All posts in Design Musings


Work with Me

Web Design

For most of my clients, I install a WordPress CMS and customize responsive (mobile-friendly) themes. I like to use WordPress because I can have more control over the visual design. If you are familiar with WordPress or any other blogging platform, it’s easy to update page content yourself. There’s free tutorials I can point you to as well. If WordPress is not your thing, the site should be on a platform that you feel comfortable interfacing with and updating on your own. Wix has affordable sites these days, with a drag and drop editor that might make more sense to you. There is also Weebly. Squarespace is more suited for folks who want online stores because they have the best integration.

Domain and Web Hosting
First you need to purchase a domain (if you haven’t already) and a web hosting plan. The cost varies depending on who you go with. These charges are separate from my web design service. I can also help you transfer your site to a new host if needed.

Domains are about $8/year and if you don’t already have one, you can often purchase it at the same time as you purchase your web hosting plan.

Some sample pricing as of August 2018:
BlueHost is $2.95/mo first year, and $7.99/mo after that for a 36 month term. This one offers more bandwidth and site storage than A Small Orange.

A Small Orange (Tiny Plan) is $5.92/mo first year billed up front; rate stays the same after that ($71/year).

Visual Design
I work with you to create the visual look and feel (designing a logo mark in some cases, and utilizing color, font face, texture, and graphics); I also set up the pages and navigation. I encourage you to take a look at my portfolio to get a sense of my aesthetic.

I charge $500 – $900 sliding scale (at least $30/hour). I start work when I have all content for the site and half of the payment up front. Turn-around time varies, but would be approximately one month from consultation to launch, including 1-2 review periods to get your feedback.

If the above works for you, we can set up an initial consultation meeting via phone or Google Hangouts to discuss your needs, timeline, contract, and invoicing.

To prepare for the meeting, consider these questions and come with notes:
1) Who’s coming to your site and for what reasons? What do you want them to take away? What kind of information or action do you want site visitors to be able to access or do easily?
2) What are some website designs you are drawn to?
3) What is your vision for color palette, look and feel, and texture? What is the energy of you and your work?

Charlotte's Web illustration by Garth Williams


Like Charlotte’s web, your website should communicate key messages about your small business, artistic practice, or services in a creative way that attracts new clients, fans…and tasty morsels.

I’ve been designing a lot of websites lately. Many of them are for dancers or writers who’ve never had their own professional site before. In some cases the artist has been making work for two or three decades and needs a one-stop archive to showcase the breadth of their portfolio. I’ve designed sites for a social worker embarking on and promoting a new wing of services, and for a musician interested in taking their art and teaching to the next level.

What I’ve learned is that designing a website is so much more than building a few pages. Most people I work with don’t have an existing logo, so often my first step in creating a visual concept is designing a logo or logo mark. I consider texture, font face and color palette very carefully, and from there I work toward developing a style and brand that encompasses your vision and personality, the essence of your work, and the kind of audience you’re trying to reach.

And it doesn’t stop there. I’ll help you set up a mailing list and sign up form widget for your site. I’ll install SEO and Google Analytics to extend your reach and track site engagement. I also ensure the site is fully responsive, so that it looks great on tablets and smart phones.

It’s exciting to build and launch your first ever site. Like Charlotte I spin a glittering design, then sit back and watch your inner Wilbur glow.

[Featured image: Illustration from Charlotte’s Web by Garth Williams, courtesy The Persnickety Reader]

3 Questions I Ask New Clients

When starting a new client project, I always ask three questions:

  • Who is your audience? Or, what kind of audience or clientele are you trying to reach?
  • What is the one thing you want your prospective audience or clientele to take away?
  • What is your vision?

All of these questions are important, but I like to focus on #3. What do you see? What are your desires for the project? Where do you see it going? Continue Reading

Not Everything Dies

Why I Love Layout

My dad is a nature photographer. I grew up watching him edit his photos in Photoshop 6.0. As it turns out, his nerdy interest in Jerry Uelsmann, science fiction pulp magazines, William S. Burroughs, and cut-up techniques would influence my design aesthetic years later.

Like my dad, I had a desire to observe and capture everything around me. I always carried a novel, a notebook, and a sketchpad. I was obsessed with Kerouac and Ginsberg and fascinated by manatees, archaeological dig sites, Jupiter, and the search for extra-terrestrial life. I wanted to see beyond the ends of the earth, of what was as yet unknown.

In my late teens and early twenties, I started making digital fan collages for my favorite show, The X-Files. I diligently saved jpegs of Mulder and Scully, combed transcripts for episode quotes, used textured brushes and layered like crazy. Basically, my fandom taught me everything I needed to know about Photoshop. Continue Reading