about this skill is that you can use a project management tool and templates to automate a lot of it. The only thing is, you have to first lay the groundwork with a solid process and system of your own.

 

4. Client Communication and Management

If you start your client relationships off on the right foot during the sale process, this skill will be an easy one to get the hang of since you’ll be working with the ideal client. Even if that isn’t always the case, you can still effectively navigate the sometimes rocky terrain of client relationships, it’ll just require extra patience.

Underpinning all of these skills is confidence

As for how you master client communication and management skills, keep the following in mind:

  • Take charge from the very get-go. You want to be able to earn their trust, command respect, and keep doubts from appearing at any point. This’ll keep your job free of scope creep, too.
  • Set boundaries. Let clients know what they can expect from you and when, but never let them overstep their bounds in terms of the limits you’ve set.
  • Speak their language. Clients don’t understand things like “CSS grid” or “responsive design”. Talk to them with words that make sense.
  • Be professional in every exchange. There’s no need to let your personal drama become a distraction nor should clients ever know about trouble brewing on other jobs. Stay on point.
  • Keep calm even when the client isn’t. If that means sitting on a nasty email for a few hours, so be it. It’s best to enter every conversation with a clear head.
  • Know when it’s time to listen and also be okay accepting fair criticism or feedback.

Underpinning all of these skills is confidence; confidence in what you do and confidence in being able to steer clients and projects in the direction they need to go.

 

5. Problem-Solving

As a web designer, you’re in the business of solving a very big problem: I need a website for my business, but don’t have the ability or time to do it myself.

That alone is a powerful skill, but we’re focusing on the non-design skills you need right now. So, think of other ways you will need to solve problems for your clients along the way.

For example, during the initial discovery call stage, your client might have a very specific problem like: I need an ecommerce website with 24/7 chatbot support.

you need to be able to think quickly and creatively on your feet

Would you know how to devise a solution for that request on the spot? If not, would you know exactly where to go to figure out how to do it? What’s more, would you be okay telling your client that you’re unsure right now, but promise to get an answer to them in the next day or two?

In other words, you need to be able to think quickly and creatively on your feet.

What about issues or requests that come up later? For instance: The button on the homepage doesn’t work anymore. Help!

Are you resourceful enough to be able to investigate the issue and fix it? If you’re really good at this particular skill, you could monetize it by offering website maintenance services. You’d need to pair vigilance and resourcefulness to make the most of it, but it’s totally possible to do if you’re a problem-solver by nature.

 

Start Mastering These Non-Design Skills Today

It’s not just your aptitude in web design that’s going to help you land new client after new client. If you want a steady influx of new clients willing to pay you top dollar to design their websites, then you’re going to have to flex these important non-design skills as well.

 

Featured image via Unsplash.



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