Failing as a web designer? Specialize!
Did you struggle to create your own business Web site, deciding along
the way to become a Web designer? Or did you plan on becoming a Webmaster
from Day One? Are things working out as you'd hoped? If not, read on.
a graphic designer, works with her husband, Will, a programmer. Most of
their projects call for a team, and they prove a good mix. "I can't
imagine how one person could take on the complete design of a site: programming
and the visual aspects, unless they were extremely multi-talented,""
she says. "If I were working alone, I would only be doing the graphics
end of it, with perhaps some layout."
one of the Internet's top Web developers, says, "Many excellent technicians
have no design sense whatsoever and produce poorly designed sites. Many
excellent artists have no technical skills whatsoever and are incapable
of putting together a web site." Do you fit into one of these categories?
"A truly professional web presentation," says Jeff Clark of
"requires the skills of artists, designers, programmers, writers,
copy editors, marketers and administrators. Since I am only professional
at programming, it would be unfair for me to describe the activities of
each, but suffice it to say that each is definitely its own specialty."
Eva Rosenberg of I-Help
Desk attended a conference of Web experts, and discovered that one
of the most important ideas to came out of the conference was, "Focus
- stop scattering your energies everywhere." How, you ask, does that
apply to Webmasters?
"Perhaps," says Mari Bontrager, "the key to success is
in not only recognizing one's specific talents, but also one's personal
strengths. It has long been my thought that I am successful in what I
do because I am teamed up with a topnotch programmer." The Bontragers'
willingness to advertise their unique specialties has made William's cup
run over. In a recent newsletter, he asked readers to recommend programmers
While some developers choose to work independently, others form a team
atmosphere that allows all members to grow together in the industry, gaining
experience from the other team members. Such is the case with the LindaCaroll.com
Linda and her partner have staff in Toronto, the Philippines, and the
U.S. "Given the success of this venture," Caroll says, "we
anticipate taking on a couple of new staff members within the next six
"It's important for people to market their strengths," says
Vanchau Nguyen, CEO of ezboard.com.
"Trying to do things that are not natural for people will usually
result in a lot of frustration and heartache." Nguyen spent ten years
building and operating BBS and online communities before he decided to
form his own company. He learned that some of his natural skills went
beyond technology: he also thoroughly enjoys motivating and empowering
If you have have a variety of skills, have done a great deal of studying
and intend to continue: excellent! If, however, you have an area or two
where you are very much a specialist, and are weaker and less comfortable
in all other aspects of Web development, you're left with some choices.
- Start a business (or change the present one) to include other independent
contractors as part of a team to help in the areas in which you are
weak. You must be highly organized and have excellent communication
skills for such a venture to work!
- Begin by marketing yourself as a specialist in your field: programming,
editing, graphic design, scripting, search engine optimization, etc.
Your primary aim, then, would be to become a part of other Web development
- Try to run your business by yourself, aware that you do not have the
necessary skills required of an effective Web designer, and pay for
it by seeing yourself with little or no business.
If, in fact, you are extremely good at designing graphics, or scripting,
or writing, or programming, or streaming media, or search engine positioning...but
not comfortable with most of the others, why not make your specialty the
theme of your business, and go after your share of the market? This doesn't
mean you can't create and maintain sites for others. That's your choice.
It does mean announcing that you have a specialty and capitalizing on
Emphasize what you do best. Get out and network. Start a newsletter and
give great tips...and mention your newsletter in your sig line. Give away
great tips: the good you do in this area will come back to reward you.
It worked for Will Bontrager: he has so many projects that he's sending
people to other programmers.
It's time for you to do some serious promoting! You'll work as hard to
market yourself as a specialist as you did with your Web design business.
The difference is that now you will truly love what you do. You'll be
surprised and pleased at the results. Focus, don't scatter! Brand yourself.
|About the author
Judy Vorfeld's operating system is Windows and her primary software
includes WordPerfect; Microsoft Word; Microsoft Publisher; Adobe Acrobat;
PaintShopPro; and Macromedia HomeSite. Please visit her website: http://www.ossweb.com
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