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Finding your web design Power Partners

5 min read
Lisa Stambaugh

You might be the best web designer in town, but you can’t be the best at every aspect of website design. Eventually, one or more of your clients will need a service you just can’t provide. By referring your clients to known and trusted professionals providing complementary services, everyone wins.

I call my inner circle of trusted pros my “Power Partners” — they’re the ones who provide services that work in sync with mine, but don’t cannibalize work from me. Even though I don’t deliver what they do, I often have to work with them to make my clients successful.

Why have Power Partners?

Working with my Power Partners results in the best possible websites and print collateral for my clients. That’s a given. But is it self-centered when I know that it also makes my life easier in two key ways?

  • It increases my efficiency. That’s even more critical on a fixed-price project.
  • It reduces my stress level. Well, that’s just plain important all of the time.

Who are good Power Partners for web designers?

Three essential partners in my world are those who provide high-quality photos, professional print materials, and support for the nasty technical problems that plague every computer user at some point.

I’m not a professional photographer. I don’t even pretend to be a halfway-decent amateur photographer. However, thanks to the many awful photos provided by clients, I’ve become a Photoshop expert when it comes to hiding light switches, correcting lighting, and removing extraneous people from group pictures masquerading as solo headshots.

Honestly, I’d rather have someone else take great photos to begin with, and avoid that correction step. I highly encourage clients to use a pro — any pro, but preferably my pro — and invest in the quality that makes a great impression. My partner photographers include specialists in headshots, real estate and commercial shoots.

My local printer is my hero. Fortunately, I have an excellent print shop just a few blocks from my house. Friendly staff, reasonable prices, and they support all of the standard software that I use. I can email a file, and call to say, "I'll be over in five minutes to see the proof copy." I bring them a lot of work, and they go the extra mile for my clients (including competitive pricing). Yes, online printers might save a few bucks, but there’s no room in that process for holding the paper options in my hand for side-by-side comparison, tweaking alignment on the spot, or same-day delivery.

I can’t live without my trusted IT specialists. While I’m capable of offering occasional troubleshooting help when it comes to email, computer purchasing, or home office network setup, this is not the area of expertise that I choose to market for myself. I’d rather send this work to one of my partners, some of whom specialize in narrow markets, such as medical practices. Computer problems make for cranky, distracted clients. I want those issues addressed as soon as possible, to avoid interacting with them in their cranky, distracted state.

What about online Power Partners?

I also have online service providers that I partner with to help clients acquire what they need. Although not quite the same relationship, that short list of reliable resources is a huge time-saver for me.

Top-notch Tech Support above all else. I know that by encouraging clients to use GoDaddy for domain registration and hosting, I'll have the advantage of their extremely capable 24/7 tech support team and the latest technology. Tech support is my No. 1 criteria for any website-related service provider. A single problem-fixing session at my billable rate far outweighs the few dollars per year that the client might save by choosing cut-rate hosting that lacks adequate tech support.

Immediate availability outweighs true uniqueness. While custom photos are occasionally required, stock libraries provide a vast selection of quality artwork and images at minimal cost. I buy credits in large quantity at my preferred libraries, resulting in cheaper per-image pricing than what clients would spend. Even if the client is selecting the imagery, I steer them toward my vetted libraries, preferring to purchase on their behalf, and then passing through the cost on the invoice. They get good photos, in the right size and resolution, and I save time.

It’s a plus that I am intimately familiar with the back-end details of these systems, so I can jump in and instantly get access to what I need.

What’s the bottom line?

Go ahead: call me selfish for suggesting that clients use my Power Partners for reasons of efficiency, quality and confidence in the final product. I might not make money on these referrals, but I save time, preserve sanity, and hopefully delay the arrival of more gray hairs.

In summary, building a network of Power Partners allows you to:

  • provide a higher level of service to your clients overall
  • work efficiently on your part of the project
  • communicate easily with other service providers based on your existing relationship
  • build the network of others who trust you, which will eventually bring you more business as well

I think my Power Partners and I make a pretty good team. Together, we deliver the best results for our shared clients, we’re all happier and more productive — and hopefully everyone is a bit less stressed at the end of the day.