Twitter. The slogan is "what are you doing?". Everyone has an account. But web designers should be aware of the fact that Twitter is much more than just "I'm eating some cereal" and "I'm driving to work". In fact, Twitter can make you a better web designer. In this post I am going to show you how you can use Twitter to improve your web designs, learn new design techniques and grow your businesses profile. I can honestly say that Twitter has improved my web design skills more than any other single entity.
1. Follow the best designers
The first thing you need to do is follow the best web designers. These guys are constantly giving tips and hints on how you can improve your designs and as such they will be an invaluable source of knowledge. I make it a habit to keep my Twitter window open all day long and periodically check for updates from these top designers. I can think of at least four occasions when a revolutionary Tweet changed the way I designed one of my client's websites.
A bunch of very patient and diligent bloggers out there have compiled some fantastic and valuable lists of the best web designers on Twitter. Here are a few:
- 100 Web Designers to Follow on Twitter
- 50+ Designers to Follow on Twitter
- 300+ Active Web Designers to Follow on Twitter
- Inspiring Web Designers to follow on Twitter
TIP: Follow people who live in a different country than you. European and Australian designers are doing very different things than Americans.
2. Tweet some questions
Now that you are following the best web designers on Twitter you need to start asking them questions. The wonderful thing about Twitter is that, for the first time ever, you can connect with your design heroes without feeling like you are really bothering them. In the past you could have sent out an email but chances are you would never hear back. Now you can post a simple Tweet and get an instant response.
Make sure your questions are direct, simple and easy to answer. Here is an example of a Tweet I do every time I finish a new design. The result is about 40 to 100 replies from people telling me what they like/don't like and as such I am always able to improve the design.
You can also ask question during the design process. I recently asked my followers whether there was a way to "resolution test" my designs on the one computer. Five minutes later I had 20 websites that converted my design to every screen size available. Fantastic!
TIP: Add "@designersname" to your questions if you want to make sure they see your question.
3. Promote your clients
A good web designer doesn't just design the site and then vanish into thing air. Instead, they should put some initial effort into promoting their client's business and the new website that they have created. One fantastic way to do this is to use Twitter to create a burst of initial traffic and gain some backlinks. This will do a lot for their Google rankings and help them kick start their online presence.
For example, if you have just designed a website for a local pizza joint (like in the example above) you can Tweet some details about their pizza and promote it to your followers. If you have followers in the area there is a good chance they will retweet your message and your client might even get some orders! Try and be creative in the way you do this.
TIP: Keep your message short if you want it to get retweeted. Remember, the retweeters are limited by 140 characters as well!
4. Get your clients on Twitter
This idea is about taking the previous point to a new level by getting your clients involved with the magic that is Twitter! Obviously this tip isn't about the design itself, but it is about being a better web designer on the whole. Your clients can get a lot out of Twitter and if you are the one that takes the time to incorporate it into their site, get them involved and get them profiting from it then you will (in my opinion) be a lot better at what you do. It is extremely important to keep your clients and your designs up to speed with the latest trends and avoid being one of these "set and forget" type of web designers.
Here is a great example of how it is done. Terrafolia Flowers is a florist in Montreal and she uses her website to promote her Twitter account and her Twitter account to promote her website. By marketing herself as the "social florist" she can tap into a generation of tech-savvy users and provide a way for her clients to find her again and again. Take a look.
The Twitter page (above) is used to show some of her latest floral arrangements and provide inspiration for other florists out there. She can also keep in touch with her existing clients in a very informal and friendly way.
With over 1,300 followers her Tweets are bound to get some repeat business. Now ask yourself whether any of your clients could have benefitted from this type of interactivity. What a wonderful (and free!) way for them to promote their business on a new scale. They would love you for this idea.
TIP: Make this an additional package in your web designs that you either charge for or add on as a bonus for premium sign ups.
5. Use contests to promote your firm
In the right hand sidebar there is a list of the most popular topics on Twitter for any given day. They are called Trending Topics. At the top of this list for the first part of June 2009 was the word #squarespace. The reason? Squarespace were giving away an iPhone every day for a month if you added that word to your Tweets. The result? Squarespace experienced an avalanche of traffic and got masses of new sign ups for their blogging software packages. I was shocked to see how many of my followers set up new Squarespace blogs during this promotion.
Of all the social media sites it is Twitter that has the ability to go truly viral. The reason I use the world "truly" is because Twitter seems to create a lot of conversions, not just traffic. Stumble Upon and Digg are wonderful for bringing new visitors to your site but these visitors rarely convert to friends, followers or clients. Twitter is different. Squarespace are getting hundreds of new clients paying $30 a month due to some free marketing on Twitter. Imagine what you could do for your web design business.
TIP: Make your prizes concrete items like cash, phones or iPods. People do not respond well to eBooks, free designs or consulting.
Twitter is fantastic because it is full of talented people who are willing to converse with their peers. A few months on Twitter and I guarantee you will re-think the way you look at the web design business. You will modernize, become more effective and learn a wealth of new tips for dealing with your clients. If you aren't already on Twitter I urge you to sign up today and implement these five tips.