It may give away my age, but I’ll admit, I’ve been doing web design for more than 20 years now — since 1996. I first learned during my senior year in college when my dad called me up and asked me to learn how to make a website for his software company.
What?! Make a website?
I was an English major, for goodness’ sake! I didn’t have the first clue about creating a website. All I knew was how to get around on the limited number of websites available in 1996 by using what were, at the time, popular search engines like WebCrawler or Lycos… in a Netscape browser in a Unix lab at NCSU, no less.
But you aren’t reading this About page so that I can drag you on a trip down my own memory lane. No, I’m just trying to let you know that when it comes to developing an effective website, I’ve pretty much seen (and tried) it all.
I cut my eye teeth writing pure HTML. After that (in the late 90s and early 00s), I moved on to using WYSIWYG editors like Coffee Cup, Frontpage, and later Dreamweaver. Nearly a decade ago, I moved on to experiment with a variety of CMS (Content Management System) platforms for creating websites. After designing a number of websites for a wide variety of applications, I can emphatically state that WordPress (the privately-hosted version, not the .com) is the best thing that’s happened to website development in my 20+ years of web design. In addition to the robust community of theme creators and plugin developers, it’s also the easiest to use for newbies (I happily train my clients on WordPress basics as a part of any website package) and it’s extremely flexible.
WordPress: It’s the engine that makes your site go.
Using WordPress for web design is always a step in the right direction, but just like with a car, you need more than the engine to make it go. You also need a solid theme, and ideally a theme framework as the base, to get the completely custom design and performance you’ve always wanted.
When you start playing around with WordPress, you’ll soon learn there are plenty of good-looking free themes available, but to create a site that really stands out, you’ll need a custom theme.
Now, there are some developers who will write a theme completely from scratch for clients. That sounds good in theory, but in reality, with WordPress’s rapidly changing core code, a custom-written theme can quickly end up with lots of bugs that can cause a website disaster. There is a solution, though, that will allow you to have a custom-built site while still running a time-tested and proven backend: Using a combination of a theme framework and a child theme.
In my early days of working with WordPress, I was a big fan of DIYThemes Thesis framework, but after a couple of years they lost their luster for me and became a headache for clients who wanted the ability to have a hand in maintaining their own sites.
After experimenting with many other products, I eventually settled on Studiopress. Their theme framework, called Genesis, has a proven track record and more features than you can shake a stick at. Turns out they also have a great explanation about the difference between a theme framework and a child theme:
A website framework (ours is called Genesis) is a powerful type of WordPress theme — a “supertheme,” if you will. A child theme sits on top of that framework and handles all the design and layout aspects of your website.
In talking about all this, it helps to think of your website as a car.
WordPress acts as the engine of your car.
Genesis (the framework) is the frame and body of the car, and is the basic design, security, and SEO foundation of your website. In handling all the core code, Genesis also helps to “future-proof” your site, so all your customizations won’t disappear when it comes time for your one-click software upgrades.
Lastly, a child theme is the pure design element that rests on top of your framework — the cherry red paint job on that car. Or blue. Or black. Pink. Green. You get the idea, whatever works for you…
You don’t want to go with a child theme right out of the box, though. (Although they can give you some great ideas. Check out Studiopress Child Themes.) You want it customized until it looks like a natural extension of your own business.
Let me put my web design expertise to work for you
Over the years I’ve built dozens and dozens of sites. If you’re unsure of where to start, not to worry! I know what you’ll need for your website depending on your business, but I’m also happy to add anything new that you envision for your site. I take great pride in working one-on-one with clients to make sure that the end product is exactly what they want.
Here are some testimonials to give you an idea of the typical experiences of Lookout Publishing clients:
Sara is a brilliant and inquisitive designer, which makes her incredibly creative and innovative. Her timeline for completion is incredibly efficient and she always makes herself available for troubleshooting site and design problems, no matter how small and no matter how much time has passed since a site launch. I have full confidence in Sara and would absolutely recommend her for your digital needs.” — Dr. Ginger Garner, Founder of the Professional Yoga Therapy Institute
I highly recommend using Lookout Publishing. Over the years, I have worked with them for web design, social media integration, web hosting, book cover design, and much more. What I appreciate most is how affordable their services are and how professional they are. I let them know my budget and share my vision–and they take it from there. So simple!” — Author and Travel Expert, Terrance Zepke
Sara completely redesigned my website to be up to my current industry standards. She was very attentive in listening to my particulars. My new site exceeded my expectations. Thank you Sara” — Clif Lewis, Owner of Rainmaker Irrigation Inc.
I had a wonderful experience working with Sara to redesign my author website. She helped me select the perfect web design – one that would look great viewed on a desktop, mobile device, and easy to maintain. I have received so many comments on how beautiful my site is and I have definitely seen an uptick in visitors. Sara was a pleasure to work with. She was prompt and her rates are beyond fair and reasonable (a bargain, actually). I have recommended Sara’s services to colleagues and friends and I look forward to working with her again in the future!” — C.P. Patrick, Author of bestselling novel The Truth About Awiti
In addition to web design, I also bring some “Bonus Skills” to the table
Remember that English degree I talked about way up in the introduction? Well, that can come in handy when you’re doing website design. I understand that not all of my clients are English majors and they’ve got more important things to do than to worry about whether the grammar and punctuation on their home page and their core site pages is all correct.
Guess what! I am happy to copyedit the core pages of any website I design at no additional cost. It’s a small thing to make sure you’re using capitalization and quotations correctly, not to mention making sure there aren’t misspelled words!
I’ll do whatever I can to help your business make the best possible first impression online.
In addition to the resource of having a built-in copyeditor as a website designer, I also have a whole team of programming and database gurus at my disposal thanks to Lookout Publishing’s parent company, Carolina Data Systems — so pretty much any technical issue that comes up, we can tackle it.
How about popping on over to the Project Inquiry page? Go ahead and fill it out and let’s talk. If you decide to go with a different company, that’s ok, but at least you’ll know what I can offer your business — including the unique ideas I have for helping you grow your customer base online.