Why the Best Designers are Not A-La-Carte Service Providers


The impulse to make your clients happy is natural. However, trying to perform services that fall outside your area of expertise only waters down the results you can achieve. Still, the pressure to deliver results to clients is real.

Many clients want a one-stop-shop and expect designers to do everything. They want one person to build them a custom website, implement SEO, write perfect sales copy, and market the end product online. While some designers are willing deliver a basic level of several all these different services, top designers won’t.

Top-notch designers have spent years mastering their craft and understand that clients are better off hiring masters for each task they require. If you’re trying to be a jack-of-all-trades with web design, here’s why you should reconsider.

SEO isn’t just about copy, keywords, and phrases

If you’ve been learning SEO techniques online without formal instruction, you might get the impression that search engine optimization is something you implement on an existing website. For example, once you create a layout you can either create content optimized for search engines or tweak existing content. While this is part of SEO, it’s not the whole picture.

A significant part of SEO is done while building the layout. Knowledge of SEO is essential. Many structural aspects of a website need to be optimized from the start, like your code and markup language. Preparing a website for mobile users is an especially important part of SEO considering the majority of people now use a mobile device to access the internet.

Learning SEO from YouTube tutorials won’t teach you how to optimize all platforms. If you’re not a master at SEO, you might recommend a platform that isn’t SEO-friendly. Or, you might not know how to optimize an otherwise SEO-friendly CMS.

Some platforms – like Shopify – use their own language to build templates and optimization requires knowing how templates work. That’s why you can find SEO experts who specialize in specific platforms. For instance, Shopify SEO experts know how to apply SEO to the platform’s specialized template system that runs on their code called Liquid.

– Creating a navigation menu is an SEO task

Creating an SEO-friendly navigation menu is perhaps the most important task for users and search engines. A website’s interface should be easy to navigate for users, but some aesthetically-pleasing navigation styles hide content from search engines.

When search engine spiders crawl a website, they won’t search beyond several levels of depth. Crawlers find pages on your website through your internal links. If your navigation menu consists of 5 layers a user must click to get to target pages, search engine spiders won’t get far enough to index those far-out pages.

The other important SEO-related task is being careful about using JavaScript in your menus. JavaScript flyout and dropdown menus are notorious for unintentionally blocking search engine crawlers.

Working with an SEO expert from the beginning of a design project is ideal for the client. Top designers will either work with an SEO and incorporate that work into the price of the project without telling the client, or they’ll be up front with the client about the need for partnership.

Specializing will net you more money

When you’re a master and you can prove it with your portfolio and references, you’ll naturally command more money per project. You’ll retain long-term clients and you’ll get more friendly referrals. As a master, you can be that well-paid expert other people want to partner with on projects.

You’ll get burned out trying to do everything

Imagine you’re offering three services you’ve got a decent grasp on, but still need to refer to tutorials and troubleshoot frequently. Anytime you take on a project that involves these three services, you’re going to spread yourself thin, wear out your patience, and eventually burn out.

It’s exhausting enough to have to troubleshoot a craft you’ve already mastered. Each additional service you agree to perform on a given project is one more potential source of stress and endless troubleshooting. You may even end up needing to pay an expert to fix a problem you can’t resolve.

– Stick to your expertise to maximize project success

Being a jack-of-all-trades sounds like a decent way to get more clients and raise your prices. However, in the end, offering clients a-la-carte services will only keep you distracted from mastering your main skill. If you want to justifiably command higher fees, you need to be a master.