65 search results for “Simon Heaton”

How to Build Strong Relationships with Clients in Another Time Zone

How to Build Strong Relationships with Clients in Another Time Zone

Long Distance Clients: Email

The shift towards remote business relationships presents a unique set of challenges for consultants, especially when trying to establish a strong bond with a new client.

We reached out to several designers and developers who regularly work with clients from other cities, countries, and time zones to see how they've built strong long-distance relationships. Here’s what they had to say.

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How to Create a Compelling Web Design Portfolio

How to Create a Compelling Web Design Portfolio

web design portfolio tips

A professional portfolio is a necessity for anyone working as a freelancer in the creative industry. Not only does it allow you to showcase your design expertise to prospective clients, it also gives you the opportunity to establish a unique brand for yourself as a designer. And while physical portfolios continue to be a staple in the design world, online web design portfolios offer you an entirely new avenue to reach audiences outside of your immediate professional circle.

Unlike a physical portfolio, an online web design portfolio allows to show off your work in a medium that actually showcases the work you really do: web design. Prospective clients get to see your amazing work, and they're also able to interact with the portfolio itself — another testament to your design expertise. Considering that your prospects will want to assess the quality of your work before hiring you, your online portfolio is a great way to demonstrate your abilities as a web designer.

Of course, creating a portfolio website is no walk in the park. We’re often our own worst critics and this goes double for anyone working in design. So whether you are creating your first web design portfolio, or re-working an existing one, expect to invest significant effort into building something truly compelling.

To streamline your portfolio planning process, here are a few insights into what makes or breaks a great web design portfolio.

You might also like: How to Build a Great Design Portfolio — Shopify Designers Weigh In

1. Include your best web design work only

This should be a no-brainer. Since your web design portfolio will play a major role in winning the confidence of potential clients, it’s worth taking the extra time to go through all your design work to separate the average from the impeccable. Even if you aren’t usually the boasting type, this is one place where it’s okay to be a little self-aggrandizing.

When you’re going through your old web design projects, try to select examples that showcase the diversity of your capabilities and experience. Featuring projects from a variety of industries, design styles, mediums, and site types will let clients know that you’re more than a one trick pony. In addition, it’s a good idea to limit your examples to your most recent projects. That way, your portfolio will accurately reflect your current level skill and expertise with design.

If you’re just starting out and don’t have a ton of client work to showcase, don’t worry. It’s perfectly fine to include personal design projects, mockups, and design school assignments in your portfolio. Plus, including “passion projects” like these can allow you to more accurately express your unique creative style and vision.

2. Keep a professional and cohesive experience

You should treat your web design portfolio just like you would any other design project. Once it goes live, it will act as your resume and will live on to become a direct extension of your personal brand. That means it’s worth your time to ensure the final product conveys a consistent visual narrative that wins over the hearts of clients — and opens their wallets, too.

Of course, striking a balance between cohesion and creativity can be tough to achieve. By no means am I advocating for a traditional portfolio with a boring layout, but there are some basic rules of UI you should try to follow to make things easier for your user. For example, each project page should have consistent layouts, writing styles, and image sizes. And every page of your web design portfolio should share similarities in terms of colour, layout, and experience.

Another important place to check for consistency is your usage of text. Typography will help you set the tone on your portfolio site, especially in your case studies (see tip #3). But you’re going to want to make sure that it never steals attention away from your design samples. To guarantee that your work remains the focal point for the user, try limiting your typography to one type family.

3. Feature detailed case studies

While the primary purpose of your web design portfolio is to showcase your design capabilities, prospective clients will also want to see how your work helped businesses achieve success. That’s where the case study comes in. These descriptive tools allow you to explain the rationale behind your design and the context in which the project was created. By making a business case for your work, you’re in a better position to prove the value (and price) of your work to even the most skeptical prospect.

Aside from visual design assets, a simple case study should also include the following elements:

  • Project background and description — This provides context for the project including timelines, budgetary constraints, and the purpose for the design project.
  • Project goals and objectives — Every design project should have tangible goals and objectives associated with the project purpose. Were you trying to optimize product pages for higher conversions? Drive more traffic to the site overall? Reduce cart abandon rates?
  • Creative strategy — This is where you should explain your thought process behind the design. This could be in the form of design iterations, research processes, or creative insights. Don’t just show designs; explain why certain elements and imagery were used, and dive into detail about your creative process.
  • Success metrics and results — Sometimes it’s tough to get quantifiable results from a client, but if you can show prospects that your work was able to help past clients achieve results, they’ll be more confident in your abilities to do the same for them.
  • Your role in the project — If you worked on a team, you should specify what your role was within the project and what contributions you made.
  • Client testimonials — Client testimonials are another confidence booster for your prospects. These can be simple, two sentence quotes that show your client’s satisfaction with your work. Try asking for them at the tail-end of a web design project.

Want to learn more about writing web design case studies? Check out our detailed guide to get started.

You might also like: How to Write a Web Design Case Study that Lands New Clients

4. Make your contact information readily accessible

It’s easy to get tunnel vision when crafting your portfolio and focus all your efforts on the visual aspect of the site design. And while your visual designs should be the focal point of the portfolio, your personal contact information is equally as important. Give a little detail as to who you are, your experience, and your credentials. Just don’t get too wordy, as you want your designs to speak for themselves.

Don’t forget that the purpose of your portfolio is to attract potential clients and convince them to hire you. If you’re able to capture their interest, your contact information should be readily available and the process to get in touch should be simple. A great way to facilitate this is to include a contact form that asks for basic details like name, email address, and a brief description of the project. A form allows your prospective clients to spend less time trying to reach you and more time examining your design work.

Also remember to include calls to action that encourage your visitors to reach out to you to learn more about what you can offer their business. Simple examples could include “Request a quote,” “Let’s work together,” or “Get in touch.” While these are perfectly fine to use, challenge yourself to come up with some that show off your creativity and personal flair. 

Bonus: 5 beautiful and inspiring web design portfolios

If you don’t already have your design portfolio hosted online, it can sometimes be difficult to find the time and creative inspiration to get started. Because of this, I’ve included five of my personal favourites to help inspire the look and feel of your own portfolio website.

While some of these belong to agencies, all have used their portfolio sites to position their personal brands and styles of work in a way that feels truly distinct and compelling. Take a look!

Admir Hadzic

Admir Hadzic's web design portfolio

Dave Seidman

Dave Seidman's web design portfolio


Fantasy's web design portfolio

Nowhere Famous

Nowhere Famous's web design portfolio

Mike Kus

Mike Kus's web design portfolio

We’d love to see samples of your design work. Share a link to your web design portfolio in the comments below. 

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How to Get Your Clients Up and Running With Shopify POS

How to Get Your Clients Up and Running With Shopify POS

Shopify POS: Email

As a Shopify Partner, most of your client work is likely focused on developing commerce experiences for the web. However, as more ecommerce brands begin to expand outside the borders of the browser and into the world of physical retail, there are new revenue opportunities popping up for your business in the world of in-person selling.

One way your agency or freelance business can take advantage of this growing trend, is by offering point of sale (POS) services to your existing or new Shopify clients.

In this article, you’ll learn:
• How to setup your client’s Shopify POS system.
• Details about the Shopify POS hardware requirements.
• What to discuss with your POS clients before setup.

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How to Use Icons to Enhance Your Ecommerce Website

How to Use Icons to Enhance Your Ecommerce Website

Icons to Enhance Your Ecommerce Website: Email

Icons are a good option for designers looking to provide users with a greater sense of guidance when interacting with their ecommerce site. But don’t let their small stature throw you off — icon usage requires the same attention to detail as other elements in your design.

To help you get started, we’ve put together this article on iconography and ecommerce. Read on!

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How to Write a Design Brief to Keep Your Web Design Projects On Track

How to Write a Design Brief to Keep Your Web Design Projects On Track

Design-brief-heroOver the past few years, there’s been a lot of talk about the design brief. Ever since R/GA’s controversial presentation at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in 2014, creatives around the world have been debating whether or not briefs are still relevant in the design, development, and media industries.

But briefs are far more important than R/GA’s talk led on. They are an integral step when creating a strategic approach to project coordination. When effectively written, a design brief will not only allow you to identify and avoid roadblocks early on, but also help smooth out and speed up your design and development process altogether.

Whether you’ve used briefs in the past or not, you should consider adding them to every project’s workflow. Here’s everything you need to know about writing a strategic design brief to keep yourself organized and delight your clients.

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What exactly is a design brief?

A design brief is a project management document that allows you to identify the scope, scale, and core details of your upcoming design project. Populated with the right information, the design brief has the potential to be one of your most powerful tools. It can be used to inform design decisions and effectively guide the overall workflow of your project; from conception to completion.

While every designer and agency tackles briefs in their own way, you’ll get the most out of it if you create yours collaboratively with your client at the onset of a project. Working on your brief this way allows you to clarify goals and objectives, receive input from important stakeholders, and, ultimately, hold both parties accountable for the final product.

If you and your clients have reached consensus before any work begins, you’ll likely avoid many unnecessary revisions or “We didn’t ask for that” moments during and after the project.

Here are a few other benefits of using design briefs in your projects:

  • Provides designers the necessary insight, background, and foundation for the effective creation of the visual design
  • Offers your team a more detailed picture of the client’s expectations, giving you everything you need to delight them
  • Helps keep individual contributors on track, while keeping the project on time and on budget
  • Gives the client a sense of involvement in the process, and comfort that the project is properly understood
  • Provides you with all design specs upfront
  • Helps you understand your client’s taste and identify their “must not-haves” for the project

Your design brief has value even after the completion of your project. If you’ve taken the time to draft a comprehensive brief, you’ll be able to use it as the basis for a case study to use in future pitches. If you’re unfamiliar with how to do this, check out our detailed walkthrough on how to write a web design case study.

The anatomy of a design brief

Briefs can come in a variety of shapes and sizes depending on the type of project you’re working on and the client you’re working with. To give you a sense of what to include, here are the core sections of an effective design brief.

1. Company profile

You should always ensure your briefs include an overview of your client’s business. This ensures that all members of your team are familiar with your client, their brand, and any internal factors that can influence the direction or success of the project.

Here are the key elements to include in this section:

  • Company details including name, industry, product lines, etc.
  • Brand differentiator and/or unique selling proposition
  • Brand mission, vision, values, and messaging
  • Key stakeholders, contributors, and points of contact within the business
  • List of direct and indirect competitors

When working with larger clients — especially when projects involve multiple stakeholders — it can be beneficial to formally acknowledge who within the organization has final approval for the project.

2. Project overview

The project overview is where you should provide a detailed description of the project that includes as much context and background as possible. When initially meeting with your client, try to formulate this section by asking the questions: “What are you doing?” and “Why are you doing it?”

The what is simple. Your overview should define the scope and scale of the project and its deliverables. Are you building something new? Are you redesigning something that exists? What other assets does the client expect at the completion of the project? These are all things that should be covered in this section.

The why is a little more complex. You should try to answer this question by identifying the design problem(s) your client faces that necessitated this project. Sometimes, by digging a little deeper into the why, you can discover alternative solutions that strategically meet the needs of your clients.

3. Goals and objectives

Designing websites may be a core offering that is central to your business, but to a client (especially those in ecommerce), a website is their business. In numbers or plain language, provide measurable outcomes for what this project is trying to achieve.

Goals reflect the overarching purpose of your project, while objectives highlight the granular methods in achieving that goal. Some sample examples of goals and their corresponding objectives for a website build or redesign could be:

The client wants more traffic to their website

  • Increase the amount of weekly sessions by 20% by X date.
  • Grow proportion of new monthly traffic to 40% of total by X date.

The client is looking to drive more revenue from their website

  • Increase daily revenue by 50% by X date.
  • Grow the total average order amount by 25% by X date.
  • Reduce cart abandonment by 15% by X date.

The client wants to increase engagement with their online content

  • Reduce average bounce rates by 10% by X date.
  • Increase the average number of pages viewed per session by 25% by X date.
  • Increase average time on page per user by 15% by X date.

By establishing goals and objectives up front, you’re not only suited to make more informed decisions around your design, but you’re also better armed to prove your value and worth to the client outside of the visual aesthetics of their website.

4. Target audience

Another way to inform your design decisions is to develop a solid understanding of the users who will be interacting with your client’s website.

If you’re lucky, your client will already be equipped with relevant research about their target audience and be willing to share it with you. However, not all business owners will have this information. If you find yourself in this circumstance, you have two options. You can try to use this opportunity to offer user research services as a value-add to the project. If they don’t bite, try asking them who their ideal customer is and work together to build an audience persona through discussion.

Your audience persona should include demographics such as age and gender, as well as psychographics like media consumption habits. This information can unveil important details about what resonates most with your client’s customers online. Are they apt to use mobile more than desktop? Do certain colors resonate more with their lifestyle?

Hopefully by defining their audience in your design brief, you’ll be armed to make informed decisions during design.

5. Design requirements

By including specific design requirements in your design brief, you can ensure you and your team has everything needed to work efficiently and meet client expectations. These details will not only round out your brief, but will also ensure that you don’t find yourself redesigning once you receive specs after the fact.

While requirements may vary for each project, you can include any of the following details about your deliverables:

  • Asset dimensions/resolutions
  • File formats
  • Required color palette
  • Image assets to be included
  • Associated copy documents

It is also worthwhile to include any reference materials in this section. These could include brand guidelines, mockups, moodboards, and anything else you feel could assist with the completion of the project. The more thorough your supporting documentation is, the less chance you’ll run into roadblocks while working through the design itself.

6. Budget and schedule

If you work in an agency, budgets and schedules are often seen as an afterthought and left for the client services team to deal with. However, these project components are just as vital for creatives as they are for your account services counterparts, and are unignorable for those of you working as freelancers.

The budget

Having a clear understanding of your client’s budget allows you to effectively manage their expectations as to what their money can get them, while also controlling how your team uses their time. When initially meeting with your client to scope out their job, make sure you allocate budget across all disciplines: research, design, copywriting, development, coordination, testing, and review. That way, you’re much more likely to avoid scope creep.

Without an explicit budget, it can be easy for you or your team to dive deep into a job and lose track of how many billable hours you’ve spent. To help avoid this type of situation, I also recommend using a time tracking app to help stay within the budgetary limits of the project.

The schedule

Projects need to stay on time to stay profitable — that’s why schedules are a must-have for your briefs. Your schedule should be realistic and account for potential changes or unexpected obstacles.

An effective schedule should not only highlight the final deadline, but also identify any progress milestones between the onset and endpoint of the project. It is crucial that your team can mutually anticipate completion dates for concepts, final designs, development work, and review periods.

While schedules are vital for keeping your team on track, they can also be valuable for your clients. Some clients you’ll work with won’t know how long it takes to research, design, and build a website. Thus, it’s important to set the expectation of what’s realistic and possible with them when creating your design brief. This, just like the entire design brief, ensures your team and client are on the same page from the get-go.

You might also like: The 7 Best Free Shopify Resources and Tools for Front-End Developers

Start introducing the design brief into your projects

The design brief has the potential to be one of your most valuable project management tools. Try to incorporate these tips into your design or development workflow so your projects begin with a strategic start.

We’ve put together a sample design brief template that you can use as your starting point for each project you work on. Feel free to alter it as you wish and make it your own. Download below and let us know what you think!

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Introducing Sections for Shopify Themes

Introducing Sections for Shopify Themes

Shopify Theme sectionsAt Shopify, we’re always looking for ways to make the lives of our merchants and partners easier. 

In our mission to make that a reality, we’re happy to introduce a new feature that will make Shopify Themes more customizable than ever before: sections.

Find out how these new sections will help streamline your development workflow and simplify the way you hand off stores to your clients.

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Introducing the New Shopify Partner Dashboard

Introducing the New Shopify Partner Dashboard

Shopify Partner Dashboard

Over the past few months, we’ve been quietly working on some significant enhancements to your Partner Dashboard that will heighten your Shopify experience. Today, we’re happy to share them with you.

In this article you'll learn about:

  • How you can better manage your team with staff accounts.
  • The new "Managed Stores" page.
  • Enhancements to how you interact with the apps you’ve built for Shopify.
  • A few other new and exciting features.

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Jeffrey Zeldman Shares His Advice for Aspiring Freelance Web Designers

Jeffrey Zeldman Shares His Advice for Aspiring Freelance Web Designers

Jeffrey Zeldman: Email

From finding new clients to balancing cash flow, starting out as a freelancer in the web industry can be a daunting experience.

Luckily, web design veteran Jeffrey Zeldman focuses in on how to overcome common freelance obstacles in our recent Shopify Partner Session webinar.

We compiled his pearls of wisdom into a single article to help you navigate the world of freelancing. It includes:

  • How to establish name recognition through content
  • How to determine client fit
  • Why it's important to experiment with side projects

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