Website Clients Who Also Design Websites

Now why would a web designer want another webby doing their site?

You’d think most of our website clients (as opposed to SEO clients) would be technophobes right? Any decent web designer would jump at the chance to design or redevelop their own site, right?

Well. No. That’s not always the case.

Often it’s easier to work alongside someone with more experience. Two heads are always better than one. The result is greater than the sum of the parts. An experienced developer might do a job in half the time it would take you so you can work on other aspects of the site.

That’s pretty much where I come in on most jobs. A website client always has some inkling about what it is that I do. Some people are self-professed experts. Two minds are always better than one and I love to work with other people. Especially clients who know what I’m doing.

Why are Some Website Clients better than others?

I think what I do would drive most web designers crazy.
– Ed Lynch (web developer)

The website itself is a very small part of one huge, continuous story. That story invariably covers sales, leads, marketing, SEO, usability (are you responsive yet or are you sliding down in search because you’re not) and functionality.

“Are the t-shirts leaving the shop?” is the real question. And how much is all this costing you?

Clients who know a little about web design, or clients who have dabbled with some HTML and CSS – or even WordPress itself – know what’s involved and how long it all takes.

I’ll give you a bit of insider knowledge . . . here’s what web developers see when a potential new client (usually in the form of an email) enters the room. Some of this info is out of America, but it serves to illustrate a point.

You do not want to be this guy when you meet with a webby.

website clients come in all shapes and sizes

Teaching Web Design

Ten long years :)

From 2002, I taught web design at Curtin University (Western Australia), Open Universities and at TAFE College. A lot of people at TAFE were older than me. They were changing careers and it quickly became apparent that their combined life experiences made for much more interesting teaching sessions.

I taught around 2,000+ students every year (don’t get me started on our disorganised and antiquated Australian tertiary education system). During this time it was apparent that, just like any other industry, web design courses attracted various types of people. Many of the older students were doing the class because they wanted to build their own website business.

I’d break the student types into five key groups . . .

Web Design Student Types

  1. Those that wanted to be there
  2. Those who didn’t want to be there
  3. Those that chose Web Design because of job opportunities
  4. Those who had dabbled with web design and wanted a formal degree . . . just because
  5. Those who wanted a formal degree for work / promotion reasons
  6. Those seeking a seachange.

And I’ll now work backwards through each of these web designer types.

Web Design as a Sea Change

I had one guy who had been flying planes for FIFOs for 25 years. One day, in a shopping centre, he unexpectedly had an epileptic fit. End of career. A sad story, but he was great at web design and really enjoyed opening up notepad to work on his website. He loved it.

I remember a lady in class who was in her 70s.

I told her to open notepad (web design starts with notepad).
“How do I do that?”
“Just use your mouse.”

She just looked at me.

I spent half that lesson explaining to her that moving the mouse also moved the cursor on the screen.

Formal Degrees in Web Design & Development

“Getting a degree” means you actually get to build websites. I taught both old and new techniques in web development, online marketing and SEO. People going for the formal degree were very engaged and loved learning new things.

The rigor of handing in 3-4 assignments every semester forces you to learn properly.

For example: Did you know that Kindle Books are written in HTML? And email newsletters, too?

The Dabbler

There are a lot of people out there just jumping in. A great way to learn about (and actually do) web design is to build your own website in Wix or even Weebly (online free websites).

NB: There’s a list of other free website building platforms in my article How Much is a Website in 2016?.

Wix, Weebly or even free wordpress website will start you on a free website. You’ll even be able to link a domain name to your new site.

What you won’t have though – and I’m not being funny about this – is the experience. This is what dabblers like about me. I’m a self-confessed dabbler myself. Dabblers have some idea of what I’m doing and understand the real worth of what I do. Dabblers never get surprised by how much time something takes because they’ve had a go themselves.

Employment as a Web Designer

Here’s the pointy end of web design. Applying for a job as a web designer might net you $25/hr in your first year out. That’s about $50K per annum. Well below the average wage. Yes I know. It’s crazy. Three years at uni with $150K in education expenses and this is your reward (it’s why I went solo in the first place).

I love working with people who have been given the task to create their company’s new website.

They know what they want, know something about HTML and how to build webpages, but they just don’t have the runs on the board.

Our Very Best Website Clients Are Fully Qualified Web Designers

Anybody who has built a website or who has studied web design will understand the complexity of owning, running and feeding a website with regular content.

In-bound marketing such as AdWords, SEO aspects and the general rigors of owning and running an online business are clear for some clients because they’ve ahd a go themselves. It’s no wonder that ex-students still call me up from time to time wanting help with a website.

I build it and if they want to, they can fiddle or tweak the detail. They can then work on their business, not in their business.

From $300K to $10m in 2 years

It’s not by chance that a company who was turning over $300,000 per annum, after getting me to do their website and tweak their marketing campaigns, only 2 years later turned over $10 million per annum. That person had done this before. He’d worked together with offshore marketers and web designers and built an awful website that had made nothing in 3 years.

While I wasn’t the entrepreneur behind the business, my web work and marketing skills played a huge part.

If you want to run a business online, it pays to have a professional webby at your side – even if you are already a fully qualified web designer.

From my perspective, having clients who understand what I am doing makes the job easier. I don’t need to justify myself or explain why changing a site’s colour scheme takes hours not minutes to do.

When a beginner or part-time webby does some easy stuff on their site, I get to chip in with the too-hard, too-fiddly or big-picture aspects of running their online business and I feel a part of it all. Sometimes it pays to not do everything yourself.

Author: Edwin James Lynch

Edwin wrote his first (Harrier Jumpjet) computer program in 1982. Today he builds websites utilising best practice, future-proof web development, online marketing and SEO. He lectured for 15yrs+ at Curtin University where (in 2007) he was voted 5th best out of 2,500+ university lecturers in Australia.

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