design

How I Design with Clients Instead of For Them

How I Design with Clients Instead of For Them | Lemon and the Sea: A step-by-step look at my design process and how it helps creative entrepreneurs build businesses that support the life they want to live.

When I'm investing a lot of time and money into something, I want to know that I'm going to get what I need out of it. 

We've recently begun the process of searching for our first home (yay!) and have taken a lot of time to find a realtor that we want to work with through the process. I want someone who will communicate with me throughout our time together, will let me know what to do when, and will be there to check in with me if something falls through the cracks - because I'm busy and I have never been through this before.

Brand and website design with you in mind

Brand and website design is a big investment of both time and money.

I know that you're busy . I know that you don't want to invest in something and not get the results you expected - or even worse, have someone totally disappear on you, which is why I've worked hard to create a process that allows me to work closely with my clients through a process that can be overwhelming.

From the initial inquiry email to the project hand-off and on-going support options, I want to work with my clients instead of designing for them.

On-Boarding

Whenever I start chatting with someone about potentially working on their brand and website design, I like to give some information upfront to help them get an idea of what I do and what to expect - without flooding them with information over a phone call or email.

Instead, I send out a Working with Us PDF that includes information like who I am, what I do, and some fun information about me and Lemon and the Sea. Then, I have my Sales Slides PDF which goes more in-depth about who I work with, what I offer, and answers to some frequently asked questions. I'm sure this can seem overwhelming at first, but by having everything in PDF format (instead of trying to jot down notes as fast as possible), potential clients can learn more about Lemon and the Sea on their schedule.

Because they're busy and would probably rather be spending time with their families instead of emailing a thousand questions back and forth.

Staying Organized

Once a client decides to hire me (celebration time!), I have a simple Getting Started PDF and I get them set up with an Asana project that outline each step we'll take together and when everything is due. That way, they know exactly what to expect from me and what I need from them.

I also have an in-house version of the project in Asana that keeps me on track and outline every step of the project. This allows me to stay organized without my clients seeing all the behind-the-scenes tasks that they don't need to complete (because you really don't need to see link testing and every type of mobile device being developed individually).

Branding Exercises

And of course, branding exercises come next. I've developed a series of worksheets that help my clients dig into their businesses and share what they need with me. The goal is that they walk away with a brand and website that reflects who they are, helps them grow their business, and allows them to live the life they love - and these help us get there.

Each worksheet focuses on a different part of business - from design to dream client - and helps me get to know what my client needs from their website and where to go when designing their brand.

Getting to Work

After the branding exercises are complete and I've reviewed them with my clients, they get to relax a bit while I get to work designing. I always start with brand design - mood board, color palette, and logo design - because these will be used throughout the rest of the process.

What makes my process different is that I love including my clients in the design. We set up Skype calls to review the concepts, give feedback, and see design adjustments in real time. I want each client to get the brand they've been dreaming of - not the one I want to design.

After brand design is complete, I get started on the website - choosing a template, laying out the main pages, and styling everything. Then I send it off to my client to review - with a Skype call again - and make adjustments. Then I finalize everything, test it out, and launch the website.

After Launch

After each launch, I offer two weeks of post-launch support for the little tweaks that come up and options for on-going support so that I'm available to my clients as they need me - for new ideas, updates, or additional design work.

I also have a library of video tutorials to walk you through making changes yourself.

My ultimate goal isn't to design, launch, and walk away - I want to give my clients the brand and website they've been dreaming of and be there to cheer them on as their business grows.

I've found that this process of organizing projects and offering design review calls allows my clients to work with me on their design - giving feedback as the design progresses - instead of being surprised at the end of the project with something that isn't what they were envisioning. After all, branding is a big investment of both time and money, but in the end it's something that will help you build a business that supports the lifestyle you want.

Ready to update your brand and website?

I'd love to get to know you and your business to see how I can help you reach those big dreams. Check out my services or email me to learn more.


Lemon and the Sea is a brand and website design company located in Richmond, VA. I specialize in making the branding process personal. I work with creative women who have a heart to serve others grow their businesses so they can focus on what's most important - family.   I work closely with small businesses to help them dig into what makes them unique, share their vision, and build a business that genuinely represents who they are.


New Brand and Website for Stag & Lily Event Company

New Brand and Website for Stag & Lily Event Company | Lemon and the Sea: Luxe Boho Chic brand and  custom Squarespace website for event planner in Richmond, VA. Earthy, classic, sophisticated to reach both brides and grooms.

Each time I get to launch a new brand and website for a client, it's a celebration! We've both put in lots of hard work digging into the business and design to create something that really speaks to my client's ideal client and then it's time to put it out into the world. This project was extra special because I was able to work with someone in Richmond, which meant meeting in person and Starbucks and seeing each other around town throughout the design process.

Nicole is a wife, mom, and event planner located in Richmond, Virginia with a passion for making her weddings special for both the bride and groom. After a year of growing her business on word of mouth, Nicole was ready to invest in a brand and website that would help her reach her dream client and grow with her business and she expands to build a team and teach workshops.

One of the wonderful things about working with Samantha is that she is extremely organized and timeline oriented. You will never have to wait on her to get a project done. I would recommend her to anyone needing extra help developing their vision, especially if you’re on a tight timeline and Samantha is available. I would definitely suggest hiring her as your designer to get you exactly what you want. She’s very accessible and makes it easy to schedule phone calls and meetings with her about your ongoing project and goes above and beyond to make sure you are happy with the progress.
— Nicole | Stag & Lily

At the beginning of every project, I send a few questionnaires so that I can really get to know my client - what their story is, why they do what they do, who they serve, and what makes them stand out. Here are a few of Nicole's answers:

What is the story behind your business?

"About 3 years after planning my Destination Wedding and helping other friends and family in their own planning journey, I began to think about how often  the wedding day is taken for granted, yet it should be the most important day of your life. You get one chance to do it right and have it be the perfect balance of you and your partner. I started to think that this would be something I would love to do professionally and be a part of helping couples create and plan this special day. This is also how I chose the name Stag and Lily. For me, it originates out of the Bible book Song of Solomon, which is essentially a love song between a man and a woman. He compares her to a Lily among thorns and she likens him to a beautiful Stag in the field. The name represents the meeting and balance of feminine and masculine, which is what I strive to help create for each client. I make sure that each client or set of clients is represented within the final product." 

What do you do that no one else does?

"I go above and beyond what is contracted of me, always. If I can do something that will ease a little bit of stress or make the day better, I will always try to do it, because why not? 

I also challenge myself to find the things that make a couple unique, even if they haven't brought it to my attention right away or don't realize that it's something that could really stand out and be memorable at their event. For example, I did a wedding for a Nigerian couple and soccer is really big culturally and in their family. She didn't want to do the traditional boring guest book so as surprise to her husband, we did Soccer Balls as the guest book, with Nigerian and American Flags on them. It was a hit and was true to them."

How do you connect with your ideal clients?

"From the moment I meet with them or they reach out to me, I try to figure out what connects us. I believe we are in some way connected to every person we meet. I find out what that is and talk to them about it a little more. Whether it's a personal story (but too personal), something funny, or even an opinion or a question about what they are talking about. I do whatever I can to form a genuine connection that they will feel "touched" by and remember me for it later. I want them to feel like on any other day or in any other setting, we could be friends and enjoy a glass of wine together. I want them to trust me."

The Pain Points

When Nicole and I started working together, she had tried working with another designer to create a logo for her business, but she didn't feel like it truly reflected her business. She felt like she needed something, so she went ahead with that design and created a landing page to connect with clients, but it felt lacking. After growing her business for a year and focusing on creating a great client experience, she was ready to invest in a brand and website that would speak to her ideal client and felt true to who she is.

  • She needed a website that displayed her work and helped her reach her dream clients - while still being easy to manage and update
  • She wanted to make more money and expand her business to eventually include other planners, workshops, and courses
  • She wanted to double her business revenue and become a preferred vendor on national wedding websites
  • She wanted to stop attracting clients who didn't fit her style and price point and focus on those she could serve best
Samantha was able to adapt her process to how my brain works when it comes to design. Going into it, I had a general idea of what I wanted everything to look like but had a hard time overthinking specifics. I am very visual person and so she made sure that I was able to see my options before making final decisions at various stages of the branding process - from choosing my color palette, fonts, graphics, website layout, and overall visual aesthetic of both my brand and website - I never felt pressured to make a decision and just settle. Samantha made the revision aspect of every part of the project, very easy and took every care to make sure I was happy with my brand. It was important to her that it would be the best reflection of what I wanted my company to “look” like - and making my brand as timeless as possible.
— Nicole | Stag & Lily

The Process

Nicole described the brand she was envisioning as earthy, luxe bohemian, west coast, stunning, minimalist, sophisticated, chic, classic, fresh, and striking. She wanted to incorporate greens, creams, and other earthy tones that could speak to both the bride and groom.

We started the process by creating a Mood Board that incorporated images and colors from her branding Pinterest board and pulled together the feeling she wanted for her brand. Once that was set, we began working on her logo design with a few options.

Logo Design for Stag & Lily Event Company | Lemon and the Sea: Luxe Boho Chic brand and  custom Squarespace website for event planner in Richmond, VA. Earthy, classic, sophisticated to reach both brides and grooms.
Logo Design for Stag & Lily Event Company | Lemon and the Sea: Luxe Boho Chic brand and  custom Squarespace website for event planner in Richmond, VA. Earthy, classic, sophisticated to reach both brides and grooms.
Logo Design for Stag & Lily Event Company | Lemon and the Sea: Luxe Boho Chic brand and  custom Squarespace website for event planner in Richmond, VA. Earthy, classic, sophisticated to reach both brides and grooms.

Each logo concept offered something a little different and Nicole had a difficult time choosing which she liked best. After refining and working together, we created a logo that combined masculine and feminine, but still maintained the classic, chic look she wanted.

The Final Brand

Nicole's final brand is made up of a main logo, an alternative logo, and two icons that she can use throughout her business collateral. The color palette is clean, simple, and earthy, while still maintaining a feminine feel.

Logo Design for Stag & Lily Event Company | Lemon and the Sea: Luxe Boho Chic brand and  custom Squarespace website for event planner in Richmond, VA. Earthy, classic, sophisticated to reach both brides and grooms.
Color Palette for Stag & Lily Event Company | Lemon and the Sea: Luxe Boho Chic brand and  custom Squarespace website for event planner in Richmond, VA. Earthy, classic, sophisticated to reach both brides and grooms.
Logo Design for Stag & Lily Event Company | Lemon and the Sea: Luxe Boho Chic brand and  custom Squarespace website for event planner in Richmond, VA. Earthy, classic, sophisticated to reach both brides and grooms.
Logo Design for Stag & Lily Event Company | Lemon and the Sea: Luxe Boho Chic brand and  custom Squarespace website for event planner in Richmond, VA. Earthy, classic, sophisticated to reach both brides and grooms.
Logo Design for Stag & Lily Event Company | Lemon and the Sea: Luxe Boho Chic brand and  custom Squarespace website for event planner in Richmond, VA. Earthy, classic, sophisticated to reach both brides and grooms.

The Website

Nicole's current website was simply a landing page that allowed people to find her on social media or connect via email. She had grown her business through word of mouth so far, but she knew that in order to connect with more of her dream clients, she needed a website that showed her planning skills and her style.

She knew that she could design a basic website herself, but didn't have the time or skill to design something professional that reflected the look she wanted on her own.

Nicole needed to have a website that she could easily update on her own, as well as the ability to add a blog in the future. She also needed an easy way for clients to get in touch with her.

Custom Website Design Home Page for Stag & Lily Event Company | Lemon and the Sea: Luxe Boho Chic brand and  custom Squarespace website for event planner in Richmond, VA. Earthy, classic, sophisticated to reach both brides and grooms.

Her home page is a simple design that immediately communicates her style through a slideshow at the top of the page and directs potential clients to their next steps in getting to know Nicole and her services.

Custom Website Design Portfolio Page for Stag & Lily Event Company | Lemon and the Sea: Luxe Boho Chic brand and  custom Squarespace website for event planner in Richmond, VA. Earthy, classic, sophisticated to reach both brides and grooms.

Because Nicole works in events, it was important that she have an easy way for clients to see her portfolio and the wide range of styles she's worked with. By creating a simple Portfolio page with one image from each wedding, visitors are able to quickly get a glimpse into her work and then choose which they're interested in seeing more of.

Custom Website Design Gallery Page for Stag & Lily Event Company | Lemon and the Sea: Luxe Boho Chic brand and  custom Squarespace website for event planner in Richmond, VA. Earthy, classic, sophisticated to reach both brides and grooms.

Each wedding has it's own gallery page full of Nicole's favorite images from the day. In order to make adding new weddings to her website, I created a template that she can simply drop new images into without having to layout a new page each time.

Custom Website Design Services Page for Stag & Lily Event Company | Lemon and the Sea: Luxe Boho Chic brand and  custom Squarespace website for event planner in Richmond, VA. Earthy, classic, sophisticated to reach both brides and grooms.

It was important that Nicole's Services page be simple and easy to navigate. She offers a wide range of event planning and coverage, so we wanted to make it easy for potential clients to see what she could do for them and then allow her to share more in their conversations.

Custom Website Design Contact Page for Stag & Lily Event Company | Lemon and the Sea: Luxe Boho Chic brand and  custom Squarespace website for event planner in Richmond, VA. Earthy, classic, sophisticated to reach both brides and grooms.

I loved working with Nicole on this project and really felt that we were able to capture her vision through her new brand and website. Because we kept everything simple and designed on Sqaurespace, it's easy for her to add new services and other opportunities as her business grows. Check out Nicole's website to see more.

Samantha’s patience was everything and her flexibility to my schedule, while still exhibiting great work-life balance during our professional relationship was definitely key in keeping me on track. I also really appreciated all of the education she provided about managing a website. She always did her best to make sure I knew how to do something before it even came up and created very helpful tutorial videos with various “How To’s”, specifically using my website.
— Nicole | Stag & Lily

Do you feel like your brand and website aren't truly speaking to your dream client? Have you been so busy building your business that you haven't had time to focus on design? I'd love to learn more about you and see how I can help you achieve your big business goals.

 


Lemon and the Sea is a brand and website design company located in Richmond, VA. I specialize in making the branding process personal. I work with creative women who have a heart to serve others grow their businesses so they can focus on what's most important - family.   I work closely with small businesses to help them dig into what makes them unique, share their vision, and build a business that genuinely represents who they are.


New Website Design for CAVdesign

New Website Design for Interior Designer Jennifer Levy of CAVdesign | Lemon and the Sea

One of my favorite things about designing websites on Squarespace is empowering my clients to be able to update their website after launch. They no longer have to feel like changing a price or adding a portfolio project is a huge project because their new website is easy to update and manage.

I also love working with clients who have a vision for their website and aren't afraid to try a few tricks to get there.

When Jennifer approached me to help her move her current website from WordPress to Squarespace, I was excited to give her a platform that she would be able to update on her own as needed.

The emphasis of CAVdesign is helping regular people create beautiful spaces without having to spend their life savings. Jennifer focuses on making the best use of small spaces and creating a design that is adaptable and reflects her client.

The Pain Points

Jennirder came to me to help her solve a few problems so that she can grow her business and expand her services.

  • She needed a website that was easy to update.
  • She wanted a design that was simple and user-friendly.
  • She needed a way for people to hire and pay her online.
  • She wanted to be able to expand her website with courses and workshops as her business grew.
 
My website was up and running quickly so I could benefit from the new site design. The clarity of Samantha’s communication and rapid turnaround on questions and feedback gave me the confidence she would take care of all the details. She was willing to do her homework to solve any issues, and really listened well to feedback while providing her own input and expertise to collaborate towards a great finished product.”
— Jennifer Levy | CAVdesign
 

Website Design

Because CAVdesign was already established, I didn't start from scratch like on many projects. Instead, I took the current logo, color palette, and brand aesthetic to create a website that was both functional and beautiful.

The most important aspect of the CAVdesign website was to make sure that the interior design projects took center stage, which meant keeping the overall design simple with lots of white space and a minimum amount of text.

In order to create the design we wanted on Squarespace's Montauk template, I created Custom CSS that is used throughout the site, including in the galleries, project pages, quote blocks, and in the thumbnail rollovers.

The vertical image image blocks show off Jennifer's work in the best light and the rotating galleries for each project allow room for captions and make it easy to move from one project to the next.

Brand Collateral

In addition to the Squarespace website design, I also created brand collateral for CAVdesign, including icons, header images, and graphics.

Each of these collateral items build on the established brand to create a cohesive brand presence that's recognizable across all platforms.

I loved working on this project with Jennifer and getting to create a unique design through Squarespace by implementing Custom CSS. CAVdesign's new website is the perfect compliment to display all the wonderful interior design work Jennifer is doing with her clients and will grow with her as she expands her services.


Lemon and the Sea is a brand and website design company located in Richmond, VA. I specialize in making the branding process personal. I work with creative women who have a heart to serve others grow their businesses so they can focus on what's most important - family.   I work closely with small businesses to help them dig into what makes them unique, share their vision, and build a business that genuinely represents who they are.


The Importance of Brand Photography

Brand Photography | Lemon and the Sea: The importance of brand photography and how to work with a brand photographer for your business.

When I first started Lemon and the Sea, I knew that I needed beautiful, eye-catching images for my website and social media, but I had no idea how to get them. I started by taking my own - which weren't bad, but as I'm not a professional photographer they didn't really capture my brand. Then I looked into stock images and mock-up scene creators. Again, both of these worked (and I still use them occasionally), but what I really wanted was a bank of images created specifically for my brand that I knew would be unique and capture the feeling I wanted my visuals to have.

WHY YOU NEED BRAND PHOTOGRAPHY

If you're ready to up your image game, consider hiring a brand photographer. Having your own bank of on-brand images allows you to always have something to share on Instagram or include in your website header without worrying about whether your image has been used by other people.

As a designer, I totally understand the use of stock photography when you need images for your website but don't have the skill to take them yourself. There's a problem with stock images though - they aren't yours - which is why working with a brand photographer to create images specifically for your business has some great advantages.

  • The images match your brand. No matter how hard you search, you're never going to find a stock image that is perfect for your brand. But with a brand photographer, you can communicate your target client, your brand colors, and the feeling you want the images to have so that every image will be tailored to you.
  • The images are unique. Even if you're purchasing a stock image, other people can (and probably will) use that same image. I can't tell you how many times I've visited a website and seen the same stock image as the header that also appears on three or four other websites. With branded images created specifically for you, you never have to worry that someone else will use the image you've worked so hard to create and curate (unless they steal them, in which case you can make them remove the images).
  • The images fit your needs. Another problem with stock photography is that many stock images don't come in a variety of sizes. This means that you're going to have to crop that image differently for your blog post, website header, and Instagram. But when you work with a brand photographer, you can communicate exactly what types of sizes of images that you'll need. That way, you can get a website header that fits the space you have and some great social media images that don't end up having items cropped out.

How to work with a brand photographer

Once you're ready to hire a brand photographer, you need to consider a few things to make sure that you'll receive the images you need.

  • Look at their style. While some brand photographers shoot in a variety of styles, many stick to just one. Take a look at their portfolio to make sure that the images you see fit with what you're envisioning for your own brand. If a photographer only shows dark and saturated images, don't rely on them to take bright flat lays for you.
  • Find out what you get. Don't be afraid to ask questions before hiring someone to take your brand images. For example, you need to know how many images you're guaranteed to receive and in what sizes. You also want to be clear on how you can use these images and how you need to credit the photographer.
  • Head shots, products, and props. Depending on the photographer and your location, you may be able to get different images. If your photographer is local, see if she can also take your head shots and images of your space. Find out how she will take photos of your products (usually you'll have to mail them) and if you can or should provide your own props. Many photographers will include some props in their quote, but if you have something specific to your brand, let them know ahead of time so that it can be included (many of my brand images contain lemons).

Lemon and the Sea is a brand and website design company located in Richmond, VA. I specialize in making the branding process personal. I work with creative women who have a heart to serve others grow their businesses so they can focus on what's most important - family.   I work closely with small businesses to help them dig into what makes them unique, share their vision, and build a business that genuinely represents who they are.


New Brand for Astrid Stars

New Brand for Astrid Stars | Lemon and the Sea: New logo, style guide, and graphics for Astrid Stars, lifestyle blog and business.

When Astrid and I first started talking about her dreams for her future business, I could tell that she was full of passion for the women she wanted to reach. Even the words she used to describe her brand: electric, bright, sassy, free spirited, and girly reflected that passion. I loved working on this project with her and I'm looking forward to seeing her business grow.

Mood Board

As I've said many times, a mood board is like the rule book for a brand. It's the first thing I create and the last thing I check before submitting a design. Astrid and I worked together to put together a mood board that she felt really represented the brand she wanted.

Fonts and Colors

Choosing the colors for Astrid was pretty simple are her mood board was finalized. Choosing fonts was a little more tricky: we wanted to make sure that whatever fonts we used would work on Squarespace without having to spend extra. The color palette is full of bright, vibrant colors and a beautiful gold metallic that work together to give Astrid flexibility and fun.

I choose Roboto, a sans serif font that's already available in Squarespace for her website font. Roboto also complements here logo font so that everything is cohesive.

Logo

I created a few options for Astrid to choose from for her logo. Typically I take one (or more) and refine them a bit to get exactly what my client wants, but in this case, Astrid fell in love with one of the choices exactly as it was.

 
logo2.jpg

Patterns

This part took a little more tweaking because we wanted to create a pattern that was fun and bright, but also neutral enough to use as a background piece in graphics and collateral items. Astrid chose three patterns out of six individual designs.

Brand Collateral

Once we had all the pieces finalized, I got to work on putting them together for Astrid's collateral pieces. She wanted a blog image template, a newsletter template, and a business card design.

Style Guide

As a final step before handing everything over to Astrid, I put together her Style Guide to make sure that she had everything she needed in one place.

Brand Style Guide-01.jpg

I absolutely loved this project and working with Astrid. She was so clear on her audience that the feeling that she wanted her brand to have, which made it easy for me to translate that into visuals that represented her and the unique way that she wants to work.