Make your life easier with a support network.
Why are there so many crappy websites out there designed by so called web designers? Some are so bad they really just make me want to vomit all over myself. Lucky for you, I put together a six step program to help you not suck as some of the other web designers out there.
Build a Support Network
Social networking sites pretty much suck. Most of them are over run with Ricky Martian layouts, glittery text, and losers. Fortunately, there are a few (and I do mean a few) good ones. I have been playing around with one called
My Quire is Myspace meets Basecamp meets Windows XP. It really is a more sociable version of Basecamp or ActiveCollab. Because the site is geared towards projects, there are a lot of other designer, programmers, and developers on the site. This makes it easy to build up a network of people who are highly specialized in skills you know little to nothing about.
MyQuire is still very much in beta.
This support network can allow you to pass on projects that you donâ€™t have the skills for (hopefully your network will return the favor). Should you come across a profitable project that you donâ€™t want to pass up, but donâ€™t have all the skills needed to complete it, you can partner up with someone in your network.
- Build a support network
- Focus on 3 skill sets
- Keep learning
- Pick a niche market
- Get a mentor
- Make sure your web site doesnâ€™t suck
Other Places to Find a Support Network:
iStock Photo – Has a great community of photographer, vector artist, videographers, and more. Free Registration.
Graphic Design Forum – My favorite design forum on the web. Look me up under DannyNoSleeves.
Focus on Skill Sets
- Concentrate on a specific skill
- Become a Guru in your field
In my opinion itâ€™s better to be a guru in a specific field than a jack of trades. While many web designers know a little bit about everything and do just fine; I think this is holding them back. Think about it this way; if you only know a little bit about a lot of stuff, you only have a little bit to show off.
Instead of trying to learn the countless codes, programs, etc, that are associated with web design, try focusing on becoming the best CSS or Flash designer. By becoming a guru in your chosen field, you will make a name for yourself. And itâ€™s that name that will put money in your pocket.
- Keep up-to-date with styles and code trends
- Re-learn things you already know (you might learn something new)
- Teach others what you know (it helps you learn new things)
As a web designer itâ€™s important to keep up with trends in style and code. You would be surprised at how many web designers out there still work with methods that are â€œso 1998.â€ Take CSS for example, this has got to be one of the best things to hit web design in a long time. Yet, there are millions of websites that are still being built with tables. Tables! Why God?
Lynda.com – Awesome collection of learning videos. $325 gets you all the videos and excercies files you want for a year.
PSD Tuts – The best photoshop tutorial site in the world.
Pick a Niche Market
- Focus on a certain industry or market
- Makes it easier to get clients
So many web designers go after any business that comes there way, which is fine. You gotta pay the bills somehow. Instead of designing any website that comes your way, why not specialize in a certain niche? You could work on targeted landscaping companies, software developers, salons, etc. What is the upside to doing this rather than not?
Specializing in a niche actually makes it easier to get clients. If clients can see some of your work that easily relates to their business, it gives them a better idea of what you can do for them. Say you just designed a website for a landscaping company; you could start searching for other landscaping business in your area. Once you find a few, all you need to do is send an email informing them that you specialize in websites for landscapers, send them a link to your recent work, and this should start a dialogue between you.
Find a Mentor
- Will help you learn faster
- A wealth of both design and business information
Finding a good web design mentor isnâ€™t the easiest thing to do. Most web designers are just too busy to bother with mentoring someone. Your best bet is to find a local mentor that you can meet with face to face. If you arenâ€™t lucky enough to find one of these, just start emailing designers whose web sites you like. Most will say they donâ€™t have the time, but many will offer some advice or to look over your designs from time to time.
Just keep emailing designers until you find one that is willing to work with you. The next best thing to a mentor is a good forum. Search around the web for some good design forums. These are great places to get advice and feedback while you are on your quest to find a mentor.
Make sure your web site doesnâ€™t suck
- Have other designers critique your site
- Have random people critique your site
- Always try to make your web site better
Just because you spent weeksâ€™ designing your website doesnâ€™t make it good. Use some of the forums you found from the step above and post your website. Have other web designers look over your site and give you their two cents worth.
It also canâ€™t hurt to have some of your friends or even strangers look over your site. They can give you some of the best usability feedback on your website. Since they will be looking at your site as a customer and not as a designer, they will point out some important issues.