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Business idea: web design

January 19, 2010

Maybe I should try my hand as a website designer.

How the idea hit me:

I’m working as a Virtual Assistant (VA) for my mom and step-dad, right? and one of the major goals that came to light in our first meeting was that they wanted to (finally) get their websites up and running for their two businesses. They’ve bought the domains, they have a guy who can do the heavy lifting, design-wise, so they just need to finish gathering the information and pictures they want, and they’ll be good to go.

The goal is to have them up and running by the middle of February.

My mom sent me what the designer had put together thus far, and when I got it I was almost appalled, mostly because I could have done better. Don’t get me wrong, while I’ve done a little site building and design in my time (in the mid nineties, just to play, and for a class project in college in 2002 & 2003), but I’m no expert at it. I’d have to do some serious studying to get up to speed on all of the new tips and tricks that have come out since I last played in that sandbox. And even so, I could have done better.

I’m going to give their designer the benefit of the doubt, because what she sent me was from several years ago, and it was just the very preliminary version of the site. I have every confidence that the final product will be much more polished. But I kept thinking about it, and thinking about it, and I realized that I don’t have to be actually build a website if I want to design one, I just need a piece of paper and a pen. So I came up with a design for my mom’s website. I don’t know if she’ll use it, but if she likes it at all, she can use it as a reference for her conversation with her designer, and it will have served some purpose.

But I had to admit that creating design was fun. I like sketching up the idea, and figuring out where the navigation buttons should go, and what sort of colors to use. I liked working to create something that could be functional (I know enough about building a site, and about what I’ve seen work while browsing to know what’s possible), as well as aesthetically appealing.

So I had my thought: Maybe I should try my hand as a website designer.

Of course, as soon as I had that thought, my brain (the treacherous backstabber that it has been of late) chimed in with a chorus of “Yeah, buts”. So not useful.

The Yeah-buts:

    I could try my hand at web design, but…

    – I don’t know how to build a website, it’s been years since I even looked at CSS or Dreamweaver, or any of that stuff.
    – My biggest difficulty with designing anything is always color coordination. I could, theoretically, change the colors of the pre-fab theme that I’m using for this blog, but when I tried to do that for my livejournal back in the day, it almost always backfired.
    – I have no idea how to find people who need to have their website designed.

To counter those Yeah-buts and can’t’s, I came up with a list of “Okay, but how can I?’s” (I’ve never been clear on the SOP for pluralizing phrases. Stupid English.)

How can I be a web designer if I don’t know how to build a website?

    – I could re-learn the language, or the code, or whatever it is I’m supposed to call the stuff used to make a website happen. HTML and CSS and all that good stuff. I’ve learned it before, and I could learn it again.
    – I could use a resource like Site Build It, or one of the many other “We make website building so easy your grandmother could do it!” sort of websites that are out there.
    – I could find someone who knows how to build webpages but either isn’t good at or doesn’t like to design them. We could work together to create functional, aesthetically pleasing website for everyone! ^_^

How can I design websites if I suck at color-coordination and -selection?

    – I could get input from the client on their color preferences and go from there.
    – I could study the color choices of successful webpages across the internet and see what they use and what appeals to me.
    – I could use one of the many color theme generating web apps out there to do the heavy lifting for me. (I just recently discovered Color Scheme Design . com, which is so cool!)

How can I find people who need a website designed or revamped?

    – I could put an ad in the paper.
    – I could put an ad on craigslist.
    – I could build a website for myself advertising myself as a web designer and then SEO the crap out of it.
    – I could ask friends if they know anyone who needs a website designed.
    – I could ask my favorite bloggers if they know anyone who needs a website designed.
    – I could write a blog about learning to design and build websites and offer my services for an “apprentice rate.”

Megan the M (of Idea Schema) was right: coming up with ideas is awesome. And it feels nice to be back in business, since I used to be able to do the above as easy as breathing for any idea, any time. Slowly but surely, as I regain my self-confidence, my ability is returning.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 20, 2010 4:57 am


    How about starting by designing wordpress designs? It’s great because many many ppl use the wordpress system, so you can focus on design instead of underlying technic stuff. Just a thought. 🙂

  2. January 20, 2010 8:42 am

    I hadn’t thought about that. Maybe I could start by tweaking my WordPress design. It’s nothing stellar at the moment, for sure.

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