Being a Freelance Web Designer
I'm a freelance web designer of which there are three main components: 'freelance', 'web' and 'design'.
What is a 'freelancer'?
Being a 'freelancer' is simply another word for 'self-employed'.
As a freelancer, I am not constrained by the internal politics of a regular company.
I don't have people whispering stories in my ear, and I can focus all of my energy on doing what I love - building websites.
What about the 'design'?
Design includes balance, contrast, emphasis, rhythm and unity. It also includes the design elements such as lines, shapes, texture, colour and direction.
A freelance web designer could use the information above to 'design' a website, however, an experienced web designer knows that this in itself is only half the job.
What exactly is the 'web'?
The other half of the job is combining all of these elements within the constraints of the 'web'.
The Web covers everything from the user ability (UI) and user experience (UX) to form and function.
A website that looks beautiful but has a menu bar that's hard to use will create a poor user experience. As a result, this could create a high bounce rate.
Please note: 'Bounce rate' is determined by the percentage of people leaving a website after viewing only one page. Websites with a higher bounce rate are considered poorer quality.
Researching a project is one of the most important factors when building any website.
It is important to learn what the customer is hoping to achieve with their website.
Every new website project should have a goal in mind. Once you know what this is, you can start to put the wheels into motion.
Most freelance web designers will have a good understanding of most of the following:
Website building software
Software such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator are often used to help design and build the final layout of the website.
It can also be advantageous to have excellent skills in graphic design, which may also include logo design.
Website user experience
A freelance web designer needs to have a good understanding of user experience. Making sure that a website is easy to use is crucial. It should also provide all the information the user would typically expect to find on any given page.
This will usually include a variety of elements such as the layout, buttons (including the call to action buttons) and images.
Website user interface
It is also important to keep the design of a website consistent. That way it will make the user feel more 'at home' when they are browsing. It is also beneficial for when they decide to return at a later date.
This will also make the interface easier to navigate as it is already familiar to the user's eyes.
Website colour and branding
Freelance web designers will also need to keep in mind the branding of the website they are designing.
Will they be creating a website for a premium brand like Hugo Boss or will they build it for a more mainstream brand like Bonds?
It is crucial to select the correct colour scheme and typography to exemplify the desired qualities.
Website search engine optimisation (SEO)
SEO is the process of making websites 'attractive' to search engines, thus encouraging them to be displayed in search results.
The freelance web designer should be mindful of all on-page SEO ranking factors and be sure to include them when designing the website.
A website must look good on all devices; From 27-inch desktops to 4-inch smartphones and everything in between.
Creating a responsive website means that the website will automatically adjust to any screen size.
These days, building a website which is responsive is almost standard practice within the web building industry.
As a result of this new technology, it is important to test a new website built on all devices.
There is nothing worse than visiting a site with overlapping elements. It can make it particularly difficult trying to view the pages of the site correctly.
That's why it is vital that the freelance web designer ensures that the website they have created looks great on all screen sizes.
Freelance web designers have to stay up to date with all of the latest trends. It can be done by researching new ideas and communicating with other web designers. Online forums are another great place to find an almost endless array of further information.
It is also a good idea to keep up to date with webmaster guidelines which are continually changing.
Challenges of being a freelance web designer
One of the biggest challenges almost all freelance web designers need to deal with is trying to explain the importance of page speed to customers.
Virtually all customers want a website that is aesthetically pleasing. They want it to be full of colour and videos.
However, the freelance web designer will need to explain that the more pictures, colour and videos added to a page, the 'heavier' it will become.
'Heavier' means that it will be a larger page for a browser to download. As a result, it will negatively impact the download speed time of a web page.
As a freelance web designer, it is my ultimate goal to create a website which creates an enticing and user-friendly experience for the user.
It is crucial that all the coding has been completed error-free and works seamlessly. It will provide a hassle free experience to the user who will continue coming back for more.
Making sure that the customer is happy is just as important. I find the best way to doing this is to maintain a transparent relationship with them. Keeping them in the loop throughout the entire web building process will ensure there are no nasty surprises at the end.