Getting Started Guide

What You need to know before hiring a web designer

Thumbtack Interview with Reaves

Question and answer

Q. Describe the most common types of jobs you do for your clients.

A. Having worked with artists the past ten years, I wanted to offer a solution that was aesthetically pleasing, affordable and easy to maintain. I design custom websites using existing CMS platforms like WordPress, Squarespace, Wix and Weebly. Once completed I provide training so clients have the ability to make updates on their own. It helps save them money over time and of course I'm always here if they run into any problems.

I also do a lot of "makeovers" aka re-design. I love transforming an existing site, curating content and improving the overall look, feel and user experience. (see examples on the project page)

Q. Describe three recent jobs you've completed.

1. Finishing a Squarespace site and arranging 150 press pieces for Nancy O'Dell
2. Finishing a Squarespace site for a yoga/health coach in B.C.
3. And the coolest grandmother in the world who is a graffiti photographer

Q. What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?

A. Understand all costs upfront. For example my fees are for design and setup but there are additional fees associated with hosting and domain. In general you can expect to pay an additional $125 per year. 

Q. What important information should clients have thought through before seeking you out?

A. The more organized you are before we begin the less time it will take and the more money you will save. Look at other sites and make a list of what you like and don't like. Then consider the overall look and feel in regards to aesthetics and functionality. Gather information such as bios, products, images, contact information, social media, etc. then you are ready for a conversation and a quote.

Q. Why does your work stand out from others who do what you do?

A. I love what I do and am a powerhouse! I am great at taking direction but also love to present fresh ideas when clients get overwhelmed. I am easy to work with and create solutions to meet your needs. There is no one cookie cutter method, it's about creating a relationship with your desired audience. The sites I design are intended for you to manage on an ongoing basis to save you time and money as your business needs evolve.

Q. What do you like most about design?

A. It's like a puzzle. I love connecting the pieces and moving them around until it fits. It makes me super happy and I am always challenged by merging the voice of the client with my own. Also because I work with such a diverse group of clients, I have the opportunity to learn about really cool jobs and ideas that I might not find out about on my own (because they didn't have a website yet ;-).

Q. What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?

A. Why should I work with you? 

Honestly, I am not doing anything you can't do yourself but I find that most people don't make time or have the patience to actually do the work. I provide a base and hand it over to you so ultimately the control of managing your site becomes your responsibility which is cost effective over time.

Q. Do you have a favorite story from your work?

A. A friend was starting over and had an idea for a business. We had a brief conversation over dinner and the next morning I surprised her with an outline for a website as motivation. For the record, she hated my first concept but the visual of seeing her dream online was the push (yes, I'm pushy) that she needed.

Q. What do you wish customers knew about you or your profession?

A. Using templates such as those offered by Squarespace, Wix, etc. offers a great deal of flexibility but there are limitations. I suggest the platform that I feel best suits your needs and will be easy for you to manage but it can be a trade off. Websites designed in HTML or even Wordpress may offer more ultimate design control but unless you are savvy, it may mean the added cost of needing a designer to do updates for you. That said this is an investment in your business so it should be as close to your exact vision as possible.

Q. How did you decide to get in your line of work?

A. It was an accident. My friends joke that I start businesses as an excuse to build new websites and I realize now that they were right. I started my first company Starting-Artists in 2005 to help my artist friends promote themselves and their work. I was on a non-existent budget - as were most of my clients - so my ability to create my own marketing materials grew out of necessity. Then of course I was hooked.

Design provides a creative outlet for me that I can't express with paint or sculpture. It's another form of visual curation (a word I realize is often overused). I move this, I fix that, I'm totally obsessive until the client is satisfied and the website is curated to my liking. It allows me to do something meaningful, engage with cool, motivated people and - it sounds odd - but it makes my brain happy. 

Q. Tell us about a recent job you did that you are particularly proud of.

A. My aunt publisher her first book at 90 and her second at 91. She timidly asked if I could help her with a website and I built a basic site for her the same day. She was so excited to share it with her friends at the Senior Center and it was fun for me as I piled on as much information as I could about her book signing, photos, how to purchase, etc. She just started painting so I guess she will need a new site or an upgrade soon. Talk about inspirational!

Q. Do you do any sort of continuing education to stay up on the latest developments in your field?

A. Yes, I try to learn something new everyday. There are many great classes, online resources, books and videos so it makes it easy. It's a never ending process which I enjoy.

Q. If you have a complicated pricing system for your service, please give all the details here.

A. It's very straight forward. I charge by the hour plus travel and expenses if they apply. Most clients have been out of state so we do most everything over the phone real time. It's super efficient and they feel more engaged as they can provide feedback and see the edits immediately. 

I mentioned this already but just to be clear. In addition to my fees, clients should be prepared to pay an annual hosting and domain registration. For basic sites this is approx. $125 and for eCommerce around $200.

Q. Where and when are you most productive?

A. I love to work between 3:00-6:00am. I get up grab my laptop and climb back into bed, it's super quiet and I tend to get my best ideas during that time. There are zero interruptions or distractions (other than the occasional sound of my dogs snoring). 

Also since my clients are scattered around the country, a scheduled conference call when we can both be in front of a computer is super useful. I take them through the new site one page at a time and they can see changes live on their end with a simple refresh. It's great for nailing down final touches or reviewing options, this versus that, etc.

Q. What is your greatest strength?

A. Taking an idea and running with it. A lot of times people aren't sure where to start so I just start and once they have a visual it's easier for them to say "I like this and not that". My compulsive attention to detail and sense of humor are also helpful.

Q. What are you currently working on improving?

A. Listening. I tend to think too far ahead.

Q. Write your own question and answer it.

A. If I were a breakfast cereal what would I be?

Good one! Well, I don't eat cereal but I'd be a Frosted Mini Wheat. 1/2 sweet and 1/2 business.