My friend Tim from the Sharp Shop in Midland Park NJ and I have been talking about websites for a long time. I’ve known Tim for about 25 years or so and he’s the best small engine repair man anywhere. His shop has had at least 10,000 customers since 1962. So I had a break in the action from doing attorney sites last week and I asked Tim if he wanted a new website and he agreed this would be a good time to do it.
We arranged a time to meet when his constant stream of customers would not be an interruption and we talked for over an hour. We mostly discussed his business and things I might design into the site. We looked at Google and he was not listed anywhere except for a reference in insiderpages which Google had picked up on and used to create a Google Places listing. So we agreed on the basic things Tim wanted in his website and set a price. Since this was a job for a friend or family member… Tim did not have to sign my new NOLO Creative Contract. I was going to do a lot of work for a small fee, but the exposure to other potential clients by doing a site for a place like the Sharp Shop was well worth the low price in money I was getting. Plus I owed Tim for all the good work he had done for my family for more than 2 decades. I might mention here that Tim was one of those rare customers that are very flexible and go into a first website without preconceived notions. He might be a perfect client in that regard.
So I picked the Studio Press Executive Theme because I’m constantly impressed by the clean lines and examples I have seen in the wild. I have mostly used the Lifestyle Theme followed by the Serenity in the Genesis Framework series but I thought the Executive would be a perfect match for the Sharp Shop’s identity. They are a Master dealer for 4 of the biggest landscaping power equipment vendors and they also sell many other brands… but the big 4 would all look nice right on the homepage of the Executive. In terms of the color selection I discussed with Tim that since he sold to landscapers and resedential homeowners in Northern NJ, we might pick a style that can be converted from fall colors to winter and spring. So I setup the site with that in mind. All the .psd files are carefully setup to allow new backgrounds and colors to be added.
After I got the basic site up on a test URL, I added placeholder images that I made in Photoshop with their sizes prominantly displayed to help me size out the design. Then I made a basic header file and started playing with colors. This is the part that takes me the longest. And I also need to ask others for their opinions a lot at this stage. My kids helped for an hour as I changed colors and found a combo that worked. This particular palette combo not only worked, but it really blended beautifully and immediately, the web design started to pop. I don’t know if there is an artistic term for that but it was a point in the project that I felt we were onto a beautiful design. Along the way I used Adobe Kuler a few times for suggestions but since I’m still on CS3 I can’t use it to it’s full advantage yet. Anyway it helped.And here is the final product:
So I can change the main image quickly because it’s a “featured image” on a WordPress page. Or I can replace it with WP-Cycle and replace the image with a slider window in the future. I can also change the header colors and the nav bar and the backgrounds on the content windows quickly in the future if we want a seasonal change. I circulated the link to 3 of my WordPress builder buddies and got a thumbs up from all my professional friends. More importantly, my client Tim was impressed and grateful. Now this front page is only a fraction of the work I did. I also did this:
Items Completed with new WordPress Website from Web Design WorkPlace:
- 1. WordPress Installed on protected IP
- 2. Studio Press Executive Theme Installed
- 3. General Settings – no www
- 4. Writing – Remote Publishing OFF for security reasons
- 5. Discussion – users must be registered – commenting turned OFF for security reasons
- 6. Permalinks setup for SEO – OK
- 7. Minimum plugins installed, all from highly regarded industry leading authors
- 8. Google Analytics OK
- 9. Google Sitemap OK
- 10. dB backups set @ 12 hours
- 11. fresh posts export to XML
- 12. fresh file system backup to PC
- 13. .htaccess contents verified
- 14. robots.txt verified
- 15. favicon working OK and verified
- 16. all files rights rights checked and verified
- 17. Google WebMaster Tools verified
- 18. Yahoo SiteExplorer verified
- 19. Bing WebMaster Tools verified
- 20. snippets for meta tags for all SE in Genesis header
- 21. Google Places Local Listing Updated and Verified
- 22. Yahoo Local Listing Claimed – Updated and Pending
- 23. Bing Local Listing Entered – Used Mail Verification
So there is a huge difference in what you get when you go to different web designers. At Web Design WorkPlace we are at the very top of the pyramid in terms of getting it all done right. There is a tremendous amount of work in the background that a client never sees. Getting the site looking good for web surfers is only a small part of the work. Most of the work goes into the structure and operations aspects that drive rankings on Google, Yahoo, and MSN / Bing. A great looking site is absolutely worthless if the search engines don’t like it. So when you are looking for a great web designer make sure all the items in the background are covered too. And unless it’s a “friends and family” type job, get it all in writing and in a contract before the work is started.