Want to improve your projects of web design and yourself? Spend more!

Who more spends, less spends, who more spends, more earns… a saying heard over and over again. You know, all the proverbs have a kernel of truth and wisdom that we should all consider both in our private and professional life.

On this last thing and on the incapacity of many web designers to invest on themselves and on their projects will be today’s argument.

Web designer…on the cheap

The web design is a fast lane field, always in evolution that requires a constant study and updating to be able to create well-structured projects, keeping up with times. There’s always something new to learn or a new novelty to try and it’s unthinkable to enter in this industry in a professional manner  convinced to rest on one’s laurels just as one learns the basis of xtml and css.

Beyond the lack of training in the web design industry I often notice that many inexpert web designers have a certain reluctance to invest sums, even small, to improve themselves and their projects.

It’s ok that many aspiring web designers haven’t reached the major age and that many others can’t count on an economic independence that allow them to invest big sums, but here we’re talking about really low costs and that won’t lead to a financial crack , especially if amortized over time.

In fact I’m talking about those expenses that can make you improve significantly your professional skills and the ones that can help every web designer (especially beginners) to improve the aesthetic quality or the functionality of their web design projects and not only.

Let’s see a couple of examples.

Purchasing font: an expense of 30-100 dollars (15/60 euro)

The web puts at our disposal a huge quantity of free fonts, this is true. However in certain cases, choosing a premium font could turn out to be almost a required decision: for example, if you find yourself having to re raffined font, less ordinary, shouldn’t we suppose to invest a part – even small – of the budget in a good font, not so abused?

It’s certainly not a coincidence if the logotypes of the most greatest companies rely on paid fonts and, beyond the final result of the project, even the immage could be affected if the news spread that the logo was created using Georgia, or with whatever kind of free font easy to find on the web.

Lastly, not including the reasons expressed till now, the quality of some premium fonts is definitely out of discussion and it’s impossible to deny or to find in free fonts. Just take a look on sites like MyFont to have an idea: calligraphic fonts, elegant with special glyphs willfully eccentric, but also clean fonts, essential with “pixel-perfect” lines… a real paradise for passionates of typography..

Recommended purchases:

Miss Le Gatees – 45 $

Helvetica – 29 $ per un singolo font, 99 $ per tutto il pacchetto

Rockwell – 29 $ per un singolo font

Jupiter – 29 $ per un singolo font, 69 $ per tutto il pacchetto

Despeinada – 60 $

Bello – 60 $

Kewl script – 49 euro

ITC Avant Garde – 29 $

Purchasing graphic resources: 2-10 dollars (1/6 euro)

If you want something done right, do it yourself, says another proverb (by patient with me, I’m hung on proverbs today), but when you can’t count on yourself, probably for a lack of time or for inability, what can you do? The solutions are two: or you do without special graphic effects (and probably compromising the beauty of the layout and its effectiveness from a purely aesthetic point of view), or you spend a ridiculous sum of money (we’re talking about a couple of Euros) buying some “time-saving “ resources that can come to our aid.

Remember that often these small details make the big difference in a graphic project: a nice button, a realistic shade, a high quality texture can really make a design more appealing and nice to see.

Recommended purchases:

Screenshot in 3d per mettere in mostra i vostri lavori – 5 $

Web element pack – 5 $

Mockup biglietti da visita – 9 $

Button pack – 7 $

Ombre di divisione e divisori – 6 $

Tabella comparazione prezzi – 5 $

Buying books: 20 -40 euro

I often have the habit – and probably I’m not the only one – to plunder all the free e-books I can find on the web, promising to myself, to read them in my spare time, that honestly, I’ll never have. The big limit of  these e-books is that it’s not so easy to read them (reading on a screen is quite tiring, besides being uncomfortable), and this makes us pile up a lot of interesting resources, tutorial, guides, we save them in a  dark corner  of our hardisk and then we simply forget them there.

Therefore we never learn nothing new.

So even if the web is full of items and high quality materials, we should try to buy a couple of good books that we could read on the train or look at it laying on the couch on a rainy Sunday. With a monthly investment of 20-30 euro you could have in no time a well stocked thematic library and your competence, I assure, you’ll grow in an exponential way.

Recommended purchases:

Don’t make me think – Steve Krug – 21 $

Neuro web design – What Makes Them Click? – 11 $

The principles of beautiful web design – 40 $

Sexy Web Design: Creating Interfaces That Work – 18 $

Want something else to read? I suggest the reading of the article “Quali sono i libri migliori per diventare web designer?” written by Just a short time ago.

Buying templates: 10-40 dollars

Let’s exorcise the demon once for all: buying a ready to use template is not a crime and it doesn’t make us fake web designers to put on the pillory. What make the difference is how the purchased template will be used and the objectives we have in mind are.

Considering that offering to clients templates passing them for yours and making them pay disproportionate sums for a $10 template is ethically wrong and working like this has really little to do with being a web designer; considering that buying templates and modifying them often turns out to be an undertaking annoying and complicated, considering all this, what about buying a template to use it as a starting point for our projects or to use it for training purposes?

Studying templates of other is a training that has no rivals and it allows you to understand the practical functionality of the different proprieties and the special effects that otherwise you couldn’t have the opportunity to try.

In this article of Smashing Magazine you can find an interesting analysis of the website that offer downloadable templates with subscription . Obviously even the formula of Theme Forest, that sells its templates starting from $12 is very convenient.

The same concept is valid for the purchase of ready to use plug-in, like contact form, sliders, form in aiax and others: as we can’t all be Javascript developers (me least of all, I admit!), why should we settle for the usual sliders in our projects when with a little expense we have the possibility to buy items ready to use, that modified could give that special touch to the site we’re working on?

Buying images: 2- 15 euro

Here we touch the Achilles heel of many web designers, beginners and not. In many occasions we have repeated that during the design of a website images and photos have great importance, almost fundamental. Using low quality images it’s easy that the aesthetics of the layout will be visibly affected and conseguently even the image of the end client will look sloppy and unprofessional.

Buying good quality images for your projects should be the rule for who want to work in this field in a professional way. Moreover the price of a medium size image is about 2-3 Euro, therefore with less than 10 Euro you can get the material for a good heading, particular and appealing at the same time.  Working “on the cheap”, using low quality images, probably found on Google, can only degrade the final result of your projects.

Recommended websites:






With this article, I wanted to invite you to invest a bit more in yourselves and in what could decisively improve the quality of your projects. Often with the excuse of “underpaid jobs” and the period of crisis we’re going through, we tend to remain fossilized on our ideas and skills without a real input to go on, to do more and better.  

Let’s do a bit of auto-analysis, with an eye to the past, ready? How much did you invest in your profession in the last three months? During the planning of a website, how much do you invest in the purchase of resources that could help you improve the quality of the project?


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The Author

Web designer, has been working in the field of graphics and web development for six years and at the moment besides collaborating with a web agency successfully manages her freelance activity under the name of mascara design. Like many freelancers she is used to handling more roles, ranging from paper graphics to the development of html and css codes; nonetheless this passion of hers remains, always and however, web graphics.

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