5 Tips for Managing a Successful Web Design Business
Throughout the years, I’ve networked and had a lot of in depth conversations with many successful people on their ideas of what makes a business grow and stand out amongst the crowd. I figured it was time to share my opinions on what makes a business unique and stand out in the long run.
Pick a weapon of choice
Today, it seems like every web designer and developer has a different content management that they use. Some are better than others, but who’s to tell them what to use? Some prefer WordPress, some prefer Drupal, some prefer Joomla, some prefer Magento over OsCommerce, and some prefer writing everything from scratch (which I would not recommend unless you just crave the challenge.) No single decision of CMS platform is wrong. Although, I would say that some CMS’s are a better fit than others when choosing which CMS to use. For example, you wouldn’t use WordPress to create an eCommerce website for over 8,000 products… it just isn’t realistic.
I said all of that to say this. When in the web design business, a lot of your tasks seem repetitive. You will re-produce similar characteristics on each site you make, and will run into the same issues time and time again – it is best to know how to resolve these issues by knowing your CMS of choice inside and out. Instead of trying to master WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Magento, OsCommerce, vBulletin, phpBB…(the list goes on and on and on)… try to master just one or two of them. In some cases, if the CMS is flexible enough (such as Drupal) you can do pretty much anything you want with it.
Over the years, I’ve used a lot of content management systems, including all of the ones listed above. I’ve built my knowledge around the ones that I like (in my case this would be WordPress and Magento). Because I’ve had a lot of experience with these, I’m comfortable working with them. In months and years to come, I would like to make the transition to mastering Drupal, due to it’s flexibility and endless possibilities. If you’re not familiar with the flexibility of Drupal, I would recommend checking out the different Drupal distributions.
Do work for yourself
This tip could be interpreted in a few different ways, most of which apply. One thing that is a big misconception in the service industry is that “the customer is always right”. The customer is not always right. The customer may know what they want or what they would like to have, but it may not be the most beneficial thing for the customer. Instead of fulfilling every need of the customer, consult with them to what you think is best. If you know, for a fact, that what the client is wanting will hurt them in the long run, simply don’t do it and refuse service to them. If you wouldn’t do it for yourself, don’t do it for your customer. Sure, business is business and money is money, but the web design industry is about more than just making a buck… in order to have repeat customers, you have to produce a high quality product that will produce results. If the customer doesn’t get this from you, they won’t be back, regardless of whether or not it is what they wanted to begin with.
The second way that this could be interpreted could be more focused on who you hire, when you hire them, and whether or not you really need them or not. Of course, hiring employees and outsourcing is a part of almost every business, but investing more time into doing something yourself results in spending less money on employee expenses. The purpose of a business is to make money. If you don’t need someone, don’t hire them. Don’t hire until you have absolutely no more time to do it yourself and have no other option.
This is pretty obvious. If you’re not creative, you’re going to look like every other company on the block (or online). People are so accustomed to having advertisements thrown in their face that they have adapted to ignore them. Think of the advertisements that you have saw or heard in the past hour or two. If you can’t remember any of them, then they must not have caught your attention and the advertiser lost your business because they did not catch your attention. Most business are too vague and bland for people to remember. Truth is “Come buy from us, we have great deals” simply just doesn’t cut it anymore.
How is your business unique? How do you stand out? Maybe having a pink flamingo with sunglasses sipping a Piña colada doesn’t seem like a good idea for creating a professional business, and maybe you’re right – but I bet people would remember it. Being professional isn’t always better. Being known means being in business.
Quality over Quanity
It’s better to produce 5 really great websites than it is to produce 15 mediocre websites. Developing a relationship with your client is more than a “one and done” scenario. In most cases, when you provide quality work for a client, they trust you for anything else that they need in the future. Choosing a web design service is almost as bad as gambling – sure everyone says that they can get the job done but how well is that job going to be accomplished once they’re done.
Producing better quality doesn’t mean only in the jobs that you do for your client, it also means after sale support. If a client is really satisfied with their website but has questions on how to update it or trying to get something fixed – be there to help them. Otherwise they’ll see right through you and know that you’re only looking for the next dollar. Business owners (and most clients) don’t have time to be concerned with simple tasks. In the eyes of a client, updating their website should be a simple task – because they have other things to worry about such as running a business, changing pricing, and making profits to stay in business.
Don’t be afraid to say no
I’m sure you’ve heard it before in the business world. When someone asks “Can you do this for me” the answer should always be “Yes!” So many people have said it, it must be true, right? Wrong. If you cannot effectively produce the quality that your client needs, don’t accept the project. If you know that the client is unknowingly asking you to do a years worth of work for pocket change, don’t accept the project. If you know that the project that your client is wanting will hurt their company in the long run, don’t be a part of it. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty, but at the same time, don’t agree to something that is flat out ridiculous.
Clients have the privilege of choosing from a number of web design or marketing firms based on who they think is qualified to work for their company and their companies budget. If you don’t think that your company is the right fit, don’t take the business. In some peoples opinion, this may be bad business to reject a customer – but I look at it this way: If you can’t do the job or don’t think that it is in the best interest for the client then don’t say you will. This tip alone builds integrity in your company that is easy for your client base to see.
Having a small client base of 5 loyal companies who trust in you, your work, and your advice is easier to manage than having 20 not so loyal companies who only want you to “make a website”. The web design and development industry is more than just making a website. Having a website that produces no profit or sales will not yield a satisfied customer.