Websites: Is It Time to Hire a Professional?

W is for Website DesignBy Jennifer Cote
Guest Columnist

I had to ask myself that question. I’d been creating my own websites for years. My husband and I had opened a small local café in 1985; by 2004, it seemed fitting to create a business website for it.

When I published a cookbook in 2006, I created another website to share recipes (and hopefully, attract an interested market). I learned enough HTML to create a decent, though limited, website. I could not easily construct a blog on my website, so I created a number of separate blogs, using free services such as Blogger, WordPress, Yahoo.

I wasn’t sure of my “brand,” so I tried to be everything. It was exhausting.

Screenshots of my three original, do-it-yourself websites:

PCcuisine.com BEFORE580

JenniferCote.org BEFORE 580

TheNewDeli.com BEFORE 580

By 2012, I enlisted the professional help of a “friend of a friend” who had convinced me to develop my brand. He actually had but one skill: Convincing people of their need for his services! Sadly, he was unable to produce results.

Six months into working with this “professional,” with no good website and no real brand, I was hiring the high-school kid at church to fix glitches on a disappointing website, and searching forums for answers to other technical questions. Again, it was exhausting.

I realized I should have researched more, to find a brand and website-development specialist with good references, an impressive portfolio, and glowing endorsements. For me, that person was Laura, at Blogging Bistro. I ran across Laura pretty much by chance, on LinkedIn. When I saw her website, I suspected she might be able to come up with something for me.

Almost ten years after my initial foray into representing myself online, Laura began working with me. She gave me a time-frame, similar to the previous time-frame my “friend-of-a-friend” had given me: It might take five or six months to get all this together.

In fact, it only took four months, even though I had to take it slow around a few curves. Laura had warned me that much would depend on how quickly I got through the various “exercises” and such, designed to zero in on my particular brand, and website look and feel.

My new Grateful Table logo

GratefulTableLogo580

I was OK with that. I’d already invested six months of my time, with minimal results. Laura generously offered me a list of pointers, even before she contracted to do the job. Her initial insight was invaluable, and it only got better as she worked carefully to help me discover my brand.

She had a pool of resources at hand: Insightful people to offer additional perspective, talented designers to create the right look, and programmers to make it happen.

Grateful Table 580

It was worth the time invested. I not only have a cool new logo and WordPress website (which consolidated my three previous sites into one), I have a game plan. Laura and I laid out groundwork I can follow in the months and years to come, while staying on track with the goals we set. I’m not distracted to wander in different directions, but have a vision. I’ve got a website I can be proud of… one that is user-friendly and reflects my brand.

Facebook Page Cover Photo — Brand Visuals Coordinate Across All Channels!

GratefulTableFacebook

https://www.facebook.com/GratefulTable

Twitter Header Photo

Twitter header

https://twitter.com/JenniferCote

It’s easy to be many things in the virtual world, but that doesn’t mean it’s wise to be many things. We can flounder with our online identity, challenged to create a vision. Sometimes we can’t adjust the focus on our own. It takes a professional’s assessment. I think it’s great to vet out the right person for the job. When I did that, I found Laura.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dennis-Brooke/1642870187 Dennis Brooke

    Sometimes it makes sense to hire an expert to get you to the next level and this is a good story about why! And the nice thing is that now that Jennifer’s site is up she can do her own maintenance and updates. Nice example.

  • http://bloggingbistro.com/ Laura Christianson

    The ability to do basic maintenance and text updates is one of the reasons I love WordPress.org sites, Dennis. With a little training, most people can master it.

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