Setting up an office for your web design business


Updated 2022: Setting up your office is essential for becoming a successful web designer. When I first started working from home, I admit I didn’t have a dedicated space. My son was five years old. I was only working part-time, mostly volunteering. The kitchen table and a laptop were all I needed. I could keep an eye on the kid and get a few things done on the computer, even with Spongebob on the TV. However, as my son grew and my business grew, it didn’t cut it anymore. Here are some essential tips for setting up your home office:

Dedicate a room just for your business

After giving up the kitchen table, I moved to an entire room that allowed me to shut a door and get down to business. Today, my office gives me a dedicated space to work. And I have it set up for work only so I can take a home office deduction. It’s important to draw that line not only for tax purposes but for your productivity, too. While I meet clients outside of my office for privacy, my meetings are just a fraction of my work week. I spend the majority of my time behind a desk in my office.

In 2020, my husband took over my old kitchen table office area. COVID-19 took away my dining room completely! I’m happy I had my office set up established before this significant event in our lives.

Use principles of Feng Shui 

I had a client that did Feng Shui evaluate my office layout, and it made such a difference in how I feel in the space. I previously had my desk against a wall with my back to the door. I moved my desk to the middle of the room so anyone walking in would feel invited to my desk. These changes make people feel welcome and open my door to opportunities. It also puts you in a power position. 

Would Don Draper face a wall with his back to the door? No way.

Have the right equipment

I work with both a desktop and a laptop. I have a good printer/scanner. Add a cell phone, and that’s about all I have ever needed. I would never run my business with only one computer. It’s always good to have two. I also don’t use double monitors, but that’s a personal preference. Have a desk and chair that are comfortable for you.

In 2020, I upgraded my set up to a Vari desk adjusts so I can sit or stand. Then, after seeing my husband now working from my old desk in the dining room, I added two monitors. Finally, after upgrading my computer in 2022, I added a small desk workstation with my old computer and a single monitor.

Keep your office clean

I’m not known to do this 100% of the time, but a messy desk kills my creativity. I do a clean-up at least once a week. I still use paper files and do a purge each year of clients that have retired, closed, or moved on. Please don’t get so focused on it that you spend your day tidying up. You have work to do!

In the last two years, I have also started using less paper and relying on online docs as much as possible. This change has been a positive one for my desktop working conditions.

Set office hours and stick with them

If you have a home office, you have to turn off your “I’m at the home brain.” You are at work! It doesn’t matter if there is laundry, dishes, or other stuff. If you have someone at home with you, shut your door. If you do have things you want to do during a break, go ahead, but make a rule about it. I will only do this when it’s my ten-minute break or between Pomodoros. I’m not going to lie, this is hard to master, but you’ll be more productive once you do.

My husband had to adjust from working in an office to working from home during the pandemic, and I was happy to share tips with him, whether he wanted them or not!

Clients at your home? Maybe not.

For me, this never worked. And after COVID-19, it never will. I’ve always had a big dog at home and while keeping my office pretty organized is a priority, keeping the house in that state is another matter. It would be easier now that my son is 25 and no longer lives here, but I still have a big dog and a husband working in the dining room. Have I ever had a client over? Yes, but it was a close friend that was a client, not just a client.

Promote online meetings

 Zoom meetings will allow you to meet people at home without having them over. Before the pandemic, this was hard for many of my clients. When I originally penned this article, I was starting to increase Zoom meetings because of a significant freeway disruption in my area. 

Now, Zoom meetings and phone calls are all I publicly offer. A new and more disrupting traffic issue has been going on for more than two years, and the pandemic still lingers. I’m not sure I’ll ever return to in-person meetings.

Pay special attention to the placement of your camera and your background. You want to look professional. And pick up an external mic if you can. 

My other office is a coffee shop

I meet clients and networking partners occasionally at a coffee shop near my home. Even now. But, this is very limited, and most of my meetings are outside. I have been told in online training courses that this isn’t the most professional way to meet clients. But, here in Seattle, coffee shops are part of our DNA. So, I will do this on occasion, but I’ll never return to this option in the way I did before the pandemic.

Move to an actual office space

Of course, if you are pitching 25K packages to large companies, it might be time to set up shop in a real space. Co-working is also an option when you need conference space. Or, if you hire a team and need a place to gather, you will need more than a room in your house. You’ll know when you’ve outgrown your current setup.

Three essential questions to ask yourself

When setting up your home office, ask:

  1. Do I feel inspired to work here? 
  2. Do I feel like a professional? 
  3. Do I feel creative? 

You want to say yes to all three. Create a space that supports your dreams!

RESOURCES: Life Hack: 8 Tips to Set Up Your Home Office for Serious Productivity

Cami MacNamara

Cami MacNamara has 20+ years of experience running a small, profitable, one-person web design business, so she can walk her dog whenever she likes. / Twitter / Instagram