Who's the Right Web Designer for You?

Let's cut to the chase: this is a business blog, so you already know that I'm going to tell you why I'm the right web designer for you. But! There's a chance that I'm actually NOT the right web designer for you. And I want to talk about that too. In the long run, being clear about who my websites work for helps everyone -- it helps me spend more time with clients who want what I have to offer, and it helps you figure out if you're one of those clients. So let's dig in!

When I talk with prospective clients, I always start with some open-ended questions. What do you want your website to do for you? What kind of functionality do you need it to have? Our conversation goes from there, to cover everything from security questions to whether a particular feature like a donate button can be included (to which the short answer is almost always yes). Throughout that conversation, I can get a feel for the role a website will play in your organization. Some clients need a website to sell products (can do!), some need a promotional website for a new product or products, some need an educational resource that will be around for years. Every conversation plays out differently, but the quality of that conversation is really important.

That brings me to the first key point: if you have trouble talking with a web designer on a high level about what you want or need, they are absolutely not the right web designer for you. Every person and organization has their own way of communicating about their goals, vision, and the nitty gritty ways those high-level things get implemented. If you find yourself struggling to explain, or just not connecting with your web designer on how to make a particular idea work, back off. Get a second opinion. If you can't tell a web designer what you want and be sure they're understanding you, you will not work well together. Communication is key -- but it isn't everything.

Your web designer also needs to be prepared with targeted questions, and a plan that doesn't require too much up-in-the-ether high level design planning. From all my work with clients, I've found that it's often better to get a draft website on the table early, so design changes can happen in context. It's so much easier to point to a particular thing on a draft site and say "Yes, just like that but with this change" than it is to describe everything with no visual aids. If your web designer doesn't want to build anything until they know exactly what you're looking for, they're going to waste a good deal of your time -- and nobody has time for that.

Speaking of time, price is a key consideration when it comes to web designers. I've gone into price in more depth on other posts, but far too many business owners think they can't have a great website unless they pay for it out the nose. And too many web design businesses take advantage of that: they aren't streamlined, they use clunky programming platforms, and they charge astronomical hourly rates. My business model is simple: I keep my overhead low, I charge fair hourly rates, and I use an incredibly efficient tool to build websites. I can build a great website for almost any small business for under $1000. If you're paying more than that, ask your web designer why they charge so much -- or cut to the chase, and change designers.

So, ask yourself: Can I talk with my web designer and feel heard? Do they ask me questions that help me clarify what I want from my website? Are they quoting reasonable prices? Do I feel comfortable recommending them to friends and family?

If the answer to all those questions is yes, then you've got yourself a good web designer already. And if the answer to any of them is no... let's talk about what you need from your website.



Small Business Special - free website build for businesses!

Hello everyone, and welcome!

I've been putting a good deal of time into talking with my clients recently. My goal: to figure out what clients really need from a web designer.

It turns out that most clients need just a few kinds of major services. The big three: 

  1. a stable, well-designed website that's easy for your customers to use
  2. quick fixes to any technical issues that show up
  3. good search engine optimization 

Based on those conversations, I've put together a special designed to support most small business needs. This special is also intended to lower the barriers for businesses to switch to the sites I build. When your business has put money or time into a website built on a different platform, it can feel like a step backwards to change anything up. But in the long run, websites built through Squarespace offer far more flexibility, better security, lower cost, zero ads, and better support for growth in almost every business. That's a major step forward! Squarespace is the best choice for most business websites in the long run, and I'm here to help make it a good choice in the short run, too.

So here it is: your Small Business Special, in four parts. The breakdown: you pay $995 for a custom website and one year of on-call comprehensive support. That includes everything. No additional fees apply -- but some discounts might.

Small Business Special -- $995 / year

1) Domain Name -- one domain name included ($20 value)

Your domain name is a core part of your business identity. And while you only need one name, buying multiple domain names can help cut down on brand confusion (e.g. name.org, name.net, name.com). Make sure that when people try to find you, they won't end up with your competitors instead. Additional domain names generally cost $20 per year, but some cost more. No markup.

2) Web Hosting -- included ($216 value)

Squarespace’s hosting plans all include access to advanced features, including an online marketplace and online payment acceptance. The Business plan comes with unlimited pages for you to expand into over time, and it's easy to switch plans if your website fits into a more limited plan.

3) Initial Design and Build -- included ($800 value)

Starting from the ground up, using whatever materials you provide, I'll create an appealing, memorable, easy to navigate website that works for you and your customers. All sites are optimized for smartphones and tablets as well as desktop computers. 

The initial design and build of your website will be available for review no more than two weeks after we receive payment. 

4) Comprehensive Site Support -- included ($750 value)

I will be on call to resolve any problems with your website within 24 hours. Includes search engine optimization, troubleshooting, timely updates to your events calendar, contact information, staff pages, and products, as well as making any requested adjustments or additions to the site.

This service does not include hardware support, or visits to your location. 

Value: $1775

You Pay: $995  ($945 if you pay by check, cash, Chase Quickpay, or other fee-free payment)

That's the small business special, in a nutshell! But that's not quite the whole story.

More than anything, I value longterm business relationships. Looking around constantly for a new service partner is a time sink, and if you're always looking, it means that you're not satisfied with the service you have. So my promise to you is that I won't raise my prices without a good reason, and -- after 10 months as your web design partner -- I'll send you a customized proposal for your next year of service, so you have time to make the best choice for your business. Longer-term contracts are available for those who want to lock in pricing and extra discounts.

If you ever want to upgrade, downgrade, or change your service plan, please don’t hesitate to get in touch! It’s important to me to know that the services I provide are meeting your needs and exceeding your expectations. Client satisfaction is my first priority.

Have any questions? Want to find out if you're eligible to take advantage of the small business special? Get in touch today, and find out why my clients never worry about their websites again!

Call or Text: 847.721.1624  ~  Email Elyria  ~  Use the contact form


How expensive is web design?

That's a really important question for anyone who wants a website to ask! And the answer is very different depending on who you ask.

Elyria Designs was built on the idea that effective, memorable websites shouldn't cost a fortune. Too many web design companies offer sites that are absolutely unaffordable for many companies, especially companies that are just starting out. And too many web design companies charge a small fortune for maintaining those same sites. Most web design providers don't mention cost on their websites, and with good reason -- one company (which shall remain nameless) mentioned that most business websites with advanced features cost between $10,000 and $25,000.


Websites do NOT have to be that expensive. If you're shelling out $25,000 for a website... well, step one, don't. Let's skip to my pricing to give you some context.

By partnering with Squarespace, I'm able to offer all the functionality of high-end websites at a fraction of the cost. I can focus on putting my experience in effective design to work for you, without getting bogged down in code. What does that mean in terms of dollars? 

I can design and build most business websites for less than $2,500. Take a look at my portfolio, and you'll see some simple websites that cost $500 or less to design and build. More complex sites are on the higher end. I always break out costs in my estimates so you can decide exactly what you want to pay for, and I make it easy for you to pick and choose between the ongoing services I offer. Those ongoing services never cost more than $250 a month, and I offer great discounts when you pay in advance for a full year of support.

Some of you are probably shaking your heads and saying this sounds too good to be true. It's not. This is what innovation in web design looks like. I've been building my own websites for years, and I never realized how much web design companies charge for services most business owners don't really need. After all, the goal of a website is reaching your customers and communicating your message. Working with me will save you thousands of dollars up front, and thousands more the longer we work together, all while delivering superb results.

As a small business owner myself, I know how important it is to find reliable, long-term partners who charge fair rates and deliver excellent products. And that's exactly what Elyria Designs has to offer. I take pride in every website I design, and I'm available every day of the week to make changes to your site and make sure everything is working to your satisfaction. That's not a guarantee you'll get from most web design companies, even if they're charging $25,000 to my $2,500.

So go ahead - get your free quote today - and let's see what we can build together! 

How did Elyria Designs start?

Since I'm the one writing these blog posts, I'm going to shamelessly ask myself the questions I want to answer. Let me tell you how I got into web design.

I never expected to, I can tell you that much. I'll also tell you up front that I don't code (though I do have some excellent coders on speed dial). No, the way I got into web design was strangely roundabout. It started with one of my classes in business school. 

The final project in that class was to prepare a business plan for a hypothetical business. But I had a real business I was in the process of starting -- Home Harmonizers, LLC (my other passion, professional organizing). The professor welcomed my proposal to complete a business plan and a website for a real business instead. 

By the time I presented that project to the class, I had put in the time to create a website for my own business that I would be proud to share with clients. I incorporated my business less than a month after the class ended, and didn't think too much about web design for another few years... 

...right up until my partner needed a website. I was horrified to see the state of their existing website. The information was horribly out of date, it was poorly written, nobody had access to it so we couldn't change anything, and it didn't have any links to relevant social media profiles. And there wasn't an online store. I couldn't live with that, so I started working to fix it.

I started looking around for a platform I could use to build a better site. I didn't want to get into the nitty-gritty of coding, because I knew there were ways to build great sites efficiently and securely, and I dearly love efficiency. I found Squarespace, and I was hooked. Today, my partner's website has a thriving online store, a calendar to promote public appearances, a link to all the videos they've been part of on YouTube, and a contact form that regularly generates interview requests from radio programs all over the country. Check out the site: www.michellebelanger.com/welcome

I've been working with that first website for a couple of years now, and during that time I've started making websites for many other small businesses and non-profits. I design my own business websites, too -- as any good web designed should! -- and with every build, I develop better ideas of how websites should be designed. Squarespace is my constant partner. They help me offer more affordable rates than most other web design companies, so I can focus on what I do best -- designing a great site that meets your needs with efficiency and grace. 

There is one more piece of this story. I started out thinking of web design as one more service I could offer through my first business, Home Harmonizers. After all, there is a certain similarity between organizing physical spaces (that's what I do through Home Harmonizers) and organizing information on a website. Similar principles apply -- you want the things you use most where they're easy to find, you don't want a lot of distractions or visual clutter, you want the space to work for you, not the other way around. 

But like any good designer, I realized that my approach wasn't working. Clients looking for a professional organizer were getting confused when I talked about web design and digital organizing. Clients looking for web design would be distracted if I talked too much about home organizing. So I changed my approach, and incorporated Elyria Designs in early 2017. (Bonus: I got to build myself a second website!)

Now I'm running two businesses at once. If I keep starting one up every five years, it's going to be pretty busy around here!

Check out my first business, Home Harmonizers -- my sliding scale works with every budget.

Check out my first business, Home Harmonizers -- my sliding scale works with every budget.