Growing a web design business takes a lot of work. Sustainable, profitable growth doesn’t just happen on its own. Your business needs time to mature and get the kinks out.

In order to grow your web design business in a sustainable way, you’ll need to pay extra close attention to how you’re growing. This means putting the right systems in place, identifying and avoiding pitfalls, and establishing a smooth, efficient workflow that’s specific to your design process and division of labor.

Here we’ll take a look at some of the ways you can grow your web design agency and increase profit margins in a manageable and practical way.

1. Maximize the Efficiency of Your Project Pipeline

Perhaps the easiest way to take on more clients and grow your web design business is by working towards making your project pipeline more efficient. A website goes through various stages of work, such as research, prototyping, development, testing, deployment, and launch.

By evaluating the process and workflow of each individual stage, you’ll be able to identify areas that have room for improvement. Doing so can help you maximize the overall efficiency of your project pipeline. Let’s look at some examples:

  • Often, work is delayed because the client didn’t deliver visual assets or other content on time. Asking your clients to deliver all of their content before you begin designing keeps your project on schedule.
  • Designing templates, widgets and layouts that you can reuse for future projects will save you a lot of time. Instead of designing a page from scratch, you’d simply be making style tweaks wherever necessary.
  • Document repositories. Having a central hub (with version control) from where designers and developers can access project documents and files makes design handoffs seamless.

Duda is a full-fledged website development platform that enables design teams to speed up their processes and work the kinks out of collaborating with team members and clients. Its widget builder ecosystem, for example, allows you to build custom widgets and integrate external functionality.

The platform also allows you to import content directly from a client’s existing website into your content library. It automatically pulls images, contact information, social media accounts and much more.

2. Develop Internal Systems to Manage Projects

Keeping track of where files are stored, how project handoffs will happen, or what the onboarding process looks like is often difficult for both new and growing web design businesses. Along with managing your day to day tasks, invest time on developing internal systems to better manage projects.

A study conducted by IDC suggests that people spend nearly five hours every week searching for documents.

But smart document management is only one way to improve the way your team handles project lifecycles. As a growing business, every time you onboard a new client, you’re likely to learn something new about the customer experience you’re delivering, whether your pricing strategy is working, and so much more.

And it’s important that you’re able to keep track of what’s working (and what isn’t), so you don’t end up going back to the drawing board for each client your business brings in.

Simply put, you need a single platform that allows you and your team members to:

  • Keep a record of the tacit knowledge you’ll accumulate as you grow.
  • Be able to access design systems, pattern libraries, and style guides.
  • Communicate with one another, share ideas, and leave comments and feedback.
  • Manage calendars, schedules, and to-do lists.

To this end, consider checking out Slack, a collaboration tool geared towards growing businesses. It enables you to organize discussions into channels, store documents and files, and communicate with team members and clients through group chat as well as direct messages.

3. Productize Your Web Design Services

As a web design professional, you’ve probably experienced the feast and famine cycles that most small service-based business go through. You reach out to prospective customers, land a client, and get busy doing the actual work. While you were busy doing the work, you might have put a few clients on hold. And now that you’re available to take on more work, those leads are nowhere to be seen.

A study conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that about two-thirds of businesses survive for two years, but only about half manage to stay afloat for five years.

One way to make sure you’re able to grow your web design agency and increase profits is to productize your services.

The key benefit of transforming services into modular products is that you make it once and then you can sell it to many customers. Here are a few ways you can transform web design services into products:

  • Website maintenance and hosting. You can bundle web hosting, maintenance, and security audits into a package that can be sold as a product or a subscription plan.
  • UI and UX element kits. As a designer, you can create UI and UX element kits (such as icons) and sell them as products.
  • Online courses. You can create online courses and video tutorials around a particular subject using software platforms like Kajabi.

4. Commit to Only Taking on High-Profit Work

As a web design agency business leader, you have to calculate your gross revenue and the costs of running a business in order to determine if you’re profitable.

Low profit margins mean you’re pricing your web design services too close to how much it costs you to serve a client. For instance, if your prices start at $5,000 and you pay $3,000 in salaries and $500 for things like hosting, prototyping tools, and integrations, then you have a profit margin of $1,500 (30%).

It’s important that you price your services high enough. This, in turn, requires that you commit to only taking high-profit work. For starters, you’ll have to determine a minimum profit margin that you’re comfortable with, and stick to it. There are a number of factors that play into this, such as your overhead “cost of doing business” expenses and how much liquid you expect to need so you can keep your business growing.

Many web design agencies expect to keep their minimum profit margins around the 50% mark to maintain profitable, sustainable growth, so you might want to consider using this as your benchmark.

By doing so, you’ll be able to:

  • Know how to calculate pricing for proposals.
  • Understand what’s at stake when you make profit margin compromises as exceptions.
  • Offer employees attractive salary packages.
  • Provide your designers top-notch tools, kits, and platforms.
  • Invest in educational programs (online learning courses and training sessions) to improve your employees’ skill sets.
  • Reinvest in your business by adding to your agency’s marketing budget.

Tools like FreeAgent allow you to keep track of business income, expenses, profitability, transaction reporting, and time tracking.

Conclusion

Growing your web design agency takes time and a lot of work. By paying close attention to how you’re growing your business, avoiding pitfalls along the way, and establishing a workflow that fits with your design process, you’ll be well on your way to increasing your profits in no time.

Here’s what you can do to grow your web design business in a sustainable, profitable way:

  1. Maximize the efficiency of your project pipeline by speeding up tasks at each stage of the design process.
  2. Develop internal systems to manage projects better.
  3. Productize your web design services by selling UI element kits or online courses.
  4. Keep your profit margins high by committing to only taking high-profit work.

What are some of the ways you’ve achieved business growth in the design industry? Let us know by commenting below!

About the Author

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mirko

Mirko Humbert is the editor-in-chief and main author of Designer Daily and Typography Daily. He is also a graphic and web designer based in Fribourg, Switzerland, as well as the co-founder of We Jobshare.