The truth about web design

Some Truths About Web Design

I’ve been thinking a lot about the changing landscape of web design and development, and I believe there’s already a fast-moving shift in how customers are approaching getting online. I may elaborate more later, but here are the overall thoughts.

You Don’t Need to Code to Make a Career Out of Web Design

I’ve gotten a lot of pushback on putting this idea out into the world. You don’t need to code to make websites. With the advent of page builders and services like Squarespace, you don’t need to necessarily know HTML and CSS – at least not to get started. Will it make you better? No doubt. Do you need it to get that first (or first 50) website out there? Absolutely not.

You could focus on other skills instead: content creation, UX, color and font theory, etc. In my eyes, we’re seeing a shift much like the one WordPress brought about in the mid-2000s. As more people shifted to using WordPress as a CMS, there were the people who claimed that WordPress will never be as good a CMS as one they could make themselves.

Tools like page builders can make us more efficient without sacrificing quality. Click To Tweet

Now, it would be ludicrous (in most cases) to code your own CMS from scratch, especially for a simple informational website. If would also blow out the budget most people have for a small business website.

Because of This, Price is a Bigger Factor in Decision Making

I got into a “spirited” debate with a few folks recently, who made the claim that no one they work with competes on price. I call BS.

Price is not the only factor that goes into decision making – and that’s true of just about anything. But if I charge 5 times more than my competition for the same product or level of service, I’m going to lose the work. It’s as simple as that. There’s a difference in people seeing the value in what you have to offer, and overpaying when they don’t have to. It’s why most large organizations require 3 proposals from 3 different businesses.

You show me someone who’s never lost a bid because of price and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t charge enough (or a liar).

That Doesn’t Mean Lower Your Prices

Many people take my position to mean you need to lower your prices to compete. I certainly don’t think that at all. I’ve only raised my prices, and do it just about every year.

Don't lower your hourly rate. Make hourly work more efficient. Click To Tweet

What you need to do is find ways to make hourly work more efficient. That means using a page builder / pre-built tool instead of coding from scratch every time.

Look at lawyers. People don’t pay lawyers $300 (or more) an hour to relearn the law every time. But I also wasn’t about to pay my lawyer $300/hr to draft up articles of incorporation from scratch when he definitely had a template he could use. That’s just good, efficient service.

If You Think Your Clients are Dumb, You Have Failed Them

Too often I hear, “my client is so dumb. I can’t believe they sent me their account password,” or “They just sent me their bank info!”

If you think your clients are dumb, you have failed them. Click To Tweet

Our job as web developers, first and foremost, is to educate. If they knew what we know, they wouldn’t hire us. So it’s our job to talk to them, have a good conversation about what they need, and then tell them what the next steps are.

I have never had a client send me bank info. And it’s because the conversation goes like this:

Client: I want to be able to accept payments on my website

Me: OK there are a few ways we can do that, but they easier right now is PayPal. You can set up an account here, and I can talk you through it if you need. Once you’re done, all I need is the email address you signed up with. Please do not send me any sensitive data via email.

Similarly, I try my very hardest to make sure no one sends me a password via email. If they do, it gets changed and I explain to them why. I never think they are stupid for sending it.

Knowing These Things Makes Us Better

I’m not saying this stuff to be a jerk. Quite the contrary: I want us all to continue to thrive doing what we do – especially those of us who are self-employed. But to do that, you need to understand where your clients are coming from. Complaining about stupid clients, even if it’s “just venting,” can have a dangerous effect on the way you treat all of your clients.

Understanding how web design is changing allows us to be proactive, instead of wondering what happened when it's too late. Click To Tweet