I spent a good portion of 4 hours this evening in a futile attempt to redesign the Stormchaser Technologies website.
My biggest issue is that I want to have a site that looks appealing to my (potential) customers, doesn't look like it was expensive, but also is functional.
I looked at some of the OSWD templates, which is where the current SCTech layout originated from, and nothing really fit what I'm looking for. I want something original, but it's extremely hard to do "original" while maintaining the "flare" that people notice.
My layouts have been under heavy attack by many critics for the last few years. The biggest complaint is that I don't stray from the grays. This is something I'm not gifted in. I've done a couple good looking layouts in various colors, but they have not been functional. (Example 1, 2 (former SCSoft layout)) Everything else I have done has been monochromatic.
I see sites like this, this, and these, and I feel like I'm about to go insane. These people take web design to a level beyond what I am even capable of. I mean, look at this site. It's clean, multi-colored, not gray, and functional. That's the kind of look I'm going for! What have I been able to accomplish? This ugly thing that I got pissed at and gave up on. Then there's this horrid abomination that started as an OSWD template and drew closer and closer to one of my dumbed-down 2 color, mainly gray layouts. I gave up after I saw how crappy the logo and everything turned out.
I'm starving for a new look, as are my customers. They see what I've done and think, "That's his site? That plain, sterile looking thing? Pfft. Moving on to the next freelancer..."
I've been losing business because of this problem, I know it. I have nothing to show in my portfolio besides the usual basic gray layouts. My own site is very "blah". What do I have to draw customers?
It has been suggested in the past that I work in conjunction with a graphic designer. You know what's bad about that? They want money. No offense to any of you graphics guys or gals, but you all think that if you fire up Photoshop or Illustrator, you should get $100 for it. Sorry, but I don't have that kind of money. Also, you all seem to think that the customer can wait until the very last minute of the project to see their site all themed up. Sorry, there's some of your features that have to be coded in.
This is ultimately a "Catch-22". If I refer any of my (prospective) customers to another individual for the layout work, chances are they will want to take my coding work away as well.
This crap is getting old. I'm not creative in the sense of visual or audible works. I'm creative in the technical sense. It's virtually impossible to sell a client on technical creativity unless they know what I'm talking about. Nobody would buy a rotted out Ford Escort with a nice suspension kit and a blown 5.0L under the hood.
Oh, and don't get me started on my business logo... That'd be enough to make me cry.