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best practices for a web design business?


Junior Member
If anyone can point me to any articles on best practices in a web design business?

I would be specifically interested in how web services are sold to a client and how designers present their work to clients?

This is mainly due to the fact I’m new to the industry and don’t know anyone else who works as a web designer that I can ask.
I’m particularly interested in whoever deals with selling sells their services to a potential client.
How do you get the sale but at the same time lay down some rules regarding the design? I assume you have to make the client aware there are some stipulations in the contract. Preparing content is something that always seems to be a problem for me as I find it really slows down the design process when a client expects you to write it for them.
Also presenting work to clients ...do you show more than 1 homepage mock up and do you provide inner page mock ups. I should mention I mostly work on brochure sites that don’t have large budgets.


I've done a number of small sites like what you describe. The way I usually do it is after I've established what it is they want and have developed some sort of brief to work with is to create a design draft of the home page in photoshop. Beware text anti-aliasing when showing to clients else you'll show something you can't actually provide. I'll then save it as a jpeg and email it to the client with a request for feedback.

Upon receiving their feedback I'll try to incorporate them into the design draft and send it back to be signed off, also stating that I'll start coding the website if they are happy to go ahead. You will also want to demonstrate how their site will be structured and what content will go on each page.

What kind of rules did you want to 'lay down' in regards to the design? As for content, it can be very difficult and I don't believe it is the sole job of the web designer. Especially if you aren't charging them for writing their websites copy. You need to talk with them to find out exactly what content they need to prioritise and where in the informational hierarchy it needs to be and on what page. I always discuss this with my clients because it's impossible to write effective copy for business websites without some insight into the business it's for.
As with all creative services you will find every client and their situation is different and every project is different so there is no hard and fast rules as there might be if you are selling standard products. Some clients are savvy and know what they want whereas some don’t and need educating. I find myself selling my services in different ways and approaching clients in different ways each time as I am always learning. I am leaning more over towards having proper contracts and written proposals into my 'big' jobs but often I am a bit more casual with the smaller jobs. When more risk is involved then get a contract sorted and get your client to sign it.

Normally in my experience it is the client who supplies the copy as it is their site and they already know what they want to say - its just they want you to turn it into a website. There have been times where it has been made clear that they need the copy writing which is then an additional service charge and not something I have ever needed to do as a freelancer – not that I would anyway as I’m not great with words! I have had to give up on one job as the client took over a year to supply me the copy so I just asked to be paid for all the work I had done - one day I might finish the project off!

I would make sure if you quote any time scales then don't use dates just say something like '3 weeks development time after receiving content' then you are not talking about dates that will come and go since you are relying on getting certain information from your client.

Regarding design I normally create a homepage to begin with and maybe another page just so you get a flavour for how flexible or varied the layout is. I normally send it as a pdf in a presentation format depending on the budget. If you are confident and think you have nailed the design then just send the one design as too much choice only confuses the client with options although I think 2 or 3 different versions of a site can be ok in some cases.

Be nice to your clients and answer their questions on time and in a professional manner. I spend hours and hours writing emails and don't always get the client - but when I do it pays off. You have to be patient and professional. It would help to get a job somewhere in a studio that does web work to learn from them how they appropriate as a business