I sat down with Summer N., owner and lead designer of The Web Boutique, to get her thoughts on web and graphic design a few weeks ago and wanted to share her thoughts with you. The Web Boutique is a web and graphic design firm that does much more than that, including marketing solutions and consulting.
1. When and how did you get started in web and graphic design?
I graduated with a Bachelor’s in Marketing, but didn’t know what to do with the degree. At the time, sales positions were being offered and I had gotten enough of working in retail. I accepted a position working in education and then decided to purse a Master’s in education. My last year of my Master’s program I took a class in Dreamweaver and PageMaker and fell in love! I finally felt like I had some direction with my degree and learned new programs that helped me create more attractive communications. In 2006, I began working with small groups and eventually more and more business opportunities came knocking. It started off very small and has grown into something that I’m very proud of. It gets better each day.
2. Are there any designers or artists that influence your work?
I love girly designs. Before any project, I look for inspiration from others, but not one in particular. A simple Google search will get me far. I try to look at color combinations and techniques used to create a design. I get inspired by many but am able to create things that are uniquely my own.
3. What are the biggest challenges with owning your own firm?
Because I focus on entrepreneurs and nonprofits, I started out trying to make it as easy as possible for clients. I possessed insecurities early on about my capability and offered designs first and then payment if you liked it. BAD MOVE! I wound up doing tons of designs for people who did not follow through with payment. My over-helpfulness has been reason for me not getting paid at times. People don’t take your time seriously, and if you don’t put your foot down, they will use and abuse you. It’s a learning process, but that’s the great thing about taking a chance on your own.
4. What are some of the unique services you provide – and why do you provide them?
I am a small business, business. I like to work with the little people who are just starting up and have more limited budgets. For many, this isn’t worth it, but for me, I feel like there is opportunity to guide the communications efforts of smaller entities, and not just create a design. I like consulting with people and presenting them ideas that may challenge their thoughts and expand their opportunities.
5. If you could let my readers know 3 things about web and graphic design, what would those things be?
1. Image is everything. Every designer has varying levels of skill, but a pet peeve of mine is UGLY design: distorted logos, fonts that are not consistent, colors that don’t match, random clip art images thrown on a design that are stretched too far or squeezed too tightly, web pages with no connection and every piece of Flash script you can think of that makes the page take longer to load, etc.. I try to let people know that ugly designs make you lose business. I’ve gone to many sites to support someone and the minute I see that it’s unattractive, the minute I think I’m getting involved with a scam. Same thing with print designs. I can immediately tell when a person has their sixth grader developing their print collateral versus a professional. AND SO CAN OTHERS…
2. We don’t have to know EVERYTHING about your business in one sitting. Basically, condense your content so readers can learn about your business or organization in one sitting. Content overload can bore a reader right into your competitor’s arms. You want your audience to get a taste of the juice through your marketing and then come to you to purchase the whole bottle. You really don’t have to list out every ingredient and where it comes from and what scientist founded the ingredient, how it has been used over history…and…well…you get my point.
3. Take advantage of freebies. There are “free” features that come along with their web host packages. They provide clients with many things that help aid their communications: emails that feature your domain, message boards, photo galleries. When purchasing a host package, look at what you’re getting for your money and think of the ways that you can use these “freebies” to better communicate with your audience.
Do you have any questions for Summer? Post them in the comments and we’ll use your questions in a follow up post.