Did you know that every 60 seconds 175 new websites launch?
That means that, by the time you get to the bottom of this article (assuming you’re reading it, and not just dashing down there right away!), the world wide web will have grown by the best part of 1,000 new websites.
And, of course, there are (at least, mostly) real people building all these sites – which makes the web design and development industry bigger than most realize.
The meteoric rise in demand for new websites doesn’t just demonstrate increasing consumer need, growing opportunity, and better accessibility of a wider range of services.
It also reflects a growing desire in people and businesses to create their own corner of the internet – one that’s unique, professionally designed, and meets the needs of those in its target demographic. The many businesses and organizations looking for websites are in fact, doing much more than this – they’re searching for online platforms that stand out, have unique, bespoke designs, provide robust functionality, and offer their users an experience that will have them coming back for more.
And in such a world of demand and opportunity, the role of web designers and developers has become increasingly important.
It’s no longer enough to simply be able to build a website.
It’s now much more about crafting an experience, capturing the unique essence of a brand, and delivering an experience to its users that speaks to them directly.
As a web design agency or a freelance web developer, it is crucial to understand this shift towards both quality and uniqueness.
So how can you achieve all this? How can you design and build a website that not only looks beautiful, but which perfectly aligns with the goals and needs of your clients? How is it possible to tap into this vast market, and turn an opportunity into a profit?
In this guide, we explore these questions and provide our insights and experience to provide you with a range of strategies that will help you elevate your web design business to succeed in an increasingly competitive market.
Deciding on a Niche
When faced with the vast range of websites already on the web it can be rather daunting knowing where to target your web design business. One of the most effective strategies we’ve seen employed, and which can really aid business growth, is to specialize within a specific niche.
Specialization allows you to tailor your services so that they meet the needs of a particular industry niche, which lets you create a louder voice and more easily recognized presence than trying to be all things to all clients.
By focusing on a specific niche you are able to focus your marketing much more effectively, ensuring your messaging is much more focused, your portfolio more relevant to prospective clients, and your expertise much more apparent and relevant. Whether you choose to specialize in e-commerce, healthcare, education, or any other sector, having a niche makes your services much more attractive to potential clients who are looking for a specialist rather than a generalist.
So the question is – how do you decide your niche? We recommend starting by examining your own skills, interests, and past experiences. Do you have any particular experience with any industries? Which projects have you worked on previously that you particularly enjoyed?
Of course, choosing your niche isn’t just about you – it’s also essential to do some market research. Look at the size of the potential market, the amount of competition, and possible growth opportunities. Ideally, you need to find a combination that combines your own skills and experiences with an identifiable gap in the market.
Once you have successfully identified your niche, it’s important to start tailoring your services to meet the needs (and take advantage of the opportunities) within that sector.
For example, if you decide to target the restaurant business, you might focus on areas such as online menus, reservation systems, food delivery service integrations, and such. Doing this not only makes what you have to offer even more appealing to your target client base, but it also allows you to build a solid portfolio that enhances your appearance as an expert in the industry.
But if you are going to focus on a niche market it will be vital to stay fully informed about the latest trends and technologies emerging. We recommend signing up to newsletters, subscribing to any relevant publications, attending seminars, and networking with other professionals within your chosen field.
Getting New Clients
So now you’ve found your niche, and are starting to get your business fully focused on targeting potential clients. But how do you actually get those clients? There are several strategies we would recommend.
One of the best approaches is to use networking. This can be online, through platforms such as LinkedIn, by attending industry events, and joining groups or online forums. Building professional relationships is extremely beneficial. Not only are you increasingly likely to find clients directly in this way, but word of mouth is also a critical part of this strategy, and by building positive relationships you increase the number of people who may well recommend you, or at the very least, mention you, when discussing projects and needs with other professionals in the market.
Content marketing can also help to present you as an expert in your field. Of course, this also helps greatly with SEO marketing, if done correctly. By building up a library of articles you are able to help market your business, increase your presence in the search results, and strengthen your reputation as a credible expert in the niche market.
Email marketing is another hugely powerful way to build a network, and reach people you might not otherwise be able to. Creating a regular newsletter can not only provide you with a ready list of interested subscribers and potential clients, but also a list of people who may share your content or website address with others in the industry, widening your reach still further.
We are also great believers in partnering with other companies when there’s real value to be had in such an arrangement. Where either the other company is able to add something to what you are offering, or where you can directly add value to their services, this can increase your reach and reputation considerably.
And finally, you might consider offering free workshops or seminars. These can be online, and provide another opportunity to reach a large number of people, set out your stall, and present yourself as a credible professional within the specific market your targeting. Workshops and seminars are also very easy to use as a way to actively engage with people, and nudge them towards the next step in your sales funnel.
Understanding Client Needs
Identifying Client Objectives: Understanding your client’s objectives is crucial. Begin by conducting thorough discussions to make sure you fully understand their business model, target audience, and desired outcomes. Using collaborative tools such as Atarim can significantly streamline this process, ensuring a transparent and efficient communication channel.
A comprehensive interview is vital for the success of the project as a whole, and to ensure that your time is used as efficiently as possible. Prior to the initial client interview make sure that you research their business, and their competitors.
During this interview there are a number of key questions we would advise asking:
- Business Objectives: “What are the primary goals you want to achieve with your website?” This question helps in aligning the website’s design with the client’s business goals.
- Target Audience: “Can you describe your ideal customer?” Understanding the target audience is crucial for designing a user-centric website.
- Brand Identity: “How do you want your brand to be perceived online?” This question delves into the visual and emotional aspects of the brand that the website needs to convey.
- Competitive Landscape: “What do you like or dislike about your competitors’ websites?” Analyzing competitors can provide insights into industry standards and client preferences.
- Website Functionality: “Are there specific features or functionalities you want on your website?” This helps in understanding the technical scope of the project.
- Budget and Timeline: “What is your budget and expected timeline for this project?” These logistics are critical for managing expectations and project planning.
It’s very easy to get caught up on the technicalities of what is said, but we are firm believers in active listening. Always pay attention not just to what is said, but how it is said. Consider tone of voice and body language – these can really help to reveal concerns, wishes, and allow you to gain a deeper understanding of what they need.
Always make sure you keep a record of what was said, and we advise summarizing the key points at the end of the interview, and then sending a follow-up email afterwards, along with the next steps.
Developing a Client-Centric Approach: Adopting a client-centric approach involves more than just acknowledging their requirements. It also means making every possible effort to anticipate their needs. Regular check-ins, feedback sessions, and adaptability to changing requirements are key to maintaining a positive and productive client relationship. Collaborative tools such as Atarim can help significantly with this, providing a much more meaningful way for clients to provide feedback on their website, and create a single channel of communication, regardless of how many collaborators are involved.
Planning and Design
Planning: The planning phase lays the groundwork for a successful project. Begin this process by setting the website’s goals, audience, and key performance indicators. Creating a detailed sitemap and wireframe is essential for visualizing the website’s structure and flow.
Following this, develop wireframes for each page. These wireframes provide a skeletal framework for the website’s layout, focusing on space allocation, content placement, and feature positioning. Using Atarim’s image proofing and collaboration tool can make this much easier, significantly cutting down the time it can usually take to get designs approved by clients.
Design Principles and Aesthetics: In the design phase, make sure you aim to create a balance between aesthetics and functionality. It won’t matter at all if your website looks astounding if nobody can use it! Use contemporary design principles, ensuring the website is not only appealing but also user-friendly.
When thinking about aesthetics, spend some time exploring color psychology, making sure that the color schemes reflect the brand’s personality and evoke the right emotional response from the audience.
Typography should not only complement the overall design but also contribute to overall readability and the user experience. Images such as photos, illustrations, and icons, should all be chosen to resonate with the target audience and reinforce brand messaging.
Consideration of color schemes, typography, and imagery should be in line with the client’s brand identity, and always keep in mind the need to ensure websites comply with accessibility requirements.
User Experience and Accessibility: User Experience (UX) and Accessibility are no longer optional – they are essential. A really good UX makes sure that visitors can navigate the website easily, and be able to find whatever information they need – quickly. Create menus and navigation structures that are clear, and intuitive, as well as including clear call-to-action buttons. The overall layout should be uncluttered, and easy to take in at first glance.
Accessibility is crucial to make your website inclusive. Always make certain that the website complies with the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) standards. For example, including alt text for images, ensuring keyboard navigability, and using proper color contrast.
Responsive design is a non-negotiable aspect of web design. Your website should look and work perfectly regardless of the devices used by the end users. This responsiveness not only makes a real difference to real users, but it also contributes to improved search engine rankings.
Building the Website
Choosing the Right Platform: Selecting an appropriate platform is essential. Whether it’s a CMS such as WordPress or an e-commerce platform like Shopify, the choice should align with the website’s objectives and the client’s technical proficiency. (It’s worth remembering that Atarim can be used on any website, built on any platform – it’s not just for WordPress websites.)
Customization and Development: While pre-designed themes offer convenience, customization is key to standing out. Tailor themes and use plugins only where absolutely necessary (and even then, only use plugins created by established developers who regularly maintain and update them). For unique requirements, custom coding might be necessary. Throughout this phase, regular testing and client feedback are crucial.
Efficient Project Management: Using project management tools such as Atarim can significantly improve both efficiency and transparency. It allows for effective tracking of progress, resource allocation, and deadline management, ensuring a smooth development process. You can also track hours spent on a project, ensuring you get paid accurately for the time spent.
Testing and Launching
Rigorous Testing: Before launching, always carry out very thorough testing. This includes functionality tests, cross-browser compatibility checks, and mobile responsiveness assessments. Address any performance issues such as loading speed, and optimize for SEO.
Launching the Website: Launching a website is a critical moment. Ensure that all stakeholders are in agreement, and all pre-launch checks are completed. Post-launch, monitor the website’s performance closely to address any immediate issues.
Post-Launch Support and Maintenance
Ongoing Support: Offering ongoing support is vital for long-term client relationships. Be prepared to address any post-launch issues promptly. Regular updates and security checks are essential to maintain the website’s health and performance.
Maintenance Packages: Consider offering maintenance packages as a steady revenue source. These can include services such as regular updates, backups, security checks, and content updates.
Analytics and Optimization: In order to know how a website is performing, it’s essential to integrate robust analytics tools into the site. Tools such as Google Analytics provide valuable data on things such as user behavior, traffic sources, page views, bounce rates, and so on. This data acts like a sort of pulse check for you to assess the health and performance of the site, and identify what’s working well, and what may need more development.
In particular we would recommend monitoring the following:
- Traffic Sources: Understanding where your visitors are coming from (organic search, social media, direct visits) helps in refining marketing strategies.
- User Behavior: Metrics such as the average session duration and pages per session reveal how users interact with your website.
- Conversion Rates: Track how many visitors are taking specific actions, such as filling out contact forms, making purchases, or signing up for newsletters.
- Bounce Rate: A high bounce rate can suggest issues with the relevance or readability of content, a poor user experience, or slow loading times.
- Mobile Performance: With the increasing use of mobile devices, monitor how your website performs on various mobile platforms.
But having access to this data, and keeping an eye on it, shouldn’t just be a way for you to know how things are performing. Keep your clients informed by providing them with regular reports. Not only does this demonstrate the value of you providing ongoing support, but also helps to keep your brand name fresh in their minds (always good for recommendations) as well as maintaining strong client relationships.
Marketing Your Services
Effective Marketing Strategies: Marketing your web development services is crucial for business growth. Use digital marketing channels such as social media, SEO, and email marketing to showcase your portfolio and attract potential clients.
Building a Strong Portfolio: A robust portfolio is your greatest marketing tool. Display a range of projects that highlight your versatility, creativity, and technical prowess. Include client testimonials and case studies to add credibility.
Networking and Collaboration: Engage in networking opportunities within the industry. Attend webinars, workshops, and conferences (such as WordCamp) to stay updated with the latest trends and forge valuable connections.
After everything else is considered, the bottom line is… well, the bottom line. Getting your pricing strategy right is crucial for the success of your business. Being competitive in the market is fine – but you still need to run a business that is profitable, and you need to charge a price that accurately and fairly represents your expertise, value, and experience.
There are several different approaches to pricing. The first is project-based pricing, in which a fixed fee is agreed at the outset, and this is what is paid once the project is completed. The problem with this is that if the project overruns or faces more difficulties than anticipated, your hourly rate can become impractically low.
An alternative approach is to use an hourly rate. While this means the client won’t know accurately how much the project will cost, you will know that your time will be compensated for fairly. This approach will require careful time tracking through, and it will be necessary to provide as accurate a guide to the client of how much time the project is likely to take – something that becomes easier the more projects you complete.
Another alternative is to use value-based pricing. This is where you identify the additional value to your client your services will bring. For example, if your work is expected to contribute to a massive growth in revenue for the client, then you are able to charge a premium. However, for this approach to be viable you do have to have a very deep understanding of your client’s business, and of how you can achieve the high ROI required.
Building websites for clients is a multifaceted profession that requires a blend of technical skills, creativity, and strategic planning. By following these comprehensive steps and continuously evolving your skills, you can create websites that not only satisfy your clients but also contribute to your business success.
One of the best ways to make sure your website design business gets ahead of the competition is by taking advantage of the collaborative tools available with Atarim, allowing genuine, real-time collaboration with clients on any website, on any platform.
With Atarim, you can use simple point-and-click collaboration to enable clients to point at what they’re referring to on any live web page, and immediately leave feedback, say what needs to be changed, and so much more.
If you want to receive feedback that makes sense, make it easier to collaborate with clients, and finish projects in days instead of weeks, sign up to Atarim today – with paid plans from just $20 per month.
- Integrated into the leading visual collaboration platform trusted by 13,000+ agencies (web dev, design, and beyond) worldwide.
- Supporting project delivery for 1,200,000+ of their clients and stakeholders.
- Deliver projects in days instead of weeks.