Making Websites is Easy
One web-aficionado’s take on why everyone should calm down and stop trying so hard.
I’ve been intimately involved with websites for a pretty long time now. Fresh out of college after dozens of frustrating interviews, I had the sudden realization that, “I’m going to go nowhere with this graphic design degree unless I understand coding.” So I found this program called WordPress which lets you make a blog. I spent countless hours and late nights learning the ins and outs of the back-end, to the extent that installing plugins like “Hello Dolly” and “Akismet” felt like they happened Automattically — muscle memory I think.
Over the last five to eight years I’ve worked on countless websites, creating great user interfaces for a variety of businesses, family members, and struggling non-profits. I’ve received over one-hundred reviews on Upwork — most of them positive. And after all this time and success, I’ve learned two things that I think most of us in the industry can agree are true:
- If you can learn to edit WordPress core files directly, it will ultimately save you a LOT of time. #tricksOfTheTrade
- Making websites is pretty damn easy.
So you’ve probably heard that it was hard
I hear horror stories constantly from clients about how some designer built a website that looked really good and brought in a bunch of new leads, but ultimately cost thousands of dollars out of the client’s own pocket! (I have to ask myself… was it really worth it?)
So many times, large businesses are cash-strapped and struggling to make ends meet as they penny-pinch million dollar marketing budgets. Sadly, many code-slingers are unable (or dare I say unwilling?) to accommodate their simple needs, and I can’t quite understand why.
After all, do you know what else costs thousands of dollars? Hundreds of scratch-offs. And for the cost that most browser-technicians charge for a super simple website, these clients could have won several times already.
With that said, I would like to refute once and for all the unsettling myth that “making websites is expensive and difficult.” Below, are 6 reasons that this is absolutely not true:
- Have you ever heard of Wix? Their commercials say “Make a PROFESSIONAL [emphasis mine] website in minutes.” That’s why this is my first point.
- While it is true that Google will penalize a site in the SURPS for not being “phone-friendly,” this penalty will ONLY OCCUR ON MOBILE DEVICES. Many clients only rarely use their phones for searching, and are just fine with the fact that those who do will get a lesser experience.
- Some designers like to make sure their website works “properly” in the browsers people are most likely to use. This wastes a lot of time! Your client likely will only review the site in the particular browser on their own computer. I make sure to find out what they use the first time we talk, and if they have a problem later, unfortunately that’s just the nature of the technology.
- In my experience, businesses don’t want a website that is fast or useful. They just want one that is cheap and cheap. It’s understandable. I mean, if I had to pay their CEO’s salary I would definitely want my web-person to be budget-friendly too!
- Designing a website before you make it is a thing of the past. I always design directly in the browser. In fact, nowadays I completely ignore wireframes, design mockups, pointless hours of testing, sitemaps, content gathering, boring phone calls I never pay attention during anyway, and planning of any kind. Just get whatever you can live by whenever their deadline is!
- Trends are just that, trends. Instead of trying to convince my client that a modern design style will attract a bigger audience and build trust, I stick with what has worked for decades on every site. Basic, web-safe fonts (I just LOVE Arial), a two-column layout (ALWAYS include a really uncomfortably small sidebar), and a fixed-width page that actually looks like a literal page. Easy-peasy.
After reading this list, I hope you can now see that true web-stacking really isn’t that hard if you only include those things your client really wants, and if you are willing to make some shifts in your design mentality. If you can learn to make a website that is less useful, has minimal focus on usability and design, and only emphasizes what the client says they can afford, you too will find that making websites is easy.
Take advantage of yourself and your potential clientelle
Being a website-strategist isn’t just about creating something as cheaply as possible so that your clients will sign-off. It is also an entrepreneurial effort. If you don’t take the time to understand the business landscape you occupy it can be very difficult to succeed. I was considering this the other day as I took the bus home from the public library (Not paying for home wifi is a #moneySaver!). How can I find more new clients, and still maintain my professional facade? (without doing anything illegal of course!) Here is what I realized:
So many site-artists struggle to find new leads and convert those leads into paying clients. But all it takes is a shuffle in your stride. The business landscape of web-wranglers is actually an empty sidewalk. And this sidewalk is just COVERED in money. Ones, tens, hundreds — all over the place ready for you to have.
The only thing you have to be willing to do, is bend over and take it.
As easy as that sounds, I see so many web-gurus trying to stand on their principals, letting easy opportunities fly by. What’s wrong with you, don’t you like making money? Sure, I like enjoying my job as much as the next guy — but quantity will always be more valuable than quality.
The idea that finding and converting new clients is hard and full of intense competition is also a bit of a misnomer. After all, there is no competition when you will tolerate anything more than anyone else!
If you need proof, below are the top five ways to find more clients, easily, right now:
- Drop your hourly rate down as much as possible. Nothing discourages potential clients more than extra zeros on that bottom line. When in doubt, discount!
- It is wise to avoid any kind of binding contract or clarity of scope if possible. Having a client is just like being involved in a relationship, and who likes being held down by responsibility and commitment? The answer: not your client.
- Place an emphasis on terrific customer service and a willingness to go above and beyond. No matter what the client says, does, or alludes to — they are always right. Remember, making websites is so easy it’s a wonder and a privilege that they are hiring you at all. If they increase the scope, no big deal — as a freelancer you’ve got nothing but time anyway! As I always say, “Be the client’s bitch, make yourself rich!”
- Knowing your audience is key. And everyone knows that the free market economy is just an elaborately controlled power laundering scheme tightly controlled by the Illuminati black market, and that free-will is an illusion. If you think a client may be of Illuminati affiliation, show them the secret handshake and mention the Pope.
- If these previous tips don’t work, remember, you ALWAYS have the option to offer your body in prostitution at a discounted rate. That gets them every time!