How can I be a good freelancer if my design skills are holding me back?

Recently, I was tasked with building a website for a very popular, local dessert restaurant. I am offering my services for free so I could use this opportunity to build up a portfolio.

There, however, is a major problem that is holding me back: my design skills are terrible. Yes, I know my CSS, however, my designs are unprofessional looking and low quality. They just don’t have a modern appeal.

I have attempted to build the website 3 times, but have been unhappy with all attempts. I just feel like throwing in the towel and giving up. I have felt like that for a long time.

Who wants to have someone build something thay looks subpar and like crap when they can use website builders themselves with predesigned templates that look better than mine?

I like to build everything from scratch rather than use templates, because I feel it is more of my own original work.

I am good at coding, but terrible at design. I believe the design aspect is definitely holding me back.

This isn’t the 90s or 2000s anymore. Websites have improved in visual design since then.

I’m not a designer, nor I will never be; but I’ve worked with my fare share of designers some of which were really talented and renowned, and I’ve got some takeaways.

I’ll share them briefly:

0 - Know your limitations:
Being a designer is a full-time job. Knows and accept that good design will take time.

1 - Have all the project designed before writing a single line of code.
When working with professionals, they give you assets on how ALL the webpage will be looking like once finished.
If you “design while doing” usually the end result will feel non homogeneous.

2 - Have all the assets ready.
This means all the fonts, colours, images, audio have to be ready and defined before start coding.
Same reason as 1.

3 - Animations matters.
Animations makes enormous difference at the eye of a user. They can totally transform how we perceive a website.
I had used keyframe animatios, spritesheets (like in videogames), HTMLCanvas, sometimes even adobe animate.

In general the main difference I can see from a website made by me, and one made by a professional designer is in the attention of all the small details that I would have never even thought about; hence why I’m not a professional designer.

what is essential is invisible to the eye.

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