WEB PRESENCE CASE STUDIES
“You don’t need a slick website to succeed in business; you need an effective website that communicates well to the right market and a way to stay connected.”
Most clients come to me focused on the design of their websites. But design isn’t enough for those who want to connect with their clients or customers and grow their businesses significantly.
What really pays off is addressing messaging, content, and systems for staying connected with their customers. Business owners often spend too much time and money chasing all the people with ads, posts, and pleas instead of genuinely connecting with the right people. They don’t consider everything their site could do for them if they have a system in place. By doing so—their websites can work 24/7, communicate in under 10 seconds why their product, service, or experience is vital to the people who need it, and stay connected with them for years to come—without lifting a finger.
Don’t get me wrong, the design of your site is crucial to getting your message across quickly and clearly, but plenty of basic websites work well because they are organized and communicate exceptionally with words and images. It's essential to clarify messaging and other content. (By the way, an effective system involving your website starts with a consistent way to get people to your site. Schedule a chat to talk about ways that fit you best.)
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Millicent Meng is a fantastic artist. She had a precise vision for her site and goals to expand. That’s the beauty of websites; you can grow as you go. You don’t have to do everything all at once. Start with a few pages of excellent content, move on to a system to connect through email, and add regular promotions—but do so on your terms in a way that fits you. In Millie's case she started with a photography gallery linked to her online print store. Each gallery image opens a lightbox window with a link to purchase. Millie says the site perfectly matches what she envisioned. That’s always gratifying to hear. Now, Millie is ready to focus on messaging and marketing to get her beautiful images into more hands. Stay tuned!
Artful Leather is a brand-new venture that creates bespoke purses from responsibly sourced elements. I did full brand development, along with the website and advanced SEO, to make sure she appeared in the right search results. Good SEO builds over time and needs regular attention to stay on track. It goes hand in hand with good content and site useability. Using a fully integrated ordering system felt overwhelming to her, so we began with a fillable order form and invoicing through Square. That way, she can add the right components when she knows more about her needs. I’m looking forward to seeing where she takes her brilliant customization ideas. The website is a static site not built on a content management system like WordPress. It is a much simpler, more secure way to go. It’s perfect for someone who has no desire to update their website and doesn’t have time to deal with site issues due to software updates, obsolete plugins, or discontinued platform versions.
Suffering to thriving
Author Kathy Harmon-Luber needed a website to launch her new book, Suffering to Thriving, and feature her healing modalities. She already had great content and a plan for her website with services, resources, a press kit, and a lead magnet (a lead magnet is something of value you give to your ideal people in exchange for staying in contact with them). In this case, Kathy wanted to provide them with a guided visualization. So she had me create an automated email to deliver this gift to anyone signing up for her list the first time. Kathy also enjoys doing interviews and writing articles about her work. It's a fantastic way to bring the right people to her site, which is a critical part of any business growth system involving a website. Kathy’s customized site is on Squarespace. I update it regularly with new magazine articles, podcasts, and other published media from outside sources to keep her content fresh and generating buzz for her work.
BioSpirit Day Spa
BioSpirit Day Spa was my client for 15 years. Along the way, she had me redesign her site several times to keep it current and engage with her clientele better. The more connected she was, the more she knew about them and what they needed. For any business owner, this work will be ongoing. I did regular search engine optimization (SEO) and research to stay on top of trends, monitored her analytics to see what was working best, and adjusted accordingly. It significantly impacted the number of people who went to her Tahoe spa after visiting the website. Her numbers grew very steadily over the years. She was also continually looking at ways to improve her outreach and connect in ways that fit her best. BioSpirit’s ongoing dedication to being the best made it an inspiring success. Despite fluctuating economies, she was able to continue growing the business and sell it in 2022.
Sierra Nevada Snow Removal
Sierra Nevada Snow Removal has been around since the 80s but never had a website. The owner came to me in 2017 to develop an online presence, look at new ways to market, and ensure they had top-notch search engine optimization. He provided rough content with bullet points to expand on, which I optimized for the best search results. These are all significant steps for becoming more visible online and growing a business. This site is a custom WordPress site that I update regularly. Coming in 2023 is a new website for another of his businesses, Earth and Stone Landscapes.
Wood carving instructor Maverick Jaillet came to me with great content and the need for a website to make his life easier. My job was to make the content accessible to his visitors with a design that showcased the beautiful work he and his students created. Now information about workshops he teaches in many different locations is available in one place—making life easier for his students and him. I built this website on WordPress, and the client updates it.
By now, it should be clear just how different each client’s journey is and how many different stages a growing business can go through. If you know where you want to go, you can set the pace and how you proceed.
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Dreamweight Blankets was up against some stiff competition. Still, their product was much different than other weighted blankets on the market. When the owner came to me, the unique nature of her product was not standing out. She had photos and a solid understanding of her product but didn’t know how to help people understand. I went through her Shopify site and identified the areas where she could shine. I implemented complete search engine optimization (SEO), revitalized the wording, and created graphics for the site and social media ads highlighting why her product is better than the rest. (A few examples are above. The client supplied photos for the ads and graphics.) Her preferred social media platform was Pinterest, so I focused my efforts there. Immediately, sales picked up, and orders were pouring in so fast that she ran out of product (temporarily). When things take off quickly, it’s crucial to meet the demand and keep up the work that brought those results—in this case, consistently posting quality content to Pinterest that resolved the pain of her ideal customer.
Nikki Shannon Smith
Children’s author extraordinaire Nikki Shannon Smith already had a website. But, like so many others, she was contacted by her web host, telling her that the host platform where she built her site would soon no longer exist. Her website would disappear unless she rebuilt it on the new platform. When you are a DIYer, learning and building your first site is challenging, let alone starting from scratch on a new platform! She was nervous, but she persevered, and I came along to talk her through some things. In addition to suggesting ways to improve her layout and make it more accessible, I gave her a complete write-up on improving SEO. I did a few technical things for her on the site, but she did everything else. She did a great job and is very happy with the results.
Lynne came to me with a WordPress site that needed updating. Some features no longer worked, text required editing, and photos needed updating. It wasn’t working the way she needed it to, and learning to fix it herself wasn’t something she had time for. So I went through and updated it all. In this case, she paused some things while figuring out her next steps. The most important thing to communicate was the style of her work and that she does sustainable design. Soon she’ll be adding more services to grow in an exciting direction. In the meantime, she has a beautiful presence online, so she stays visible.
Destination 74 is on a platform called Showit. It’s based on WordPress but has limitations and time-consuming hoops to jump through. It’s not something this client wanted to spend time learning. The most important thing she needed was a way to automate event registration. I added an events page, gallery, and registration forms, so she could spend more time on what she enjoyed most—creating a welcoming place to stay and events that enrich people’s lives. Sometimes it’s worth it to have someone else update your site so you can focus on the business side!
Have you ever struggled to read a website on a mobile device because the type is so tiny? Most likely, the site wasn’t designed to work on mobile devices. Instead, it just shrinks to fit. Creating websites in a world of ever-changing screen sizes is challenging. Having a different site for every screen size wouldn’t be efficient. Though some companies do okay with having a separate website for mobile devices, the average person doesn’t need to do that. Instead, good websites adapt or respond to every device in an easily readable way.
This site employs a responsive design that morphs into different layouts as the screen size changes. (If you haven’t already looked at how this works and you’re on a desktop or laptop, grab the bottom right corner of your browser window and drag it left to watch the layout of the site change.) As a graphic designer for print, I always roughed out many designs for each project. I enjoyed looking at all the possibilities by moving the elements around the page. One of the fun things about responsive design is exploring more options because you're designing for so many page sizes at once. That can also make it challenging because the design will never be the same on every screen or in browsers x, y, and z, and it takes more time to consider the variables. Take your time and ask others to help you test your site. The more eyes, the better in catching the errors, but you’ll never see them all, so focus on the most critical usability issues first.