Types of Design Projects
I offer three main types of design services: brand identity design, print/packaging design, and website design. If you are starting a new brand or rebranding an existing one, you’ll likely need to create all the elements of a brand identity design project (logos, typography, colors, patterns). To work on a print/packaging project, you’ll need to have completed your brand identity elements. For a website project, you’ll need your brand identity elements plus packaging and product photos. Thus, each design stage builds on the assets developed in the previous stage. Before beginning branding work, we’ll discuss brand strategy and goals, which create the foundation for all else that follows.
“There are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.”
— Milton Glaser, graphic designer & cofounder of New York magazine
The Design Process
The steps in the process are more or less the same whether we are working on a branding project or a web design project.
INITIAL CONTACT & DISCOVERY
When you inquire about a project, we’ll start with an email chat so that I can learn a bit about your business and your project. If we seem to be a good match, I’ll ask you to fill out a short questionnaire to determine the scope of your project. I can give you a ballpark price range based on this information, and if that estimate is in your budget, I can put together a written proposal and quote. Sometimes I can give you several price options that correspond to different levels of work
AGREEMENT & GETTING STARTED
After you have time to evaluate the proposal, I can answer any questions you have. We can chat by phone if needed. If you want to proceed, we will sign the contract and you will need to send a 50% deposit. You will also send me any content that you will be providing, such as website copy and product photos. Then, I will begin the work!
PROJECT IN PROGRESS
I will check in with you for feedback as I work (the proposal will give some planned check-in time frames). At early check-in points, I might offer several design options and ask for your input. When the work is complete, I will present the design to you, and we can incorporate one or two revision rounds, if needed. Since I have already consulted with you along the way, little to no final revision should be needed.
COMPLETION & DELIVERY
Once we are sure that the design is done, I will finalize all the files and create all the different file formats so that you have a complete library of everything you might need in the future. After completion, the remaining 50% is due, and I will deliver the website or design files to you along with some guidelines for their use and maintenance. I will be available for questions if you need some help getting started with your new goodies.
“Products are made in a factory, but brands are created in the mind”
— Walter Landor, brand designer
“Design is the silent ambassador of your brand.”
— Paul Rand, graphic designer
“Brand is the sum total of how someone perceives a particular organization. Branding is about shaping that perception.”
— Ashley Friedlein, founder & CEA of Guild
“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”
— Seth Godin, marketing expert & author
“Design is thinking made visual.”
— Saul Bass, graphic designer
Advantages: powerful, flexible, portable (content can be moved to any host), more control over performance
Disadvantages: can be hard for non-technical clients to manage updates and maintenance (I can suggest options for expert site management, if desired)
Advantages: easy to maintain, even for non-technical clients
Disadvantages: limited options for customization and layout, cannot take your site elsewhere without rebuilding from scratch, must pay Shopify fees on sales even if using PayPal or Stripe
Advantages: powerful, flexible, can create beautiful sites without the complexity of plugins required by WordPress, less maintenance than WordPress
Disadvantages: shopping cart features are very limited at present
Website Project Details
Before you start to build your website, you need to choose a CMS (content management system) and a website host. Common CMS choices include WordPress, Shopify, and Webflow (though many more options exist). Shopify and Webflow serve as both CMS and host. WordPress is just a CMS that you install onto an account with a hosting service, so you need to choose a host if you decide to use WordPress as your CMS. Hosts vary in speed, price, and customer support. We can discuss CMS and/or host options if you would like more input before making a choice. If you need a shopping cart, Shopify and WordPress are better options than Webflow.
I currently build WordPress and Webflow sites because they are the most powerful solutions for most clients, allowing their sites to grow with their businesses. Webflow is good for people who don’t want much site maintenance, but WordPress is better for e-commerce and large blogs. WordPress sites begin with a theme and the Gutenberg WordPress base, but most site developers also use an additional page builder or a blocks toolkit to add more functionality to Gutenberg. Page builders can slow your site down, so I use a lightweight blocks toolkit instead (Kadence Blocks with the lightweight Kadence theme). I prefer to work without a template because that gives the freedom to lay content out exactly as you wish.
In addition to a blocks toolkit and theme, your WordPress site will need a few plugins. Your site will run faster and score better on Google’s core vitals if you have a good optimizer plugin like perfmatters. You’ll also need an image optimizer plugin, a backup plugin, a light SEO plugin, and possibly a security plugin depending on your host. You want to minimize the number and size of the plugins to keep your site lean, but you do need a few plugins to make the site fast and secure. You might want to hire someone to manage updates to your site and plugins; I can recommend someone, or I can give you some training if you want to do it yourself. If you don’t need the e-commerce aspects of WordPress and want to avoid the site maintenance, you could use Webflow instead of WordPress.
When I design a site, I try to balance the competing needs for beautiful design and fast loading time. Images can be optimized without loss of resolution by using more efficient formats like WebP. Fonts can be hosted locally and kept to a minimum number to increase page speed. Design is constrained by optimization, but you can still create a unique and beautiful site. This site loads a lot of images and animation, but it still scores 99-100 on desktop and 95 on mobile on the PageSpeed Insights test.
For more information about what goes into building a website, you might skim my blog article “10 Factors To Consider When Building A Website.” For a list of content and information that you’ll need to provide before your website build, see my blog article “Checklist: What To Give Your Website Developer.”