Web designers and developers are probably more in demand now than ever before, especially with the questionable economy. Personally, I think this is just the start. I've been developing web sites for over 10 years, mainly for myself, but over the last two years I've been taking on clients and I've never before had the kind of demand I'm seeing now.
During 2007, in the space of 3 months I had 2 clients. In 2008 I had 9 clients. Of course none of the projects were ever the same size or shape, but they were what I would consider small to medium size projects... sites that I'd charge between $1000 - $4000 each. Sites which were developed using ready-made open source systems such as Joomla or WordPress and using scripts such as PHP Link Directory.
In September 2008 I partnered with a developer and as well as working on a large domaining project, together we've built our own CMS and a number of custom made scripts. We worked for several months as two separate companies but at the begining of 2009 we decided to merge and create one web design and development company called OpenCreate (at the time of writing, we're updating the site so excuse the lack of functionality on there).
We're now only three months into 2009 and already we have 5 new clients on our list. We'd consider all of these to be high-end clients with large projects - $5000+
Of course this has a lot to do with our own improving portfolio and word-of-mouth promotion that has brought in new clients, but I believe the current economy also had a part to play. With so much uncertainty, the constant doom and gloom talk of failed financial systems around the world and probably being in midst of a recession - people are searching for alternative ways to make money. It's not surprising that they are looking to start online businesses or to improve existing online presence.
It's not only that we've got 5 new clients in the space of 3 months, we've had a lot of inquiries for small projects too - things we've had to turn down in order to put more effort into larger projects. We've also come across more people who are interested in what we do and wanting to know how they can benefit from being online.
Take for example Clive, I met him for the first time in 2008 through a client. He'd been working at an events company, on a good regular salary and with hardly any interest in having a website or starting an online business. I remember him slightly mocking his friend for whom I'd just finished making a site. Now fast forward 12 months and I get a call from him asking if I'm still in the design business. We meet up for lunch and I'm surprised to find out how much his knowledge of "online business and marketing" has improved. He tells me he lost his job a few months after we'd first met and since then he had two other jobs.
Clive was fed up of moving from job to job and with the downturn in the economy he has also had to take a few pay cuts along the way. After watching how his friend (my client) had slowly turned his site into a full-time job making steadily increasing income, he was ready to give it a go. Even he'd noticed more people becoming "interested in websites" - his musician (dj) friends over the past year had "all gone online".
Its just one example but in general I've seen more interest from people - whether bar staff, dj's & musicians or business owners. There is definitely more interest and intrigue.
The Internet is still somewhat untapped. Despite a larger number of people browsing the net, its still a very small percentage of people who have seen the benefits of having an online presence.
People are starting to look at alternative ways to not only make money but also save money. Traditional advertising costs ie. newspapers, television etc. are very high - there is a huge market online - advertising and having a presence online is going to become (and in many cases already has) more beneficial whether you're real estate company, restaurant owner or musician. Not having a website for your company (or even for yourself) is regardless how big or small - is going to help your competitors. People are realizing this.
With all the doom and gloom of the economy, this could actually benefit a few business sectors - for example, pawn brokers boomed in the last recession - in this digital age it could be web developers and online businesses which benefit more. If ever there was a time to get your web design / development portfolio into shape - it is now. Be active and be prepared.
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