Posts Tagged ‘Web Design’

Six tips to manage your web design business

Published by | Sunday, April 20th, 2014

6 tips for running your web design business

Running your web design agency demands more than excellent design and technical skills. Until you can hire professionals, you need to manage the marketing, accounting, HR, sales negotiating and peacekeeping—for those rocky moments with unhappy clients or disgruntled staff. You can learn more about the responsibilities of being “the boss” in the Defining realities and roles tutorial from the lynda.com course Running a Design Business: Starting Small.

Meanwhile, here are six tips for running your agency:

1. FINANCE
Keep up to date with your accounting and invoicing procedures. Cash flow is the lifeblood of a small business and lack of management in this key area is often why a business fails.

It’s especially important that everyone working on a client’s web project, including freelancers, log their time. Include time spent by admin staff chasing clients for digital content or payment.

Invoice clients as soon as a project has ended, according to the payment terms you agreed on. Hiring a bookkeeper, even part time, is a worthwhile investment for any web design agency and can mean the difference between getting paid and losing money. Bookkeepers can monitor invoices, chase late payments with reminders, and alert you to any defaulters. Clients can be late making payment for many reasons, so by offering creative financing options most situations can be resolved amicably, keeping your business relationship intact. Good financial practices contribute to good client management.

2. ESTIMATING & PRICING
Establish a clear fee rate table for estimating and pricing web design projects. Make sure it includes a percentage of all your overhead costs and has a profit margin built into it.

Your rate table gives a starting point for pricing a client’s web project and fees can be modified depending on the volume of work. For more advice, watch the lynda.com course Running a Design Business.

3. MARKETING
Your web design business needs a steady flow of work to keep it in good health. Creating a marketing strategy helps you identify your target market and plan how you’re going to connect with and win clients. It should include the budget you’re allocating to marketing activities and you should review your strategy regularly.

Make it a rule that you ask every happy client for a referral when your project ends. This simple request can generate a lot of business.

One source of potential business is your list of previous (hopefully satisfied) clients. This list is often overlooked, but well-planned client management can generate repeat business and referrals to new clients. Make time to stay in touch with your list and keep those business relationships active.

4. CLIENT CONTRACTS
Once your client agrees to give you a project, a contract should be created covering all essential points discussed during initial meetings. You can have an attorney create a contract template suitable for a web design business. You then customize it by adding the client’s unique project details plus any contingency clauses you need. It often needs several revisions until everyone agrees to the content and the client signs on the dotted line.

This contract can be very detailed, depending on the size of the project, and should be used as a working document that describes each party’s obligations and responsibilities throughout the web project. It can be amended at any time if the scope of the project changes.

5. MENTOR
Having a mentor can prove to be a valuable asset because it allows you to
• See a situation through more experienced eyes
• Learn a lot
• Become better at managing your web design business and your staff, too
• Expand your support network and business contacts
• Your mentor may suggest routes and ideas you haven’t considered
• You become accountable to your mentor
• A mentor can often see bigger pictures (or problems) that you can’t because you’re too involved in the business

6. NEVER STOP LEARNING.
Technology changes all the time, as does the software used in web design, so nurture your creative team and encourage them to take advanced learning courses to become certified professionals in web design techniques or programming.

Managing a web design business takes a lot of time, but with the help of several online courses, you, too, can work on your professional development at your own pace.

What’s new in WordPress 3.9

Published by | Thursday, April 17th, 2014

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WordPress 3.9 “Smith,” named after James Oscar “Jimmy” Smith, was released yesterday. This new version of the popular web publishing app introduces several highly anticipated new features that make managing your WordPress site and its contents easier. Let’s break down the key new features of WordPress 3.9:

A more powerful Customizer
The Customizer makes managing the appearance of your WordPress site easier by allowing you to see your edits as you make them and preview your theme configurations before you take them live. With the 3.9 update, two of the WordPress community’s most anxiously awaited feature requests have been added to the customizer to make it “complete”:

How to install Google Analytics to WordPress in 5 minutes

Published by | Monday, April 14th, 2014

Install Google Analytics into WordPress in 5 minutes

If you can copy and paste text, you can install Google Analytics to WordPress. All you need is an established self-hosted WordPress.org website or blog, a Google Analytics account, and five minutes or less.

Note: You can only install Google Analytics on self-hosted WordPress.org sites and blogs. WordPress-hosted WordPress.com blogs won’t let you alter your header file or otherwise make low-level changes to your website infrastructure.

WordPress 3.8: A quiet revolution

Published by | Thursday, December 12th, 2013

Today’s release of WordPress 3.8 is revolutionary in the history of WordPress—and a clear sign of things to come from the popular content management system. Sporting a clean new interface, tons of new features, and a new development philosophy, the 3.8 release is a milestone for the WordPress community in many ways. We’re already hard at work updating our WordPress Essential Training course to reflect WordPress 3.8, but there’s a lot to notice in today’s release beyond just what ships in the code.

Deadlines are not arbitrary
Establishing the current WordPress philosophy “Deadlines are not arbitrary,” WordPress cofounder and project leader Matt Mullenweg made a series of bold announcements at WordCamp San Francisco back in July. First, he stated that WordPress 3.7 and 3.8 would be developed in parallel, with firm, preannounced release dates for each. Furthermore, he announced that all new features slated for version 3.8 would be developed as stand-alone plugins first, and only built into the WordPress core code once they were stable. Finally, Matt announced that he’d be personally leading the development team for the 3.8 release.

Automatically back up your Drupal site’s database

Published by | Friday, February 15th, 2013

You do back up your computer, don’t you? It’s an easy process, even if you don’t use a utility like the Apple Time Machine: you simply move a bunch of files from your one place to another.

But if you try that with your Drupal site, you’ll leave out the most important part—your site’s content and configuration. That’s because those parts live in your site’s database, which is stored far away from the site’s files. The solution is to export the database as a file, then save that file along with everything else. Doing that manually can be a pretty awkward procedure, but the Backup and Migrate module makes it easy. Here’s what I do:

  1. Install Backup and Migrate the usual way (shown in the section “Expanding a Site’s Capabilities with Modules” in Drupal 7 Essential Training).
  2. Define where you want Drupal to store private files by clicking Configuration > File  system. Be sure to secure the destination by following the link on that page. If you don’t, your raw database file could become accessible to everybody.
  3. Configure Backup and Migrate to save the database into that directory. (I set up a schedule to save it once a day.) The video Backing up with the Backup and Migrate module in Drupal 7 Advanced Training shows you how.
  4. Save that database file when you save the rest of the Drupal files.

A conservative strategy: Backup and Migrate set to save six months of backups.

 

One last step: Be sure to practice restoring from that backup to make sure it works, as a bad backup is the same as no backup! Note that this is not the same as a straightforward MySQL export: you’ll need to use the Drupal Backup and Migrate module itself to reestablish your site. But while unusual, I’ve found this procedure to be far easier (and more foolproof) than noodling with my site’s Drupal database manually.

Open source—a two-way street

Published by | Monday, February 11th, 2013

Do you have a favorite open-source software you’re using in your professional work? Most open-source software is created by volunteers, organized as a project where the software is created. If you’re making money from the software, strongly consider giving back to the project.

You don’t have to know how to program to contribute. Answer software questions in discussion forums or social media. Make a financial donation to your project. Many projects would like help with issues peripheral to software development, like accounting, legal advice, marketing or SEO expertise, and more. So get involved and give back to the software you love!

Manage unplanned expenses in your web projects

Published by | Monday, January 28th, 2013

When working on a website design or redesign project, have you ever encountered small, unanticipated fees in the course of doing business? These might include costs for stock photography, fonts, content management system extensions, domain name(s), static IP addresses … the list goes on!

Rather than paying this cost from your own budget, or hitting the client up with a bunch of little fees (which gets annoying on both sides), consider quoting a separate line item for website design and development fees. I typically budget roughly 10 percent of the total for this. This is for any additional costs for assembling the site. There’s no guarantee you’ll use this at all, but if you need it, the money is there!