From Generalist to Specialist: Why I’m Pivoting My Business to UX and UI Design
Last week I overhauled my website services and portfolio page to focus on UX/UI (user experience / user interface) design and drop WordPress development.
It’s something I’ve been thinking about for the past several months, and I’m so glad I finally did it. I got a lot of feedback from folks already, so I thought today I would share some of the context into making this decision.
Since I started freelancing full-time, almost two years ago, I haven’t been overly picky about the types of jobs I work on. The past two years have been about experimentation: I’ve challenged myself to take on projects outside of my comfort zone and work on things that require some extra learning on my own part.
Here’s a sampling of the types of projects I’ve worked on in the last two years:
- Website design
- Custom WordPress theme development
- WordPress maintenance and fixing bugs
- E-commerce design
- Front-end development for start-ups
- Style guide design
- Email newsletter design.
- UX analysis and UI teardowns
- Logos and branding
- Brochures, business cards, posters, pop-up banners, and other print projects.
- Infographics and illustrations
- Email campaign and list management
- Workshops, 1-on-1 tutoring, and mentoring
I feel very lucky that I’m able to apply my skills in so many areas (#humblebrag!) but I also feel like I’m being pulled in too many directions. One of the biggest reasons my clients hire me is because I’m comfortable working in different mediums and they want to have a single point-of-contact to manage their project.
This makes total sense to me! If I was a client, I would feel super overwhelmed if I had to first find a logo designer for my brand, then find a website designer to create the look-and-feel for my website, and THEN hire a WordPress developer to actually build the site. Budgeting for hiring multiple creatives gets out of control quickly and a lot of clients don’t have the time to interview and hire three different people for a single project.
Most of my projects in the last year have followed a pretty similar format: a small to medium sized business or non-profit organization with a budget of between $3,500 – $5,000 hires me for a website design and WordPress custom theme development. Some clients add on additional items like logo design or email newsletter design, but for the most part, their needs are about the same.
I loved working on these types of projects and learning more about the challenges my clients are facing and how I can help them, but I often felt like I’m only able to scratch the surface.
The $3,500 – $5,000 website is great for businesses that are just getting started with their digital presence, but because it’s such a big project for one person, I’m not able to dive deep into any one specific area to solve my client’s problems. In order to keep the costs down, I can’t design or develop something overly complex, so the websites I build often feel like “starter websites”.
A new website can do wonders for elevating your brand, but a new website is not necessarily going to solve your business problems.
I recently realized that my real interest lies improving the user experience of websites and apps. You can have the most beautiful website in the world, but if no one can find your contact form, or if no one is completing the checkout on your website, then it doesn’t matter. I can give a client a lot more value if I’m solving an existing problem, rather than delivering a pretty website with no strategy behind it.
So here is where my business is going:
I’m going to be specializing solely on design and making sure that the design solves a problem, is easy to use, and resonates with my client’s audience. I want to work on solving bigger problems and focus on delivering strategic solutions.
I’m still going to be taking on WordPress projects, but I’ll be outsourcing the theme development to some über-talented freelance folks that I trust to do an amazing job coding up my clients’ sites. I’ll also continue supporting my existing clients who use WordPress, of course!