It is a necessity for every smart business to have an online presence and web design agencies are therefore in high demand.
Whether it’s through new designs or the latest in interactive content, the need for online innovation means web designers need to lay strong business foundations if they intend to succeed.
What is it and who is it suited to?
Web design involves the structure of a website including the information architecture, the layout of the pages and the conceptual design.
You don’t need to have a doctorate in online design or advanced programming in order to set up a web design agency. However, it helps if you have a basic knowledge of design and are moderately tech-savvy.
Rules and regulations
According to the Australian Web Industry Association, there are no specific rules that apply directly to the industry.
However, there are several industry bodies that aim to promote good practices, including the AWIA. A lot of the industry is self-regulated, helping clients to identify businesses with ethical practices.
Research and competition
Ultimately, you should aim to establish a reputation as an expert in a particular niche. That way, you can raise your business from the legion already established in the industry.
However, not everyone chooses to offer a specialist service; there are a lot generic agencies that do everything.
Their offer includes design, front-end and back-end programming, marketing and SEO. But establishing yourself as a one-stop-shop is not necessarily the best idea. If you try to do everything, there’s a danger that you don’t do anything particularly well.
Web design and web development go hand-in-hand, but they are very different skill sets. If you’re planning to focus on design, having a house style isn’t such a bad idea.
Just be aware that if you do focus on one particular style, and that style goes out of fashion, you risk losing a lot of business.
The AWIA says you also need to decide on the rates you will charge, which will be paramount to your success.
Factors to consider when setting your rates include:
- What is your time worth?
- What are your basic expenses?
- What supplies, hardware and licenses do you need or must pay for on a regular basis?
- What price allows you to do your best work?
- What is your level of expertise?
Costs and earnings
Like any business, you need to register a business name and be set up for GST. According to an AWIA spokesperson, the rest is fairly simple and straightforward.
“Most people in this industry already have a computer, and sometimes finding a desk is the only thing you need,” he says.
“You can quite easily work from home initially, which helps with costs. Most small business software can be bought with monthly license fees, so just set aside that money per month out of your estimated income.”
The spokesperson says every potential earning is tied to your willingness to work.
“Assuming your rate is $100 per hour and you only work 15 hours [of] client work a week, you should be earning in excess of $70,000. Expenses are minimal – and tax deductible – as a single operator,” he says.
An average day
According to the AWIA, an average day could include checking emails, reading the latest blog articles about a chosen field, tidying up any leftover tasks and setting out the day’s work.
“Once established, I find setting half a day of work is advisable due to unexpected calls, emails and client requests. You will always have something that needs doing,” the spokesperson says.
Bill Cullifer, executive director of the World Organisation of Webmasters, says the nature of your day depends on how established your business is.
“For a start-up, most of the time would be spent introducing your services to local clients. Like any business, it’s the relationship that you establish that will help you succeed,” he says.
Australian Web Industry Association
World Organisation of Webmasters
Meetup (online community)
Australian Government Small Business Support Line
1800 777 275