Kelly and I emailed recently and discussed the challenges she faces designing websites and working with clients. I recently wrote a guest post for her blog and she's the first true small business owner that I've interviewed.
Kelly is a freelance website designer and online marketing consultant for small businesses. She provides well-designed, search engine ready websites that can be updated in-house. Kelly can also help with developing an online marketing strategy to make your website work hard.
What drives you in this business?
There is never a dull moment and I love it!
Firstly, I love helping entrepreneurs who appreciate the complexity of the web. Each website is unique to a business and to the audience, no two ever being the same. Each site has different end goals and different paths to get there. Many start on a small budget and expand.
I've worked for so many small businesses that rely on their website for growth and development. It means a lot to me seeing small businesses and entrepreneurs advance. When you work well with someone, and they tell you, that is a great motivator!
Secondly, as design trends change and Google continues to weed out black-hat practices, the design and SEO of websites has to advance to meet them. It all happens so rapidly.
A website designer must develop with each movement. Continuous training, testing and analysis are so necessary in this field. That has to drive you because there is no time to stagnate.
Fortunately, I love learning about the next big thing. I love solving the problems that my clients face, even if they sometimes don't even know I'm doing it. I’m also continuously inspired by creativity from others. That's why I think it is almost impossible to take a course in website design: it has changed before you've finished.
Ongoing learning is key, and for me it is essential. Taking on board new ideas and not letting new things stop you.
What is your greatest challenge?
I see two primary challenges in website design:
The first is to develop a website that is beautiful on screen, across all browsers and all devices. It has been that way since the beginning.
The second challenge I face day to day is managing a client's perception when it comes to search engine rank and optimisation.
You wouldn’t believe the amount of times I've been asked: “Will I be on page 1 of Google when the site is launched?” There is a lot more to search engine optimisation than meets the eye and so many factors count.
Small businesses really struggle to find the time to concentrate on search engine rank, and in the beginning it is hard to see the benefits in this area, so they don't want to spend money out-sourcing.
Additionally, it is so important to keep the site fresh, use great targeted content, gain quality backlinks and optimise pages for key terms. Sharing content is a major factor too, and even all of that just touches the surface. It is much more complex than people realize.
To do well on the internet, a business has to put the effort in. So many do not. I continuously write about these things on my blog and newsletter trying to get the message through.
How do you cope with the unknown?
I'm a seasoned traveler, which I think prepares you for unfamiliar situations. When I think about it, I realise I like the unknown. It gives me a bubble of anticipation. I tend to face it head on.
The unknown is part and parcel of website design. Clients often have a functionality in mind. The best solution has to be found for their website platform, within their budget.
WordPress has helped small businesses because there are often plugins that already match their requirements, rather than paying someone to develop from scratch. It all just needs to 'fit' together, which is never plain sailing.
I would take “Nike’s strap line” for the answer to the question of dealing with the unknown: Just Do It. Search web forums, then put it together on a development site, test it and test it again.
Every website designer I know will turn to the net when requested to do something outside of their skill set. We are accustomed to it and there are lots of resources. In most cases, implementing it is not a problem, it just takes time.
Thanks for taking the time to talk, Kelly, and I look forward to catching up with you again soon!
If you have an interest in participating in a Q&A to tell your story, reach out to me on Twitter @scottjancy.