Are you a professional Web designer? If so, we have a few business tips for you today. And do you know what? They’re things you could’ve already learned from your ex! (I bet you never thought your ex-girlfriend — or boyfriend — knew a bit more about business than you.)
Sure, some designers already have a handle on these freelance design issues. But many don’t. So let’s explore some things you might have heard during a break-up that apply equally to your Web design work.
1. It’s not always about you.
If there’s one thing I commonly hear from other women regarding why they chose to break up with a guy, it’s because he didn’t pay enough attention to her. Maybe he was too caught up in being with his buddies 24//7 or playing his video games. Why doesn’t matter. Whether or not he felt he was showing her enough attention doesn’t matter either. What matters is that she disagreed.
You might not care on the relationship front. But when it comes to business, you’d better! Freelancing means working with clients. Yes, you’re a business owner and you set your own schedule and rules. But not everything is about you all of the time. You need to turn your attention to someone else — the client — and what they want and need out of that working relationship. If you don’t bother asking what they want and making a sincere effort to deliver, you won’t be in business for yourself for very long.
2. You’re probably not as good as you think you are.
Okay. Exes sometimes throw lines like this around out of spite more than anything else. But there can be more than a little truth to it when it comes to freelance Web design and working with clients. Confidence is a great thing. Cockiness? Not so much.
Don’t go into a new project or a new client relationship assuming you know everything there is to know. I know designers who do this. They never ask the client what the site’s goals are or who the target market is. They get an idea in their head of what they think a perfect design is. They assume they know best. And they often ultimately lose the work (or at least the client doesn’t come back).
That’s not to say you shouldn’t speak authoritatively about design issues. That’s your specialty area after all. But don’t go into absolute “rights and wrongs” unless the client asked you for your opinion or doing something would seriously tarnish your own professional image. Remember, it’s first and foremost about pleasing the client, not creating a glowing portfolio piece.
3. Lose the wandering eye.
Exes of both sexes have had a thing or two to say about their partners’ wandering eyes and unfaithful behavior. And there’s another lesson in there that you can take back to your Web design work. It’s about keeping your focus and your attention where it belongs.
If you commit to a Web design project, then stay committed to it! Don’t keep brushing it off because suddenly something else seems like a more attractive use of your time. Don’t ignore your client because a supposedly “better” client comes along. Finish your current working relationship with a bit of respect and dignity, even if you don’t plan on continuing to work with someone in the future.
4. Stop trying to change your partner (or client).
Perhaps this is something the ladies are more used to hearing. We’re often accused of trying to change our partners. And while encouraging someone to be better — to be what they really want to become — is a good thing, trying to change them to fit your ideals really isn’t. Again, it applies to your Web design work.
If a client isn’t into pushy direct sales letters and they make that clear, don’t try to push them on that typical kind of sales letter design. They don’t want to be associated with the kind of image it portrays. The same can be said of any stereotypical design concepts. If the client says it doesn’t work for them, you’re unlikely to change their mind. Even if you do, they might resent you for it later.
5. Being hot only gets you so far.
If you’ve ever dated someone who was all looks and no brains, you might have gotten to the point where things got boring. Being hot will probably land you as many flings as you want. But on its own it isn’t going to bring in something more substantial. The same is true in freelance design work. Looks are great. But you still need something “more.”
You might have what you consider the hottest design out there. But if you aren’t accounting for the real substance of a site (the words that sell, the product photos, etc.), your design isn’t going to work as a long-term successful solution for the client. Don’t become preoccupied with tossing in so much flair that you forget about function.
What other types of things have your exes said to you when breaking things off? Could any of it apply to your career? Maybe you haven’t thought about it that way before. But really, where inspiration comes from doesn’t matter that much as long as it strikes.