Working as a freelancer isn’t just about taking on as many projects you can at any one time, but as UX and UI designer Gökhun Güneyhan emphasises it’s about managing and running a successful business. Having worked as a Freelance UX and UI designer for over 13 years, it’s fair to say that Gökhun has gained some valuable experience in what works well for him on projects.
From solid communication, great freelance collaboration and giving and receiving constructive feedback, we spoke to Gökhun about his own experiences as a designer and how he approaches running his freelance business.
We first asked Gökhun if he’d share some of the features that worked really well on more recent projects, to which he enthusiastically replied with;
Communication & Feedback. Keeping all stakeholders in the loop is one of my biggest priorities in all projects. As a freelancer, no matter how much I do my homework, the client would always have an edge in the business, and their knowledge can help a lot with the decisions I need to make as the designer. It can be tricky when it’s a large team, but once everyone understands why it’s essential, I don’t really face too much difficulty to make it happen
Another key part of any project running smoothly, as Gökhun shares, is
Collaborating with other freelancers. Understandably not all clients are open to it due to extra costs and operational efforts, but working with a 3D designer or an illustrator can take the project to a whole different level.
As a UX and UI designer, Gökhun also feels a key part of any project running smoothly is providing Information Architecture & Wireframes;
It’s not surprising that clients are eager to see designs ASAP when they find the right person, but as freelancers, we should help clients understand why certain things in the process shouldn’t be overlooked and how they can shape a project's destiny. Sometimes it's understandable (imagine your client has an investor pitch in a week and only needs visuals to communicate the idea), but from my experience, it’s a common mistake to assume it’ll take less time to finish the project when you skip the essentials.
We asked how Gökhun keeps his own skillset fresh and relevant for new projects and prospective clients;
I find it very useful to work on a side project/imaginary work so I can be more experimental. For creativity, I try to free my mind from work by doing things I enjoy or trying something new- cooking something I’ve never tried before helps distract my mind for an hour or two and it'd be easier to look from a different perspective to the problem. I also try sending a new design a day after I actually do it after taking a look with fresh eyes.
Having carved out a successful freelance career over the last 13 years, we then asked Gökhun how clients could prepare to work with design professionals to help make the project run smoothly;
I think one of the biggest mistakes clients do is hiring a freelancer mostly based on the price tag, rather than the designer's style. When clients hire 'a' freelancer, they'd (unknowingly) force them to deliver something that wouldn't fit the designer's style. As a result, the end product would be far from what it could be with the right person.
A large part of design work can be subjective and a lot of creative work is based on personal tastes, something Gökhun feels should be left down to the designer;
If there aren’t any business-related reasons, clients should trust the designer’s experience and give them the freedom to express their vision.
And when it comes to managing expectations
I always organise a small session where I'd explain what's going through my head before designing and discuss design ideas with examples. In this way, I can eliminate options that would be an ‘instant no’ for the client, and they’d know more or less what to expect - guessing/assuming is usually followed by doubts or disappointments.
When it comes to collaborating on projects, Gökhun feels it's the best way to get everyone’s ideas down to help the project succeed;
Designing an experience is teamwork and I always encourage everyone involved in the project to share their thoughts. Any idea can contribute to delivering the best end product
We asked Gökhun what tips he’d share for freelancers considering learning extra design skills or for new UI and UX designers, wanting to expand their skillsets;
I highly recommend aiming to work on projects that fit your personality or interests. For example, if you’re interested in well-being, you’ll enjoy your time working for a wellness company and build an expertise in what you’re already passionate about, which will bring more clients with minimum to no effort. Understanding the main principles of coding is also useful for sure.
But Gökhun’s biggest piece of advice for all freelancers is a great one;
I’d recommend every freelancer to learn how to run a business. Lead generation, converting leads to actual clients, growth strategies, giving the correct pricing, keeping your clients happy not only with the work you deliver but also with the experience you offer as a service provider etc. Thinking like a business owner also helps with understanding how your clients think which puts you one step ahead of others.
As well as advice for others, we asked Gökhun to share the best advice he’d received during his freelance career;
It's not specific to U X& UI, but my father always says “it’s not your money until it’s in your pocket”. I combined it with another one on avoiding project-based pricing and it worked great for me to minimise financial risks for almost 10 years. Cash flow and money management are often overlooked by freelancers until they become a risk and it'd be probably too late to avoid the struggle when you realise it.
And finally, we asked Gökhun how it felt to be a finalist in the Freelancer Awards 2021;
To be honest, I was extremely surprised I still have no idea who nominated me, but it's a great feeling to see someone has thought I deserved such recognition!
If you’d like your next design project to be handled with collaboration and communication, why not book Gökhun today.