Forgive me if I’m a little bias towards defending the case for web designers, since I am a freelance web designer based in Cape Town, but I feel I need to elevate the plight for the true freelance web design specialists in our field and perhaps tell you what to look for in a real web design professional if you are considering hiring one.
Here are the qualities I deem as important in a quick list format. If you happen to think of more you are welcome to let me know and I will certainly consider adding them to this list.
- Problem Solving
- Business Acumen
- A Fighter
There is a certain characteristic that you’ll find in many professional web designers and that is, that they care. They care deeply about marrying the needs of your business and the needs of your audience. Professional web designers really try to understand your business first. This helps them to design the best possible solution that will appeal to your audience and deliver the business results you desire.
Despite what people think, each website really comes with its own challenges. Your business is unique. So it makes sense that your website should be unique too. There are always problems special to your web project and a true professional freelance web designer will always try to solve them proactively and methodically.
A good freelance web designer will tend to be quite systematic in his approach. He will assess your business objectives, evaluate your target market and will then consider all the parts of the web design project to create an action plan for the best way forward.
Albeit a crucial part of the web design process, creativity for web designers are not just about aesthetics. True freelance web design professionals make sure they take the complete user experience in consideration. That means finding creative solutions for navigation, presenting content in a meaningful way, making your website SEO friendly and helping to ensure accessibility.
I think I may change the word ‘curious’ to ‘hungry’. A true pro will always make time to study up and stay in the know about that latest trends and technology in web design. Freelance web designers also like to hang out at geeky events and conferences which allow us to stay on the leading edge of our profession. Staying hungry is a true characteristic of a freelance pro.
A great web designer knows that your website must do one thing really well. It must communicate your message effectively so that you can get the desired response. To be a good communicator online a web designer must know a thing or two about copywriting, semiotics and website conversion optimisation.
Freelance pros also know that turning a click into a customer or a lead is the highest priority of almost any website. On some websites it may be to complete a task like filing tax documents. Whatever the objective(s) of a website, the true pro knows that at the end of the day, Return On Investment (ROI) is the name of the game.
Many web designers have their core capability which might be designing or coding. But true pros usually have a diverse sub-skill set which might range from online marketing strategy, wireframing, strong creative concepts, SEO, business analyses, branding, social media and the list goes on. These sub-skill sets make for a well rounded designer and adds value to any web project.
True freelance web designers are passionate about their work and expertise. They’ve spent years learning, experimenting, failing, succeeding and honing their skills in an industry that is ever changing and challenging to say the least. They have battle scars because they fight for what they believe in and what they know will work. The best freelance web designer will challenge you from time to time and push you to think about different ways in which you could improve your project.