37signals’ Haystack promises to make finding a web designer easy, offering a simplified way to search for clients looking to hire a professional. While it’s a useful tool for someone with a web design project, it can also prove useful for web designers.
While your first visit to Haystack may leave you with the impression that the site is only meant to help out clients, it’s already proved useful for many designers. Some web designers report landing projects within hours of posting a listing on Haystack. The general idea is that the site can better match prospective clients to your services who are browsing online — you might not be highly ranked enough to be found through search engines, but your skills can make you stand out among other web designers on Haystack. 37Signals takes care of promoting the site via advertising, blogging and marketing to its user base.
Any web designer can post a listing on Haystack for free. That includes anyone from freelancers to big web design companies. The basic listing includes one portfolio image, the type of budgets you generally work with, the nearest big city to where you work and a contact email for your company. A Pro listing, priced at $99 per month, allows you to post more images, change placement and place for your logo. The Pro listings do seem to show up first in search results. Clients can search for web designers based on budget and location.
Scoping Out the Competition
You’ll find that Haystack has a few uses beyond landing clients. It’s an easy way to get an idea of what your fellow web designers are up to. You can check out prices, portfolios and services offered for a whole list of web designers in one place. You can tell quickly how well your prices fall in with your competition’s, as well as learn about how they’re landing clients — valuable business information no matter how you look at it.
There are some design reasons to look at what other designers are up to, as well. Need a little inspiration? Browse through some of those designs that have been posted on Haystack. You might see a technique or style that sparks a new idea for a project you’re working on.
The minds behind Haystack are already well-known for creating tools. The site is a new offering from 37signals, the same company that created Basecamp, Backpack and other well-known tools. Haystack is a logical extension of these tools — 37signals’ original application, Basecamp, grew out of a tool that the team designed for their own use. With the 37Signals team’s roots in web design, it’s easy to understand how they would come to create Haystack.
That background has definitely contributed to the site’s overall usefulness. While it takes a slightly more subtle approach to inviting web designers to join than it does to inviting prospective clients to shop, Haystack is built to be an effective tool for the web designers posting listings.
Have you listed your company on Haystack? Has it generated any leads for you?