Those of us who can remember the arrival of the internet, its development from a fledgling idea into a critical part of our global infrastructure, can’t help but be amazed by just how far we have come. There was a time when having an e-mail address was a sign of status and having a website put a business at the leading edge of current innovations. Now, it is trivially easy for anyone to design and publish a website. As a consequence, businesses are expected to have a functioning website, even if they do not sell any products or services online.
There is no shortage of work available for web designers, but one of the unintended side effects of making web development more accessible is that there are now more people doing it than ever before and today’s web designers today face more competition than their predecessors. In order to succeed in the web design business, you will need to find ways of setting yourself apart from the competition.
The following tips should help you to get started on your way to a long and successful career designing websites and shaping the online experience of the future.
Make a Portfolio Site
When you are trying to make it in any creative industry, you will want to put together a portfolio.
Your portfolio should show off the very best of your abilities and let an audience know what you’re all about.
In the case of web design, your portfolio should take the form of a website that links to a number of ‘display pages’. These display pages should demonstrate the kinds of layout and functionality that you like to add to any websites that you design.
Remember, your goal here is to demonstrate the kind of websites that you will ultimately build. When building an actual website for a client, one of the most important design principles is not to make things needlessly complicated.
Adding functions and design features just for the sake of it won’t improve the quality of the website that you end up with. However, it will show potential clients that you lack self-control. It might even make them think that you don’t know what you’re doing at all! Show restraint and make sure that you always act with purpose.
Take on Freelance Projects
Once you have an appreciable portfolio available for potential clients to look at, work can start to come to you. However, until then, you will need to build up your own brand and reputation. If you are willing to consider any work that comes your way and to take work that is outside your comfort zone, you will be able to build your brand faster.
If you are willing to take on a wider variety of work, including work that you wouldn’t normally consider, you will develop a wider variety of corresponding skills.
There are numerous places online where you can now find freelance work in different fields. You should be aware that many of these freelance jobs will be offering low pay. If you submit your portfolio to a web design agency, this usually leads to more reliable and higher paying work than when you are flying solo.
Be Ambitious, Not Greedy
When you are trying to make it in any industry or sector, it pays to have ambition. Ambition breeds productivity. The more ambitious you are, and the more doggedly you pursue your goals, the further you will go. Beware though, there is a fine line between ambition and greed, understanding the difference between the two is a valuable lesson for any self-employed person and entrepreneur.
With both greed and ambition, there is a desire to obtain more. In the case of greed, people seek to obtain more just for the sake of it, for no reason other than to accumulate more – more wealth, more power, more status. With ambition, the goal is not just to get more, it is to advance, grow, and develop.
Only you will ever know the truth about what your motives are and why you are pursuing your goals. It is important that you are honest with yourself. If you are being greedy, then you can rectify this, but only if you first accept that that is how you feel. Always remember that there is a difference between greed and desire and ambition.
Keep Up to Date with Industry News
Web design is a fast-moving industry. Design standards and practices are changing all the time to reflect the way that the underlying technologies evolve. For example, the advent of large touchscreens on smartphones has meant that it is now standard practice to code websites to be dynamic and so able to adapt their layout to the device they are being viewed upon.
Staying up to date with the industry news will ensure that you know what is going on with regards to any new standards which might be introduced. Periodically, new coding languages come along and existing ones receive major overhauls. Sometimes, these can cause significant headaches for web developers who have to adapt to an entirely new set of standards and protocols. Staying abreast of the latest developments in the industry will help you to prepare for these changes and avoid getting caught off guard.
Web design is a very competitive industry to work in. Learning how to design and code websites is only half the battle. The real fight begins when you start vying for business against other web designers. You will soon come to realize that standing out amongst this crowd isn’t easy. The only way to make it to the top is to continue to work and to persevere. Take any jobs that come your way to build your skills and portfolio.