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Role of the freelancer in web design

A freelancer is self-employed and not committed to a particular employer long term. They work for an employer for a fixed period under a fixed contract to help them complete a project.

The freelancer sells their skills and time and normally charge by the hour, though it is possible to have contracts with a fixed price to complete a fixed project.

Freelancers are often employed because they usually have more flexible hours than permanent staff; they are not a long term commitment; they complete one off projects or small regular tasks that do not require a full time employee; they may provide skills that an in-house team do not have.

Freelancers also save money in that they do not have to be paid sick, holiday or redundancy pay, pensions or national insurance.

The advantages of being a freelancer are:

Being your own boss

Variety – a freelance can develop experience and build an impressive CV

More money – freelancers are usually paid more than employees working alongside them on a project;

Freedom –  freelancers can normally choose when and where to work, take holidays etc..

Less tax – freelancers who take professional advice can also greatly reduce the amount of tax they pay.

There are disadvantages:

Less security – freelancers are not protected in the same way as employees;

Uncertainty – will there be another contract when the present one ends?

Hassle – Forms to fill in, rules to obey, accounts to be kept – all the trappings of running your own business

Being on your own – it can be lonely, and also means that the freelancer is not be paid if they take a holiday or are ill.

Being a freelancer in web design means being able to :

Listen to the requirements of the client.

Interpret what the website needs to communicate and what its theme will be.

Accomplish the task within a stipulated time. Maintaining the deadline is the mark of a good freelance web designer.

Over and above the actual design the freelancer may have to organise the following tasks to ensure projects are carried out smoothly and professionally:

Draft up a contract

A reasonable agreement between the freelancer and their clientele, which both parties sign from the start. This helps to set in motion an initial working values such as:

  • Timelines
  • When and how much the freelancer will be paid
  • The type of website being designed  – i.e. is a one off design that the client will then maintain or is it one that the freelancer will look after (will this be for a fixed period, how often is the site to be updated etc..?)
  • Any other relevant details

It is important that each aspect of the project, that both parties are concerned with, are included within a single document. This can be referred to if any difficulties arise. This important document covers the client in case of project failure and the freelancer if the client backs down from the work and payment.

Set dates

A scheduled calendar works as a framework to keep work on time and stop it from drifting too far off task.

An example may be a quote of 1-2 weeks for initial design (website mock-up and graphics/icons) with another 1-2 weeks for front end development once the client has looked over designs and suggested changes etc.. This relaxed approach can be contrasted with a more specific calendar where weeks are shaded in based on task completion.

Set up meetings

Meeting can be useful to share information face to face – the frequency being dependent on the type of the project worked on. It is best for schedules to be kept open ended – but if something solid is in place – it should be put down in writing.

Set out follow-up clauses

When agreeing a contract it is important to include follow-up clauses regarding revisions and a policy on work updates. This should include agreed extra charges relating to time on revising any major changes requested by the client. E.g. charging extra for time spent changing colours or fonts (some freelancers include the first 2-3 revisions for free and will charge after that based on an hourly rate).

Decide on final products and deliveries

This means discussing at the start of the project what is expected to be delivered as a final result.  This could include multiple items, but for a general website design it’s usually an agreed number of graphics and coded HTML/CSS documents.

If more involved work is required such as plug-in development reference should be made in the contract to the types of files to be shared such as .css, .php, .js libraries, or anything else which may be included inside the projects’ files.


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This final project is professional practice and consists of a group project – creating a showcase interface and an individual portfolio.

As a team we need to come up with a group name, a theme, a simple logo – the showcase interface must link to individual team members portfolios. We also need to produce a project management file consisting of project proposal, quote, time scale, budget, costings, team members roles and appendices.

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