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View Full Version : Is web design profitable where you live?




floyde
Nov 25, 2005, 03:53 PM
Please bear with me and my lengthy background info:

Well, I've been somewhat exited lately because I found a partner who is willing to start a new business with me. We want to start a small web design studio with the premise of a borderline obssesive-compulsive attention to detail. In other words, we want to make kick-ass sites that are beautiful, functional, accessible, technologically advanced, all at the same time (think Apple;) ).

Our reason for choosing this type of business is that we don't need much money to set it up (we only need our talent and OCD), and also because the local (Monterrey, Mexico) web design industry is abysmal and we feel they don't stand a chance against us :rolleyes: (all modesty aside)

Anyway, I decided to check out the competition and I was shocked to discover the horrible truth: our competion sucks much more than I thought, but ironically, that's not going to be good for my business. Check out this (http://www.pagimas.com/1/dis.html) aberration, and this one (http://68-design.com/diseno.htm) (Warning: the images you are about to see are not for the faint of heart. Viewer discretion is advised).
Yes these sites are hideous, and yes they abuse Flash (well, one of them, the other uses cold war-era technology), but look at how they charge :eek: Translation: they basically count the number of pages, images, links, etc. and charge a small amount for each (those figures are in pesos, divide by 10 and you get the equivalent in USD). Even worse, there are dozens of these sites around.

So you see, my problem is that it doesn't matter how great our design abilities are, customers are going to prefer a $600 USD website instead of our stylish, well designed sites.
So I was wondering if it's the same in other places (i.e. the US, Canada, UK, etc.). Is web design profitable where you live? How much do you charge for your projects (average)? Do yo think there's still hope for me?:o ok, thanks for reading the whole thing



wrc fan
Nov 25, 2005, 10:36 PM
I found when I was running my business that it was impossible to make money. People didn't care if your work was better looking or followed standards (i.e. w3c compliant). All they care about is the price. The cheaper the better. It might be different if you can get larger companies, but when you're starting out that'll be near impossible to do unless you have contacts. But if you work hard and are willing to do a lot of marketing and sales work and start out charging lower than you would like, you might be able to start getting bigger clients. The key thing, which is what my company lacked is the marketing and sales. I can't stress enough how important those two things are. People aren't gonna come to you asking you to do work; you have to go to them and convince them that they need it. Best of luck you ya! :)

ChicoWeb
Nov 26, 2005, 10:44 AM
I found when I was running my business that it was impossible to make money. People didn't care if your work was better looking or followed standards (i.e. w3c compliant). All they care about is the price. The cheaper the better. It might be different if you can get larger companies, but when you're starting out that'll be near impossible to do unless you have contacts. But if you work hard and are willing to do a lot of marketing and sales work and start out charging lower than you would like, you might be able to start getting bigger clients. The key thing, which is what my company lacked is the marketing and sales. I can't stress enough how important those two things are. People aren't gonna come to you asking you to do work; you have to go to them and convince them that they need it. Best of luck you ya! :)

I somewhat disagree with that. Nothing is impossible, especially if you have the drive and talent to accomplish what you've set out to do. I began my business about 2.5 years ago, and am running full steam. Of course price is a major concern, but you can't sell out your talent either. Just ask the person who made the Nike logo for 35 bucks.

When I started out, I had modest prices only because I didn't have the skills and experience that warrant a high labor cost. When I began I charged my work out at 40$ per hour. When you are a sole proprietor and you main goal is to gain clients, this was key. I've got a good client list now that keeps on growing and my labor rates have since double in the 2 year capacity.

Sure sales and marketing are important, but if you work is good enough and you have a valuable reputation, it will surpass sales. I've never made a cold call or sales call before. Does that mean its the case for everyone, probably not. If I had it to do over again, maybe my first year I would have thought about taking a more proactive stance on it, but now its just not necessary.

By the way, never link your competitors work in a forum or anywhere for that matter. Now its going to get referral links, googled, and its just not very professional in my opinion. I've had a few of my competitors make html pages that linked all sorts of their agenda then linked info about the competitors. Then everyone clicks on the links and all you competitors have a front door right into your office :)

BTW, that first one looked like a monster template, I wouldn’t be to worried about that.

belvdr
Nov 26, 2005, 10:51 AM
ChicoWeb,

Just an FYI, that your tracker site, extreme-dm.com, is very slow. It caused your page to take 90 seconds to load. After blocking that domain, it pulled up very quickly.

Coheebuzz
Nov 26, 2005, 12:20 PM
Hmm i am in the same business field as you guys and i'll have to agree with wrc fan about the need of marketing. All those big companies that get all the work and sell monstrosities for 5 figured numbers may lack talent and skills but have troops of marketeers and PR people that go around convicing people that their product is the best. The recipie is 50% quality of your work and 50% marketing if you ask me, just like Apple is since floyed mentioned it in his post.

radiantm3
Nov 26, 2005, 03:36 PM
"Word of mouth" marketing is the best kind of marketing for a new small business. Do a few low cost sites for some non-profit organizations in your community to build your portfolio and reputation. People referring associates/partners/colleagues to your business is much more valuable than just seeing your portfolio. Seeing your work is not enough these days. If someone I trust tells me that X web design company did really good work them and are great to work with, I'm more inclined to use them over a cheaper alternative that I know nothing about.

floyde
Nov 28, 2005, 10:50 AM
Thanks for all the good advice! It's good to hear that I'm not the only one who has to deal with this sort of stuff. Now I'll just have to learn my arse off to be as good at web design as I pretend to be;)


By the way, never link your competitors work in a forum or anywhere for that matter. Now its going to get referral links, googled, and its just not very professional in my opinion. I've had a few of my competitors make html pages that linked all sorts of their agenda then linked info about the competitors. Then everyone clicks on the links and all you competitors have a front door right into your office :)

Oops, I didn't think of it that way :o . I won't be doing that again any time soon.

68-design
Jun 28, 2006, 07:08 PM
Hola, ya cambie la pagina 68-design.com, no la hice mas en flash, de hecho la pagina que viste duró muy poco por que a mi tampoco me gustaba, solo que lo hice muy aprisa, espero que si entras a ver la que esta , sea de tu agrado, sin mas por el momento, gracias.

thejadedmonkey
Jun 28, 2006, 07:38 PM
Hola, ya cambie la pagina 68-design.com, no la hice mas en flash, de hecho la pagina que viste duró muy poco por que a mi tampoco me gustaba, solo que lo hice muy aprisa, espero que si entras a ver la que esta , sea de tu agrado, sin mas por el momento, gracias.
Which means something along the lines of..
Hello, already it changes to the pagina 68-design.com, I did not do it but in flash, in fact the pagina that dresses lasted very little so that to my I did not like either, single that I did it very fast, I hope that if you enter to see the one that this, is of
Which means something like the guy who wrote it is saying he doesn't like it and did it fast.

frankblundt
Jun 28, 2006, 07:52 PM
There will always be others out there that are cheaper than you and clients who will go for that. There's no point whatsoever in trying to go down that path. The challenge for you is to create a value proposition for your potential clients. They need to understand (a) that a well-designed, well thought out web site will pay for itself and enhance and expand their business and that a bad one will not only be money down the drain but will negatively affect their business. And (b) you are the guys who know what the difference is between the two and how to do it.

To a surprising extent, the more you charge, the more seriously people will take you - so don't be afraid to charge what you think it's really worth (you'll still probably come out cheaper than the big PR/Agency firms, but then they'll do better lunches) - just make sure you have the skills to back it up.

Sometimes, when you're getting started you have to suck up the odd job at low rates just to get something on your portfolio, but try not to do those jobs for people who you want or can get as long term clients - once they've paid less they're very hard to shift up.

One thing I would suggest is not to try and be everything, find out what part of web design you're good at, get better at it and stick to that - far too many design "firms" out there are basically one guy in a room at home who thinks he's a graphic designer, an information designer, animator, copywriter, web tech, market analyst and a database specialist, all in one. Find other people who are good at the other bits to partner with or people willing to offer freelance support in those areas, and build that into your pitch.

Offer a "free" consultancy up front, grill the client extensively about what their business is, who their likely audience is, which audience they actually want, what those people are going to want, how the site is going to offer it to them and how offering them that will drive them into doing what the business wants from them. Listen. They're proud of their business and they know it better than you do, let them do the work for you.

The site plan/structure will fall out of that process naturally, so the job's already underway (draw it out for them as you go). They will see that you are serious about building a site that actually does something rather than just looking cool, they will see that you care about their business, that you understand business is about customers, that web sites are not just a bunch of pages with their logo on them, that a variety of (quite disparate) skills are needed to do it properly, that your team has those skills, and that they don't come cheap.

Is it profitable? If you do it right, hell yes.

68-design
Jun 28, 2006, 08:37 PM
gracias por traducir thejadedmonkey, y pues si, no me queda mas que decir que no supe lo hice, pero bueno no me quedare en el pasado, hay que avanzar...