How To Start A Web Design Business

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How To Start A Web Design Business

  1. 1. Starting a design business
  2. 2. Starting a design business • Equipment • Knowledge and ability • Business plan and objectives • Clients Try, wherever possible, to utilize the equipment and communication infrastructure you already have rather than rushing out to the stores.
  3. 3. Computer Whether you are a Mac or PC person, you will need a fairly decent computer with large disc space, fast processor and bags of RAM. If I was starting out today I would buy something like an Apple iMac 27-inch 3.1GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5 for around $1500/£1100. With a 3.1 GHz Intel i5 dual-core processor, 4GB of RAM (maxed out to 16GB) and 1TB hard drive.
  4. 4. Software In order to do some design work, you’re going to have to get some software. There’s a lot of great free and open source tools out there that in some cases do the job as well as the expensive stuff. But, for graphics, unfortunately, you pretty much have to get the Adobe Creative Suite or Creative Cloud.
  5. 5. The 3 applications I use the most are Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. Dreamweaver is not essential for creating websites you can use a text editor and an FTP client. After you’ve had a few jobs you may want to purchase a font management program. I use Suitcase Fusion 3.
  6. 6. On-site Back-up Further down the line, you’ll have your hard drive stuffed with client work, software and not to mention your own personal photos and movies. What happens if something should go wrong with the machine? You need back up and a portable alternative. The cost of external discs keeps going down and down. Here’s a 1TB (that’s 1000GB) Western Digital USB external drive for only $67.00.
  7. 7. Off-site Back-up There are plenty of options: Google Drive Dropbox Amazon S3
  8. 8. Other free tools you can use • Online image editors. Pixlr is one of the best. FotoFlexer is also worth a try. • Open source alternatives to Creative Suite/Cloud There are free open sources versions of Creative Suite applications although they are no real substitute. GIMP has been around for a long time and is a good Photoshop substitute. Pixelmator is not free but is cheap compared to Photoshop. Inkscape, which is popular with the Linux community, is a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator. • File Sharing. If you want to deliver large files to a client there are a host of free services, I use YouSendIt. • Images There are lots of places to get great free stock photography, stock. xchage and Flickr Creative Comms search are two of my favorites.
  9. 9. • There are lots of great free vector resources but, instead of searching through these resources, I find a Google image search for “free vector” does the trick. • Fonts You can pick up free fonts at DaFont and a host of other places. WhatTheFont can identify a font from an image. For fonts to use online, Google Fonts now has a catalog of around 300 excellent fonts that will work across most browsers with just a line of code in the head and a CSS declaration. • Grids If you like to use grids in your web design (or even if you don’t) then check out 960 Grid System where you can download grid templates in HTML & CSS, Photoshop, Illustrator, GIMP, etc. All these grids are for websites that are 960 pixels wide. • Web developer tools These are a standard fare for most web designers with many of us using these tools many times a day: Firebug – awesome
  10. 10. Firefox add-on that will inspect and change HTML and CSS and help you de-bug JavaScript. The Developer Tools for Chrome and Internet Explorer – these do about the same as Firebug and are bundled with their respective browsers. Handy for working out IE hacks. Web Developer add-on for Firefox and Chrome – ultra handy add-on that can disable styles, disable browser default styles (handy for cross-browser compatibility), show alt text for images, resize window, validate, etc. The list is endless. • The HTML Validator and, to a lesser extent, CSS Validator that can be reached with one click using the above Web Developer add-on are services that most web designers will use all the time. • Other online services of huge importance to the web designer are Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools and Google Docs.
  11. 11. • Cross browser checks You can check websites across different browsers at BrowserShots and Adobe BrowserLab. ViewLikeUs allows you to check out how your website looks in the most popular resolution formats. • Speed In order to analyse your page speed, use Google’s PageSpeed (try to get your score up to 100) and Yahoo!’s Y!slow. • Downtime Use Pingdom‘s free service to be instantly informed of any downtime on your site so you can contact your host and sort it out asap! • Color Color Scheme Designer can help you choose complimentary colors for your website designs. And Adobe’s excellent Kuler lets you browse, search, and modify color themes directly in your browser. • FTP client Filezilla is my favorite.
  12. 12. Knowledge and ability Of course, I can’t teach you how to design websites here. You know how you can help your clients. The challenge is getting the clients with needs relevant to the services you offer. You’ll need to develop a network of trusted freelancers you can work with as well as an ability to outsource. This doesn’t mean that you’ll be getting people from oDesk or Elance to do the work for you while you put your feet up and take all the credit.
  13. 13. Have a plan It’s important to have 3-monthly, 6-monthly and annual goals of where you’d like to take your business. Try to make the plans as SMART as possible – that is: Specific Measureable Achievable Realistic Timely
  14. 14. Allied with plans is writing a simple philosophy that sums up your business. We talk about this in the Dealing with Clients lecture. Starting out I am a great believer in just starting. The most important way to start is with your own website which works to get clients to contact you. And we’ll start talking about that in the next lecture.

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