Incorporating User Experience into Web Design and overall SEO Strategy Part 2 | What is your website visitor interested in?

“You don’t build it for yourself. You know what the people want and you build it for them.” Walt Disney Well, so what do they want? Too often business owners and marketers will be so concerned with our desires for immediate gratification, that we forget the most important part of the user experience is to first know what the user wants to begin with.  The User’s wishes have to be fulfilled, and this can only be done by understanding what their actual wants are.

Know Your Website Users

Some sample data and use existing models to determine what the user may want for their desired field and interests.  This is a legacy method that, while it can’t be abandoned completely, has to adapt to incorporate new, and in some cases, yet to be developed methods. Using bots and spiders to pull information can give us a decent picture of the past, but little more.  Simply assuming that what has always worked will continue to without refinement is a recipe for marketing disaster.  Instead, we need to make use of the resources available to use and to constantly incorporate the ideals of “what is next” into our user engagement plan.  Sampling data, while important, will need to continue evolving to keep up with the users of today and tomorrow. Some methods include using call and data tracking methods that will replace the antiquated methods of only a few years ago.  There are voice and ad tracking software resources now that are able to determine exact ad responses, and the tracking of those ads. One might ask, “when will a data tracking software come out where the user is able to rate the ad itself?”. This may sound like an absurd question to those in legacy mentalities, but when thinking of what the user wants, there is no better place to begin.

Content That Writes Itself

In the end, the most likely reason a user will be at your site is the content they are searching for. Ensuring that you have the right content for your target market is always the starting point of a strong User Experience Web Design and Development strategy. A futuristic idea is to eventually engage with more than just dynamic content. Some sites and developers are trying to design and develop with predictively created content in mind. No, this isn’t a reference to retrieving content predictively for an individual, but to aggregated and create content customized for that individual, based on their wishes.  Many apps and sites are trying this now, but are still locked in predisposed rules, there is some traction to developing a truly customized experience with completely original and created content based solely on the user’s desires. The option of AI responsiveness is also worth mentioning since it would be the logical step forward in producing a truly responsive development.  How long something like that will take to get here is only limited to our motivation to bring it.

How to incorporate User Experience into Web Design and overall SEO Strategy Part 1 | Empathy and SEO Keywords

First we should consider, what is the focus of the user experience? Since the user is going to define your business with their experience more than any other aspect of your marketing plan, you should first assume that the focus is to ensure that your user's experiences meet "AT LEAST" your basic expectations of your business model. This means that in every aspect of your marketing approach, your user experience should become the focus of your efforts, not just conversions and sales.   Using this definition, let’s consider how best to ensure a quality user experience from start to finish.  The user experience has to start with empathy for what the user would wish to encounter in your digital business profile.  More and more digital customers want the same effort for an experience placed into digital media as they would expect for arriving at your business in person. For too many years, the marketing method of welcoming users to a site was to simply inundate them with data and articulate information.  While both are important, the same can be garnered using a billboard.  Instead, we need to consider how to welcome them to our sites, even if we are ranking the top for a keyword. (what is the point of ranking the highest if you also have the highest bounce rate?). So, we start with empathy: Why did this customer search this term? Choosing keywords needs to be user oriented.  For too many years, marketing director and SEO gurus have chosen keywords solely based on sales and conversions with little regard to additional reasons a customer may come to their site, as a result, the market has been marginalized when it comes to keyword targeting. Users are not completely satisfied with Search Engine Results now due to the mixed bag of outcomes in the results.  Much of this is the fault of our SEO Strategies that have pushed businesses to the tops of search results by providing the best answer in text, even when they may not be the “best answer” in reality.  This has caused the modern consumer to become less and less impressed by search engine placement. Don’t get me wrong, local services and immediate need sales are still in vital need of top placement in the search engines, but the non-immediate purchases are becoming more and more thought based. Local searches for plumbers will certainly still benefit from the top listing in organic and map, but what about for their non-emergency sales?  The searching customers not requiring an impulse purchase are becoming more reliant on user investigation and “purchase assurance” than just the need to address the issue in the easiest way possible. As a society, we are becoming more diligent about the items we individually care most for, and as a result, our marketing methods have to shift to accommodate for digital narcissism. We are obsessed with the desire to garner the attention of our fellows and become recognized as individual “truth givers” and “knowledgeable people” to our fellows. People inherently work for the acceptance of others, and with the advent of the digital age, people have begun basing self-worth and assessment on how others view their ability to be knowledgeable resources of data and information.  As a result, you should start by considering what the individual will be looking for to satisfy that internal need and proceed with a marketing strategy that incorporates this knowledge. Google coined the term the “0” Moment marketing Truth, I would go to say that this is the precursor to it. Empathizing and breaking down the average user to his core understanding has to come first. Doing so allows us to choose keywords based off of what the user actually wants in the way of an experience, not just what we wish to sell them. There are many deeper aspects to this line of thought.  Next, we will discuss why finding the customer/visitors interests before they do is a vital use of this empathy and the next step in your User Experience Based marketing strategy.

How SEO and Reputation Content Countermeasures Are Ruining The Internet Part 1

Marketing has always consisted of presenting a narrative of your product, service, or even ideas and crafting them in a manner more pleasing to the audience.  With the increase in data sharing and interactions online, this has only grown.  The problem with this growth is that it comes with an increasing rate of growth for Content Countermeasures that are intended to stifle, erase, or completely distort the truth about specific content online. Content Countermeasures are nothing more than the attempt to deceive the public with exaggerated, inflated and, in some cases, invented information. In some cases, this serves a very legitimate purpose, like incentivizing positive reviews and ratings from clients to overcome someone who griped about not getting his water and hot bread fast enough when entering a restaurant.  There are certainly legitimate cases like this for businesses to present a positive image of themselves to the public. There is a duality of this topic as there are those who purposefully mislead the public with positive or negative spam of business content, causing a countermeasure to any possible chance of receiving accurate information.  While this might seem like a trifle act, it damages the ability to have a reasonable expectation of receiving correct and verifiable data in search results. "Reputation Management Scams" When it comes to the dirtier uses of Content Countermeasures, the "reputation managers" of the world are almost always going to be one of the top offenders.  The ads heard on talk radio and pushed for local companies are usually nothing short of bragging on how they can spam the public with disinformation about your company or yourself.  Sure, it's sold as "restoring your good name", but if you are going to go through extreme steps(and reputation management often requires extreme steps) to garner enough faked or duplicated content to push down the negative reviews and ratings, then the entire concept of public relation is in shambles. Again, this isn't being critical of those who have a solid and honest goal of ensuring honest content about their business (because we will talk below of the content assassins below).  Let's be clear, if you have to market your company or yourself with false or spammed information, then you or your product simply aren't worth what you are trying to present them as. Scam Spam The same holds true for people who want to push down legitimate information to hide their concerning content from the public.  Content writers are notorious for this one. We get a different one filling our spam folders every week with messages bragging about how they can spam the highest ranking blogs on the internet ... for a price of course.  This is a two-pronged version of Content Countermeasure SEO.  First, they are spamming mass content about themselves on the front end of the conversation, then, they have to do something to remove data from all of the people who are complaining about the unsolicited content.  There will be the guys who have dozens, sometimes hundreds of, blogger, webly, Tumbler...etc, sites with several variations of their own name and all with content claiming to be the most relevant.  We've found the same thing done lately with people who have warrants and want to confuse police (from identifiable IP addresses though, so not sure how well that works).  Additionally, they will play the game of buying any and all variations of ones name in domain format, and again, spamming the internet with redundant and often obscure data to attempt to divide relevancy on the person's identity.  We ran into one of these guys recently who had over 200 variations of his own name out there, all to push down the 40-50 ripoff reports filed about his poor business practices. The spam data traces act as a SEO Countermeasure to prevent people from finding about his actual business practices, and instead focus on a false narrative that is completely opposite to reality. No, I am not coming down on narratives themselves.  As I said in the intro to this post, narratives are shaped by the marketer, but as soon as they are completely falsified narratives, then nothing is left but a dishonest scam being perpetrated on the reader.   The petty marketers who believe that there is a magical line of lies they can hover on and still have their integrity intact are some of the most genuine and shining examples of cognitive dissonance available. SEO Assassins These are the lowest bottom-feeders of he internet. They include "Yelpers", "Competing Reviewers", and all the others willing to destroy.  Content Assassins, or SEO Assassins are often written off as competitors or disgruntled employees, but we've found more instances lately of little to no association being the culprit. The internet gives strength to those who wish to do damage to others with impunity. A restaurant client of ours apparently slighted a patron by serving his therapist.  The individual saw this as a slight against him, and went on to commit a fake review and spam campaign to destroy the restaurant's reputation. Using a photoshopped comment image, the spammer made it appear that the restaurant (run by a gay man) had made anti-gay statements to him on Facebook. This one fake image, posted in several LGBT social media groups, caused over 500 negative reviews in one night. By the time the  restaurant came to us, we had over 900 review accounts to send individual requests and explanations to.    

Marketing Your Local Business Online

If you run a local business, you may be missing out on a wealth of effective and economical online marketing opportunities. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is known for connecting people around the globe with their target products and successfully promoting businesses. It's  even more well known for marketing local businesses in their communities. There is an entire  world of marketing opportunities available for location-based businesses, including search, social, and content marketing options. In this guide, we look into two marketing strategies that successful local businesses use to boost their local SEO. Follow these SEO steps to getting noticed in your local community searches. Naperville Local SEO Optimizing your website for local search is one of the top priorities.  There are a number of ways you can optimize your website for local search that will help attract local clients and customers. The first thing you need to do is identify your keywords. These are the words (usually a short phrase) that describe your business.  If, for example, you run a wedding photography business, your keywords might be “wedding photographer.” To localize your business, add the city you target to that phrase, e.g. “Naperville wedding photographer" or "Glen Ellyn Wedding Photography.” Read the Small Business SEO Guide, do some keyword research to make sure the city + keyword phrase has strong search volume, then optimize your website for the best locally focused keywords using the on-site optimization tips in the guide. Next, include a local street address and phone number (with a local area code, not 800 number) on each page of your website. Most businesses do this in the footer. This information must be on the website in text, not image format, so that search engines can crawl the information. If your business has multiple locations, the alternative is to put the primary location on each page and create individual contact pages for each location. Tip: Make sure your website has a contact page for each location that includes the address, phone number, and a map helping customers find it. Adding photos of each location on the contact page is also a good idea.   Find the right local directories to join Local directories and review sites are often referred to as “citations,” and they can help your business website rank well in local search results on Google. Here are the keys to ensuring each local directory and review site you join counts towards helping your business rank well in local search:
  • Make sure your business name, address, phone number, and website are consistent, on both your website and in local listings. Things that will cause ranking problems include having your business name listed as ABC Services in one place and A.B.C. Services in another, or having your address listed as 1500 West First St. in one place and 1500 W. First Street in another, or having your website address listed as in one place and in another.
  • Encourage (but do not incentivize, bribe, or purchase) customers to write reviews about your business on the top local directories and review sites. The more positive reviews you have, the better your business is going to rank.
  • Complete each of your local listing profiles as thoroughly as possible. If you are given the option of adding additional information, social network links, photos, and videos, be sure to do so.
With hundreds of local directories, review sites, and profile pages, choosing which ones to sign up for can be difficult. Start here:
  • Create listings on Google+ Local, Yahoo Local, Bing Local, and Yelp.
  • Search for your business name using Google and then claim and complete profiles for any of the listings that appear on the first couple of search engine results pages (SERPs).
  • Use the GetListedresource pages to find the best citations for your business based on industry and city.
To get in a wide array of listings without spending a lot of time, you can use services like Universal Business Listing. You complete a profile in their system, and they take that information and populate it across all of the local directories and review sites. You can also use tools like Whitespark to find citations for your competitors. They also offer a free review handout generator that helps you create a guide for your customers to use on how to do reviews for your business. Don’t forget about local media and organizations such as newspapers, news stations, and chambers of commerce. Many have their own business directory that you can get listed in simply by asking or becoming a member. You can also reach out to local business owners to see if they are willing to become referral partners. For example, caterers, wedding planners and florists would be ideal referral partners for a wedding photographer. Look for local businesses with partner’s pages or local resource pages.

Why Relevant External Links Matter: Back to SEO Basics

As a knowledgeable and methodical webmaster and we may be, we know that  know that optimizing our website is a constant effort and that the Web is always evolving.  Our Naperville Web Design and SEO Team is constantly being retaught and our methods reformulated to appeal to the demands of the search engines. You may have spent several hours adding and updating meta and titles tags, keyword-rich content, H1 header tags on top of pages, multiple header tags within content, title text,  quality web content, alt tags for photos, and even building inbound links. One thing you’ve certainly learned through all of this is that in order to rise and remain at the top of SERPs — everything is never enough. linking still matters

Outbound Linking

Certainly one commonly overlooked, and sometimes feared, tactic is hosting external links to relevant websites within your own site’s content.  Some SEO's view this as the ultimate sin.  You likely know that having authoritative sites that include a link back to your website can help generate traffic, leads, as well as increasing your rankings on SERPs. But you might find your self puzzled considering, "if we’re going back to basics, how exactly would linking out to other websites help?" And with the onslaught of websites that have fallen off the grid post-Google updates (Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird) for suspicion of trying to “game the system” – why on Earth would you want to risk having your website get penalized? Some SEO's here in Chicago have openly claimed that outbound links are a near and dear friend of the internet devil. The answer is very simple: user experience surpasses all other aspects of the algorithms. Search engines want you to provide relevant resources on your website that enhance your visitor’s experiences while surfing the web. Your dynamic content and lists of helpful resources will all add a great deal of value to your website in the eyes of your visitors…and the Googlebots.

Spammy vs. Natural Links

So, how can you distinguish between “natural” and “spam” external links and why should you care? Well, what's useful and relevant to your website’s categories and topics. For example, if your website is geared towards sports, it would make sense to link out to other authoritative and relevant sport sites and pages that can enhance your visitor’s experience; whereas including a link to a dentist’s office would seem out of place (unless somehow the connection is legitimate). Of course, you also want to protect your visitors from sites that involve online gambling, payday loans, pharmaceuticals, or adult-oriented content.  Avoid any links from sites associated with known spam content. Additionally, if you ensure that the keywords associated with the site linking into yours are similar to your own, there will be a greater chance of additional weight being placed on them. External links can also come in several shapes and sizes. Surely one of the more well-known tactics is to develop useful content that contains natural links out to other related sources and websites. Accepting authoritative guest posts is also a way to keep your site updated with unique content.  The addition of an authoritative author is that you receive fan traffic from those who are avid readers of the guest author.

They're Still Votes From The Internet

Obviously, you want quality links coming in, and in doing so, you want votes of approval from the internet as a whole. While yes, Google has clamped down on the weight and power of any specific link, the simple reality is that they aren't currently able to get a good feel for a website's overall impact without using link data.  Keep them clean, and Google will reward your SEO effort.

Low-Cost, HIgh-Impact Ways Businesses Can Boost Local Sales

If you're a small business owner, you've likely felt some pains because of the tighter lending regulations from banks.  Your advertising budgets are already small or non-existent, making advertising even harder now.  Fortunately, digital advertising has some low-cost options, allowing small businesses to be able to expand their limited budgets.

Many small businesses have Facebook and Twitter pages, and maybe a few listings in local directories, but that is the extent of their advertising. This is not for lack of interest, however.  In a recent study released by market research firm BIA/Kelsey, 40 percent of small and midsized businesses plans to increase digital spending in the next year.

So how can businesses get the best return on investment from digital, internet and social media advertising methods?

Low Cost Internet Marketing Ideas

It is understandable that companies do not want to put up the cash for traditional outbound marketing techniques, but there are actually a lot of inexpensive (and free) ways to market a business online that are underutilized. If you want to maximize your online presence, look beyond the typical social networks and directories and make use of these options as well:

Register your company with Google’s Places for Business. It's estimated that 97 percent of consumers decide what local businesses to frequent based on an online search? This free service from Google, Places for Business, literally puts you “on the map” so people can find the products or services you offer on a local level. If you do not have an office that is open to the public, you can choose a service area option during signup and hide your physical address. If you have multiple locations, you will want to sign up separately for each spot. Additionally, you will want to be added to several citation sites, to reinforce the Google Places listing. Ensure that the location, phone, and name of your business are the same on each of these sites. Bet results come from consistency.

Join your local Chamber of Commerce. For a small annual fee, you can take advantage of the many networking opportunities your local Chamber of Commerce provides. This is an excellent way to learn about the ways area laws will affect your business operations and also to rub elbows with potential clients. Usually new members get the chance to promote their business on the Chamber’s website or in its newsletter which could lead to a boost in business.

Seek out barter swaps with other local companies. This can take many different forms depending on the resources that you have available to trade. Consider comparable online banner ads or just simply leaving business cards at each other’s physical locations. You may also want to look into exchanging guest blog posts with other area businesses. By linking to each other, you will build up search engine credibility for people searching businesses in your area. There are really no limits here and business swap ideas are free. Try to find companies that make sense with which to trade – for example, a home inspector may find value in a swap relationship with a local Realtor or property management office.

Make a business video. People love to watch videos online, so why not ride that wave? Make a brief video explaining your services or products and post it several places, including your official website and YouTube.  Show your expertise in your field with a video that explains what you do and why you are the best at it.  People like to put a face with a business name, especially when it comes to local companies, so give them a reason to pick you over the other options.


August-September Newsletter

Free Marketing Tips Offered Within Our Blog

For the past several months, we have been decisively studying a new wave of marketing methods.  We want to share this knowledge with everyone who wants to learn how to upgrade and manage the organic SEO of your own site.  These methods are usually free and require little more than an hour a day to improve the quantity and  quality of visitors to your sites. We're discovering the importance of a load of critical but unexciting things like:
  • Researching your market
  • Testing different propositions to suit your chosen market
  • Learning how to write compelling copy
  • And trying out a range of content to see what works best
These skills are not part of the average modern web designer’s arsenal, but they very soon will be! Those web site owners and designers who don’t apply the knowledge that direct marketers have built up over the last 125 years will soon find it harder to compete against those who can show real business results, backed up with figures. We’re discovering a range of simple techniques that can have a massive impact on the success rates of your site. Many of these have been known for generations among certain disciplines, and it’s time we bring them into daily use in web design and online marketing.

Free Optimization Webinar

Our business development guy, Christian, recently attended several seminar on web site optimization and wants to share and disseminate the information to all of our associates. We’re following up with our own free webinar to give time to answer our clients and all attendees’ questions. We also commit to analyse a few sample sites submitted in advance of the webinar. This will probably be on Monday September 23rd at around 13.00-15.00 Central time, but I’ll confirm the date & time later. If you would like to attend, watch out for an email from me in the next week or so, and I’ll give you the link. Places are limited to 100, but we may follow up with more over the following weeks, so if you don’t get on, please let me know. Our goal is to share all of our knowledge with the public.  The day of paying insane amounts for someone else to monitor and maintain your SEO campaign are definitely not over, but we want to at least show you how to take control of your marketing should you choose to.

Best Web Design Venue

Our favorite place to work tends to be coffee shops and delicatessens.  In all of the chaos and varying conversations, we can get lost in the work at hand.   One particular place that we've come to enjoy more than most is the Atlanta Bread Company in Warrenville, Illinois.   Since this franchise is family run, the atmosphere is not only welcoming, but quite inclusive and friendly.  The kindness, the artistic fervor, and the immersion within a flowing sea of people coming and going actually makes for our most productive work environment.hidden links The families that manage and own the store are some of the first people I met when moving to Illinois.  I have a large amount of gratitude for the kindness they showed me when arriving here and when we came back to Naperville this past spring.  They have welcomed us and our clients into their establishment and given us a warm environment to conduct our business meetings and web design presentations. Artist tend to flock to the "Bread" as well.  On any given night there will be some form of artistic group that is having a meeting at their location.  There are women who stitch on one night, trading card women on another, painters discussing canvasses, and many other niche artisans who wish to meet and share their talents.  For those familiar with the area, Naperville and Warrenville aren't exactly thought of as Art Mecca's, but within the Atlanta Bread, there is an exception that is a pleasant change for the Chicago Suburbs. Lastly, the absolute chaos of a busy lunch cycle completes our A.D.D. persona and elevates our productivity.  We tend to get more accomplished in a two hour rush at a coffee shop, than in eight hours of quiet within our on office.  we're going to post a lot more on this in coming weeks.  There's just an odd correlation between our better work performance and the amount of interactions taking place at the same time.  We'll be posting more about our favorite working environments in the weeks to come, but at this moment Atlanta Bread is our favorite local coffee shop for web design and seo meetings and work.

Officially A Business

While it may be small potatoes to some, Naper Design is now an officially recognized business in the eyes of the IRS.   We filed for and received our EIN today and will be submitting our Articles of Incorporation within the next month.  The new customers we have been receiving and the welcomed response to our product and work ethic have ensured that we are a business that will stand the test.hidden links party-balloons-275x300 We'd like to especially thank all of our clients for the continued increase in business and networking.  The referal business is a testiment to the qualiity of clients that we have been continuing to enjoy. Thank you, and we look forward to moving forward with the full marketing potential of Naperville SEO IncNaper Design and Naperville Strategic Marketing

New Website Builder at Intuit

For years now, Intuit has been a shining star to many small businesses because of its highly acclaimed TurboTax, Quicken, and Quick-Books software.  I myself have been an avid user of their small business tools and have enjoyed the time it saves with handling budgets, bills and payrolls.

Recently, Intuit began a major push for their new website building software and I thought I'd give it a shot.  If it's better than Go-Daddy's horrid "Website Tonight" software,  that would be a great improvement for businesses beginning a web footprint.  I've decided to break down my critique of their builder into three basic categories for this assessment.  There are certainly other criteria that could be used, but I would likely write much more than anyone would be willing to read.   After discussing the criteria, we will make a founded assessment of the value vs cost of their development price.  The three categories we will discuss are for design structure, code development, and what SEO and SEM their builds enable a site with.  We'll use a scoring method of 1 to 10 with 1 equaling Go Daddy's Website Tonight and 10 equaling a Free Wordpress Theme.


Score= 4

First of all, their design structure, while a bit cliche, is one of the first autobuilder formats that has some decent design structure to their templates.  That being said, these are templates and will not move far.  Of the ~2000 templates they have, there are only about 100 that are really going to get peoples attention.  Of these 100 templates, take a guess at how many times each one will be recycled continuously across the internet.  On the positive side, the builder does allow you to tweak certain aspects and containers of each template to allownot worth it for some impression of originality on your site.  This will help to an extent, but eventually there will be repition of your site throughout your market and maybe even your direct competitors.  While far better than the templates that most autobuilders use, there's still a lot to be desired here.

Code Development

Score= 7

Some of you familiar with their templates are going to be scratching your heads after seeing a score of 7 on this one.  Yes, it may be a little high for legacy HTML, but there is a good reason behind this thought.

They're using Quality CSS and don't have tons of tables being shot out at your browser.  If familiar with other autobuilders, you understand that the majority of their build are conducted in long and dirty table design.  The CSS in the Intuit sites are actually decent.  Anyone hoping to see PHP within their listings, hope you can find one, but after and hour of search and reading "index.html" as many times as I did, it was apparent that there are no PHP driven sites within their selection.  This means that there is less functionality available through these sites, but if you're using them, you probably don't even notice.  All in all though, the HTML is written well for template use and the CSS is clean enough to earn an 8 in this category.



Ok, here is the category that hurts them.  While it was hard to find any sites built with this tool(besides spend money and make one), I was able to find a few that we could run through website. grader from Hubspot.  The sites saw a "Best Ranking" of 30. At no point in my life has a score of 30 been a passing grade.  The same occurred when running it through the tools on SEOmoz(know some of you hate them, but they have easy tools).   There's simply no excuse for a website builder that will leave a client with a  site of  limited ability and still be published mainly through PPC style advertising.   If there is any suggestion for Intuit, or specifically people thinking of using there site builder, it would be that there needs to be more focus within the code structure to benefit the customer needs. If you are looking for a website that allows people to find your business and not just a vanity plate to put on a business card, avoid this builder as well.

Final Score= 4.3

While Some of my fellow designers will vehemently disagree with my assessment, I think it's like to be the best summarized review that could be offered.  It should be mentioned as well, that this is only a grade of the Starter system, since that's the one being offered for $4.99/month(while the only one with the tools needed for business cost $49.99/month).  The problem with the price is the "Bait and Switch".  If we look at the pricing table, it becomes apparent that this is not the fantastic deal that they make it out to be in the commercial(imagine that happening).  Here are there price columns per service.

As you can see, there's not much you're getting for their advertised $4.99/month or even for their Cadillac Package that could legitimize this site build being used for a long period of time.  It is understandable that some businesses must use one of these auto builders to get started, but it should only be a temp fix. These should not be used over six months at max; otherwise, it becomes a money pit instead of a money producer.  A quality CMS system built for your business will save you money in the long-run, and will do more for your income as well...

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Why Being A Freelance Designer Is Risky

Here is another re-posting from an author at . I felt it would be nice to show more work from fellow designers and their thoughts. Please enjoy this posting and a link to its author will be placed at the base.hidden links home_pic07 Why Being A Freelance Designer Is Risky: 7 Business Strategies To Help You Succeed One of the biggest problems with being a freelance designer is that the work can be challenging. No matter how clear you may be on the assignment and direction from the client, there are pitfalls to avoid. Here are seven tips to help your freelance business succeed. 1 – Craft a Contract Before you begin work, it is critical to draft a contract that delineates the product to be delivered as well as the amount of revisions a client will get. And include what will NOT be included in your services; it covers all your bases. You do not want to be caught in a situation where you are doing countless revisions and not being paid for it. 2 – Confirm the Delivery Format It is crucial to find out how a client wants the design delivered. You will want to know the application in which the design is being used and thus make sure that you deliver a format that will work for the CMS (or non CMS). This should also be specified in the contract. 3 – Ensure You Get Paid When you are freelancer you will not have the security of a large design firm backing you up and collecting on your accounts. One smart thing to do is to place a watermark on the work or deliver it in a resolution that is too low to be used by the client. Once the work is paid in full you can deliver the artwork at full resolution with no watermark. 4 – You May Have to Start at the Bottom There is always the lure of being freelance, you work the hours you want and take the projects you want to do right? Well you may find that it’s not quite like that especially in the beginning stages. You may need to take whatever work comes your way until you can market yourself and get a roster of clients that will give you enough work to support you and your new business. 5 – Set up an Arbitration Policy If there is a discrepancy in the amount due or over the initial contract you drew up with the client, you need to make sure you are legally covered. When drafting the contract make sure that the client signs it and returns the original copy to you and understands the requirement of arbitration to end disputes. This will be critical if you should have to take them to small claims court. Always be as specific as possible. 6 – Spend Money where Necessary You may not have all the latest equipment like you would at a design firm. Buying computers, software, pencils, watercolors, are all sunk costs to your new business. Keep your costs down by holding onto your laptop a few months extra and seek out discounts for software. 7 – Name Drop Keep a detailed address file to stay on top of your professional contacts. Your contacts are your most important asset. You want to keep in touch with your clients even after you finished a job. Sending email updates, newsletters or promotions can be a good way to stay in touch. Freelancing is a hard road. Not everyone is suited for a lifestyle. It takes brains, balls, and wit to stay above water. But we hope these seven tips will give you an edge to succeed. Written by- Eva Vesper at WHS, a web host guide that provides reviews, articles, and tutorials. Got questions about hosting or domains? Check them out.