Starting a Website Design Business

two people working on color swabs in an office.

A Quick Overview of Starting A Website Design Business

Becoming your own boss and starting a website design business is a big step. You want to do as much research as you can get your hands on before taking on this life-changing venture.

In this post, you’ll find the steps need to to start a web design business followed by a few points to consider before you start, and finally a resource section you can use before you start and when your business is up and running.

Steps to Starting a Website Design Business

1. Researching a Website Design Business

Website Design Business Research

The more you research a business before taking action steps the better off you will be. Attaining and understanding quality information is key to making good decisions and providing insights to whether this is the right business for you.

One way to get the best information is from people already in the industry. They are the people qualified to give you the information you can depend on. I have written an article with ideas to help find the right people to talk to and how to approach them.

I strongly suggest you take some time to read the article and take action so you have an excellent understanding before you start your website design business. See An Inside Look Into the Business You Want To Start, for all the details.

Target Audience

You also want to focus on your target audience. You want n understanding of how they think, what they expect, how you can communicate with them, etc.

When you understand your customers and their expectations you have a much better chance of advertising to them and closing deals. For more see, How To Understand Your Target Market.

2. Choosing The Right Business Location

Your business location is important. However, with a website design business you can run it online, and from your home, if you are planning on a freelance type of business.

On the other hand, if your target market is high-end clients then those clients would rather meet face to face, instead of online meetings. For more, see Choosing The Best Location for Your Business.

3. Choose a Business Name

When it comes to choosing your business name you want something that is catchy and appropriate. You want a name that is easy to pronounce and one that is memorable.

The name you choose for your company will most likely not change so you need to take the time needed to choose one that fits your company and one you will be happy with today and in the upcoming years.

For this important step see How to Choose a Business Name. You may also be interested in Google’s search results related to website design business name ideas.

4. Register Your Company

If you are planning to run your website design service similar to a freelancer then you can register as a sole proprietorship which is the easiest to set up. But if you are planning to go bigger then you may want to consider an LLC or Corporation especially if you have partners or have personal assets you want to protect in case the business fails.

When it comes to setting up a business it’s not a bad idea to speak with a professional such as a certified accountant, lawyer, or companies that specialize in company registrations.

One thing you can do is start as a sole proprietorship and then if the business starts to see success you can convert it to an LLC or corporation. See, How to Register your Business for more.

5. Create Your Corporate ID

Your Corporate ID is the face of your business. It consists of various components such as your logo, website, stationary, business sign, promotional items, etc.

Naturally, you want a professional design that is constant with your business. See A Complete Introduction to Corporate Identity Packages for more.

6. Estimating Your Start-up Cost

To ensure you open your business successfully you need to estimate your startup cost. With an accurate estimate, your journey from now until you open will go fairly smoothly.

On the other hand, if you underestimate you could run out of money which can jeopardize operations. Start by listing everything you need, and start to get pricing. As you get pricing other issues you may not have considered will show up and you can update your list.

Your cost will Depend on the size of your operation. Starting as a freelancer and if you already own the software and computer and are working from home will probably cost you a couple of hundred bucks for registration and odds and ends.

On the other hand, if you are hiring a large staff and need to set up a full-blown operation your startup costs may require business loans and possible investors.  For more see, Estimating Start-up Costs: Are you Missing Anything?

7. Writing a Business Plan

A business plan is an essential document for business owners. It’s used for acquiring funding and attracting investors and it provides the business with a roadmap.

Writing a business plan takes time and effort to create but in the end, they are worth it because the owner has a better understanding of where they are going and how they will get there.

There are options when it comes to creating your business plan, for details see How to Write a Business Plan.

8. Set up Your Banking

It’s important to set up a bank account for your business, even if it’s on a freelance level because your business expense and income are separate from your personal finance.

It’s easier to track expenses and provide proof in case of a tax audit. It’s also a good idea to develop a professional relationship with your banker. If your business grows and you require funding they can help with assistance, advice, and speed up loan processes.

For more see, How to Open a Business Bank Account. You may also want to look at, What Is a Merchant Account and How to Get One.

9. Get the Funding for Your Operation

As discussed earlier in the cost estimate step, it’s time to get the funding for your startup.

Again if you are at the level of a freelance you may not need funding but if you are then you will need to consider how you get the funds.

At this point, it’s time to get your business plan ready and start making appointments with various lenders to acquire the funds you need. See, Getting a Small Business Loan for more.

10. Software Setup

In addition to the software used for web design, you may need programs for accounting, scheduling, and a suite like Microsoft Office that can be used for your daily activities.

It’s also recommended you have a backup system for your client’s files. I would suggest a hard drive you keep in a Fireproof safe plus an online backup system like idrive to ensure all your design files are protected.

Even though you may already have a collection of programs you use for web design it’s not a bad idea to browse the packages available.  Check out Google’s Latest Search Results for Software Packages Related to a Website Design Business.

11. Get The Right Business Insurance

You will need business insurance in case a client gets hurt in your office. You can also get professional liability insurance which can protect you against lawsuits.

If you operate a home-based business, you should speak with your insurance agent and inform them of this, as it can nullify your home insurance policy. For more see What to Know About Business Insurance, you will also want to browse the latest Google Search Results for Website Design Business Insurance.

12. Physical Setup

You will want to set up your office so that you are organized and productive. The last thing you need is to waste time because you can’t find what you need when you need it. See, Here are Considerations for The Setup of Your Office, for tips and ideas to make your office work for you.

Your sign should be appealing and display your logo. In addition to being attractive and designed in a way that attracts business, add a slogan to your business sign so it can be seen by those passing by.  For more see, All About Company Signs.

13. Creating a Website

Besides designing websites for your clients, your first task is to design your own. You want to showcase your best work and create a portfolio.

If you want your website to load quickly and be always up, you will need a secure server. It is your work that clients will judge your skill on, so give them something they will want for themselves.

14. Create an External Support Team

An external support team is a group of people you can depend on for advice and services. It’s also important to note these people are not employed by you, instead they are used on a per-use or contract, or hourly rate.

You don’t need to have all these people in place before you start because it takes time to build professional relationships and people you can count on, but it is something you will want to continue to work on.

When you have a strong team in place they can help when you need them. Your group may include; an accountant, a lawyer, a financial advisor, a marketing specialist, technical advisors, etc. For more see, Building a Team of Professional Advisors for Your Business.

15. Hiring Employees

At the early stages of operation or working as a freelancer, you could be thinking to do everything yourself and that’s a good idea because payroll is a significant expense, especially when starting out.

However when your business starts to grow you may not be able to keep up with demand and maintenance and you may have to hire employees, which can be a great improvement in productivity when you hire the right people. For more see, How and When to Hire a New Employee.

Next Steps to Evaluate

Getting Customers Through The Door

At this point, you have an understanding of what it takes to start your service. Your next step is to consider how you will get clients.

A business without customers isn’t really a business. You have to market your business to bring awareness and get clients. As a website design business, you can sign up for freelancing sites like Upwork that can bring in a significant amount of work.

In addition, see our article How To Get Customers Through the Door, you’ll find a few ideas you can use.

Marketing Ideas

For more ideas to market your business, see our marketing section for ideas you can use to bring more business.


There are a few things to consider before starting. First, decide whether to have an office. Most work can be done on a laptop, anywhere. However, having an office to hold meetings can bring credibility to your work.

You may want to consider earning certifications in specific programs. This may not be important to smaller clients but larger organizations may require it.

Also, familiarize yourself with multiple programs like Photoshop, WordPress, Dreamweaver, and others. The larger your skill set the more you can do.

Skill Set:

  • Organizing and tracking projects.
  • Coding websites.
  • Editing Images.
  • Logo Design.
  • Creating web content.
  • Knowledge of layout design.
  • A Knowledge of Typography.
  • A Sense of Color Coordination.
  • Understanding search engine guidelines is a plus.
  • Understanding of W3C
  • Basic understanding of server management.
  • Basic understanding of IT and/or Internet protocols.
  • Good understanding of computer hardware and software.
  • Good organizational skills and attention to detail.
  • Working knowledge of software such as Photoshop, Dreamweaver, WordPress, Ruby on Rails, PHP, SQL., etc.

Employee & Job Considerations During The Start-Up Phase Or In The Future:

Hours of Operation:

General Hours of Operation: Generally speaking, you can work anytime, with the exception of meeting clients, which normally falls within the hours of 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.


  • A quality laptop or desktop PC with a lot of hard drive space.
  • External hard drives for backup copies of sites.
  • Digital camera.
  • Software (Photoshop, Dreamweaver, etc.)
  • Your own quality website.
  • Scanner for photos and slides.
  • Video equipment.
  • Servers.
  • List of Essential Office Equipment

Monthly Expenses To Consider:

  • High-Speed Internet access.
  • Web domain fees.
  • Software Fees.
  • Hosting Fees.
  • Online Backup Storage Fees.
  • Common Monthly Expenses

Pros and Cons:

The Pros:

  • You are your own boss
  • You get to be very creative
  • Work your own hours
  • A stable industry with growth potential
  • You can charge maintenance fees for maintaining the client’s website
  • You can work from almost anywhere you have internet access

The Cons:

  • It may be hard to satisfy some clients, because they may not know what type of design they want
  • You may be under very tight deadlines
  • It is a competitive industry
  • With platforms like WordPress and Wix, it’s becoming easier for non-technical people to design their own sites

Type of Customers You Need to Attract

Clients will include small businesses, non-profit organizations, and entrepreneurs.


The following are are few resources that can help during the startup phase and when your business is up and running. I suggest you take some time to browse through the resources, for tips, ideas, and information that can be valuable.

Industry Trends and Statistics

Looking at trends and statistics is a good way to understand where the industry is headed whether there is growth or the industry is declining. You can also gain ideas for something that you may be missing in your business or identify problems that you can focus on resolving. Take a look at the latest search results for trends and statistics related to website design.

Top Website Design Firms

Taking a look at the top web design firms can help you get a better idea of what’s out there and how to compete.  You might come up with an idea for something at the competition and provide that you can incorporate into your services by spending a few hours studying the competition. Take a look at the latest search results for the top website design firms.

The Future of Web Design

By searching for information on the future of your industry you can get an outlook on what’s to come. When you have an idea of where the industry is going you can prepare for it and be one of the first on the cutting edge. See the search results for the future of website design.


By researching website design pricing, you’ll be able to price your services competitively. The price will vary depending on the quality of work and the number of pages. It doesn’t mean you have to price your service exactly in line with the competition, but it will give you a starting point. See the latest website design prices.

Knowledge Is Power if You Use It!

Publications are a great way to say up to date with the latest and most valuable information. I would suggest scheduling time at least once a week to improve your knowledge of your industry.

A lot of people want to stay up to date with the latest information but it can be challenging because creating a collection of sources that are useful can be time-consuming and some people find it difficult to start. The links below will make it easy for you. You can bookmark this page so you can come back to use the links that can help you during the startup phase or when your business is up and running.


Visiting website design forums is one way you can get in on discussions on hot topics. Being an active part of forums allows you to build relationships with others in the industry.


Courses related to website design are a great way to improve or update your skill set. The web is an evolving industry and staying up to date with the latest technology is something you will want to practice.


See the link below for the latest search results for the top website design blogs.


Books are another source of information. Note that non-fiction books don’t require you to read them from cover to cover instead you can browse the table of contents to find the section you need.


The news is an excellent way to stay up to date with virtually any topic. You can even set up alerts to receive notifications anytime there is something new coved by the media.


Videos related to the industry can be valuable to improve your skills and a solution to a problem when you are in a pinch. See the links to YouTube Videos Below.