Top 10 Website Design Mistakes (For Web Development Companies)

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Starting your own success web design business or even freelancing is a great way to make money and build a career.

Over the last 12 years of running my own website design business I’ve made many mistakes. Probably too many to list in one video, but I’ve corrected my errors and become one of the biggest web dev businesses in North America.

A list of my 10 Biggest Mistakes when starting a web design business:

0:31 Mistake #1: Starting without a Contract
Believe it or not, we didn’t have contracts for the first two years at A Nerd’s World, probably because we were hungry young nerds, afraid of scaring away potential clients with big words and small writing on a white page. However, after getting burned dozens of times without a contract to save us, we knew we had to start protecting ourselves and created one.

Link to my Web Development Contract here:

3:25 Mistake #2: No Statement of Work (SOW)
It’s a document setting out expectations and exactly what you’re going to do for the client. It states the work you are going to complete and the various details of how you’re going to complete the work. Think of it as a high-level project plan.

7:36 Mistake #3: Scope Creep
The problem with scope creep is that it’s not always obvious to the newcomers. It might happen very innocently during a casual conversation between a valued client and a web developer who’s willing to go above and beyond to keep them happy.

10:54 Mistake #4: Poor Communication
Any type of work that is a service to clients will always require communication between the service provider and the client, and web design is no exception. As a client service, there is plenty of back and forth communication for the client to the designer. There will be very few design projects that will allow you to go work on your own and then present a finished product to a client without much communication in during the process.

13:34 Mistake #5: Over Promising and Under Delivering
Unfortunately, some businesses over-promise to get clients through the door in the first place, which only sets them up for disaster later. Honesty and reliability always pays off in the long run.

16:23 Mistake #6: Under Charging with Poor Estimates
We recently celebrated our 12 year anniversary at A Nerd’s World and in that time, especially in the early years, I have made pretty much every mistake you can possibly make when estimating and pricing website projects. As a result, there were times when I ended up working for free, completing projects at a loss, and having really awkward and uncomfortable conversations with angry clients.

19:52 Mistake #7: Missing Deadlines
New website design projects usually come with set client deadlines. Clients have their own schedules and require designs completed by a specific time. Therefore, to succeed in the web development industry you need to learn how to manage your time properly. If you can’t complete your projects on time, even the quality of your work is useless.

Make sure you give the right deadlines to your clients so that they understand it better and do not expect more than promised from you. Be transparent and clear with the expectations right at the initial stages of the project.

23:08 Mistake #8: “One Last Thing” Clients
Website revisions are to be expected. They also tend to be few and are usually minor in nature. However, some clients never seem to be satisfied. Sometimes, they also have a problem explaining what they expect from you.

24:54 Mistake #8 (I have two #8’s by mistake): Assume Nothing!
An organized set of client questions will help guide you in the right direction. I have spent days designing websites incorrectly and even building the wrong type of website because I made incorrect assumptions about what my clients wanted. Don’t make any assumptions unless they have been stated for you, or you’ve asked about them.

27:16 Mistake #9: “Who’s Yelling the Loudest”
When our web design agency was in its early years, we used to have a black chalk board in the office with all of our active projects hand written on it. We set project priorities based on which design clients were putting us under the most pressure. We called it the “Who’s yelling the loudest” approach. It was chaotic, stressful and unsustainable. 

30:27 Mistake #10: Neglecting our own Website
We were often so busy with client projects that our own website hadn’t been updated or redesigned in years. Despite pumping out hundreds of beautiful websites for our clients, our own website gets dated.

Visit my website at:

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Duraan Ali says:

Wow, I actually stopped the video few times because I remembered some of my clients and I got stressed out. I need to take your advice and thank you so much. Subbed.

Igor Sutalo says:

Recognized myself in every one of these! Thank you Chris, you provide really quality content. Keep up the good work.

MrArtist1971 says:

29:30 They don't want to generate the content. Man I've run into so much of what you're discussing over the years. It's just the nature of the beast. I've been up to 3 a.m. on a Sunday just because it had to be in 'hand' Monday and I could go on but – you gotta do what it takes.

MrArtist1971 says:

Chris, I can't thank you enough for your insights. Bless you man.

Marcus H says:

Under rated channel

Lenny says:

@A Nerd's World I have a question on domains when you found a good one on go daddy and you want to buy it it says for year or 2 ist this buying or just renting

The Web Warriors says:

Great advice. One of the best posts I've seen about running a web business. Perfect timing as we're reviewing all of our processes for each of the above points.

Marco Rosales says:

Try using an external mic, it'll help remove the reverb/echo from your walls. I love watching your videos btw, and a better audio experience would definitely make listening to you a more pleasant experience 🙂

Danny Shin says:

Hey Chris, hope you're enjoying this snow-less holiday here in Toronto!

I recently found your channel and have been learning a lot from your detailed, educational content on web design and its business counterpart. As soon as you mentioned this opportunity, I knew it is just the thing I need.
Unlike a lot of the comments on here, I am currently an undergrad student in university, and have a less-than-long experience. However with initiative, I am now comfortable with HTML, CSS, and JS with a couple projects under my belt. All in all, I am driven to learn and grow as much as possible.
I hope to learn from you the leading steps in becoming a skilled, creative designer, as well as to further discuss the 7 marketing tips you gave on closing sales on sites.

Thanks, and I hope I hear back from you.

Rachelle IRL says:

If a prospective client was scared of a contract, I would be scared to have him as a client…but aw man did he drop some jewels here! I’m subbing right now!!!!

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