There is no shortage of Web sites and books on how to create
graphics for Web sites and how to use HTML or programming
software. However, in order to run a Web design business
efficiently and effectively you need to know a whole lot more
than just how to design great looking graphics and Web pages.
I’ve learned a lot by trial and error in my years as a Web
design business owner. I want to share the 3 most important
musts for running a Web design business so you can avoid some of
the headaches I had to go through. The key to enjoying your
business is to provide your clients with wonderful Web sites
while keeping your aspirin purchases down. In other words, you
need to focus on these 3 key elements to running a Web design
business in order to alleviate unnecessary headaches and
potential legal problems.
Must Number One: Contracts
You must sign a contract with every single client you do a
project for. It doesn’t matter how nice someone seems to be when
you meet them and it doesn’t matter how small their Web design
needs are; you need to sign a contract with everyone you do
business with or you are setting yourself up for some
potentially painful nightmares.
A contract shouldn’t be looked at as a negative thing; something
that gives the impression you shouldn’t be trusted. In fact,
most of your clients will have the opposite feeling when you
present them with a contract. Telling your clients you sign
contracts for every project you do will show that you are a step
above those that don’t. Most businesses are used to using
contracts and will only respect you more if you use one in your
Mentioning that you use contracts will actually make a client
feel more secure about your business, rather than scare them
away. Any client that is not willing to be bound by a contract
usually has a reason, and it isn’t because they don’t trust you.
People that refuse to sign contracts usually have a pattern of
not holding up their end of a deal. These people should be
avoided at all cost; no matter how much money they offer to pay
The whole point of using a contract is to outline what each
party’s responsibilities will be in the project and what each
can expect at the outcome. Your contract needs to specify what
is to be delivered by you and what is expected of the client
during the entire project. Everything from how to deliver
materials to you and providing timelines needs to be outlined in
Must Number Two: Timely delivery of your client’s materials.
In order to make the most of your time as a Web design business
owner you need to keep all your client projects on a timeline.
The last thing you want to have happen is to cross two or more
different projects on top of each other. If you have several
people working for you, and you can do more than one project at
a time, you may be able to handle things. However, if you are
only able to do one project at a time, you need to make sure
each project is done in its own time frame and not crossing over
into the timeline of another project.
When you sign with a new client, one of the most important
questions they want answered is: “When can my site be finished?”
You’ll need to be able to give each client a timeline to make
them feel good about their decision to hire you. At the same
time, you also need to be able to complete their project within
that timeline to a reasonable degree.
The only way to make sure you can stick to your timelines is to
get materials from clients delivered within a specified time.
You should never allow a client to submit their materials to you
at their leisure. Too many business owners think their work is
done once they have finally found a Web designer to do their
project. At the point of hiring you, they tend to believe they
can just pace themselves and get to you when they have the time.
This will never work if you want to run a successful Web design
You need to set parameters for how and when you want materials
delivered to you, in order to do the work you are hired to do
effectively. If you complete 75% of a Web site but have to wait
an extra two weeks just to get 3 paragraphs of info from a
client to finish the last 2 pages; you’re not making the most of
When you sign with each client, lay down some specific time
periods in which you expect them to deliver all their materials.
Instead of sounding like a dictator, explain to clients the
importance of getting their materials to you in a timely
fashion. Help them understand that it is essential so you can
complete their site in the time frame you have given them. Make
sure you also tell them how you want materials delivered to you
and in what formats so they are able to get it right the first
Must Number Three: Get Approval for Everything You Do
Depending on how you run your Web Design business, there should
be several steps to each project you do. It is very important
that you get approval for each phase of your projects. The last
thing you want is to do a lot of work and then have to redo it
because someone claims they didn’t approve what you did. You
will find times when clients change their minds after you’ve
done something and they won’t see how hard it will be for you to
redo it. Make sure you get approval before moving on to the next
step so you can avoid doing extra work or just doing things over.
Although you may find you have a good relationship with a
client, it is a good idea to get approval for each phase of your
project in writing. You just never know when you may come across
a client that decides to change their mind after already having
approved something. In order to prevent any problems with a
client, getting approvals in writing will help keep everyone in
their place. If someone request a change to something they
already approved and they want it done for the same charge as
you bid on in the beginning, you will have their approval in
writing to back you up when you bring it to their attention.
Implementing these 3 crucial musts into your business practices
will not only help you get things done more efficiently; it will
make your life much easier. Allowing projects to overlap because
clients don’t deliver their materials on time or in the proper
fashion, is just bad business. Set guidelines for submitting
materials, sign contracts with each client and get approval for
everything you do and your business will run much smoother and
be more enjoyable for you and your clients.
About the author:
Scott Marriott is the Author of Web Design Riches, a
step-by-step, 28 Chapter guide to starting and running a
successful Web design business. To learn the most effective
methods and techniques to making money with a Web design
business, visit www.WebDesignRiches.com for more information.
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