Since essentially all types of businesses must have websites in the current market -- and many that have had websites in the past need them re-developed to meet modern usability standards -- the web design and development industry is offering great opportunities for entrepreneurially minded and tech-savvy people. Before you jump right in and start a web design business, however, you should recognize how easy it is to fall into some common pitfalls. The good news is that you can fight them with a little knowledge and planning.

Here are five tips that can help you be more successful from the start:

1. Price Based On Research

Many starting web design businesses price their services far too high or far too low. The latter often happens because there’s not a huge upfront cost that goes into building a website and it’s easy to underestimate how much time goes into the process of actually working with clients, versus just building a website as you might have in other contexts. Take the time to research your competitors, and price accordingly.

2. Write Clear Contracts

Probably the biggest mistake starting web designers make is not setting clear expectations with their clients and then putting them in writing. Pay particular care to discussing how revisions will be handled; it’s all too easy to get caught in an endless cycle of what your client things are “small tweaks” where you’re putting in time without bringing in any additional income.

3. Do Your Market Research

There are plenty of other web designers out there who can create a site that looks nice. But if you want your customers to be happy with their websites for years to come, rather than just after you unveil their designs, you need to focus on effectiveness, and not just appearance. That means sitting down with your client to define a target audience and some specific goals, and then researching what elements will accomplish those goals.

4. Know What to Contract Out

Don’t overlook the power of outsourcing, especially for services that are far more affordable on a larger scale. You can use outsourcing to focus on a few core competencies yourself while offering a wider range of services to your clients in order to bring in higher profits. Search engine optimization is, of course, one good example of a service that can be profitably outsourced, but you don’t want to overlook more mundane options that can help build your legitimacy, either, such as a virtual office that provides you with a professional mailing address and phone number.

5. Create Success Metrics

Especially if you’re offering more extended web development services, rather than just setting up a single design, it’s important that you establish some success metrics. You should ideally have two sets of metrics. The first should consist of well-known concepts that your client can understand and you can use to demonstrate that you’re delivering on your promises. The second can consist of more complex analytics you use to create websites that not only look good, but actually serve as long-term marketing and sales tools for your clients.

Can you think of any common mistakes that can doom a web design business from the start? Share your thoughts in the comments.

By: Karleanne Matthews