How can you, as a web designer, stand out in a crowded field?
If a business is in the market for a new website, why should they choose you to create it for them?
To answer these questions and grow your business, consider the ways a customer might evaluate web design services and the special something you bring to the marketplace.
What Customers Want
Some clients know nothing about websites except that they want one.
Let’s imagine you’re dealing with a company that wants a website. They offer several products and want information about their line as well as an e-commerce section. They want the site to look good, bring them lots of business, and they’d like it done yesterday. And don’t charge too much, please!
Let’s assume you understand enough about potential customers and designing websites to know you can meet the client’s expectations when it comes to establishing a reasonably quick turnaround schedule. You’re an innovative designer who employs all the best practices for user experience and driving conversions, and you’ve compared your pricing to that of competitors and believe it is fair for the value.
Will you get the job?
Maybe. Or perhaps it will go to one of your competitors. You learn from the client that one competitor has offered a quicker turnaround time. Another has come in with a bid half as much as yours. And a third competitor has promised a quicker turn-around and a lower price.
How can you compete?
From this scenario you learn that there will always be someone who claims to be faster or cheaper. And when it comes to the nuances of web design, many clients may not be impressed by your assurances that your work is going to take longer and cost more than some competitors because your work is better.
There are two ways to avoid such situations in the future: You can market yourself as the go-to person for web design, or you can find a niche and focus your energy on becoming the best and most sought-after web designer in that niche.
Tactic 1: Embrace What Makes You Different
Many play music, but there are only so many rockstars. To become the go-to person for web design, you need to learn what sets you apart. You — not your speed, or your pricing, or even your skills.
What sets you apart? Do you have a knack for discovery, uncovering your clients’ biggest problems that need solving? Or are you a true web innovator, pushing the boundaries of what a website design can be?
There is no clear path to success with this method. Your personality is part of it, but only part. Find a way to leave customers with a “wow” feeling, and you’re on your way. Add that to impeccable service and a mastery of your craft, and you’ve got it nailed. Check out this recent article if you’re looking to know what skills are helpful to break into the world of web design.
Tactic 2: Pick a Niche and Become the Authority on it
The niche approach is also customer-driven but in a different way.
By niche, I mean a particular subset of the marketplace. And you may find success by narrowing down even further.
The more narrow the niche, the more specialized the need. Find your niche, fill a need, replicate.
In my case, I knew I wanted to niche down into a narrower playing field that I could realistically dominate. I didn’t really have overwhelming experience in any one industry that would suggest it should be my niche. So I asked myself:
What do I have experience in? What can I do that others can’t easily duplicate?
It hit me pretty quickly that I actually have quite a bit of experience in the strategy behind web design. Many others can design, but I knew what I brought to the table was fairly unique.
I take my clients through an extremely thorough process of discovery, where we uncover the real problems their current site is facing, and I know how to interpret that into a solid web-based strategy. This includes everything from attracting visitors to a site, how to make them convert once they get there, as well as what do we do to stay in front of undecided buyers.
This is my niche. I can quickly tell which prospective clients are looking for this level of strategy, and which are simply looking for “a website.” Anyone who falls into the latter camp is outside of my niche, and I usually choose to focus my attention elsewhere.
So you see, a niche can be a specific industry, or a particular service (or even subset of a service) that you are particularly artful at delivering.
Many niches are not glamorous, but they represent a lot of business. Take septic tank pumping, as an example. In many areas, it’s an essential service. A Google search will turn up more than 600,000 results in the United States alone. Learn all about septic tank pumping (or another niche of your choice), come up with a great design/strategy that will help septic tank operators build their business and voila! You’re ready to market yourself as the septic tank service website expert. I recommend you check out the blogs listed on this post as inspiration on how to be the best in the industry.
Choose Your Path
Will you work to develop your personal “wow” power or niche expertise? Either path or a combination of the two can bring you success. Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!