What is it and who's it suited to?
Nearly everyone has a next door neighbour whose ‘genius’ sixteen-year-old is a web designer. But it’s safe to say, that’s not really the level you’re at once you start thinking ‘web design business’. If you are planning on setting up a web design agency, you need to aim higher than the standard-issue sites born of amateur enthusiasm: web design is a highly competitive area.
The dot-com bubble has long burst, but nowadays, just about every business needs online presence. As Ross Williams of Rawnet Ltd explains: “In the beginning there was a rush for everyone to have a website. Now the focus is on the most innovative and exciting. Brands have to continuously refresh their websites.” Whether it’s through new design or the latest in interactive content, the current trend for innovation means that web developers and designers really need to keep up-to-date with the latest technologies and to keep the creative juices flowing in order to beat the competition.
The thing is, web design is a problematic industry. There’s a pretty low barrier to entry, in that you can become a web designer with very little outlay. It’s open to anyone who can teach themselves the tools of the trade. But at the lower end of the spectrum, there are many, many companies fighting for the same small amount of work. It’s an easy market to enter, but at the same time it’s quite difficult to make a success of things.
“It’s a different industry now to ten years ago,” Andy Budd of Clearleft explains. “Then, the industry itself was quite immature, so you could get a foothold really quickly. Now, the quality of design work is so high, that you have to be really, really good to actually get work.”