A freelance web designer with a Ph.D. in ecology?
Sounds strange, but both design and science are creative endeavors employing high-end technological tools.
My approach to site design is to become, in spirit, a partner with the business, artist, or organization for which I'm designing. I get a feeling for the perspective and philosophy of the client, then bring that set of values to the design. My goal is to make sure the finished product - logo, ornament, content, and rhythm - is an extension of my client's identity.
My portfolio is growing. The sites I build for small businesses and artisans not only attract the attention of potential clients, they also help maintain a positive business-client relationship after the point of sale. The result is a good feeling and effective word-of-mouth advertising.