Category

Web design

The Advantages of Working with a Freelance Web Designer

By | Web design

If you’re searching for, or have ever needed the expert services of a graphic designer, then you’ll appreciate just how much choice is out there, especially with the London graphic designer market. A sometimes baffling display of design agencies and freelance web designers are all vying for your attention, so how do you know which one is right for you?

Well a lot of research and detailed communication with the graphic designer will go a long way, as will evaluating previous work and choosing based on ideas and designs which really speak to you. But one of the most important decisions you will be faced with is whether you choose to work with a freelance web designer or a larger design agency.

As a freelance London graphic designer, I’d always advise working with a freelance specialist. But don’t just take my word for it. Research shows that more and more businesses are seeing the benefits of working with freelance professionals as an alternative to agencies, and not just in design, but also with writing, security and financial services.

Here are just some of the benefits to choosing a freelance web designer:

  • Flexibility. Freelance web designers can offer far more flexibility than a large agency that will have many levels of management and development to work through. This means changes and updates to designs can be implemented more quickly, helping you keep up with the competition.
  • Competitive pricing. With fewer overheads, a freelance web designer can almost always provide a more attractive quote.
  • Integrity. Reputation and recommendation is vitally important to freelancers who will usually go the extra mile for the client.
  • Personal service. Many customers fear contacting large design agencies. This is because they’re concerned about never being able to talk to the same person twice, or worried about being pressured into spending money on needless design features or accepting designs that they’re not completely happy with. Obviously this isn’t how all large design organisations work, but it’s easy to see why many clients feel this way. By working with a freelance web designer, you can be sure that they’ll always have time to talk directly with and readily welcome the input of the client. In fact, as a London graphic designer, it’s always important to meet local clients and ensure the highest standards of service and communication.
  • Thorough aftercare. Continued support for updates, events, promotions and social media opportunities is a real priority for a freelance web designer, who is well placed to provide a high standard of aftercare.
  • Excellent standard of work. This should go without saying, but freelance web designers will work to the same high standards that you would expect from any design professional. However, enjoying more freedom, they often exceed the output of more regulated design companies.

So whether you’re looking for a London graphic designer or web designer, reconsider the great service and creativity that a freelance professional can offer.

Do Your Research and Achieve Design Greatness

By | Web design

When creating a website it is important to thoroughly research EVERY other site in that industry, it’s not good enough to let your client do all of that, a certain responsibility must fall on the designer, to see what’s out there observing with designer’s eyes.

There are several reasons to do this, and while I was at university I never fully appreciated the importance of it, I dismissed it as “I want to create something original, I don’t need to see what is out there” This was a very ignorant attitude which I soon realised. Since being in the real world and doing this for 9 years professionally, I really know the importance of it, here are the main reasons.

You must understand the visual LANGUAGE of the industry you will design your new work into.

It’s important to see the main competitors, their styles and make sure you don’t accidentally create something very similar, or use the same stock photography. This can lead to claims of plagiarism.

You must design something that will be BETTER than them, and to do this you must first need to know the standard you are up against.
Your client can help you as well, identifying the main industry leaders out there and sending you links to artefacts they aspire their own business to compete with.

landscape graphic design for Top Gear USA poster

Breaking the Rules?

To Break the rules first you have to UNDERSTAND the rules, you have to identify which conventions you must keep in place, and which can be bent or borrowed from other sources of inspiration.

It’s great to think outside the box, but first you must know where that box is, how big it is, what might it look like, and why is it even there in the first place… THEN you can start to think outside it and push the boundaries of it to achieve something unique and inspiring.

Dave’s A, B, C of Web Design

By | Web design

A

…is for Aesthetics.
The website has to LOOK GOOD, it must entice, like a shop window display. Good photography is key to achieving this, nice layout, a professional look. It needs to look like time and care was put into creating the web masterpiece before them, and if so, the customer will also want to invest in it and will trust the quality of your product.

 

B

…is for Browse-ability.
The average time spent on a website is often no longer than 7 seconds. In that period can the user get to what they want? The user is very unlikely to READ your text, just notice the BIG BOLD WORDS, like TITLES, HEADLINES, so this needs to the important stuff. If the user cannot browse and quickly find what they want, they will click off in less than 5 seconds. By the way, congratulations on reading this far, you are indeed a special user, less than 6% of all the people who have ever clicked onto this site, have read this much text.

 

C

…is for Compatibility.
The big thing that your site needs to be compatible with is GOOGLE above any other search engine. Getting to the front page of Google is the holy land for any site, and there is no magic formula to get there. What David Pugh will do is make your site compatible, using experienced Search Engine Optimisation techniques that will give your site the best chance for your targeted search terms.

The fall of flash

By | Web design

My first web design for this site used a Flash Gallery to display the main bulk of my portfolio work in one glance. I adapted a piece of stock Flash from Flashmo.com and created thumbnails and larger images for all of my work to display. The gallery looked spectacular, rolling around the screen in an arc/3D wall which was reactive to the user’s mouse movements.

The problem came when iphone and ipad became more and more popular. Clients and agencies were using these technologies to view my work and when they came to the crucial portfolio page they saw a replacement holding graphic. This would not do! Despite how much I loved that revolving gallery, I needed to be cutting edge and compatible with everything out there, also I did not want to just re-use a tired, old jquery plugin that has been around for 10 years. I commissioned a Jquery programer to create from scratch, a new plugin for the gallery/portfolio, and the result is the portfolio page you see on this site now.

ipad and phone

Adobe brought out edge animate a couple of years ago, and that software has really helped designers like myself to get to grips with jquery and create simple animations and interactivity without the need to know masses of coding.  Tutorials are available online, free on youtube, and other sites also provide masses of information on the software to get you started.

I still love flash and think it is an amazing program, indeed, you will see the tops of all of these pages decorated with flash animations (providing you are not looking at me on an ipad or iphone!) The difference now is that I use Flash for purely decorative purposes, and not to any crucial navigation or functionality. These is also an amazing technique you can use in flash to create animations from film, tracing film frame by frame, a technique known as rotoscoping.

I have always had a passion and fascination with the moving image, and although jquery has some great potential, I am hoping Flash makes a strong comeback with Apple and Adobe putting their differences aside for the good of the user.

Working on Skype

By | Web design

Working on graphic design projects through Skype Screen Share is a lot easier than you think.

These days it is possible to have a working relationship with a client and never actually meet them. I have a number of clients based outside London, and some outside the UK who I work with on a weekly basis.

demographic of graphic design enquiries

Free internet calling through skype has been around for a while, but recently Skype introduced the screen share function and this adds a whole new level of interactivity with a client.

I can upload my screen that will show Photoshop or Illustrator with their artwork, we can make changes and the client can see designs evolve in real time.

It’s a great benefit to both parties, and it forms a closer working relationship that can only be matched by actually being in the offices and looking at the same screen (which of course is not always possible, is time consuming and can be expensive)

I have clients in India, San Francisco, Miami, France and Ireland that I work with in this way and it has transformed projects and working relationships for the better.

4 Phrases that get every Freelance web designer excited to work with you

By | Web design

Many businesses start with a less than ideal website, but they eventually get to a point where they need a professional online appearance. Unfortunately, getting a website is not as simple as buying office consumables. Business owners and graphic designers do not necessarily speak the same language, and it can be challenging to produce the exact, desired outcome. On the positive side, you do not need to know all the vocabulary and technical stuff to work with your freelance web designer.

Ideally, you should be able to visualize the final output of what you want, before sitting down with your web designer. The role of the designer is to raise questions that refine your idea, but the quality of the end product depends on how coherent your meeting is. So, you should try to be specific with your feedback by using phrases such as:

What do you recommend? While you should have a clear vision of what you want, you can inspire your freelance graphic designer by showing him or her that you value his/her opinion. Instead of commissioning them with your deliverables set in stone, it is essential that you give them some time to think about the project, and make their contribution. It may take a couple of days for them to offer their recommendations, but you will probably be amazed by the ideas that top designers come up with.

 How and when do I reach you for progress updates or other inquiries? It can be hard to reach some web designers on phone, yet there are some who prefer it. Some may be willing to talk to their clients at unusual hours, like at 10PM, while others dedicate specific hours to work-related calls, like 9AM to 5PM. So, before you start the project, it is essential that you know how and when to contact your graphic designer, and try to accommodate it. There will be less mix-ups and your designer will enjoy working with you, which will translate to greater quality work.

 How much time will the project take? Asking the designer how much time they need to complete a project tells them that you expect quality work, and you know that good work takes time. New projects typically take longer than subsequent design jobs because it takes time to invent the “look” of your business or company from scratch. The design process involves a lot of thought and revisions, which take time. If you are patient, you can be amazed by the results.

 This is the target audience, this is the information you need, and this is the objective! Websites need good and relevant content and any designer will be happy to work with a client who has all the necessary text and photos well organized; knows their target audience; and communicates effectively the general objective of the project. It is also important that you have a clear approval process in place, while giving the web designer enough room and flexibility to do their best work.

These phrases can help to ensure that your relationship with your freelance graphic designer remains positive throughout the duration of the project, and that the results of the work are as desired. It is important to participate and offer guidance, without being overly domineering, to allow room for creativity.