Being a successful web designer takes commitment and dedication. However, it takes an even greater deal of initiative to be a successful freelance web designer. In addition to creating virtual masterpieces for others to market themselves, you are responsible for marketing yourself, setting standards and sticking to your promises. These are a few tips for developing success-driven habits that will help you excel in any project.

1. Stick To Your Timeline

The first step in a web design project is to build a timeline. Since your research is usually vital to every other step of the project, allow yourself enough time to complete it. This will make it easier to establish realistic and specific deadlines for each part of the project. Make sure you stick to your timeline, and review the timeline with your client in advance. The client should fully understand the estimated completion date and progress dates.

2. Construct A Strong Contract

Your contract should be as detailed as possible. Never pull a template off the Internet to use in its current form. A contract must be customized and have provisions for specific deadlines and special requests of clients. Everything form the type of site chosen to the total cost of the project should be included. Be sure to include deadlines and steps in addition to the client’s specific details. This helps you avoid late payments and delays on project steps.

3. Track Your Time Precisely

You will surely encounter at least one client who will accuse you of spending too much time or too little time on a project. To avoid any hassles from such claims, it is important to track your time. This gives you something to provide a client with reassurance, and tracking your time also helps you pinpoint areas for personal improvement. For example, you may be spending too much time by sending individual emails out to involved parties. You may discover an easier way for everyone to have a common communication space or a quicker way to share information and address concerns.

4. Build a Specific Style Guide

One important long-term goal for every web designer is to be consistent. This is especially important if you are working with a client who was referred to you by another client. Showing an inconsistent style when it is part of why you were recommended can potentially hurt your reputation. Maintaining consistency is harder without a detailed style guide. From font types to visual elements, make sure everything is specified. Discuss the chosen styles with your potential clients, and make sure they sign off on the selected styles before you initiate a project.

5. Use Version Control

Nothing is more annoying than spending hours or days combing through codes or trying to find an error as a project expands. Many clients want to expand their projects over time. With version control, you can save the versions of any prior projects that the client wants expanded or put together. Just one accident can cost you a great deal of time. For SVN or any other system, you should be proactive about protecting your work. You can also use version control to experimentally implement special features and track your progress.

Be sure to document your progress as you go. In addition to being a helpful personal guide for future reference, it gives you a clear snapshot of where a project is at and how it progresses when clients ask. Fortunately, there are several apps to help you. Beyond the useful Toggl for time tracking and Evernote for lists and writing, you can use apps such as Liquid Planner for reporting and WorkflowMax for keeping track of project resources and tasks in a central place with an easy-to-use format. Utilize anything you can to simplify your tasks and become a master freelance web designer.

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