Web Designer Biz Terms and Definitions

When discussing finding web design clients, I’ve noticed confusion about what various terms mean. Below is a list of common marketing terms for web designer type businesses.

Niche or Specialization– This is a broad term and can be a little different from person to person. For practically purposes, your web design niche is your sweet spot that: (1) includes a narrow target market, (2) specialized services for that market (more than just “web design”). This is something that separates you from other web designers in a VERY valuable way.

Synonyms: Web Design Niche, Web Design Specialization

Target Market – This is the group of people or businesses who are the clients you are seeking.  So this is part of your niche. Your target market could be small businesses (very general), mid-size insurance firms (a bit more specific), professional athletes who blog (quite narrow).

Brand – This word is very commonly used and is  interpreted in various ways. For our purposes, your brand represents what you want the marketplace to see, think, and feel about you when they come across you. Personal branding or web designer branding means branding a person – you! 

Prospect – Prospecting client X (someone you know of) means you are actively seeking to secure client X as a client. It could be a company, but ultimately, the hiring person at the company is who you need to impress.

Lead – A lead is someone (or company) who has expressed some level of interest in you. It’s like a prospect that knows about you and is open to communicating with you with the possibility of working together professionally.

Client – Someone who as paid you for your web design services (could be barter).

Marketing – A general term used to represent just about anything related to “getting business.” I’ve seen it to include advertising or sales. There’s quite a bit of overlap. So don’t get too hung up on this word. Just think “get business.”

Sales – Sales refers mainly to the stuff you do to turn a lead into a paying client. For you, this is usually emails, phone calls, meetings. You end up with a “sale” when someone agrees to pay you. You can also include selling to existing or past clients as part of “sales” per say.

Tagline – Also called strapline, slogan or motto. I’ve heard people mistakenly say it’s your “logo.” For our purposes, this is the short phrase or sentence that summarizes your business (or client’s business).

Proposal – This is what you offer to a client. It can be written or verbal (usually both). It’s your offer to them that they can accept or reject. When you propose, you are basically saying, “Hey client, this is what I can offer you. Wanna do it?” (When done right, most clients will say yes and give you muh-nee!)

Contract – This is a written agreement between you and the client that outlines what both parties agree too. Usually you’re agreeing to provide your time in the form of services while the client agrees to pay you money. Web design contracts include a bunch of terms, conditions, and legal stuff like “fees with respect to late payments” and “that you will keep the client’s business details private”, etc.  

Proposal vs. Contract – For our purposes, your web design proposal focuses on the web design work and NOT the legal stuff or terms and conditions. It’s the thing you want clients to go gaga over and say YES to. I recommend offering proposals to clients, get them to agree to hire you, and then have them sign a contract (proposal plus legal stuff and terms).  

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