In this article I’m going to cover some of the major changes that have come about in web design and what that may mean for your website design business.
Do you want to start a website design business?
Have you considered setting up a website design business or are you doing it for the first time?
Have you seen the drastic changes that have come about in web design over recent years?
Do you know what’s happening in the industry or maybe you feel you don’t need to do anything with it?
This is a guest post by Fran Buckley. Fran works as a development designer with Janco Networks and also freelances for various agencies and blogs at www.webbyfran.co.uk. He shares his professional knowledge with the web community and tries to keep the technical aspects of the industry as up to date as he can.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that virtually everyone involved in a website design business has probably thought about the potential growth of the business, at least once or twice in the last couple of years.
At least that was the case when I was setting up my own business, but the things that have happened over the last couple of years are mind-blowing. I’ve been running my own consultancy for seven years now and the figures make for sobering reading.
It was just under eight years ago that I started my business (see where this is going?) and now I’ve done the maths and the fact is that:
(To be honest, even with some of the more recent deals that I’ve done, I’ve still not broken through £10 million in business value.)
The figures from one of the big agencies are even more startling.
John Gale’s company is generating £22 million in business value across their clients portfolio and look at these other two big figures from that agency:
2,500+ staff (when they have the bare minimum of that many staff)
at least £20 million in business value across their client portfolio.
It’s hard to put into context how large this is, but let’s have a look at what this means for the web design industry in particular.
The first thing that people always ask is, “If there’s so much money in this industry, why don’t the big agencies invest in their websites?”
The short answer is, they have a lot to lose if the web design industry crashes.
It seems that a lot of agencies have a strategic plan that involves web design being a part of that plan, but this isn’t always the case.
If the big players start investing in their websites and employing web design staff, they’ll have a head start in trying to recruit web design staff to their own company.
Before you can make a hire from your competitors website, you’ve got to find them.
Because there’s so much competition to hire web design staff, and the people that are interested in working for your company have a choice of thousands of other companies to choose from.
If you’re a small, independent company without a big, established client base, it’s going to be extremely difficult to recruit web design staff because they don’t know that much about your company.
If you’re an agency with an established client base that has just been acquired by a large corporation, you have a great opportunity to recruit web design staff.
But you have to offer them a way to work for your company, and the offer must be attractive enough to get people to want to work for you, before they know that they could be working for someone else.
I’ve experienced this myself.
After being acquired by a major international company a couple of years ago, I had three job offers to choose from.
If you can prove to a prospective employee that you’re going to be able to offer them a job before they know that your company has been bought out by another, then it’s not surprising that they’ll pick your company.
It also means that you have to pay the applicants loyalty fee.
I also experienced this with staff that were being recruited in my previous company, and it’s not difficult to justify the loyalty fee.
People who are trying to decide between your company and someone else’s company, will want to work for you and they’ll only want to work for you if they feel that they’re being financially rewarded for doing so.
There’s also another reason why web design firms need to pay a loyalty fee.
Because it’s always in the owner’s interests to keep his staff happy.
The more loyal your staff, the more they’ll want to work for you. If you’ve built a good relationship with your staff, it will be difficult for them to work for someone else.
Good websites don’t just make money, they help the business as well.
Now, if a good web designer is sitting in front of his computer looking for a new job, he or she will have a number of job offers.
But if you’re able to convince them to work for you instead, you can keep them as a loyal, long-term employee.
Also, because they’re already happy with you, it will be easier to retain them, and so they’ll stay on even if the economy starts to get worse.
It’s a win-win situation for both the client and the web designer.
The benefits of building a client base
The benefits to the client of having a client base and having websites is amazing.
For example, a client of mine told me, “I don’t get out much, and when I do go out, I rarely buy anything.”
Now imagine if I asked you to get out more.
In a world of instant communication, it’s easier to stay in touch with your customers, and it’s even easier to let them know about special offers.
There are just so many benefits to creating an online marketing strategy that will work for you.
A marketer that understands that an online marketing strategy will work for his or her client will be able to create an online marketing strategy that the client will find valuable, so there will be a bigger opportunity to convert his or her client base into clients.
An agency owner that understands that a business’s reputation is an essential part of a company’s reputation, will work to create a positive online reputation.
If I have a website and the website is full of rubbish, that will mean that no one will want to hire me.
So you need to focus on creating a website that is full of real content that reflects your company’s real identity, and that people will be interested in visiting.
Now, on to another benefit of an online marketing strategy:
Getting new business to the web design firm
To illustrate the benefits of building a client base, let’s talk about an important issue for a web design firm.
If you only have a small number of clients, and your business is only just starting, you need to hire a web designer to build a website for you.
With the low cost of hiring a web designer, that can be an expensive project.
If you have a client base, you’ll be able to avoid this expense.