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09May16

Finding a Niche in the Web Design World

In order to be successful as a web designer in today’s growing industry, it is essential to develop a niche that can, and will, attract clients. The idea of a specialty is simple enough, but it can be much more difficult actually finding and then deciding on a niche to spend the rest of one’s career in.

In this post we’ll check out some of the popular niches within this industry and how some specific designers have carved out a unique niche to suit their needs and wants. We’ll also look into how a new designer can explore and find their individual niche.

What is a Niche?

Let’s start simple — according to the Merriam Webster dictionary:

“…a place, employment, status, or activity for which a person or thing is best fitted…”

Anyone can say their a web designer, but how will a client know that person is the right choice? Having an area, or sub-category, within the web design industry is essential to letting potential clients know they are the right choice for the specific job. Let’s say a client needs a blog design done — are they going to hire someone who says they’re a web designer, or someone who says they’re a web designer that specializes in blog design?

By having a specialty, a niche, one can become better at a certain type of website design. Then, in return, this can lead to a better career (doing what you love to do), better clients, and even higher rates for what you do specifically.

Popular Web Design Niches

Before we get into how to find one’s own niche, let’s look at some current popular niches so we can better define what a niche is, or what it can be in this industry. By doing this, we can also look at how specific web designers are working within them.

WordPress/Blog Design

Pro Blog Design

Blog design (and we way WordPress specifically just because it is the most popular choice for a blog platform) has grown as a sustainable niche within the web design industry. Note how Michael Martin from Pro Blog Design runs a blog, custom designed by him, about blog design in order to reach potential clients for what he does best.

Small Business

Shannon Moeller

Many small companies or start-ups like to hire freelancers for a more cost-effective option. Working solo doesn’t necessarily mean fewer profits for a freelancer, but it can mean less spending for a small business. Shannon Moeller creates an individual feel, and emphasizes a solo-working, one-on-one attitude to potential clients, creating more appeal to small businesses looking for individual solutions.

Individuals & Non-Profits

Vandelay Design

One niche is to create simple, yet cost effective websites for non-profits, such as churches, charities, or even individuals for special causes. While the price range for these types of websites may be lower, having a specialization in the area can be very attractive to these types of clients, bringing on a lot of work.

Vandelay design clearly states right on their front page that their focus is on church websites. While they likely have other types of clients, they’re design style mimics the style that many church websites would be looking for.

Design Only

Branded07

Sometimes designers only like to focus on design, and forget about the development aspect. While not all development is avoidable as a web designer, much of it can be avoided by putting more of a focus on design, rather than coding expansion (CMS’s, programming, special effects, etc.).

Although Rob Palmer does do a bit of development work, one can see from his portfolio design, his portfolio pieces, and even the description of his type of work that he is a sole designer. I does graphic design on top of just web design, and therefore focuses his professional energy in that direction, rather than a website development direction.

Design & Development

We Function

Many times designers will want to focus less on design (still do web design, but not necessarily other forms of design) along with putting more emphasis on the coding background. By doing so, clients who need more advanced solutions for web pages can zero in on these types of niches.

Function is a web development firm that has worked with some big names. Right away one can see that their design, while aesthetically pleasing, is not as design-oriented (artsy) as the above example. Instead, Function focuses on more than design, from blog development, to custom coding, and more. Even within their web design practices they focus on functionality, and the overall user experience from a more technical level.

How to Find Your Own

There are plenty of ways new designers can discover their niches for their benefit. However, most of it will have to come from trial and error. Often times new designer want to be able to do it all — if they know how to do it, they will. It seems logical at first because it seems one would be able to gain more clients, and therefore make more money as an independent contractor. However, specializing in one niche, getting better at it during each project, and having more experience overall within the niche is much more beneficial to clients.

There are a few things new designers can do to discover a niche:

  • Check out what other designers are doing, how their getting their clients in that niche, and why they put their focus on that.
  • By all means, be the Jack of Trades during the first year in the industry, to gain clients in a few niches. Sometimes the best research is just pure experience.
  • Write down and explore what you really love to do. Your niche does not need to be a replica of another designer’s practices. It can be a niche and workflow all of your own.
  • Check out job boards, talk with others, and find out what kind of jobs most clients are needing/wanting.
  • Check out your own design style, and refine it to discover a website-type niche. Is your style grungy? Band or even church websites may be best. Is your style sleek, modern, and very Web 2.0? Business or corporate websites should then be your focus.

Conclusion

Finding a niche can be very beneficial to a solo worker, and even for finding a job within the industry. Hopefully this post has helped many new designers, or perhaps even designers that were looking for a change. A niche can be anything from simple web design, to graphic, branding, and web design mixed.

No matter what a designer focuses on, though, a niche can allow the designer to focus on what clients they need to attract, helping them gain not only more work, but better work. It can also help to let a designer raise prices for focused, experienced, and well done work.

16 comments

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  2. This is a great article. You definately want to find a niche. Having a focus niche makes it easier to qualify your prospects. This also helps you build a reputation for being good at what you do.

  3. investment earnings Aug 13, 2010

    Great article, thank you very much!

  4. Samuel Aug 19, 2010

    Blogs seem to be a big one these days. However, I think web development covers just about any web design niche.

  5. Konnessi Feb 08, 2011

    I like any niche that doesn’t involve me personally writing code! I do more design and content development, so the idea that I can just market my design services for websites and sub-out the coding is a great feeling.

  6. I found myself in that hole so to speak. Going to broad in what i wanted to provide for potential clients. It makes sense to concentrate on a niche and stick with it. I was trying to offer to many things and not being able to deliver what they wanted.

    I currently use wordpress to build client sites. I explain what I can do and if its beyond my expertise i will recommend some one else.

    By night i try to learn a little coding as it will benefit both myself and future clients.

  7. websupreme web design Feb 18, 2011

    I think focusing on design niche only makes the site look great but the functionality of the site cannot be ignored at all.

  8. webdesigner laws Jun 29, 2011

    of course you can go further with this and be industry specific too, like only for leisure and tourism, financial industries, software companies, its called something like vertical or sideways integration…something like that

  9. Hi! I’m at function browsing your blog from my new apple iphone! Just wanted to say I enjoy reading your blog and look forward to all of your posts! Carry on the superb perform!

  10. Dana Apr 21, 2012

    Next month I’ll finish my Graphic Design school and I don’t want to be like all the others, I’m looking for my own niche :)

  11. admin May 02, 2012

    That’s great! Good luck! :)

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