My career as a freelance web designer…
My career began as a New York-based freelance web designer. It started when the Web was young and full of promise. Digital pioneers were starting to ride virtual stagecoaches into the rugged uncharted terrain of the Internet. I was a busy graphic design consultant for advertising agencies in New York, building websites as a side interest. Suddenly, opportunity knocked. A single online link made it possible to morph from print design into freelance web design. Here is my story:
The Spark That Ignited A Web Design Career
Nearly two decades ago, I was hopelessly in love with Paris, France, and would spend as much of my vacation time as possible visiting this charming city. As an homage, I started a personal travelogue website that contained photos, tips and short essays from my travels to Paris (it was a blog before blogs existed). Cranked out with Adobe PageMill 1.0, the first commercial 'WYSIWYG' web page editor, this was a true labor of love. I tweaked and hacked basic HTML to create the design I wanted. It was a creative challenge to make something truly beautiful online back then. I loved the challenge, and the results can be seen in this "Paris, My Love" blog post.
Netscape, the developers of the most popular web browser software at that time, also hosted a very popular online portal website (It was the Yahoo.com of its day). That portal had a Website of the Week that featured online favorites selected by Netscape editors. I was kissed by fate when they choose my "Paris, My Love" travelogue (no longer online) as Website of the Week. Suddenly, I was getting tons of daily visitors to my humble website (and the website hosting bills to prove it). I was also getting a steady stream of emails inquiring if I design websites. Of course, I said yes! Thus began my freelance web design career!
The journey has been amazing. Many of my websites created since then have won awards. My articles and web design samples have been used by accredited schools that teach web design. Best of all, I have had the opportunity to work with businesses large and small nationally, creating appealing and effective websites. My clients have ranged from local savings banks to beauty salons, restaurants to travel agencies, and so much more.
How My Services Add Value To Your Business
My strength is in developing business-to-consumer websites with "the human touch." As you browse my web design portfolio, you will see business-to-consumer websites that engage potential customers at an emotional level. They attract attention and inspire trust. These websites are not mere technical exercises, they are compelling marketing solutions that attract new customers. Here's the 'secret sauce' that makes my web design so effective:
Websites With the Essential Human Touch
While it is true that the medium used for communication is technical, the audience is always human. Therefore, good consumer oriented web design must have the human touch. It needs to touch the emotions of the potential customer if it is to motivate. Engaging business-to-consumer web design conveys such qualities as warmth, kindness, excitement, and humor. Too often, web design feels cold and clinical in its approach. However, it is a communication medium. To the extent that our websites communicate with feeling, we touch the emotions of consumers.
The human touch that is a hallmark of each business-to-consumer web design project. Small businesses and startups on shoe-string budgets can be confident that their website is no mere template or canned solution. Each website is thoughtfully designed to motivate potential online customers.
Three Keys to A Successful Website
Content: Content is the lifeblood of your website. Potential customers come to your business website looking for answers, solutions, and help. Your website needs to be more than a brochure for your business. It must offer practical information that consumers find useful. It's how you convey your passion for what you do. It informs potential customers of your expertise, and, convinces them that you are the right source when making a purchasing decision.
Content is also what determines, more than any other factor, how you are ranked by search engines. They want to serve the best, most relevant content to their users. Giving the search engines good content is the single best Search Engine Optimization strategy you can implement. I help clients to develop a sound, practical strategy for developing good website content.
Design & Presentation: Design shapes customer perception. It conveys a visual impression that can enhance or detract from the impression you make online. Great design is usable, legible and appealing. Your website becomes the online personality for your business. What do you want it to say about you and your business? I am a firm believer that web design must have good taste and a respect for the sensibilities of the viewer.
Research has shown that it only takes 50 milliseconds (!) for people to form an opinion about the visual appeal of a web page. With a poorly designed website, you could lose a customer before they ever have a chance to learn about your product.
Google researchers discovered that people perceive simple websites as being more beautiful. Simple, elegant design is the best strategy for attracting more customers to your website
Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) is " is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine's unpaid results." In other words, it's what we do to ensure that you get the maximum number of people finding your website in a keyword search in Google or other search engines.
There is a close connection between writing good content for your website (discussed earlier) and SEO. Logically, search engines want to send people to websites with relevant, fresh and usable content. Writing good content is a key way to encourage readers to recommend and link to your website.
I help my clients to implement an SEO strategy that feeds search engines useful content on a workable schedule. I teach them what search engines want and how to write it. As a result, my clients have more than a beautiful website, they have a powerful online marketing tool that brings in new business.
Finding Your Online Market
By the use of Social Media tools and other online marketing strategies, I help businesses to connect with the right online market. I can help you to use low-cost tools and strategies that put your website in front of the people most likely to buy your product. In addition, consumer use of smartphones and other portable devices requires a Mobile-friendly business website. We use responsive web design (recommended by Google) to ensure that your website is fully compatible with all smartphones, iPhones, iPads, and tablets. This puts your business at the fingertips of consumers on the one device that is with them at all times.
In closing, web design must be timeless and endearing to provide lasting value. It must communicate and connect with consumers on an emotional level. The challenge is to take a technical communication medium and give it human qualities. Good web design can do that. In addition, a sound Search Engine Optimization strategy and Mobile compatibility ensure that your business is found by the widest possible audience. Whether you are located in New York, or nationally, I can help.
Don Peterson is responsible for the content and maintenance of this website. Please call Don Peterson for a free, no-obligation consultation of your web design needs. My best is at your service!