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 The information was horribly out of date, it was poorly written, nobody had access to it so we couldn't change anything, and it didn't have any links to relevant social media profiles.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.