Tools of the Trade

I recently coerced my significant other into letting me purchase a DSLR camera. I bought a Canon T2i. Not exactly top of the line, but it does everything I need it to do. I’ve really enjoyed running around Durham, Raleigh, and some of my clients places such as Duke Memorial United Methodist Church taking photos and using them for the greater good. I’ve also been experimenting with the video capability. It shoots in 720p as well as 1080p. So naturally, I took a video of me cutting my hair.

The only problem with the video function of a DSLR is there really is no proper autofocus. The camera will autofocus if you want it to, but it’s so noisy and slow doing it, it’s better to just manually focus the shot… hence, the fact that most of this video is out of focus 🙂

New Years Resolution Achieved

Back on January 15th, I mentioned that getting my site on page one of Google for the search term “Durham web design” was one of my goals. I put a tonne of SEO work into the site in January and part of February. But at some point in February, the fruits of my labor began to work in my favor. Work has been very busy since then and I haven’t had a chance to update my site. Well, I checked a couple of weeks ago and realized that my site is on page one of Google for Durham web design. I’m pretty excited about it. Business has been picking up because of it, and it gives me a great example of what I can do for my clients.

So… it’s April, and I don’t have any more resolutions to achieve. I guess it’s been a good year. Business has been so good that I’ve been throwing around the idea of hiring somebody to help me out. It’s a tough decision. On one hand, my business is me. And if I introduce somebody else into the picture, it starts to become less me, and more out of my control. Also, I feel as if hiring somebody adds a lot of responsibility on my part. If I want my business to grow, this will be the next step. But I’m just not sure I’m ready for it. It might take a few months/years for me to warm up to it.

Keeping Up With Web Design Trends

It’s difficult to be a full service web design agency in this day in age. Design is one of those things that you have to constantly stay on top of. It changes all the time. If you don’t love it, you’ll fall into your old ways and do the same thing, over and over again.

When I talk to other web designers and see what they are working on, more often than not, I am horrified at the low quality of their work. How can you call your self a web designer and crank out websites that come out of the womb looking 15 years old. I know I’m not the Van Gogh of web designers, but I do try to keep abreast of trends in the industry. I try to set the bar high.

When designing a website I usually do a lot of research surfing around the web looking at what other top designers are doing. When I see their sites and how great they look, I aim for that. I know I can design something as good or better than the best in the industry. So that’s where I set the bar. I don’t look at their site and think to myself, I can’t do that, or that’s out of my league. But their is always a but.

Budget Restrictions Suck
I haven’t been in this industry long enough to command the attention of big time clients like some others. Often, I am highly restricted by the budget of my client. Web design is like any other job, you have to have the right tools for the job, and for design, other than a computer and photoshop, you need time. So if your client can’t afford to pay you for spending some quality time designing a site, they will get sub par results. It’s as simple as that. Sure, you can use a template, or go off somebody else’s work (which is unethical), but if you want an original site with high end design, the designer is going to have to spend some time on it.

My Current Favorite WordPress Plugin

The beautiful thing about WordPress is the plugins. And my current favourite is “Advanced Most Recent Posts Mod”. If you remember from my home page, at the very bottom is an area that displays my most recent post. Shown here ↓

This area is actually a widget (I created a fifth footer widget area that allowed me to do this).

WordPress already has a most recent posts widget, but it is very limited in it’s functionality. What advanced most recent posts mod allows you to do is specify EXACTLY what you want displayed. I am able to choose how many words you need, or even how many letters. The customization is fantastic. Take a look at the developers website for more info:

What I am also excited about is the fact that this plugin allows me to put more text on my home page and have it automatically updated every time I write a new post. So, for example, if I write a post about WordPress and Raleigh and want those key words on the home page, this plugin allows me to do that. In this case, it will help with WordPress, not necessarily Raleigh

Durham Web Design, I am owning you

My work on getting ranked for Durham Web Design is going splendidly. I’m #1 for Durham web design on Bing, #3 on Yahoo, and I’m at the top of page 3 on Google. That’s a pretty big leap in 3 weeks. I started out on page 18 of Google three weeks ago. So I’m pretty excited about this. I’ve changed a lot of the structure of my site and placed key words in strategic places. I’ve worked on my incoming links and removed all errors from my code and optimized it for all the search engines. I’ve done xml sitemaps, registered with all the search engines, registered for maps and local searches and done a million other things. It’s all paying off, literally (I got a phone call today with a new customer in Raleigh, NC).

Need to rank for a keyword? I suppose now, I can tell people I really know what I’m doing. Do a search for “Durham Web Design”, and see where I come. Then do a search for what your customers are searching for, and see where you come up. If you’re not happy with that result, give me a call and I’ll help you out.