5 Enormously Profitable Design Niches

As a graphic or web designer designer, are you a jack of all trades or do you specialize in a specific niche? The former has the ability to take on a wide variety of work; however, the latter has the ability to charge top rates for a much narrower scope of work. In the professional world, expertise is valuable, so clients are willing to pay more for specialized services than they are for a designer who can design a little of everything. If you want to make more money as a graphic designer, it’s important to carve out your own niche.

A niche, or a narrow area of expertise, makes you more marketable. It allows you to focus your marketing efforts, so you’re getting the most bang for your buck. It lets you learn everything there is to know about a specific design medium, which in turn makes you a more valuable graphic designer. All together, these attributes mean you’ll be a better paid  designer – you’ll make more money doing less (and faster) work by adopting a niche.

But what niche is best? It’s important to enter a niche you enjoy and you’re skilled at, that there is good demand for, that there is relatively little competition for, and that clients are willing to pay top dollar for. To help get you started, here are five enormously profitable graphic or web design niches you can consider.

1. Landing page design

Anyone can design an attractive landing page, sure; but not everyone can design a landing page that sells. Take the time to learn how design motivates customers to “buy now,” and you’ll be able to craft compelling landing pages that boost conversion rates. When you can do this, internet marketers will pay you top dollar to design their landing pages.
User Interface 2.0

2. Usability/UI design

Many websites today place a premium on usability and user interface design. The reason is that the easier a website is to use, the more likely it is to be used. And, the more complicated the site, the more there is a need for excellent usability and UI design. Study what makes for a user-friendly website, and you can make yourself a valuable and highly sought web designer.

3. Identity design

Today more than ever, companies understand how important it is to get their identity right. Establish yourself as a premier expert in the field of identity design, and you’ll be able to charge premium fees. In a world where even small businesses pay $5,000 to $10,000 to have their companies named, you can make far more by designing logos, letterhead, business cards and more branded marketing materials.

4. Direct-mail marketing design

Just like landing pages, understanding how to apply the right design elements to motivate purchasing decisions is critical to direct-mail marketing success. Learn how to properly design a direct-mail postcard, catalog, envelope, sales letter or full sales mailer, and you’ll be a highly valued graphic designer for direct mail companies.

5. Outdoor marketing

Billboards, large-format stickers and banners, and unique outdoor advertising campaigns require intelligent, clever, and calculated design in order to be successful. All of these are “big investment” campaigns, which mean many companies are willing to pay top dollar to an expert outdoor marketing designer in order to ensure they enjoy the highest possible return on investment.

What other lucrative design niches are available? Let us know in the comments!

Author’s Bio: Brian Morris writes for the PsPrint Design & Printing Blog. PsPrint is an online commercial printing company. Follow PsPrint on Twitter @PsPrint and Facebook.

Useful links: Producing content, Mozilla Webmaker, Accessibility and Responsive,

How to be the King or Queen of Your Own Online Content has tips to help you find ways to keep posting good content over the long haul.

Mozilla Webmaker is offering a free online course in digital literacy.

Several experts from UX Matters take on the question of how accessibility and responsive design do (or don’t) work together.

To Underline or Not to Underline

Yesterday I mentioned at post by Dennis Lembree at WebAxe called Keep the Underline. Dennis talked about when an underline is a UX necessity. Here is his main point, with which I heartily agree:

You want an accessible, usable website? Then please don’t remove the underline on text links, particularly in the main content. Unfortunately this design trend continues on the web (and the same could be said about those awful form input labels that act like placeholders, ugh).

 

Why? For accessibility, users with color blindness or low vision may have trouble distinguishing links from regular text when the underline is missing. Also remember situational disability; links with no underline are usually more difficult to determine when using a poor monitor or when using a computer in a brightly lit environment.

Since I work with beginners, I often have the opposite problem. They want to underline things that should not be underlined.

Here’s the point for underline-happy beginners. An underline on a web page has a very specific meaning. It indicates a clickable link. When something is underlined for emphasis (or whatever reason exists in the creator’s mind) it confuses users because they expect it to be a link. Users may attempt to click on underlined words and – when nothing happens – the user will think your page doesn’t work. Users don’t understand what you’re doing and whatever you are trying to say gets fuzzed in meaning.

The user is lost, and your content will be abandoned because it doesn’t make sense in terms of web pages.

When you have links in the context of a paragraph, heading, list or anywhere outside an obvious nav bar, use the underline. But don’t underline anything that is not a link.

Useful links: Navigation, Measured responses, Meritocracy, PDF A11y,

5 Expert Tips for Improving Your Navigation Menu is from Usabilla blog.

Mike Montiero talks about measured responses online at The Pastry Box Project. He asks, “when your response is worse than the action that elicits it, then who’s the asshole?”

Once and for All: Tech is Not a Meritocracy is from Curious For a Living. The article concludes,

If we can agree that cognitive bias and 
internal barriers
 exist in the tech world (and I really, really hope that we can, because there’s plenty of evidence to support their existence), then we can begin to acknowledge the sometimes painful reality that we do not work in a pure meritocracy. That, in turn, will allow us to work creatively on strategies to help us to build systems that more closely resemble the merit-driven tech culture we so passionately want to see.

In A White Boy’s Observations of Sexism and the Adria Richards Fiasco, author MarkCC made some unbiased remarks, including,

What I do know is that for a member of the minority out-group, there is frequently no action that will be accepted as “right” if it includes the assertion that the majority did something offensive.

PDF Techniques for WCAG 2.0 from the W3C talks about tools and techniques and gets very specific about how to add tags, alt text, columns, form controls and more to PDF documents.

 

Useful links: Acronyms, Game, Accessibility benefits, Screen readers

Derek Featherstone discusses the best way to markup the first instance of an acronym in this Web Standards Sherpa Q&A.

I may finally have to play a game on Facebook. Look at this Half the Sky game which lets you do real good. The NYTimes explains,

The players can then make equivalent real-world donations to seven nonprofit organizations woven into the game.

Ten dollars, for example, will help buy a goat for Heifer International; $20 will help support United Nations Foundation immunization efforts.

One of my students asked me the other day about why she should bother to make an accessible web site if blind people weren’t her audience. I answered her question adequately, but I wish I’d had this nice list of reasons at the time. How does accessible web design benefit all web users?

Latest test results on screen reader support for HTML5 sectioning elements can be found at tink. Almost there in JAWS, but spotty in others.

Useful links: Relationships, Human Users, Attachments

Anna Debenham has a very concise and clear post about using “rel” to establish relationships between people on her blog. It was a Valentine’s Day post, but the infomation is good any time of the year.

This fantastic post by Pamela Wilson on Copyblogger should be reproduced and used in every beginning web design class. It’s called The Essentials of Human Web Design.

NIcholas Zakas looks at the HTML5 and JavaScript that goes into Gmail’s attachment feature in Dissecting Gmail’s Email Attachments.