Web designers are the builders of the internet's face. Sometimes called artists, sometimes (self) called rockstars, sometimes things not so good.
Our passion is to make the internet a better place, by making that face look good doing what it was meant to do.
Design is always a cycle that consists in understanding the problem, creating the solution, making it work, and then making it beautiful. I will give you five handy tips to help you start that cycle with confidence, and a solid base for you and your client.
1 Strong Portfolio
I know this may sound silly, but I've seen too many designers and agencies showing their Our Clients section with a whole bunch of international brand logos like Pepsi, Motorola, Microsoft, but no work to look at. Nada. I mean, if you really made Samsung's website, where is it? I want some proof!
It's better to show a concept of something you think you'd make better, and say "This is a concept I've made to solve such and such problem". That way you show your creative skills and your ability to present solutions to a given problem.
I know sometimes we are not allowed to show some of our previous work, but come on, you've got to have something you can show, if you don't, make something up!
Show your work. Work made by you.
Don't get me wrong here, I'm not trying to say that you have to answer the phone on a Saturday while you are dancing the night away, no. Just don't dissapear.
When you start working with a client, you have to open a communication channel between you and them. Email, phone, project manager, you name it. Then you have to set rules like answering emails every day in the morning, complete tasks all evenings, phone calls from 9am to 5pm, etc.
Let them know your rules, and respect the rules yourself so they know you didn't die in your desk making their website, and they don't wake you up every night to tell you that the green is too green.
If you think the client went too far asking you to make that 87 all-required-fields form, and you know that nobody is going to fill that form, is your duty to tell them.
Offering good advice may help your client save time, and money, and moreover, will make you become trustful to them. So always tell your client what can be done, what is worth to be made and what is not. You are the expert.
4 Clear Information
You made a nice design based on requeriments, the client loved it, you started coding and somehow along the way the requeriments changed a little bit here and there, you lost track of what you're doing, how much should I charge for this, how long is going to take me that...
At first it's hard to handle a stumbling project, but with the experience comes the wisdom. Don't make the same mistake twice. Know your client, make a contract, set hourly rates outside the main project, expect changes, set rates by modules, don't offer things you can't do and don't give price on things you don't know how difficult are.
Be consistent with your price, your skills and the project.
Sometimes things get broken. And whether is your client's mistake, server failure, or something you forgot to delete from your code, you should make yourself available to fix it when the emergency comes.
But don't worry, you don't have to do it for free (unless it was your fault, of course) if you go ahead and set a support fee in that nice contract you made. Because you made one right?
Making sure you meet these tips will help you get not only more, but better clients and better business relationships.
It might even get you closer to that rockstar designer you know you are.