How Will Web Designers Survive the Crunch?

Credit Crunch and Global Financial Crisis have become somewhat buzz words over the last couple of weeks, buzz words they might be but they actually reflect something very real happening around us and seemingly getting worse.

I have read a few articles online about how high street retailers are being hit badly however, online sales are up in comparison to last year. Does this mean for web designers the credit crunch is going to gently pass us by? I fear not.

From my experience with my clients over the past couple of weeks, I’ve seen some interesting patterns emerge, aside from them changing banks and their cheques being written on mostly one banks chequebooks.

They are definitely taking longer to pay, without a doubt. A nightmare when trying to keep hold of cash flow on a business. There is also a hesitancy around new projects, not that they’re all holding back but it is taking them longer to get their wheels in motion. When they do decide they want to go ahead, they are looking for cost cutting measures, especially with e-commerce, and opting for a lot of Paypal driven sites with the option to upgrade to Worldpay and the like at a later date.

One client asked for their FTP details so they could get their little sisters friend to make them a website – a terrible shame after nailing their new branding last year it is now a great advert for Comic Sans. No matter what I said to this client or however much I tried to educate her, cost was the driving issue. I’m lucky in that the main bulk of my clients are very loyal and are staying put but others just starting out might find this a cause for concern.

So what do we do? We always know there’s someone who will be cheaper than us out there, that’s not a new problem but should we loose a client to someone, we can’t afford to just let that client go, they need to be replaced. Dropping your rates to ridiculously low, and filling your days with double the amount of clients than normal, not only makes you stressed for less or the same money, undoubtedly the standard of your work will drop.

How do we go about replacing clients or gaining new ones at a time when people are at their most cautious? Does being a studio with premises give you an advantage over someone who works from home? Being a freelancer at this point could give you an advantage over a studio as you have fewer overheads, but studios have the physical presence which acts as a 24/7 billboard advert to draw in new clients. Who knows, only our clients can make those decisions. In my area, traditional local newspaper advertising has rock bottomed and you can now pick up a quarter page advert for about £30 per addition – I’m guessing others must be the same, which means this could be an affordable option for some people.

How are you finding the credit crunch? Some people are reporting being busier than ever while others are finding things slowing down a little. Do you have any plans in place or are you taking each day as it comes? I’d love to hear your thoughts to try and gain a bigger picture of how the web world is feeling right now…