Freelance Web Designer
A freelancer or freelance worker is a term commonly used for a person who is self-employed and is not necessarily committed to a particular employer long-term. Freelance workers are sometimes represented by a company or a temporary agency that resells freelance labor to clients; others work independently or use professional associations or websites to get work.
While the term “independent contractor” would be used in a higher register of English to designate the tax and employment classes of this type of worker, the term freelancing is most common in culture and creative industries and this term specifically motions to participation therein.
Fields, professions and industries where freelancing is predominant include music, writing, acting, computer programming, web design, translating and illustrating, and other forms of piece work which some cultural theorists consider as central to the cognitive-cultural economy.
According to the 2012 Freelance Industry Report compiled primarily about North America freelancing, nearly half of freelancers do writing work, with 18% of freelancers listing writing as a primary skill, 10% editing/copy-editing, and 10% as copy-writing. 20% of freelancers listed their primary skills as design. Next on the list was translating (8%), web development (5.5%), and marketing (4%).Elance, a web platform that connects freelancers with contractors, surveyed its members and 39% listed writing and editing as their main skill set.
Depending on the industry, freelance work practices vary and have changed over time. In some industries such as consulting, freelancers may require clients to sign written contracts. While in journalism or writing, freelancers may work for free or do work “on spec” to build their reputations or a relationship with a publication. Some freelancers may provide written estimates of work and request deposits from clients.
Payment for freelance work also depends on industry, skills, and experience. Freelancers may charge by the day, hour, a piece rate, or on a per-project basis. Instead of a flat rate or fee, some freelancers have adopted a value-based pricing method based on the perceived value of the results to the client. By custom, payment arrangements may be upfront, percentage upfront, or upon completion. For more complex projects, a contract may set a payment schedule based on milestones or outcomes. One of the drawbacks of freelancing is that there is no guaranteed payment, and the work can be highly precarious.
In writing and other artistic fields, “freelance” and its derivative terms are often reserved for workers who create works on their own initiative and then seek a publisher. They typically retain the copyright to their works and sell the rights to publishers in time-limited contracts. Traditionally, works would be submitted to publishers, where they would become part of the slushpile, and would either elicit an offer to buy (an “acceptance letter”) or a rejection slip.
People who create intellectual property under a work for hire situation (according to the publishers’ or other customers’ specifications) are sometimes referred to as “independent contractors” or other similar terms. Creators give up their rights to their works in a “works made for hire” situation, a category of intellectual property defined in U.S. copyright law — Section 101, Copyright Act of 1976 (17 USC §101). The protection of the intellectual property rights that give the creator of the work are considered to have been sold into a work for hire agreement. of employees, however in a contractual rather than employment relationship.
The total number of freelancers in USA is inexact, as the most recent governmental report on independent contractors was published in 2005 by the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. At that time, there were approximately 10.3 million United States workers (7.4% of the workforce) employed as independent contractors of all sorts. In 2011, Jeffrey Eisenach, an economist at George Mason University, estimated that number of freelancers had grown by one million. While in 2012, the Aberdeen Group, a private research company, estimated that 26% (approx. 81 million) of the United States population was is a part of the contingent workforce, a category of casual labor that includes freelancing.
In 2013, the Freelancers Union estimated that 1 in 3 workers in the United States were self-employed (approximately 42 million), with more than four million (43%) of those self-employed workers members of the creative class, a stratum of work specifically associated with freelance industries, such as knowledge workers, technologists, professional writers, artists, entertainers, and media workers.
The total number of freelancers in UK is also inexact; however, figures from the Office of National Statistics show that people working mainly at or from home rose from 9.2% in 2001 to 10.7% in 2011. It has been estimated, however, that there are approximately 1.7 million freelancers in the UK.
Freelancing is a gendered form of work. The 2012 Freelance Industry Report estimates that more than 71% of freelancers are women between the ages of 30 and 50. Surveys of other specific areas of freelancing have similar trends. Demographic research on Amazon Mechanical Turk reveals that the majority of North American Mechanical Turk workers are women. Catherine McKercher’s research on journalism as a profession has showcased that while media organizations are still male-dominated, the reverse is true for freelance journalists and editors, whose ranks are mainly women.
Freelancers have a variety of reasons for freelancing, the perceived benefits differ by gender, industry, and lifestyle. For instance, the 2012 Freelance Industry Report reported that men and women freelance for different reasons. Female survey respondents indicated that they prefer the scheduling freedom and flexibility that freelancing offers, while male survey respondents indicated they freelance to follow or pursue personal passions. Freelancing also enables people to obtain higher levels of employment in isolated communities.
Freelancing is also taken up by workers who have been laid-off, who cannot find full-time employment, or for those industries such as journalism which are relying increasingly on contingent labor rather than full-time staff. Freelancers also consist of students trying to make ends meet during the semester. In interviews and on blogs about freelancing, freelancers list choice and flexibility as a benefit.
Freelancing, like other forms of casual labor, can be precarious work. Websites, books, portals and organizations for freelancers often feature advice on getting and keeping a steady work stream. Beside the lack of job security, many freelancers also report the ongoing hassle of dealing with employers who don’t pay on time and the possibility of long periods without work. Additionally, freelancers do not receive employment benefits such as a pension, sick leave, paid holidays, bonuses or health insurance, which can be a serious hardship for freelancers residing in countries such as the US without universal health care.
Freelancers often earn less than their employed counterparts. While most freelancers have at least ten years of experience prior to working independently, experienced freelancers do not always earn an income equal to that of full-time employment. Feedback from members suggests that web portals such as Freelancer.com tend to attract low paying clients that, although demanding very high standards, pay ~$10 per hour or less. Low-cost suppliers frequently offer to work at rates as low as $1–$2 per hour. Because most projects require bidding, professionals will not bid because they refuse to work at such rates. This has the effect of reducing the overall quality of the services provided.
According to research conducted in 2005 by the Professional Writers Association of Canada on Canadian journalists and editors, there is a wage gap between staff and freelance journalists. While the typical Canadian full-time freelancer is female, between 35-55, holding a college diploma and often a graduate degree, she typically earns about $29,999 Canadian dollars before taxes. Meanwhile, a staff journalist of similar age and experience level working full-time at outlets such as the Ottawa Citizen or Montreal Gazette newspapers, earned at least $63,500 Canadian dollars that year, the top scale rate negotiated by the union, The Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America. Given the gendered stratification of journalism, with more women working as freelancers than men, this disparity in income can be interpreted as a form of gender pay gap. The Professional Writers Association of Canada report showed no significant difference between the earnings of male and female freelancers, though part-time freelancers generally earned less than full-time freelancers.
Working from home is often cited as an attractive feature of freelancing, yet research suggests working from home introduces new sets of constraints for the process of doing work, particularly for married women with families, who continue to bear the brunt of household chores and child care despite increases in their paid work time. For instance, three years of ethnographic research about teleworkers in Australia conducted by Melissa Gregg, a Principal Engineer and Researcher in Residence for the Intel Science and Technology Center for Social Computing at UC Irvine, raises concerns over how both physical isolation and continuous access enabled with networked digital media puts pressure on homeworkers to demonstrate their commitments through continual responses by email and to conceal their family or home life.
The Internet has opened up many freelance opportunities, expanded available markets, and has contributed to service sector growth in many economies.Offshore outsourcing, online outsourcing and crowdsourcing are heavily reliant on the Internet to provide economical access to remote workers, and frequently leverage technology to manage workflow to and from the employer. Much computer freelance work is being outsourced to developing countries outside the United States and Europe.
Online freelance marketplaces are websites that match buyers and sellers of services provided via the internet. Buyers bid on services at a fixed price or at an hourly rate. These marketplaces allow people to sign up remotely for freelance assignments and get paid through a merchant account.
The Internet also enables many freelancers to be interviewed and hired without actually meeting an employer in person. This facilitates long distance business relationships all over the world, but can provide a challenge in screening applicants. Hiring more than one applicant for a short test assignment after the interview is now a common extra step in the hiring process.
Freelance employment has been common in the areas of writing, editing, translation, indexing, software development, website design, advertising, open innovations, information technology, and business process outsourcing. Freelance journalists, for example, may find it easier to start their own or shared news blogs, with many blogs growing into highly trafficked and competitive news sites capable of hiring dedicated staff and other talent.
Changes to the publishing industry since the 1980s have resulted in an increase in copy editing of book and journal manuscripts and proofreading of typeset manuscripts being outsourced to freelance copy editors and proofreaders.
Online activists, defending different social and political causes, are also referred to as political freelancers or freelance politicians.
Many periodicals and newspapers offer the option of ghost signing, when a freelance writer signs with an editor but their name is not listed on the byline of their article(s). This allows the writer to receive benefits while still being classified as a freelancer, and independent of any set organization. In some countries this can lead to taxation issues (e.g., so-called IR35 violations in the UK). Ghost signing has little bearing on whether a writer is a freelancer or employee in the US.
Freelancers often must handle contracts, legal issues, accounting, marketing, and other business functions by themselves. If they do choose to pay for professional services, they can sometimes turn into significant out-of-pocket expenses. Working hours can extend beyond the standard working day and working week.
The European Commission does not define “freelancers” in any legislative text. However, the European Commission defines a self-employed person as someone: “pursuing a gainful activity for their own account, under the conditions laid down by national law”. In the exercise of such an activity, the personal element is of special importance and such exercise always involves a large measure of independence in the accomplishment of the professional activities. This definition comes from Directive (2010/41/EU) on the application of the principle of equal treatment between men and women engaged in an activity in a self-employed capacity.
The European Forum of Independent Professionals defines freelancers as: “a highly-skilled subset of self-employed workers, without employers nor employees, offering specialised services of an intellectual and knowledge-based nature”. Independent professionals work on a flexible basis in a range of creative, managerial, scientific and technical occupations; they are not a homogeneous group and as such, they cannot be considered or investigated as a whole. They are generally characterised by a large portion of autonomy, a high labour productivity, knowledge intensive performance, social commitment and a large dose of entrepreneurship and specialisation.
In Europe, the perceived disadvantages of being freelance have led the European Union to research the area, producing draft papers that would, if enforced, make it illegal for companies or organizations to employ freelancers directly, unless the freelancer was entitled to benefits such as pension contributions and holiday pay. In the UK, where the terms of integration into the EU have and are being hotly debated, this would lead to a significant reshaping of the way freelance work is dealt with and have a major impact on industry; employers would be required either to give freelancers the contractual rights of employees or employ only freelancers already being employed by agencies or other organizations granting them these rights. However, the White Papers that recommend such moves have not yet been adopted in the EU, and the potential impact on UK employment laws is being opposed by key UK organizations lobbying the government to negotiate over the acceptance of EU legislation in such areas. The legal definition of a sole trader requires that he/she must have more than one client or customer which promotes the freelancing ethos.
In the U.S. in 2009, federal and state agencies began increasing their oversight of freelancers and other workers whom employers classify as independent contractors. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommended that the Secretary of Labor have its Wage and Hour Division “focus on misclassification of employees as independent contractors during targeted investigations.” The increased regulation is meant to ensure workers are treated fairly and that companies are not misclassifying workers as independent contractors to avoid paying appropriate employment taxes and contributions to workers’ compensation and unemployment compensation.
At the same time, this increased enforcement is affecting companies whose business models are based on using non-employee workers, as well as independent professionals who have chosen to work as independent contractors. For example, book publishing companies have traditionally outsourced certain tasks like indexing and proofreading to individuals working as independent contractors. Self-employed accountants and attorneys have traditionally hired out their services to accounting and law firms needing assistance. The U.S. Internal Revenue Service offers some guidance on what constitutes self-employment, but states have enacted stricter laws to address how independent contractors should be defined. For example, a Massachusetts law states that companies can hire independent contractors only to perform work that is “outside the usual course of business of the employer,” meaning workers working on the company’s core business must be classified as employees. According to this statute, a software engineering firm cannot outsource work to a software engineering consultant, without hiring the consultant as an employee. The firm could, however, hire an independent contractor working as an electrician, interior decorator, or painter. This raises questions about the common practice of consulting, because a company would typically hire a management consulting firm or self-employed consultant to address business-specific needs that are not “outside the usual course of business of the employer.”
Although it is commonly attributed to Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832) in Ivanhoe (1820) to describe a “medieval mercenary warrior” or “free-lance” (indicating that the lance is not sworn to any lord’s services, not that the lance is available free of charge), a previous appearance occurs in Thomas N. Brown in The Life and Times of Hugh Miller (1809)., p 185. It changed to a figurative noun around the 1860s and was recognized as a verb in 1903 by authorities in etymology such as the Oxford English Dictionary. Only in modern times has the term morphed from a noun (a freelance) into an adjective (a freelance journalist), a verb (a journalist who freelances) and an adverb (she worked freelance), as well as into the noun “freelancer”.
Web design encompasses many different skills and disciplines in the production and maintenance of websites. The different areas of web design include web graphic design; interface design; authoring, including standardised code and proprietary software; user experience design; and search engine optimization. Often many individuals will work in teams covering different aspects of the design process, although some designers will cover them all. The term web design is normally used to describe the design process relating to the front-end (client side) design of a website including writing mark up. Web design partially overlaps web engineering in the broader scope of web development. Web designers are expected to have an awareness of usability and if their role involves creating mark up then they are also expected to be up to date with web accessibility guidelines.
Web design books in a store
Although web design has a fairly recent history, it can be linked to other areas such as graphic design. However, web design can also be seen from a technological standpoint. It has become a large part of people’s everyday lives. It is hard to imagine the Internet without animated graphics, different styles of typography, background, and music.
In 1996, Microsoft released its first competitive browser, which was complete with its own features and tags. It was also the first browser to support style sheets, which at the time was seen as an obscure authoring technique. The HTML markup for tables was originally intended for displaying tabular data. However designers quickly realized the potential of using HTML tables for creating the complex, multi-column layouts that were otherwise not possible. At this time, as design and good aesthetics seemed to take precedence over good mark-up structure, and little attention was paid to semantics and web accessibility. HTML sites were limited in their design options, even more so with earlier versions of HTML. To create complex designs, many web designers had to use complicated table structures or even use blank spacer .GIF images to stop empty table cells from collapsing.CSS was introduced in December 1996 by the W3C to support presentation and layout. This allowed HTML code to be semantic rather than both semantic and presentational, and improved web accessibility, see tableless web design.
During 1998 Netscape released Netscape Communicator code under an open source licence, enabling thousands of developers to participate in improving the software. However, they decided to start from the beginning, which guided the development of the open source browser and soon expanded to a complete application platform. The Web Standards Project was formed and promoted browser compliance with HTML and CSS standards by creating Acid1, Acid2, and Acid3 tests. 2000 was a big year for Microsoft. Internet Explorer was released for Mac; this was significant as it was the first browser that fully supported HTML 4.01 and CSS 1, raising the bar in terms of standards compliance. It was also the first browser to fully support the PNG image format. During this time Netscape was sold to AOL and this was seen as Netscape’s official loss to Microsoft in the browser wars.
Since the start of the 21st century the web has become more and more integrated into peoples lives. As this has happened the technology of the web has also moved on. There have also been significant changes in the way people use and access the web, and this has changed how sites are designed.
Since the end of the browsers wars new browsers have been released. Many of these are open source meaning that they tend to have faster development and are more supportive of new standards. The new options are considered by many[weasel words] to be better than Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.
Web designers use a variety of different tools depending on what part of the production process they are involved in. These tools are updated over time by newer standards and software but the principles behind them remain the same. Web designers use both vector and raster graphics editors to create web-formatted imagery or design prototypes. Technologies used to create websites include W3C standards like HTML and CSS, which can be hand-coded or generated by WYSIWYG editing software. Other tools web designers might use include mark up validators and other testing tools for usability and accessibility to ensure their websites meet web accessibility guidelines.
Marketing and communication design on a website may identify what works for its target market. This can be an age group or particular strand of culture; thus the designer may understand the trends of its audience. Designers may also understand the type of website they are designing, meaning, for example, that (B2B) business-to-business website design considerations might differ greatly from a consumer targeted website such as a retail or entertainment website. Careful consideration might be made to ensure that the aesthetics or overall design of a site do not clash with the clarity and accuracy of the content or the ease of web navigation, especially on a B2B website. Designers may also consider the reputation of the owner or business the site is representing to make sure they are portrayed favourably.
User understanding of the content of a website often depends on user understanding of how the website works. This is part of the user experience design. User experience is related to layout, clear instructions and labeling on a website. How well a user understands how they can interact on a site may also depend on the interactive design of the site. If a user perceives the usefulness of the website, they are more likely to continue using it. Users who are skilled and well versed with website use may find a more distinctive, yet less intuitive or less user-friendly website interface useful nonetheless. However, users with less experience are less likely to see the advantages or usefulness of a less intuitive website interface. This drives the trend for a more universal user experience and ease of access to accommodate as many users as possible regardless of user skill. Much of the user experience design and interactive design are considered in the user interface design.
Advanced interactive functions may require plug-ins if not advanced coding language skills. Choosing whether or not to use interactivity that requires plug-ins is a critical decision in user experience design. If the plug-in doesn’t come pre-installed with most browsers, there’s a risk that the user will have neither the know how or the patience to install a plug-in just to access the content. If the function requires advanced coding language skills, it may be too costly in either time or money to code compared to the amount of enhancement the function will add to the user experience. There’s also a risk that advanced interactivity may be incompatible with older browsers or hardware configurations. Publishing a function that doesn’t work reliably is potentially worse for the user experience than making no attempt. It depends on the target audience if it’s likely to be needed or worth any risks.
Part of the user interface design is affected by the quality of the page layout. For example, a designer may consider whether the site’s page layout should remain consistent on different pages when designing the layout. Page pixel width may also be considered vital for aligning objects in the layout design. The most popular fixed-width websites generally have the same set width to match the current most popular browser window, at the current most popular screen resolution, on the current most popular monitor size. Most pages are also center-aligned for concerns of aesthetics on larger screens.
Fluid layouts increased in popularity around 2000 as an alternative to HTML-table-based layouts and grid-based design in both page layout design principle and in coding technique, but were very slow to be adopted.[note 1] This was due to considerations of screen reading devices and varying windows sizes which designers have no control over. Accordingly, a design may be broken down into units (sidebars, content blocks, embedded advertising areas, navigation areas) that are sent to the browser and which will be fitted into the display window by the browser, as best it can. As the browser does recognize the details of the reader’s screen (window size, font size relative to window etc.) the browser can make user-specific layout adjustments to fluid layouts, but not fixed-width layouts. Although such a display may often change the relative position of major content units, sidebars may be displaced below body text rather than to the side of it. This is a more flexible display than a hard-coded grid-based layout that doesn’t fit the device window. In particular, the relative position of content blocks may change while leaving the content within the block unaffected. This also minimizes the user’s need to horizontally scroll the page.
Responsive Web Design is a newer approach, based on CSS3, and a deeper level of per-device specification within the page’s stylesheet through an enhanced use of the CSS @media rule.
Web designers may choose to limit the variety of website typefaces to only a few which are of a similar style, instead of using a wide range of typefaces or type styles. Most browsers recognize a specific number of safe fonts, which designers mainly use in order to avoid complications.
Font downloading was later included in the CSS3 fonts module and has since been implemented in Safari 3.1, Opera 10 and Mozilla Firefox 3.5. This has subsequently increased interest in web typography, as well as the usage of font downloading.
Most site layouts incorporate negative space to break the text up into paragraphs and also avoid center-aligned text.
The page layout and user interface may also be affected by the use of motion graphics. The choice of whether or not to use motion graphics may depend on the target market for the website. Motion graphics may be expected or at least better received with an entertainment-oriented website. However, a website target audience with a more serious or formal interest (such as business, community, or government) might find animations unnecessary and distracting if only for entertainment or decoration purposes. This doesn’t mean that more serious content couldn’t be enhanced with animated or video presentations that is relevant to the content. In either case, motion graphic design may make the difference between more effective visuals or distracting visuals.
Motion graphics that are not initiated by the site visitor can produce accessibility issues. The World Wide Web consortium accessibility standards require that site visitors be able to disable the animations.
Website designers may consider it to be good practice to conform to standards. This is usually done via a description specifying what the element is doing. Failure to conform to standards may not make a website unusable or error prone, but standards can relate to the correct layout of pages for readability as well making sure coded elements are closed appropriately. This includes errors in code, more organized layout for code, and making sure IDs and classes are identified properly. Poorly-coded pages are sometimes colloquially called tag soup. Validating via W3C can only be done when a correct DOCTYPE declaration is made, which is used to highlight errors in code. The system identifies the errors and areas that do not conform to web design standards. This information can then be corrected by the user.
There are two ways websites are generated: statically or dynamically.
A static website stores a unique file for every page of a static website. Each time that page is requested, the same content is returned. This content is created once, during the design of the website. It is usually manually authored, although some sites use an automated creation process, similar to a dynamic website, whose results are stored long-term as completed pages. These automatically-created static sites became more popular around 2015, with generators such as Jekyll and Adobe Muse.
The benefits of a static website are that they were simpler to host, as their server only needed to serve static content, not execute server-side scripts. This required less server administration and had less chance of exposing security holes. They could also serve pages more quickly, on low-cost server hardware. These advantage became less important as cheap web hosting expanded to also offer dynamic features, and virtual servers offered high performance for short intervals at low cost.
Almost all websites have some static content, as supporting assets such as images and stylesheets are usually static, even on a website with highly dynamic pages.
Main article: Dynamic web page
Dynamic websites are generated on the fly and use server-side technology to generate webpages. They typically extract their content from one or more back-end databases: some are database queries across a relational database to query a catalogue or to summarise numeric information, others may use a document database such as MongoDB or NoSQL to store larger units of content, such as blog posts or wiki articles.
In the design process, dynamic pages are often mocked-up or wireframed using static pages. The skillset needed to develop dynamic web pages is much broader than for a static pages, involving server-side and database coding as well as client-side interface design. Even medium-sized dynamic projects are thus almost always a team effort.
When dynamic web pages first developed, they were typically coded directly in languages such as Perl, PHP or ASP. Some of these, notably PHP and ASP, used a ‘template’ approach where a server-side page resembled the structure of the completed client-side page and data was inserted into places defined by ‘tags’. This was a quicker means of development than coding in a purely procedural coding language such as Perl.
Both of these approaches have now been supplanted for many websites by higher-level application-focused tools such as content management systems. These build on top of general purpose coding platforms and assume that a website exists to offer content according to one of several well recognised models, such as a time-sequenced blog, a thematic magazine or news site, a wiki or a user forum. These tools make the implementation of such a site very easy, and a purely organisational and design-based task, without requiring any coding.
Usability experts, including Jakob Nielsen and Kyle Soucy, have often emphasised homepage design for website success and asserted that the homepage is the most important page on a website. However practitioners into the 2000s were starting to find that a growing number of website traffic was bypassing the homepage, going directly to internal content pages through search engines, e-newsletters and RSS feeds. Leading many practitioners to argue that homepages are less important than most people think. Jared Spool argued in 2007 that a site’s homepage was actually the least important page on a website.
In 2012 and 2013, carousels (also called ‘sliders’ and ‘rotating banners’) have become an extremely popular design element on homepages, often used to showcase featured or recent content in a confined space. Many practitioners argue that carousels are an ineffective design element and hurt a website’s search engine optimisation and usability.
There are two primary jobs involved in creating a website: the web designer and web developer, who often work closely together on a website. The web designers are responsible for the visual aspect, which includes the layout, coloring and typography of a web page. Web designers will also have a working knowledge of markup languages such as HTML and CSS, although the extent of their knowledge will differ from one web designer to another. Particularly in smaller organizations one person will need the necessary skills for designing and programming the full web page, while larger organizations may have a web designer responsible for the visual aspect alone.
Further jobs which may become involved in the creation of a website include:
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- ^ “Web Designer”. Retrieved 2012-03-19. If you’ve already invested in a bunch of code in another framework, or if you have specific requirements that would be better served by Angular or React or something else, Predix UI is still here to help you. Jump over to our documentation site and start using the Predix UI components to speed up your work.
Mess with demos and read more about Predix UI on our websiteRead Rob Dodson’s “The Case For Custom Elements: Part 1” and “Part 2” for some great technical and architecture info on custom elements, one half of the web component standardsRead about px-vis, Predix UI’s charting framework designed to visualize millions of streaming data points for industrial internet application
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