Charging Per Hour vs. Per Project

If you’re a corporate designer, you don’t have to worry about things like how to bill your clients, as you’re likely either on salary or have a predetermined hourly rate and regular work schedule.

But for freelancers, figuring out how best to charge clients for work completed can be a nightmare. After all, you want to charge clients a fair price, make a decent living, and get enough work so that you’re not struggling to find the next project.

In the world of web design, there are two basic ways most designers charge: per hour or per project. There are advantages and disadvantages to each method, and there are situations where one method works better than the other.

In this article, we’ve presented an overview of what’s involved in each method of charging, as well as what you need to consider when choosing a method.
Charging by the Hour

Charging an hourly rate is incredibly common in the world of freelancers, both for designers and other professionals.

It’s a pretty straight-forward way of charging. I just tell you I charge $X per hour and you either think that’s reasonable and agree to pay it or you don’t and you find someone who charges less.

Advantages to Charging by the Hour

As mentioned, hourly charges are very straight-forward. Some designers have a flat hourly rate regardless of the type of work they do. Others have different hourly rates for different functions (designing, coding, testing, etc.).

It’s easy to lay out for your clients exactly what you charge, and they often feel like it’s a more transparent way of doing business. It’s also a method clients are used to dealing with, as that’s likely how their lawyer, accountant, and other professionals also charge.


Written exclusively for WDD by Cameron Chapman.
http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2010/10/charging-per-hour-vs-per-project/

If you’re a corporate designer, you don’t have to worry about things like how to bill your clients, as you’re likely either on salary or have a predetermined hourly rate and regular work schedule.

But for freelancers, figuring out how best to charge clients for work completed can be a nightmare. After all, you want to charge clients a fair price, make a decent living, and get enough work so that you’re not struggling to find the next project.

In the world of web design, there are two basic ways most designers charge: per hour or per project. There are advantages and disadvantages to each method, and there are situations where one method works better than the other.

In this article, we’ve presented an overview of what’s involved in each method of charging, as well as what you need to consider when choosing a method.

Charging by the Hour

Charging an hourly rate is incredibly common in the world of freelancers, both for designers and other professionals.

It’s a pretty straight-forward way of charging. I just tell you I charge $X per hour and you either think that’s reasonable and agree to pay it or you don’t and you find someone who charges less.

 

Advantages to Charging by the Hour

As mentioned, hourly charges are very straight-forward. Some designers have a flat hourly rate regardless of the type of work they do. Others have different hourly rates for different functions (designing, coding, testing, etc.).

It’s easy to lay out for your clients exactly what you charge, and they often feel like it’s a more transparent way of doing business. It’s also a method clients are used to dealing with, as that’s likely how their lawyer, accountant, and other professionals also charge.

Leer más “Charging Per Hour vs. Per Project”

60 Exclusive Free Icons: “Childish”

As you probably know, we love great icons and we always like to give away some great sets.

Today we have a set of 60 exclusive free icons that we call “Childish”. As the name implies, these are ideal for children’s websites or for websites that are more relaxed, with a fun feeling. They’re definitely not suitable for a serious corporate website.

The set contains all of the icons in 4 different sizes, 32×32, 48×48, 64×64 and 128×128.

In addition, there’s a vector file containing all of the icons so that you can easily resize and modify them as needed.

All icons are free to use for both personal and commercial purposes, with attribution required (you can waive the attribution requirement by paying a small fee).


thumbAs you probably know, we love great icons and we always like to give away some great sets.

Today we have a set of 60 exclusive free icons that we call “Childish”. As the name implies, these are ideal for children’s websites or for websites that are more relaxed, with a fun feeling. They’re definitely not suitable for a serious corporate website.

The set contains all of the icons in 4 different sizes, 32×32, 48×48, 64×64 and 128×128.

In addition, there’s a vector file containing all of the icons so that you can easily resize and modify them as needed.

All icons are free to use for both personal and commercial purposes, with attribution required (you can waive the attribution requirement by paying a small fee). Leer más “60 Exclusive Free Icons: “Childish””

The design process vs. design-as-product

The trouble with the word “template” is that its meaning depends on one’s point of view.

To some, a template is a ticket to an instant website. Many content management systems allow owners to change plug-and-play themes as easily as they change clothes, and inexpensive skins are just a Google search away.

To others, templates are learning tools. Studying samples of real-world code and style is more practical for them than following examples in a book or reviewing lecture notes.

Templates can represent independence. Anyone, even someone without basic design or development skills, can choose from hundreds of templates without fear that a “design expert” will question their decision.

Templates can also mean efficiency. They are generic enough to fit most information, and they are reusable. Fill the space with a dash of content and you’re done.

Many people I’ve worked with-designers, managers and clients alike-equate templates with design. To create a design is to build a chair in which the content will sit. To choose a design is to select a vehicle to carry information.

The noun “design” differs from the verb “design”: one is a product, the other a process. This thought begs the question: is web design skin deep, or are designers more than purveyors of templates?

intentional design stands out [Más…]
Chasing Keyboard Shortcuts

Thinking of the process of designing a website as “producing the best template” is the wrong approach. I know from experience.

Not long ago I was hired to design a law firm’s website. The business’ owners knew what they wanted, more or less, and provided JPG mock-ups. Aware of the tight deadline, the developer and I hammered out a database, a custom CMS and, of course, the HTML template.

Their three-column composition had pale boxes on a paler background. We measured space for ads on the right, worked to fit the search tool on the left, checked spacing in three versions of Explorer and tweaked the drop-shadows under the navigation bar. In short, we fretted over everything except the center column.

As deadline approached, we met to address last-minute problems. One person wasn’t satisfied with the arrangement of certain information. Someone suggested a solution and asked me to try it out. A few HTML changes later, we saw the new page. Everyone settled for this compromise, and the website went ahead.

After the launch, the client complimented my design skills and particularly my knowledge of keyboard shortcuts. At first, I didn’t recognize the unintended insult, but I’d been cast in the role of “button pusher,” and the field of design was button pushing. Worse, it was my fault: by acting on the committee’s whim, I put myself in this position. The job paid well, but the result was uninspired and the experience belittling.

The best way to design, and I mean the verb, is to keep on designing, to seek problems. To insist that “less is more” is the same as saying “Don’t do something unless the project suffers without it.”

template design vs. content design

How Does It Work?
1. Ask questions.

“What do we want to accomplish?” is just the beginning, and “To build a website” is not a sufficient answer.

* “Who are we trying to help, inform or influence?”
* “Why should people come to us instead of the competition?”
* “Who is responsible for what?”
* “What do we need in order to launch, and what can wait for later?”
* “How will we maintain this website? Who will make changes, monitor traffic and troubleshoot problems?”
* “Has this been done before? If so, how can we improve on it? What mistakes can we learn from?”


design-process-mass-producedhttp://www.webdesignerdepot.com

The trouble with the wordtemplate is that its meaning depends on one’s point of view.

To some, a template is a ticket to an instant website. Many content management systems allow owners to change plug-and-play themes as easily as they change clothes, and inexpensive skins are just a Google search away.

To others, templates are learning tools. Studying samples of real-world code and style is more practical for them than following examples in a book or reviewing lecture notes.

Templates can represent independence. Anyone, even someone without basic design or development skills, can choose from hundreds of templates without fear that a “design expert” will question their decision.

Templates can also mean efficiency. They are generic enough to fit most information, and they are reusable. Fill the space with a dash of content and you’re done.

Many people I’ve worked with-designers, managers and clients alike-equate templates with design. To create a design is to build a chair in which the content will sit. To choose a design is to select a vehicle to carry information.

The noun “design” differs from the verb “design”: one is a product, the other a process. This thought begs the question: is web design skin deep, or are designers more than purveyors of templates?

intentional design stands out Leer más “The design process vs. design-as-product”

The Next Level of Design: Being Unique

In a world filled with CSS galleries and showcase websites, everything starts to look the same.

Gradients, rounded corners, drop shadows, it’s extremely hard to get away from the strongest of trends in our industry.

Each year however, some people manage to set themselves totally apart from everyone else and produce stunning designs with inspiration seemingly flowing directly out of their fingers and into their work.

In this post, we’ll take a look at a few of those people and some of the things which they do to be unique from everyone else.
What Constitutes Being Unique?

It’s all well and good suggesting that you should be unique and different from the competition, but what does that really mean? There are so many websites and great designers out there, what individual elements constitute being unique?

Well, in simple terms being unique just means doing something differently. You don’t have to create a design with the navigation in the footer and the copyright information up where the logo would normally be just for the sake of standing out. It’s about not just following what everyone else is doing and coming up with your very own way of displaying the information and the message which you are trying to get across to the user.

How many sites have you seen with a full width header (with a gradient), followed by a full width navigation bar, then a content section and a sidebar, then a full width footer? Hundreds? Thousands? If your focus is going to be being unique, then this is probably a design recipe which you should steer clear of. It’s too easy to create yet another site like that. Don’t get me wrong, they are popular because they are effective and easy to create… but they don’t stand out.

Being unique is largely about doing small things differently to everyone else rather than trying to reinvent the wheel. Of course you also have to accept that the time period for which it remains unique will be limited. If you do a great job, then unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) it’s going to be copied by many, many people. That being said, innovation is almost always remembered.


thumbIn a world filled with CSS galleries and showcase websites, everything starts to look the same.

Gradients, rounded corners, drop shadows, it’s extremely hard to get away from the strongest of trends in our industry.

Each year however, some people manage to set themselves totally apart from everyone else and produce stunning designs with inspiration seemingly flowing directly out of their fingers and into their work.

In this post, we’ll take a look at a few of those people and some of the things which they do to be unique from everyone else.

What Constitutes Being Unique?

It’s all well and good suggesting that you should be unique and different from the competition, but what does that really mean? There are so many websites and great designers out there, what individual elements constitute being unique?

Well, in simple terms being unique just means doing something differently. You don’t have to create a design with the navigation in the footer and the copyright information up where the logo would normally be just for the sake of standing out. It’s about not just following what everyone else is doing and coming up with your very own way of displaying the information and the message which you are trying to get across to the user.

How many sites have you seen with a full width header (with a gradient), followed by a full width navigation bar, then a content section and a sidebar, then a full width footer? Hundreds? Thousands? If your focus is going to be being unique, then this is probably a design recipe which you should steer clear of. It’s too easy to create yet another site like that. Don’t get me wrong, they are popular because they are effective and easy to create… but they don’t stand out.

Being unique is largely about doing small things differently to everyone else rather than trying to reinvent the wheel. Of course you also have to accept that the time period for which it remains unique will be limited. If you do a great job, then unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) it’s going to be copied by many, many people. That being said, innovation is almost always remembered.

Leer más “The Next Level of Design: Being Unique”

10 Places to Buy Professionally Designed WordPress Themes

In the past few years, the popularity of WordPress has skyrocketed, which has led to a growing demand for themes. With this growing demand, we’ve seen new premium or commercial WordPress theme shops popping up everywhere.

Some may say that the premium WordPress space is getting a bit saturated, and they’re probably right. However, more premium theme providers does mean a wider selection for those seeking more than what a free theme can offer.

The only problem is being able to find quality and professionalism in the vast sea of premium themes. It seems that the majority of premium theme designs out there are lacking, and appear a bit amateurish.

So for this post, we’re showcasing 10 great places where you can purchase professionally designed WordPress themes.

All of these shops are run by either designers or people that understand design – and as you can see, it shows in the quality of each theme.


//www.webdesignerdepot.com

In the past few years, the popularity of WordPress has skyrocketed, which has led to a growing demand for themes. With this growing demand, we’ve seen new premium or commercial WordPress theme shops popping up everywhere.

Some may say that the premium WordPress space is getting a bit saturated, and they’re probably right. However, more premium theme providers does mean a wider selection for those seeking more than what a free theme can offer.

The only problem is being able to find quality and professionalism in the vast sea of premium themes. It seems that the majority of premium theme designs out there are lacking, and appear a bit amateurish.

So for this post, we’re showcasing 10 great places where you can purchase professionally designed WordPress themes.

All of these shops are run by either designers or people that understand design – and as you can see, it shows in the quality of each theme.

1. Theme Trust

Theme Trust creates beautiful WordPress themes that are dead simple to use. It’s a fairly new theme shop, but a high level of quality and attention to detail is evident in their themes.

Professional WordPress Themes

2. Theme Shift

ThemeShift prides itself on creating “Professional” WordPress themes, and they do a great job at delivering on that promise. Their themes are all well designed and show a great attention to detail.

Theme Shift

3. Themify.me

Themify.me is one of the latest to enter the premium WordPress theme business, but all of their themes look simply amazing.

Themify Leer más “10 Places to Buy Professionally Designed WordPress Themes”

Best Practices for Designing Usable Websites for Kids

Designing for young kids is something not a lot of designers think about until approached by a client who wants to target that age group.

But the truth is that kids in the 3-12 age group are using the Internet in surprising numbers. Ten years ago, it was rare for a child who hadn’t even yet reached school-age to use a computer. Now, there are a surprising number of websites specifically catering to them. And that number is growing all the time.

The Nielsen Norman Group, long known for their usability studies, has recently completed a study on the Internet habits and related usability issues often encountered by kids in the 3-12 age group.

The report is based on actual user studies, rather than just surveys asking kids what their internet habits and experiences are, and provide invaluable insight into the real usability issues confronting kids, and what users can do about it.

Below is just a brief sampling of some of the topics covered in the report and the study. The report can be purchased and downloaded from the NN/G website.


//www.webdesignerdepot.com | Written exclusively for WDD by Cameron Chapman.

Designing for young kids is something not a lot of designers think about until approached by a client who wants to target that age group.

But the truth is that kids in the 3-12 age group are using the Internet in surprising numbers. Ten years ago, it was rare for a child who hadn’t even yet reached school-age to use a computer. Now, there are a surprising number of websites specifically catering to them. And that number is growing all the time.

The Nielsen Norman Group, long known for their usability studies, has recently completed a study on the Internet habits and related usability issues often encountered by kids in the 3-12 age group.

The report is based on actual user studies, rather than just surveys asking kids what their internet habits and experiences are, and provide invaluable insight into the real usability issues confronting kids, and what users can do about it.

Below is just a brief sampling of some of the topics covered in the report and the study. The report can be purchased and downloaded from the NN/G website.

Myth: Kids Have Cutting-Edge Technology

A lot of us tend to believe that kids have access to cutting-edge technology. They have the newest computers, cell phones, and other gadgets at their disposal. While this may be more common among teenagers, younger kids often have outdated computers.

If you think about it for a minute, it makes sense. Kids in elementary school often aren’t as dependent on computers for schoolwork, and therefore parents often give them hand-me-downs (either their own or from an older sibling) or less expensive machines. This not only means that kids often have computers with slower processors, but may also be more limited in internet connection speeds.

Even the computers kids use at school are often older and outdated. School computers are often donated and budgets for new technology are often very limited. School computer labs may hang on to the same computers for five years or more due to budgetary restrictions. And often these computers aren’t particularly cutting-edge when they’re purchased.

Myth: Kids Understand the Technology They Use

A lot of adults look at kids using computers and assume they understand how they work. After all, a lot of these kids have grown up using computers and it seems like second-nature for many of them.

The truth is that just because kids know how to use something doesn’t mean they have any clue how it actually does what it does:

Like most adults who don’t understand how a refrigerator works, kids do not feel they need to understand the underlying mechanisms of the Web before using it.

Because of this, it’s important that designers don’t overestimate the knowledge of their visitors. It becomes more important as a user’s age decreases, as they have less experience in how technology generally works.

Leer más “Best Practices for Designing Usable Websites for Kids”

Create Great Websites, Without Any SEO

Search Engine Optimization, also known as SEO is a subject which gets talked about to death all over the web.

There’s a fairly large group of people who believe that SEO is the be-all and end-all to anything on the web.

They believe that without it, you are nothing and with it, you are everything.

Today we’re going to look at why that isn’t true and why you can create a truly great website which performs well in search engines, without any seedy SEO tactics.

We’ve also included a case study of WooThemes and QA with Adii Pienaar and his views on SEO.

What They Want You To Do

1

SEO companies use techniques which fall into two categories: “White Hat” and “Black Hat”. Black Hat SEO is the term used to describe questionable SEO practices such where people try to cheat the system with multiple websites and code which exploits loop holes in search engine algorithms. Black Hat SEO is frowned upon but, to be honest, White Hat SEO isn’t much better.

People who do White Hat SEO play by the rules. They don’t break any Google Terms of Service (mostly) and they stick to the techniques which are deemed to be legitimate. The problem is that they go over the top and they entirely miss the point.

SEO companies have one goal and one goal only. To get websites into top positions for highly-search key phrases on major search engines. They generally pay very little attention to the content of the site, so long as it has plenty of keywords. They pay very little attention to the usability of the site, so long as search engines are able to index the pages easily. They pay very little attention to the bounce rate, or how long people actually bother to stay on the site.

Ranking highly in search engines means absolutely nothing if people are just going to press the back button as soon as they’ve spent five seconds on your awful website.

There are SEO companies out there with major investors taking money from clients and then paying untrained staff to create spam blogs with bogus content and links. These companies class themselves as fully White Hat, by-the-book operations, but they’re still using incredibly questionable and ultimately dangerous tactics. I should know, I used to work for one of them and disliked every second of it.

We should probably pause for a moment to add a small disclaimer. Not all SEO companies are the same, and not all of them are trying to screw you. There are a few who believe they genuinely are helping you with some misguided idea of what the web is all about (hint: it’s not spam).

There are fewer still who actually have a huge knowledge on SEO and use it as a very small part of a bigger picture. The difference is that the last group of people rarely refer to themselves with any sort of title containing the letters S, E, and O.


This post was authored exclusively for WDD by John O’Nolan //webdesignerdepot.com

thumbSearch Engine Optimization, also known as SEO is a subject which gets talked about to death all over the web.

There’s a fairly large group of people who believe that SEO is the be-all and end-all to anything on the web.

They believe that without it, you are nothing and with it, you are everything.

Today we’re going to look at why that isn’t true and why you can create a truly great website which performs well in search engines, without any seedy SEO tactics.

We’ve also included a case study of WooThemes and QA with Adii Pienaar and his views on SEO.

What They Want You To Do

1

SEO companies use techniques which fall into two categories: “White Hat” and “Black Hat”. Black Hat SEO is the term used to describe questionable SEO practices such where people try to cheat the system with multiple websites and code which exploits loop holes in search engine algorithms. Black Hat SEO is frowned upon but, to be honest, White Hat SEO isn’t much better.

People who do White Hat SEO play by the rules. They don’t break any Google Terms of Service (mostly) and they stick to the techniques which are deemed to be legitimate. The problem is that they go over the top and they entirely miss the point.

SEO companies have one goal and one goal only. To get websites into top positions for highly-search key phrases on major search engines. They generally pay very little attention to the content of the site, so long as it has plenty of keywords. They pay very little attention to the usability of the site, so long as search engines are able to index the pages easily. They pay very little attention to the bounce rate, or how long people actually bother to stay on the site.

Ranking highly in search engines means absolutely nothing if people are just going to press the back button as soon as they’ve spent five seconds on your awful website.

There are SEO companies out there with major investors taking money from clients and then paying untrained staff to create spam blogs with bogus content and links. These companies class themselves as fully White Hat, by-the-book operations, but they’re still using incredibly questionable and ultimately dangerous tactics. I should know, I used to work for one of them and disliked every second of it.

We should probably pause for a moment to add a small disclaimer. Not all SEO companies are the same, and not all of them are trying to screw you. There are a few who believe they genuinely are helping you with some misguided idea of what the web is all about (hint: it’s not spam).

There are fewer still who actually have a huge knowledge on SEO and use it as a very small part of a bigger picture. The difference is that the last group of people rarely refer to themselves with any sort of title containing the letters S, E, and O.

Leer más “Create Great Websites, Without Any SEO”