Remember when you were so excited to finally ditch the regular nine to five and set your own work hours? Then came those crazy long hours at work and your six days work week turned into eight day workweek.
If most of your day is spent dealing with client conversations, emails, and lead generation instead of designing, here are Ruttl's top 10 tips that will help you manage your work effectively and succeed as a freelance web designer.
1. Create a standardized process chart for your clients
“What aspect of the website design are you working on currently?” “Till when can we expect the home page design of the website?” “What is your design process?”
These are some of the common questions a web designer gets from their clients. Think about how many calls, messages and emails can be avoided if you provided each client a standardized process chart so they clearly knew your deliverables and what they can expect next. Instead of going for the usual all-text process explanation, turn it into an infographic. This infographic should contain a process overview, what each step may contain and if need be, an estimated timeline.
2. Design in iterations
Web designing is a creative task and if you work at hours on end on something, you’re bound to lose that creative touch. Not only that, your focus and energy levels may drop. That’s why you should aim to design in iterations. There are two ways to do this: Complete the whole task of web designing and then step into improvising or work on a part first, improve it and then step on to the next part. You can even check for usability and catch problems earlier with this approach.
3. Make use of checklists
Forgot to use the color tone the client suggested? Or to inculcate an important aspect? Making a checklist helps you avoid these last-minute problems and standardizes your workflows. For example, you can create a checklist to confirm all the deliverables or to remind you of the basic things you need to take care of. You can go through this guide by Digital Silk to create the perfect checklist for you.
4. Learn ways to speed up your tasks
There are some shortcuts that can considerably save your time. Be it designing shortcuts like Adobe Illustrator or InVision shortcuts, development shortcuts like Android Studio or GitHub shortcuts, or productivity shortcuts like Slack or Notion shortcuts, implementing them can speed up your tasks. You can check this detailed section on Shortcuts.design for the same.
Yet another hacks are to bulk install plugins that you regularly use on client’s sites and save time with a pre-designed template to show a potential buyer what their site would look like.
5. Get design feedback early
By getting design feedback from your client and team after every iteration of the design process, you keep everyone updated and save considerable time in catching and fixing errors early on in the project. For example, you may find that the icons you always use for your web design projects do not work for this client. Instead of changing each icon at the end, you could save effort and time by getting early feedback and keeping that in mind while working on the next iterations.
6. Delegate tasks
You do not need to give equal importance to all your tasks. Call scheduling, responding to emails and following up with prospects; these are some tasks that you can delegate to your team. If you are working alone, you can outsource these tasks to a virtual assistant by heading over to job listing platforms. This helps you spend time on finding high-paying clients and improving your skills.
7. Create user personas
When submitting your final web design to the client, you think, “I spent so much time creating this innovative design. The client will definitely like it.” But what if the client comes back to you and says, “This isn’t a right fit for my audience.” All that time and effort, it goes down the drain. Creating user personas saves you that trouble. It helps you understand your target audience and provides direction for making design decisions. There are many tools like Hubspot, UXPressia that will help you create user personas.
8. Collaborate and manage effectively
Tools like Asana, Trello, SmartTask help you collaborate effectively with your team or your client. They also help you manage everything from your projects to your daily to-dos. Communication platforms like Slack on the other hand can be a great medium to stay connected with your teammates/clients and share important information.
But what if you do not want too many features and want to work on a simpler platform? Brutask is a free task management tool that can take care of your task prioritization, team collaboration and time boxing.
9. Say No to distractions
One of the hardest parts of being a freelance web designer is staying away from the million distractions around you. Emails, Slack notifications, surfing through design newsletters and what not. To engage in deep work, say No to these distractions by putting your phone away from sight and trying a Google extension to block certain websites for certain time periods.
10. Avoid multitasking
Multitasking not only ruins the quality of your work, it slows you down. Instead, choose to focus on one task at a time. Here are 3 ways how:
- Keep a to-later list. If you think of Task B while working on task A, put that task on your to-later list. This keeps you from moving from your current task.
- Set a certain time to attend to calls and emails. Convey this time to your clients and teammates.
- Don’t say yes to every request. Multitasking happens when we take too much on our plates. If you can’t deny a request, schedule a time to get to it later.
Apart from this, you can also speed up your review process by making use of Ruttl, a website feedback tool that helps you leave live comments on websites, collaborate with your team and speed up the entire process.