What does a web designer do?

Whenever someone asks, “what does a web designer do?”, it’s often prefaced by “I know this is a stupid question, but…”. Let me stop you right there, it’s not a stupid question! In the big wide world of design and development, there’s print designers, logo and brand designers, icon designers, app designers, editorial designers for print, editorial designers for web, advertising designers, book designers, illustrators, font designers, and even more. If someone says they’re a designer, they normally specialize in one or two things. For me, that’s branding and web design.

So what does a web designer do exactly?

Web designers are the lovely people that *make the look of* the websites you look at. That means that they have Photoshop documents where they have created the layout of the website. Depending on the purpose and size of the site, that usually means a layout for the homepage and a layout for the interior pages and maybe a blog too.

Here’s the homepage layout I designed for Modern Acupuncture:
modern-acu-home

Web designers put every element that they want on the site into their layout. So we are placing and sizing the logo, placing and determining the fonts for the navigation, headers, body copy and whatever else appears on the site. We are figuring out the best layout to share what needs shared. Sometimes brand designers come into play with this too. So if a client had a brand already created for them, the web designer would use their brand guide/specs to inspire their web design. So fonts and colors may already be chosen, as well as different brand elements that can be incorporated. The web designer still uses their design sensibilities to make all of those elements work together in a way that makes sense for the web and the purpose of the website.

The whole point

The first question that I ask when I get a new web design project is “what’s the purpose of your site?”. I have lots of other questions too, but that’s the most important one. The whole design revolves around the purpose of the site. Maybe the purpose is to get people to sign up on a mailing list. Then the site would have multiple calls to action and sign up forms to direct uses to see them and sign up. Every page of a site should have a call to action, or somewhere to go next. So that when you get to the end, you have another place to go to stay on the site. I call that the flow of the site.

So after the site is designed, the next step is taking that design from Photoshop to a live site. That’s called development. There are many ways and different platforms that help you do that. Usually, the web designer and web developer are not the same person, but they can be. So the web designer would then hand off their Photoshop files to the web developer to build and create the (already designed) site. In my case, I do both the design and development. So I hand off the files to myself. I’m going to go into detail about what web developers do in a future post.

8 Essential & FREE WordPress Plugins

wordpress-plugins
One of the biggest advantages of WordPress is the wide world of free plugins. There are so many. It’s hard to know what’s worth using and what’s not. It’s also good to keep in mind that using too many plugins can slow down your site and cause theme conflicts and make your site more vulnerable. Eeeek. BUT, I still recommend using them, just judiciously. There are some seriously great ones that I don’t want you to miss out on. Here are my favorite:

Askimet: essential comment spam blocker.

Coming Soon Page & Maintenance Mode: This is my go-to plugin if I’m making major changes to a site or building it live. You can quickly create a simple and nice “coming soon” page so people aren’t completely thrown off by your site in disarray.

Contact Form 7: This is a simple contact form that has tons of flexibility. It’s completely stripped down, so you have to have styles already set up within your theme for a form or you need to custom style it. It’s the only form I use.

Disqus Comment System: This plugin is just way better than WordPress native comments. It’s a lot prettier and easier for people to use and keeps people updated on replies. It also adds additional content to the footer of your posts if you want, like related posts.

Instagram for WordPress: There are a lot of Instagram plugins and I’ve installed and tested many of them. For some reason, this is the only one I’ve tried that actually works. You can configure it in a grid or in slideshow mode.

Widget Context: For those times when you only want certain widgets displayed on certain pages, this plugin makes it really easy.

Widget Importer & Exporter: I love this plugin. I use it when I’m transferring site contents (like from a test site to a live site). But it’s also handy if you want to change themes. For some reason, when you change themes in WordPress, all of your widget settings go with it. So this is a way to actually save and export your widgets and settings and then re-import them. It’s great to have for a backup.

WordPress Backup to Dropbox: A lot of backup plugins (especially free ones) for WordPress often backup to a folder hosted on your site. So if your site goes down or is hacked, then, oops. With this plugin you schedule a backup that goes straight to Dropbox.

Mother Nurture

I worked with Katelyn a couple months ago to help her brand (and name!) her new postpartum coaching business. She came to me with her business ideas and we focused and shaped her brand into something concrete and purposeful. We started by deciding on her business name and tagline and after lots of brainstorming, settled on Mother Nurture. Katelyn wants to help first-time mothers who feel daunted, overwhelmed and underprepared for their new roles. She wants to help them identify their life priorities and reach their goals by creating routines, plans and providing calm support. So really, she wants to nurture mothers. Here’s her full brand guide:

mothernurture-brandguide-v2

She Oms

sheoms-homesheoms-2 sheoms-3 Hello everyone! Long time no talk. It may seem like I haven’t been doing much according to this blog, but trust me, I have! And not just twin related. 🙂 Earlier in the year, my fellow yoga teacher friend Laura approached me about working with her on her new company, She Oms. She Oms is a boutique agency focused on yoga teachers, studios and the yoga-minded entrepreneur. Laura is a marketing and project manager guru. She also brought along her friend Gianna, who is a fabulous logo designer. And together, we are She Oms. It’s been going splendidly over there. We’ve recently launched a couple of big projects: Full Circle Yoga’s website and Kellie Adkin’s website. More on those sites in my portfolio too.  And of course, we did our website together. Gianna designed the logo and brand elements, and I designed the site. She Oms came along at a perfect time for me and I’ve been having so much fun working with Laura and Gianna.

Sylvie & Theo

birth-announcement
Yep, this happened. I gave birth to two delightful little babies in October! Of course, I designed the birth announcement, which I didn’t send out till a few weeks ago. My wonderfully talented cousin Serena Nicole took the photos. Life is slowly getting back to normal, or a “new” normal I should say, and I’m working on design projects and teaching yoga again. Hello again, world!