You’ve studied and worked hard to become a successful web designer. The skills you’ve learned and use each day are called “hard” skills, for anything that directly applies to your work as a designer. These are the skills learned through education and training, the ones you use to create beautiful designs and websites. However, in order to be a truly successful web designer, it’s also necessary to have “soft” skills. Soft skills are non-design skills, and can include anything used for interpersonal business relationships, and more.
To be a well-rounded, successful designer, it’s necessary to have both hard and soft skills. Whether or not you run your own business or are employed by a company, developing soft skills will help you stand out from other designers and make you even more successful.
What Soft Skills Do Web Designers Need?
Here’s a list of the most crucial non-design skills that can make you a well-rounded designer:
1). Communication: effective communication with clients is essential for all web designers. From the very beginning it will be necessary to have a firm grasp of what a client needs. When working with a client, there’s a lot of back and forth communication on the design, elements, project management and more. Your job is to listen to the client’s needs and ideas throughout the project, all the way to its end.
Effective communication between you and the client can help you both work together to make their website a success and reach the company’s goals.
Another point about good communication skills is to always maintain a professional attitude. Projects can become complicated and clients may not always be happy with the work. They may become angry, frustrated, and more. Even if the client is frustrated or angry, always strive to maintain a professional attitude and keep your emotions under control.
One more note—avoid using jargon when working with clients, as this can cause misunderstandings communications between you both. The reason is that they won’t understand a word you’re saying. Not only that, but they’ll also be confused. This does not go well when working together on a project. Instead, using terminology clients will understand. You’ll both feel more at ease and cut confusion out of the relationship, making for a better base for the project.
2). Project management: time management is another essential skill for designers, especially when you have several clients to work with. Each project has a specific timeline, deadline, and more. Having great project management skills helps you stay up to date with each project, seeing them through to successful completion.
How can you improve project management skills? Let’s take a look:
- Create processes: this may mean using a mind mapping (or other app/software) to line out the steps needed to complete a web design project. Use these steps to record how each step is done and what leads to the next step, until you’ve gone through the entire process. Review the steps and fill in any gaps. Then look for a platform that can help track each project and what needs to happen next. Use your steps to create notifications for important dates and more.
- Document processes: once you’ve created the process outline, keep a copy on hand for reference. If you have others working on the project, ensure they have a copy, too, (if this applies).
- Monitor: then monitor your time, the steps and important milestones and deadlines are so you can stay on track. Automate as much as possible.
3). Problem-solving: here, again, communication is key. Your clients will come to you with specific problems. Your job is to come up with solutions that work for them. Even if you don’t have the answer, simply explain that fact, and then let them know you’ll find the answer and get back to them in a day or so. Then be sure to follow-up with them by the deadline you’ve set.
Being resourceful (finding/providing answers) and doing what’s necessary to get that done are how work to solve specific problems clients may bring to you.
4). Sales: as a web designer, you may believe this doesn’t fall under your skill set; however, if you’re a freelancer or entrepreneur, then you’re responsible for selling your services. The keys to driving sales are:
- Knowing who your target clients are and where to find them.
- Understanding their pain point, so you can meet their web design needs.
- Having the knowledge to position yourself as the solution to their problem.
5). Financial management: this is a skill many web designers choose to ignore. In fact, they may just think that hiring the job out to a bookkeeper or accountant is all that’s required. That’s simply not the case. When it comes to managing finances, there’s more to just watching over how much you spend:
- You’ll need knowledge of current industry rates to keep prices competitive.
- Don’t hesitate to discuss prices with prospective clients and be sure to discuss the value of your services, so they can see what they’re getting if they hire you.
- Be sure to have professional business proposals and contracts. These need to outline your prices, fees, payment schedules, and more.
- You’ll need to chase after clients who have failed to pay on time, and not be afraid of assessing late fees, or taking further action to get paid.
- Create a budget that covers both business and personal expenses. This way, you’ll have a better idea of where you stand—if you can spend money or not, and more.
6). Update portfolio regularly: this is one point that’s missed by many web designers. You want to show your work off to potential clients, who can then assess your abilities and skillsets. Be sure to include all different aspects of your work, such as colors, composition, layouts, typography and more. This way, potential clients can see if you’re a good fit for their project and know going in what you’re capable of providing in the way of services.
These are the essential soft skills you need to develop in order to become a successful web designer. If you feel lacking in any area, there are many resources available to help you—from books to online classes, mentors and more. Become a more successful designer by having both the hard and soft skills you need to be the best at what you do.