Web Design for Small Businesses
Web Design for Small Businesses
About Liz Rickaby, an Interview
Your artistic work
Why do you do what you do?
I love to design graphics and interfaces that people will actually USE. I’m so thrilled when I have designed a database or website then see that people are really using it. From planning out all of the complex interactions to laying out pages in a pleasing way it’s exciting and rewarding to me.
How would you describe your own work?
Website design is constantly changing. When I was in college, Flash and HTML tables were the go-to design. Then CSS came along! Then CSS layouts. Now mobile devices. I have to constantly keep relearning and changing. “How would I describe my work?”… A moving target.
Why did you choose the kind of materials you’re currently working with?
Growing up I always enjoyed creating artwork, so that was a given. In highschool I found that I also had a knack for tech stuff too, one of my teachers called it “high crossover”. He meant left-right brain, but I have no idea if that’s an actual term or he made that up. I went into college expecting to focus on 3d design and special effects, but found that I really enjoy designing interfaces and found a lot of joy in both designing graphics and writing web-code.
What makes your work personal to you?
By hand-coding all of my work, I “get my fingers into it” no pun intended. There’s an amazing amount of creativity that can be found in “boring” code.
Who taught you how to perform your art or craft?
I graduated Cum Laude from the University of Advancing Technology with a BA in Multimedia. There I studied 3d design, interface design, basic coding, cinematography and even pencil-on-paper artwork. That gave me a framework to build on what I’m good at and what I love. One of my earliest clients had high expectations of me. He would get these grandiose ideas and want me to make them happen. So I would have to learn whatever language, software or technique would get me there. I’m always excited with a challenge and to learn something new!
What are common responses you get from people about your work?
It’s hard for me to see my work through other people’s eyes. I see all the little things that I’m not totally happy with. So I’m often surprised by my clients’ responses. They’re overwhelmingly positive, it’s rare that someone is dissatisfied. The only dissatisfaction I can think of was due to miscommunication. Even clients that nitpick or never seem satisfied or when something has gone wrong always tell me later that they’re very happy with my service and my professional manor.
You as an artist
What life experiences shaped you as an artist?
Doodling. I was always doodling in school. I tend to have a very vivid imagination and love to get what’s in my head out there for others to see. I’m also a big scifi fan, and my early-on goal was to be part of the special effects world. But once I found interface design, I loved it.
When do you feel most inspired?
When there’s a challenge to face: When I need to make a new layout and am faced with only a blank page. When someone wants WordPress to do something it’s not naturally designed for. When there’s data to be organized and modified in a complicated but user-friendly way. I’m getting excited just thinking about it.
Did you set goals for yourself? Have you met any?
I don’t tend to set many goals. I like to take each project for what it is. Enjoy the process of the project and see it through to the end. I have a minimum amount of work that I try to do each month, but the nature of self-employment is that sometimes I’m overwhelmed and sometimes dying of boredom. I guess my goal is just to do the best with what I have every day.
Is there an achievement in your creative life you’re very proud of?
I’m proud of every website, database and printable design that I’ve made. I often go back and look at them, even years later, to just enjoy them again. Right now I am particularly happy with a CRM database that I made for myself. Very complicated database interactions and a really pretty design. Too bad I can’t let everybody in to see it.
What skills are you currently learning to master, or are on your to-do list?
What are your dreams for the future?
I’m very happy with my life. Everything’s kind’of perfect. Which, if my life were a movie, would be exactly when something goes terribly wrong. I just want to keep doing what I’m doing.
Where do you live? Is it an inspiring place?
I live in a split-entry house in Lynnwood, WA (north of Seattle), pretty ordinary, really. One thing I love about our area is that we’re surrounded by big, beautiful evergreen trees. Green everywhere you look. And almost every bush and deciduous tree in the Pacific Northwest flowers in the spring. If you can get through the dreary winter, the spring and summers here are truly inspiring.
Do you have a family? Are they helping you in your creative business?
I have a daughter who’s 9 and a son who’s 5 (as of 2015). I started working from home when my daughter was a month old and never want to go back to an office. It’s HARD to work with a couple of kids running around, but I love it. I love being here with them and having the flexibility to take care of their needs. As I’m writing this, they’re on summer break and less than two weeks away from starting the school year, 4th grade and kindergarten. I love them… but I’m looking forward to having time to focus on my work again.
My husband and I got married in 1998, went to college together and are BFF’s. I could write paragraphs about what I love about him, but I’ll sum it up by saying that he GETS me like nobody else in the world ever could. He’s a great dad and wonderfully supportive of my work.
What are some funny random facts about you?
I’m a huge Star Trek fan. I have actually gone to conventions in costume. I’m married to a Star Wars fan, but we make it work somehow.
My favorite part of working from home is that I don’t have to wear shoes. If I work for you, chances are that none of that work will be done with shoes on.
I’m a lacto-ovo vegetarian and have been all my life, except for a few chicken nuggets and hotdogs from time to time when I was a kid. I enjoy cooking and eating, and never am stumped when asked “well, what do you eat?” More than once my kids have said “yay beets!” or “yay broccoli!” Not sure if that means I’m doing a decent job as a parent, or if my kids are just weird. I’m happy either way.
Where do you like to spend most of your time?
Whether I’m working or doing personal things, the vast majority of my time is spent at the computer. When I don’t have paid work to do, I’m usually setting up, updating or redesigning one of several personal sites.
I’m ridiculously addicted to Pinterest. Especially the DIY section. I love creative projects. Sewing, knitting, crocheting, painting, decorating, organizing, on and on.
What other things, next to creating, do you enjoy in life?
I love gardening. And working on projects around the house with my husband, parents and in-laws. We bought a fixer a few years ago and I realized recently that we have replaced or covered almost every surface in the house (paint, carpet, cabinets, appliances, fixtures…). It’s been a lot of work, but we’re so happy about it.
I used to enjoy working on my ‘76 Toyota Celica with my dad. It was my first car. We spent many, many hours together fixing it. When I was 16 we rebuilt the transmission, among other things. A few years ago it got to the point where I didn’t have the time or expertise to take care of it anymore, so I sold it. I got $1000 more than I paid for it, though, so that’s way cool!
6 Bonus questions
Who are your happy customers? What do they have to say about you?
Let’s see… I just updated All About Animal Rescue’s website to be mobile friendly, they’re happy. Altoserv, Lizzy Pilcher, Meadowdale Maverics, PRIA Ministries, Aunty Saro’s Kitchen, Shari’s Haven, The Coastal Retreat, Your Home NW to name a few.
What do you have to offer your visitor? How could owning your work enrich their life?
In today’s world everybody needs a website. You can set one up yourself, there are tools out there for you to do it. But many people can’t or don’t want to spend the time on it, and often the cookiecutter website tools won’t make a website that will do the job you want it to do. I have lots of clients who tried to DIY it, got frustrated, then came to me. I can build on what you already have, or we can come up with something totally new. If you’re just starting out on this whole website process or you’ve done it all before, I’m happy to help you at whatever point you are.
Which piece in your collection is your own personal favorite, and why?
That’s not fair, that’s like asking me which of my kids is my favorite. There are a few websites that I’m not totally satisfied with, but that’s because they were on a budget and we had to make it work with what we had.
Do you accept commissioned work or custom orders?
I LOVE custom work!
What to Expect
First Contact – Ok, you got me… I’m a Star Trek fan… but it still works. Once we make initial contact, I will need enough information to provide you with an accurate quote. Please be ready to answer some follow-up questions in case I need clarification on anything.
Quote – I will email you an estimated price range. Keep in mind that I tend to quote higher than I actually expect the project to take because I NEVER want to come back to you and ask for more money. At this point I will wait for your approval to proceed.
First stage – I will set up a host and domain for you if you don’t already have one and provide you with several designs to choose from, unless you already have a template or design to work from. After you approve the basic design, I will begin coding the page or theme and plan out any additional functions you need, such as a database or shopping cart. Please take this time to gather any text, links and photos you want to have on your site.
Second stage – At this point I will input all of the content you provide to me, filling in with stock photos where needed, and set up databases, shopping carts or other functions agreed upon.
Final stage – The site is uploaded for you to click through and request changes. Any major design changes at this point could result in higher cost than quoted, but I will do my best to achieve your vision for your website.