Start a Web Design Business without Coding Knowledge
If you love design and have a talent for color, layout and functionality, you can succeed as a professional web designer. Where things become difficult is when clients begin asking for things that are beyond your knowledge level. You also need to consider the ever-changing landscape of web technologies. If you’re not able to produce websites in HTML5 or CSS3 to accommodate mobile users and adapt to new standards, you may lose any competitive edge you may have had.
So what are your options?
- Read a few books and try learning on your own
- Hire someone else to do the work
- Only offer design services and leave it up to the client to find a developer
These are all viable solutions, but they all have drawbacks. You may not be able to dedicate time or money to learning new skills while trying to build a startup or freelance career. Books, while certainly resourceful, won’t contain the most updated information and leave a lot up to experimentation. Hiring someone else cuts into your profits and can be risky or frustrating. Limiting your professional services limits your audience and will also limit your ability to compete.
If you find yourself in this position, an efficient strategy is to build your business around a set of solid tools and resources that enable you to produce high quality work from your designs all the way to your hosting offering and support. This way, you won’t need to hire anyone else or spend unnecessary funds on advertising.
You may already have access to graphic editing tools such as Photoshop or Gimp, and the web is a phenomenal source of stock art, elements, fonts and tutorials so I won’t get into the design process here. Instead, let’s focus on how to create highly functional websites using interactive technologies such as Flash, jQuery and HTML5 visually.
Your shining star is the Wix website builder. Wix provides a set of cloud applications for creating completely custom websites, Facebook pages and mobile mini-sites using Flash or HTML5 featuring a drag and drop UI with all the features you need for styling and laying out each element. They offer a vast library of templates, effects, fonts, animations and widgets, or allow you to start from scratch. Essential elements such as galleries, image slideshows, video players and forms are easily inserted, and you can use any of the integrated services for enhanced functionality or build your own HTML widgets. The builder has a huge library of stock graphics, photos and background textures and provides ample space to upload and store your own. But Wix is not just about design. It includes support for Google Analytics, SEO, adaptive layouts and localization. They really have just about everything covered.
Being able to create professional looking, interactive and bespoke websites using the graphic design capabilities you already possess will empower you to build up a business with a better chance of attracting the kind of clients you want, and Wix even helps you get there. The Wix Pro directory helps you promote your services to the world and all existing Wix members, and designers are featured daily, giving your designs the exposure they need to drive traffic to your portfolio.
How to Get Started
Step 1 – Create a Portfolio
Even if you have an existing website or blog, create your own website with the application to experiment with the various features and capabilities and show off your creativity. Be sure to add a page about yourself and a light description of your services. Don’t worry about pricing lists – simply add a custom quote form using the Wufoo widget or similar service.
Step 2 – Challenge Yourself
Create a few websites with a few pages each to explore various techniques and styles or to appeal to the kind of clients you want to attract. They don’t have to be complex or based on client work. Make up your own brands or re-imagine an existing website to show how you could make it better. Put these designs into your Wix portfolio.
Step 3 – Connect Your Social Networks
Create a matching Facebook page and mobile site, or use a fluid layout on your original design so it works in both a desktop browser and a Facebook iFrame app. If you have a blog, integrate it or add an RSS feed and cross-link everything for better continuity.
Step 4 – Promote Yourself
Sign up for the Wix Pro directory and submit your portfolio. Advertise yourself on social networks and actively participate in the design community. Get involved with your target audience and consider contributing to design repositories, stock websites or design magazines to increase your name recognition and skill visibility. If the budget allows its nice to hire a freelancer or profession company to SEO and promote your website. Keep in mind that it should be white hat SEO, if not you’ll be screwed up by search engines. Here you go if you’re looking for full service internet marketing in Chicago
Step 5 – Keep Creating
Now that you don’t have to worry about spending a ton of time struggling with something that may be difficult, uninteresting or expensive to learn, you can spend that time finding inspiration and creating designs, both for yourself and your clients. Surplus designs such as graphics, backgrounds and illustrations can be sold for passive income on design marketplaces, turning your downtime into profit.
You still need a basic understanding of HTML websites so you can insert widgets where needed, but building websites in this tool is based on your creative ingenuity and willingness to succeed. It is also 99% profit. Wix is a completely free application, right down to its hosting service and amazing support. Premium services such as custom domains and additional space are extremely affordable compared to similar services. If rolled into to your package costs, you stand to make 99% profit. Compared to the thousands of dollars in licensing fees for other software, web hosting and training, this is a huge benefit for designers who are just starting out.
There is a measure of business savvy, self-discipline and social networking that goes into making a design business a success, but in one weekend you can be well on your way.