website design

6 Reasons to Hire a Designer (Plus a Bonus)

6 Reasons to Hire a Designer | Lemon and the Sea: There comes a time in business when you should consider hiring a designer, even if you've DIYed your brand before. Designers can help you build upon your current brand and better reach your clients without having to figure it out on your own.

Hiring a designer can really help you build a brand and website that reach your audience and reflect your business. Of course, I'm all for figuring out things on your own when you're just starting your business, but as your business grows, it can make sense to hire out tasks, including design so that you can focus on working on your business.

1. Designers are Experts

Just like you might hire a Virtual Assistant, Copywriter, or Accountant because of their expertise in a field that you aren't as familiar with, you hire a designer for the same reason. Of course, you need to check out a designer before deciding to hire them to make sure that they are going to be professional and deliver what they say they can (check out their portfolio, testimonials, and blog posts), but once you find a solid designer, they can complete the work a lot faster and make it super simple for you to make updates in the future (if that's what you're looking for).

You also need to figure out what you want help with - not all designers do everything. Some just offer brand design, other website design, and others will create packages that include both. You also want to consider the platform that you want to use (such as Squarespace or Wordpress) and find a designer who focuses on that platform.

Many designers have a degree, but not all do. In order to really get a sense of the level of design, make sure to check out their portfolio and ask if you can talk to any previous clients. Even if a designer doesn't have a graphic design degree (mine is in Architecture), they still may have design education that really contributes to their work.

2. Designers can push you

Before I start the actual design work on any project, I give my clients some pretty in-depth and thought-provoking questionnaires. Now, some of the questions are simple, like what colors they like, but others are designed to push past just visual trends into a deeper understanding of my client's business. These include "how you you connect with your ideal clients?" "how is your process unique?" and "what do you want your branding to accomplish?"

By asking these questions, I help my clients dig into their business and really think about what they need out of a brand or website. Many of my clients come back with answers that they didn't expect because they had never thought of those questions before.

3. Designers can see past today

This can be true of a lot of professions - coaches, copywriters, etc. - but I find that as a designer, I have a great outside perspective into my client's business. I get familiar with their message, their ideal audience, and how they work, so that I can tailor their brand and website towards the future instead of where they are today.

For example, if a client wants a website and doesn't think they want e-commerce, I try to think of anything that might need to be sold online in the future. I don't do this because I think they should sell that way (although for many businesses it makes sense), but because I want to build a website that can accommodate growth in the future.

4. Designers become a member of your team

Depending on the designer you hire, many offer priority spots to previous clients. This means that even after your larger project in complete, you can come back to your designer and have them help you with a smaller project without a long wait. Of course, you have to pay for the work, but it can be really helpful to have a designer you can count on who already knows your brand and can build upon it instead of having to go over everything with someone new.

Many of my previous clients consider me as a part of their larger team and they know that if they need something designed, they can reach out. And because I already know their brand and business, I can quickly turn around the project. They don't have to worry about how they're going to design something when they would rather be focusing on growing their business.

5. Designers go past templates

It's no secret that I love Squarespace for website design because it's so easy for my clients to learn, but Squarespace does have some limitations in it's template design. That's why I work hard to customize every website to fit my client's larger brand instead of just accepting the template's limitations. (I wrote a post about some custom CSS you can use on your Squarespace website here.) I may not be able to work around everything - although I will try - but I can do a lot of custom work that transforms a template into a website that represents my client's business.

6. Designers save you time and money

This may seem a little counter-intuitive at first because hiring a designer can be an investment, but it can ultimately save you lots of time, money, and frustration. Most of my clients come to me when they are fed up with trying to build a consistent brand and website on their own. Many are using website builders that either require coding knowledge or have very little flexibility. When I come on board, I'm ready to go on their project because I already have the knowledge I need to build their brand or website (and if I don't, I'm using my time, not their's to figure it out).

Of course, the up front investment can seem like a lot because not only do you have to pay for good design, but you also have to be available to work with your designer and give feedback, but in the end, you get very clear guidelines on using your brand assets and a clean, user-friendly website with a back-end that you can understand.

Designers keep your brand consistent

In a world full of brands and visuals, staying consistent is extremely important if you want people to begin to recognize your work. A designer helps you with that - from setting a color and font palette to laying out exactly how you should use your design assets - your designer will set you up for success.

When I design for my clients, I always design with templates in mind. That way, when they need to update a blog post image or are planning a yearly event, they can use the work I've already done and simply update it with the new information. This keeps everything looking consistent with the rest of their brand with very little effort.

And when it comes to website design, I make sure that all the fonts and colors are set to match their brand so that they don't have to figure out what to use where. Every page is going to be similar to the last (at least in terms of basic design), so that even if they want a sales page that stands out, it still feels like part of the overall site.

Tips for finding a designer

When you're ready to hire a designer to help you build your brand or website, there are a few basic things to look for.

  • Check out their work. And not just what's in their portfolio, but also what they share on Instagram, their blog, and what you see on their previous client's websites.
  • Take a look at their services. Before you fall in love with a designer, make sure that they offer the types of services that you need. Some designers offer a wide range of options while others stick to just one thing.
  • Learn their process. Many designers have a specific process laid out for their projects. You want to find out how they communicate with you, how involved you will be, and when you can reach them. If you work a 9 to 5, but your designer only has meeting times available while you're at work, it could be difficult to work together.
  • Get to know them. If you're interested in working with a designer, make sure that you talk to them before signing the contract. I always set up a Skype meeting with interested clients before getting into pricing and contracts so that we can get to know one another and make sure we vibe.
  • Ask questions. I encourage my clients and anyone interested in working with me to ask questions. This helps me learn about how they think and what their needs are and it helps you to get the assurance that the designer you hire can do what you need. Don't be afraid to ask questions and listen to how they are answered (even if the answer is "I don't know," you should feel that the person you hire will find out for you).

If you're looking for a designer to help you dig into your brand and help you take your business to the next level, check out my services and see if I would be a good fit for your project.


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.


How to Use the Squarespace Image Block

How to Use the Squarespace Image Block

One of my favorite parts about being a Squarespace designer is that I am a member of the Squarespace Circle. While that isn't necessary to do my job, it does allow me to find out what updates Squarespace is making and experiment with my (on my website and on client sites) before they are released to everyone else. (The other big benefit is that I have a six month trial on all new websites instead of just 14 days.)

Sometime this is beneficial - I knew when Squarespace was beta-testing PayPal integration and when fixes are made - but it can also be  detrimental when I know of a new update and can't share it with other Squarespace users just yet.

One update that I am excited about - and that many people were looking forward to - is the new Squarespace Image Block and the options available for adding text to images without a separate design program.

Basically, the Image Block now allows you to add text to images in a variety of ways instead of just as a caption below or in an overlay. Plus, the design settings for each option are controlled separately, so you can change them for each type of image you use.

If you haven't experimented with the new Image Block options, here is an overview - including the settings you can update in the Design > Style Editor menu. 

 
Inline Image Block

Inline Image Block

Image Block: Inline

Display an image with optional caption

  • Caption font matches paragraph font settings
  • Do Not Display Caption
  • Caption Below
  • Caption Overlay
  • Caption Overlay on Hover
 

Poster

with subtitle

Image Block: Poster

Display an image with text overlaying it

  • Text Alignment - left, right, center
  • Title Font
  • Title Color
  • Inline Link Color
  • Title Separation - the space between the title and subtitle
  • Image Overlay Color - color filter over image
  • Content Width - the width of the text
  • Title Background Color - optional color behind the title text
 

Card Image Block

with subtitle

Image Block: Card

Display an image with the text aligned to the right or left

  • Dynamic Font Sizing (On/Off) - resizes the text based on the browser
  • Content Position - top, center, bottom
  • Text Alignment - left, center, right, match (aligns title and subtitle on the same side of the image), opposite (aligns title and subtitle on the opposite side of the image),
  • Image Width
  • Title Font
  • Title Color
  • Subtitle Font
  • Subtitle Color
  • Inline Link Color
  • Title Separation - the space between the title and subtitle
  • Card Background Color - color that displays behind the caption
  • Card Padding - spacing on either side of the caption
  • Card Separation - space between image and card background
  • Image Overlay Color - color filter over image
  • Title Background Color - optional color behind the title text
 
haute-chocolate-styled-stock-photography-brights-workday-17.jpg

Overlap Image Block

with subtitle

Image Block: Overlap

Display an image on one side with text on the other, partially overlapping the image

  • Optional background color
  • Dynamic Font Sizing (On/Off) - resizes the text based on the browser
  • Content Position - top, center, bottom
  • Text Alignment - left, center, right, match (aligns title and subtitle on the same side of the image), opposite (aligns title and subtitle on the opposite side of the image),
  • Image Width
  • Title Overlap - how much the title overlaps the image
  • Title Font
  • Title Color
  • Subtitle Font
  • Subtitle Color
  • Inline Link Color
  • Title separation - the space between the title and subtitle
  • Image overlay color - color filter over image
  • Title background color - optional color behind the title text
 

Collage Image Block

with subtitle

Image Block: Collage

Display an image on one side and text over a background “card” overlapping the image

  • Dynamic Font Sizing (On/Off) - resizes the text based on the browser
  • Content Position - top, center, bottom
  • Text Alignment - left, center, right, match (aligns title and subtitle on the same side of the image), opposite (aligns title and subtitle on the opposite side of the image),
  • Image Width
  • Content Width - the width of the caption
  • Content Offset - how much the caption overlays the image
  • Title Font
  • Title Color
  • Subtitle Font
  • Subtitle Color
  • Inline Link Color
  • Title Separation - the space between the title and subtitle
  • Card Background
  • Card Padding - space on either side of the caption
  • Image Overlay Color - color filter over image
 

Stack Image Block

with subtitle

Image Block: Stack

Display an image with text below

  • Optional background color
  • Dynamic Font Sizing (On/Off) - resizes the text based on the browser
  • Text Alignment - left, center, right, match (aligns title and subtitle on the same side of the image), opposite (aligns title and subtitle on the opposite side of the image),
  • Title Font
  • Title Color
  • Subtitle Font
  • Subtitle Color
  • Inline link Color
  • Title Separation - the space between the title and subtitle
  • Card Background
  • Card Padding - space on either side of the caption
  • Image Overlay Color - color filter over image

To-Do for You: Try out the Squarespace Image Block and take advantage of the SEO boost that having actual text instead of an image of text can give you.


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.


My Favorite Squarespace Customization Tutorials

My Favorite Squarespace Customization Tutorials | Lemon and the Sea

One of my favorite things about Squarespace website design is that I can customize so much of a website while still maintaining the clean design of the platform.

But I don't figure all that customization out on my own. There are lots of great designers out there who are sharing how they have customized Squarespace, so I like to take advantage of their generous sharing to use for my own designs.

These are some of my favorite customizations and how I've used them both for my own website and for clients:

Adding a Custom Font to Squarespace from MunoSpace - This is a fantastic post if you're interested in adding a custom font (not from Google or Typekit) to your Squarespace website. It does involve some Custom CSS, but the instructions are easy to follow - just make sure the font you want to use is a Webfont. I used this tutorial to change one of the heading fonts on Stag and Lily Event Co. to match the logo design.

 

How to Create an Accordian Menu from Forth and Create - This customization may seem difficult since it includes Custom CSS, Javascript, and a Markdown Block, but the instructions are easy to follow. I used this customization on quote a few pages for Ronsen Consulting so we could display a lot of in-depth information in a way that is interactive and legible.

 

Adding Domain and Email Aliases with G Suite from Squarespace Answers - This tutorial, which is actually the answer to a question in Squarespace's forum is extremely helpful if you have two domains for your website and want to receive emails to both without setting up and paying for two G Suite accounts. I used this to help Nicole at Stag and Lily Event Co. transition her domain name and email address.

How to Use Index Pages in Squarespace from Lemon and the Sea - This tutorial walks you through how I used Index pages and Custom CSS to create the new look for my website, Lemon and the Sea.

 

Squarespace SEO Tricks You Should be Using from Lemon and the Sea - I created this tutorial to help bust the myth that Squarespace can't have good SEO and to share the tricks I've learned through setting up basic SEO on all my client websites.

Squarespace Hack: Customize Your Contact Form from Forth and Create - This easy-to-follow tutorial uses Custom CSS to customize Squarespace forms so they better fit your brand. I use this on most client websites, including Candice Prentice's author website.

How to Create a Gallery in Squarespace from Lemon and the Sea - Galleries are one of my favorite tools in Squarespace, especially for small businesses that need to show a lot of images. I used this tutorial to help Jennifer at CAVdesign create her portfolio, as well as for Kate Phillips Events in a brief Squarespace customization consultation.

 
 

Customizing Squarespace with CSS Tricks from My Billie Designs  - this post covers a few different CSS Customizations you can use to make your website more unique.

Custom CSS for Menu/Recipe Design from Meg Summerfield  - The menu block isn't one I use often in website design, so I was thrilled to find this tutorial that allowed me to customize the block for use as a recipe display on Candice Prentice's Recipe Blog.

 

3 Ways to Have a ‘Tweet This’ Quote on Your Squarespace Website from Kreanille Design  - If you've ever wanted to add a "Tweet This" link on your Squarespace website, this post will show you a few options for creating one. I used this on my blog for a while before I began to focus more on Instagram and Pinterest.

How to Customize the Read More Link on Squarespace Blog Post Excerpts from Megan Minns - I haven't used this tutorial yet, but I'm excited to. Megan explains in detail how to customize your Read More links in blog posts so that they are more visible and fit your brand.

To-Do for You: Check out Squarespace tutorials (Pinterest is a great place to find them) and see how you can make your website your own.


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.


7 Little Known Squarespace Tricks

7 Little Known Squarespace Tricks | Lemon and the Sea

Part of the reason I love using Squarespace so much for website design is that there are quite a few ways to customize your site without having to be a designer or developer. This is especially helpful because almost all of my clients come to me because they have no idea how to design a website on their own, but they want to be able to make basic changes once the website is live.

These are some of my favorite tricks to make designing on Squarespace easier and think outside of the restrictions you might have with the template you’ve chosen.

1. Duplicating a Page

This is one of my favorite tricks (I share it with all my clients), but most people have no idea it’s possible. You can easily duplicate any regular page on your website by opening the page settings, scrolling to the bottom, and clicking Duplicate Page. Then you just need to rename it, place it where it needs to be, and start editing.

I use this feature to create page templates that my clients can then duplicate to make adding new pages or projects easy. This really comes in handy when you have a portfolio with different project pages – you want them to have the same layout, but it can take a long time to recreate a page full of images each time you feature a new project.

You can also duplicate pages if you want to update your design without having the changes go live as soon as you save. Simply duplicate the page you want to work on and move it under Unlinked Pages in the side menu. Then you can change anything you want without worrying about your visitors seeing all sorts of crazy changes.

2. Adding Custom CSS to One Page

If you want to really customize your Squarespace website, custom CSS is a great way to get the look you want without having to be a website developer. (If you want to learn more about Custom CSS, check this post out. )But sometimes you want customizations on one page instead of throughout your website.

To add Custom CSS to one page at a time, simply open the page settings, go to the Advanced tab, and paste your CSS into the Page Header Code Injection area. You will need to make sure your code is read by adding Style tags like this, <style>/* Insert Custom CSS Here */</style>, but otherwise it works the same as the Custom CSS section.

You can also add Javascript, metatags, or other custom code to the Page Header Code Injection area to further customize your Squarespace website. (To see how I use this section to build my SEO, check out this post [http://www.lemonandthesea.com/blog/squarespace-seo-tricks-you-should-be-using].)

3. Creating a Faux Sidebar

While I love Squarespace, there are some limitations based on the template you choose. One of the biggest is that there is very little flexibility in how a blog displays.

For example, I recently had a client who wanted her blog page to be very simple and streamlined with the blog post thumbnail and excerpt laid out in columns. Because of her template, there was no way to create that look using her current template (even with Custom CSS).

Instead, we found a solution by creating a regular page and adding a Summary Block to display her blog posts. The problem with this? There was now no sidebar.

This is where Squarespace’s column design comes in handy – I was able to create a faux sidebar by lining up all the items in her previous sidebar and making them only a few columns wide. Then the Sumamry Block with here posts could look the way she wanted and the page still looked like the blog visitors see when they open a post to read more.

If you want to see how this works, check out Maggie Richard’s new website design featuring a custom designed page for her main blog.

4. Adding Permissions

Have you ever shared your Squarespace user name and password with someone who needs to access your website? You don’t have to!

Squarespace has built in a really great (and easy) system for adding people to your website with different permissions based on what they need access to. Check out my in-depth tutorial on how to set permissions and the different types of users you can have on your Squarespace website.

Just a note – on the Personal plan, you can only add one other person to your account, so if you have multiple people who need to access your website, you will need to upgrade to a Business plan.

5. Using a Cover Page instead of LeadPages

One of the reasons that I’m willing to pay a little more for Squarespace than I might for WordPress is that I can cut out other plugins and services.

LeadPages has become a very popular tool lately because it allows you to easily get people onto your email list (or signed up for your event) with great analytics and a high conversion rate. But if you’re on a budget or just starting out, LeadPages may seem overwhelming.

That’s where I like to use Squarespace Cover Pages. You can create a great looking landing page in just a few minutes that’s hosted on your website and doesn’t cost anything extra. Then you can set it up to connect to your email list, send people to a PayPal link, or anything else you want to do.

For a tutorial on how to create a Cover Page in Squarespace, check out this post[http://www.lemonandthesea.com/blog/creating-a-cover-page-in-squarespace]. It even includes a video tutorial from my Tutorial Library.

6. Changing the Squarespace Block Spacing

One of the biggest complaints I get from clients using Squarespace is that the blocks are all too far apart. While Squarespace does this on purpose to add white space to the design, sometimes it is too much for what you’re trying to accomplish, especially since each block has padding around it that can add up.

The solution for this is simple if you just add a little Custom CSS to your website. Go to Design > Custom CSS and add this code into the CSS block. You can adjust the margin numbers based on your design, but I’ve found that there work well to still allow for space while reducing it enough that your design doesn’t look too spread out.

/*SS Block Size*/

.sqs-block {margin-top: -5px; margin-bottom: -5px;}

There is also Custom CSS you can add to individual block types to adjust the spacing on those further, but that can vary by template.

7. Connecting Social Media Accounts

Did you know that Squarespace makes it really simple to connect to and share on your social media profiles?

Simply go to Settings > Connected Accounts and add any social media accounts you want to display (add them in the order you want them to appear). Then allow Squarespace to connect to your account and changes any settings as needed.

Now, when you add a Social Links block, the icons for those social platforms will display and will automatically link to your profile or page.

Here’s one more tip if you are trying to connect to a Facebook Business page: You will need to sign into Facebook with your regular account and then change the Push Target to the page you want blog posts to post to and update the Profile URL so it links to your business page instead of defaulting to your personal page.

To-Do for You: Check out your own Squarespace website and see if you can take advantage of any of these little known tricks.


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.


Why You Need a Professional Website for a Word of Mouth Business

Why You Need a Professional Website for a Word of Mouth Business | Lemon and the Sea

Have you ever looked up a restaurant you heard great things about only to find an out-of-date website (or no website at all)? I know that I have. And while I may be more picky than most, I usually choose not to eat at that restaurant. It’s not that I don’t trust the person who referred me, but that I like to check things out for myself.

Recently, a client came to me in need of an updated website. Her business was thriving and she was booking new clients faster than she imagined through word-of-mouth referrals, but she wanted to appear more professional when people searched for her online.

Referrals are great – and my business is built on them – but it’s important that you don’t let a word-of-mouth business tempt you into letting your website remain less than professional. (If you’re just starting out, I totally support your DIY-ing it until you’re ready to invest in working with a designer.) You want your website to support the recommendations you’re receiving.

These are a few reasons why having a professional website is so important:

Have a Home

Your website is the online home of your business. And in an age where everyone is searching online, that home needs to reflect what you do and who you work with.

If you’re currently building your business based only on social media platforms, you really need to create a website as well. While social media is a great way to build community and share your work, it doesn’t belong to you. Facebook can shut your account down at any time, even if you didn’t do anything wrong, or they can decrease your reach so you have to pay for ads to continue growing.

A website is something you own and you can change it as needed to reflect your business. You can also use your social media to direct people to your website where they can more easily get in contact with you so that you can find more of your dream clients.

Build Trust

People judge a business based on it’s website. There’s no way around that, so you need to have a website that looks professional and trustworthy.

Your website should reflect your brand, be authentic to your voice, and provide value to visitors so that they can know and trust you before they even get in touch with you about working together.

Building trust can be done is many ways, including:

  • Creating and sharing content
  • Posting consistently
  • Sharing images of yourself (head shots and at work)
  • Featuring testimonials and projects
  • Making it easy to navigate

The best websites will have all of these things, and you should be checking every few months to make sure they are all up-to-date.

Find Dream Clients

A well-designed website will show your dream clients that you’re the perfect fit for them (and it will turn off those not-so-dreamy clients so you don’t have to).

This is where your portfolio becomes really important – you want show work that you want to be hired for, not just every project you’ve completed. Here are a few tips to help you curate a portfolio that gets you hired:

  • Only share work you loved and want more of
  • Include a testimonial from the client along with a head shot
  • Talk about some of the details of what you did and how that benefited your client
  • Include a link to a blog post with more of the story if applicable

You can also make it really easy for visitors to know who it is you work with by telling them who your dream client is. Making a list of things your dream client loves, believes, and does is a great way to do.

The overall goal of your website is to get your dream clients to hire you and to turn others away for you so you don't have to say no.

Share Important Information

We all have information that we would like our clients (or other vendors) to know before they work with us and it can be exhausting to share that each and every time someone asks.

You can use your website (especially your blog) to education clients about the most important information, answer your frequently asked questions, and let people get to know who you are before they hire you.

By sharing this information freely and openly, you let visitors know that you’re an expert in your industry and that you provide even more value if they hire you.

Move to the Future

You can grow and expand a website as your business grows and changes.

They are easy to update (especially compared to paper documents), help you reach more potentials clients, and can help you build an audience over time so that you always have people supporting you.

While you may not know what services you want to offer in the future, a professional website will be able to expand with you so that you aren’t limited by the platform.

To-Do For You: If you don't already have a website, look into Squarespace. It makes it really easy to DIY a website until you're ready to invest in a working with a designer.

If you have a website, but you think it needs some improvements so that you can get hired by your dream clients, book a FREE website assessment with me. During this 20 minute assessment we'll

  • Review your website together
  • Talk about ways you can tweak your website to attract your dream clients
  • Come up with three simple updates you can make today

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.