Did you know…94% of first impressions relate to your site’s web design[1]?

And guess what…

You have precisely 0.05 seconds before your visitor is going to decide whether they like your site or not[2].

Investing in a website is one of the best things you can do for your brand and your pipeline. Three-quarters of us admit to making credibility judgements based on a company’s website design[3]. So ensuring that yours comes across as professional, while showcasing your brand personality, is a sure-fire way of catching your audiences’ attention and hooking them in.

But then what?

Well, there’s layout, navigation, images, content, nurture flows, call-to-actions, SEO, domain authority, accessibility, responsiveness…

Frankly it’s enough to scare you into doing nothing at all. It’s perhaps therefore unsurprising that this year a third of small business said they’re planning to begin using websites for the very first time[4].

If that’s you, then say hello to Dave…

Dave is THE guy to go to if you want a distinctive website that perfectly reflects your business and gives you something to be proud of. Focusing on simple and impactful sites, choose Dave because he’ll create something that strengthens your brand, puts your customers’ needs first and is easy to maintain once it’s live.

Here I spend 5 minutes talking to him about his business…

What do you do?

I do web design and development for small businesses. While that’s fairly typical I think my approach is a bit different. I’m quite specific about the type of work I take on, so I tend to turn down more projects than I say ‘yes’ to.

For example, if someone comes to me with a design that they just want built, it can be difficult for me to add much value. And without being involved in a project early on, it’s hard to catch issues that might come up, particularly around accessibility.

Why did you choose your line of work?

I think the thing that drew me to web design and development is the variety it presents. It’s such a big sphere of stuff, where design is one world, there’s accessibility to keep on top of, and then you’ve got the front end and back end development – it’s a lot of plates to keep spinning. And even though there’s some areas I don’t touch, like back end development, I still have to understand a bit about them to be able to do my job.

As a freelancer, I love that I’m able to do the whole project, seeing it from the initial strategy and design through to launching the finished site. If I was working for an agency it would be quite hard to retain control of the whole project and I might be forced to work on projects I wouldn’t take on as a freelancer. Being freelance I can pick and choose depending on where I know I’ll add the most value.

Who do you help?

I work with smaller businesses where I can work directly with the business owner. The projects tend to run smoother because it’s a straight forward build – the websites tend to be simpler from a technical perspective and design is really important.

I enjoy projects where the website is simple and yet it’s going to have a big impact on the business. So for example, I wouldn’t take on a huge, complex ecommerce site or something that has loads of custom integrations. Simple and straight forward is definitely my happy place!

What do your clients value most about your service?

I think they appreciate my approach. I really want to make sure that I can always deliver on a project. The worst thing would be for me to rush the scoping and then realise there’s a mismatch of expectations halfway through the project.

When someone contacts me, I take the time to understand what they’re trying to achieve and determine whether I’m going to be a good fit. I know from experience where I can have the biggest impact so I’m quite specific about the work I agree to take on.

When you work with me there’s never a Mad Men style ‘big reveal’ at the end. Building a website is a big thing with lots of moving parts, so I try to walk them through the steps, involving them as much or as little as they want. It’s my job to worry about all the complexities and make sure there’s no surprises along the way.

Also, I’m happy to give a lot of advice on how things could be implemented and the different options available. I guess you could look at it as a free consultation, but because the enquiries I get tend to be simpler from a technical perspective, I don’t mind helping where I can.

When is the right time for someone to contact you?

Generally I’d say to bring me in as early as possible. From a practical point of view, my schedule is often booked up so even if you need your site tomorrow, my availability may mean I can’t start for a month or two.

And then from a logistical point of view, the earlier I’m involved in the process, the easier it is to head off potential issues and flag up when we might need to involve other people in the process.

In an ideal world, it’s good to work with the branding designer in the initial stages, particularly if it’s a new company that perhaps is still working on their brand, or one currently undergoing a refresh. Often, I have to tweak brand colours to make them accessible online, but if I’m working alongside the designer, they can incorporate it into the brand to retain that consistency.

Similarly, it’s great to work collaboratively with a copywriter. There’s an age-old debate about whether design or copy comes first, but I think it always works best if we’re working together at the same time.

Unfortunately, that’s not always possible. If we’re starting with design, I tend to write some micro copy to help with the layout and so the copywriter has something to work with. But I’ve worked on projects where the copy has come first, which is really cool too. When I know what they want to say, it helps me to see what needs to be on the page, and the tone of voice might impact some design decisions too. We can always tweak the copy later if we find it doesn’t quite fit.

What is it like to work with you?

It all starts with a discovery phase, where I ask lots of questions about what the client does, typical customers and the project objectives. We’ll also discuss the look and feel for the site, consider the existing branding and start to mood board some ideas.

Then it’s on to wireframing. Here we’ll start to prioritise content for the site, but without actually designing everything. If copy is available at this stage, it’s great, but if not we can play around with layout using some placeholder text.

Once the clients is happy with the layout, we move into design. I find it’s often easier if they come to me with no preconceptions because I want to make sure that the site works for their users and brand. I also like the site to stand out – for all the right reasons – and is individual to them.

Usually when people approach me it’s because they’ve looked at my portfolio and like my style. But the initial discovery phase is all about teasing out what the project objectives are, who their customers are, what they like/don’t like, and playing around with ideas to see what might work for their business.

The discovery phase is so useful because design is such a subjective thing. By spending more time upfront, rather than rushing through the scope, we end up with something that we can refer back to throughout the project and use to help make decisions along the way.

Finally, once the design is signed off, we move into development before testing everything and launching the site.

What’s the best way for someone to contact you?

Email me with a few details about what you’re after. I’ll reply with a few more questions and pretty quickly we can work out if I’m the right person, or I’ll give you some advice on your project.

Email: dave@websmyth.co.uk

Website: https://websmyth.co/

Twitter: @websmyth

  • [1] Source: https://www.webfx.com/blog/web-design/website-statistics-2020/
  • [2] Source: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01449290500330448
  • [3] Source: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/compelling-stats-website-design-optimization-list
  • [4] Source: https://smallbiztrends.com/2020/02/2020-small-business-marketing-statistics.html