Erica Houston - FAQ

FAQs

questions you may have before we begin

What are your office hours?

While I don’t have regular office hours, I do try to get most of my work completed from 9-3pm. I try to set clear boundaries work for myself and my clients by not working evenings and weekends. I’ve burned myself out before and I don’t feel like doing that again 🙂

What services do you offer?

+ Strategy – I work best when we have a plan in place. I start each project by asking you a lot of questions about you, your business, your customers, your competitors, what you want to be known for, and oh so much more. From there, I create a brand strategy before I even start thinking about colours, fonts, etc.

+ Logo Design – I do logo design but very rarely do I ever design just a logo. Your logo is part of a bigger branding system including where your logo will be used most, the font system that goes with it, the colours that coordinate, etc (see next point)

+ Visual Branding – You set the vision for what you want your brand to communicate and I do the visuals to make it work. Your visual branding materials include your logo, patterns, textures, fonts, colours, your website, business cards, postcards, thank you notes, social media graphics, Pinterest graphics, etc.

+ Websites – I have been working with WordPress since it’s beginning days and was a web programmer in a former life. I still love HTML and CSS and consider myself a front-end developer. My super power is customizing WordPress themes to make some pretty great looking websites. Premade WordPress themes save development time (aka save you money). The theme developers do the heavy lifting and I make it look pretty.

+ Custom Websites – I love working on fully custom websites. I work with my developer when I do a fully custom website – she’s truly magic. I tell her we want unicorns and she makes it happen.

+ On-page SEO – one of my biggest pet peeves is seeing websites that have images named “img_023.jpg” so I made it my mission to do everything within my control to make your website get found by search engines and make accessible websites for your customers with disabilities.

+ Newsletter design & automation – your email list is one of your most important business assets. We can set up an autoresponder series for your subscribers and ensure they’re getting emails with your latest services and offerings so you’re top of mind when they need you.

See my Services page for more details on package information.

What services don’t you do?

+ Full marketing service – your website is an important part of your marketing but it’s not a marketing plan. I design your marketing materials, but I don’t do marketing itself.

+ Professional Illustration – I’m great at logos, icons, diagrams, and graphics. I love illustrating, but that’s not what I do for a living. If you want super custom drawings, we’ll find you a professional illustrator to make your vision come to life.

+ Copywriting – I like writing, however, I’m not a writer. I will give you an outline of what copy I need for the website, but you or your copywriter is responsible for your tagline, copy, bio, and all the words that will go on the page. If you need copywriting, I have some super awesome people for you to work with.

+ Photography – Great photos can make or break a website. While I can do some pretty awesome things with stock photos, outsourcing your product photography and your headshot is kinda frowned upon. If you need an awesome photographer, I have some super awesome people who are very good at what they do.

Will my website work on mobile and tablet devices?

Most definitely. All the websites I design will work on your desktop computer, as well as your phone and tablets. This is called responsive design as your website “responds” to the size of the device your user is on.

Why does a website take so long to build?

A successful website needs to have a plan in place. I spend a long of time analyzing your business needs and coming up with a plan first. A website needs planning just like a house needs blueprints. There are hundreds of decisions that need to be made when creating a website – creativity takes time! Each branding project takes about 4-6 weeks to complete and website projects take about 8-12 weeks, depending on complexity.

How much does a website cost?

This question is a tough one. It’s like asking a carpenter how much does a house cost? How big is it? What style do you want? What type of finishings do you want? Well, you get the point…

I generally work on a project basis. You and I will have a consult call to define the scope of work needed for your project and I send an estimate on how much it will cost and the approximate timeline. My project rates are based on a lot of factors – how clear are you with your vision, how many revisions we will need for the project, what functionality do you need in your website, etc.

I’ve been doing this a long time and I’m pretty good at approximating the amount of work needed for each project. Projects generally start at $1,200 with the average project being around $4,000 but this will totally depend on your needs.

The service agreement we sign is a starting point and it’s totally ok to change your mind once we get started on your project. We can always add to the contract later if we realize that there has been a significant amount of scope creep along the way. If you’re tight on budget, we can also work together to prioritize the work that is most important to you and focus on that first.

Why are you so expensive? My cousin's’ son’s friends’ sister will do my website for free.

There is no standard pricing for web design but it’s pretty safe to say you do get what you pay for when it comes to design. Rates can range from $25-$200+/hr. It can be hard to find the right web developer who is on your side, who is looking to build a long-term relationship with you and will walk you through every step of the process. Think about the value you’re getting on hiring a professional who does this as their full time job vs someone who just learned how to setup a website. In my experience, website projects usually take 100+ hours to build from the ground up. I’ve been doing this a long time, have degrees behind my experience, and I’m consistently doing professional development to continuously learn how to do my job better for you. I work hard to make sure that your design is in good hands. Thanks for trusting me with your project.

Will I have to sign a contract?

Yes. Every client signs a contract with me. Don’t worry, it’s not scary. It is more to outline the work that I’m doing for you in exchange for money. It protects you to make sure you get what you want and it protects me in case we need to add scope.

What is WordPress?

All of my websites are built on WordPress which, I believe, is the best content management system available and allows you to update the content yourself. WordPress is currently the most popular content management system used on the internet. It powers about 1 in every 4 websites. Not only is it powerful for bloggers, it is also a great choice for businesses that need to update their content regularly and want to do it themselves so they don’t have to pay a web developer to update it. You can learn more about why I choose WordPress on my blog.

Will I be able to update my website myself?

Yes! This is the main reason why I use WordPress. Clients have full flexibility to add new content and update existing content on their website. Warning – you do need a bit of technical know-how as it’s a bit of a learning curve and I’m here to walk you through it. If you’re tech-savvy it won’t be a problem at all! Please weigh the pros and cons of hiring me to do the updates post-launch. I know your website inside and out and guarantee I will be faster at doing the updates. I’ve seen clients have good intentions about updating their sites only to get frustrated and overwhelmed then don’t bother updating their website.

After my website is launched, who will do the website maintenance and backups?

You decide! You can do it yourself or we are happy to be your go-to web devs. Since I already know your website frontwards and backwards, I am happy to provide on-going maintenance after the project is complete. I have various monthly packages depending on your needs. WordPress is like a kid even though it never leaves home – it needs to be taken care of and updated very regularly to prevent spam, hackers, and security leaks. (See the point about updating your website yourself.)

What payment structure do you have?

Payment structures may vary depending on the project. I accept payments via cheque, credit card, PayPal or e-money transfer. All invoices are delivered via FreshBooks and you choose how to pay them. Projects are quoted on a fixed price and work over and above the contract is billed at an hourly rate.

+ Logo & Branding projects – 2 payments: 50% due upon contract signing and 50% due at the end of the project.

+ Branding & Website projects – 4 payments: 25% deposit upon signing the service agreement, 25% after logo+brand design, 25% after web design, and 25% before launching of the website.

Will my page be ranked #1 in Google and other search engines?

I provide basic on-page Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to ensure that your website is setup to be found by search engines. While I can do everything within my power to set you up for success, I cannot guarantee the hamsters that power the internet will rank you at the number one spot. It takes time, great content and a bit of internet magic for your site to get found. There are so many factors that go into SEO – how often your website is updated, the content, how fast your page loads, backlinks, etc., I can’t possibly do it all.

Does the project price include photography?

No. You’re responsible for all of your own photos, including your headshots, blog images, and supporting photography. I have awesome people to get the job done. I can also do a lot with stock photos (free or paid).

Will you write my copy for me?

I write code, not copy. I can provide guidance but you’re the one who needs to write it – from your heart so your audience knows it’s coming from you and a place of service. Or even better, hire a professional copywriter to do it for you. I have recommendations for awesome people.

How many refinements do I get on my project?

My standard contract includes 2 refinements each on your brand design and your website mockups. I present you with a design and we discuss changes or refinements you’d like to see. A refinement is a consolidated list via email on the changes you’d like. All details are must be signed off before I code your website so there are no programming surprises for me.

What is the one-concept method?

The one-concept method is how I do your brand design and your web design. This means I spend a huge amount of time discussing strategy, your vision, and where we’re headed. By the time I get to the design phase, it’s clear what will make your brand stand out and be successful. I present one brand concept to you and I make refinements (small adjustments) in the feedback process. Some goes for your website concepts. I present one home page design and we refine from there. Trust me, this is a much better process than giving you endless options and us making a franken-design out of all of them.

 
 

Have a question you don’t see on this list? Please send me a note!

 

Contact me