1. Mobile Design Is as Important as Ever
The Internet will become a vastly different place as more users browse from their phones, which means that your design has to look as good on a 4-inch screen as it does on someone’s desktop. Responsive design isn’t the future of design, it’s here now.
2. Conversion Counts
Once upon a time, it was okay to go into design all about form, but function is important. In today’s climate, you want to sell something, encourage signups or motivate visitors to download a file. Your designs should make it easier for users to do this and highlight the conversion you’re aiming for.
3. Trends Are a Bad Idea
When websites follow trends like using gradients or certain hover effects, they appear modern for only a very short period of time. Once a new trend comes shuffling in, the design becomes incredibly dated. Good design is timeless because it ignores the trends. You don’t want to continuously re-design, so use a light touch when it comes to what’s en vogue.
4. The Web Always Changes
Face it, whatever tools or technology you’re using today might be laughable in five years. Flash is on its way out, HTML 4.1 is no longer the newest kid in town and FBML never really had a chance. Instead of looking down your nose at what tools another is using, recognize that the Internet constantly changes.
5. Frameworks Save Time
Develop a basic framework that you can adjust for individual client needs. A good designer will add a framework to her arsenal, so she can whip it out when new clients arrive and change CSS and individual elements without having to create a brand-new design every time.
6. Put Users First
You have to remember that visitors of a website are those who matter most because they’re actually going to use it. Excellent design facilitates what the user wants to do rather than forcing them to complete activities that only benefit the website owner. Many professionals fail to realize this when providing input.
7. Be Picky When It Comes to Platforms
Some designers build their own platforms for powering blogs, forums and e-stores, but many rely upon the plethora of existing scripts to make things easy. Find a platform that you can work with and install it to your customers’ websites. Get comfortable with a script like Joomla or WordPress just like you would with your own framework to save time.
8. Experience is Waiting
New designers often have sparse portfolios, especially if you didn’t go to school for design. However, you can contact organizations or create projects for yourself to bulk up your portfolio before you have a long list of clients.
Above all, you should rely on experience as you design. You know best, and it’s okay to remind clients of that.