A new website is a new casa

by Cara Crosetti on November 15, 2014

An interior designer in Florida steps up her design with a big and bold new website.

Casa V Interior’s old website needed more than a facelift. The website didn’t showcase the photos of their body of work well. Nor did it express the eclectic use of color and mix of styles that owner, Mary Margaret Vasquez, adds to each project.

build a new website with spiffy web santa barbara

If you’re going to create a new look, go BIG and BOLD!

A new website is like a new casa for your business

Each interior design project is a chance to mix unexpected styles and colors, while creating an understated look, for each of Casa V’s clients. As Mary Margaret says, “I prefer a vintage dress to a new one because no one else will be wearing the same dress.” And that’s just what Spiffy Web created for Casa V…a website no one else has.

new website by spiffy web

Create a new website and make yourself a new home

After checking the competition, the traditional de riguer website design just didn’t cut it for Mary Margaret. She loves color and wanted her site to really standout. Spiffy Web’s designer created a bold look for each page with a unique color that creates an unexpected experience as you move from page to page.

copy writing for a new webiste spiffy web

This site is a great example of breaking up the text to make readers happy…and Google too.

More than just a big, bold design

Spiffy Web worked with Mary Margaret to learn about past business successes, evolution and why now was the right time for a new website and aspirations for the next phase of where to take the business.

build a blog

Spiffy Web will train you how to write effective blog articles

A big new addition was adding a blog. The time had come to dedicate the necessary effort to writing regular articles. We trained Mary Margaret how to do this effectively and away she went! She’s been learning and expanding her writing horizons too. A great personal development effort alongside a beautiful new website.

After the site launched, Mary Margaret shared this feedback:

“I absolutely love my new website. I can’t believe how amazing it looks. Well, I expected to love it, and that is why I hired you.

Thank you, thank you. I am a customer for life!”

Contact Cara at Spiffy Web to custom design and build your new website.

Don’t let your web developer take you to the cleaners

by Cara Crosetti on December 3, 2013

A case study about affordable web design and development for small businesses. It’s possible.

web developer santa barbara, ca, spiffy web

A good web develop won’t take you to the cleaners

I have a client who found me after they already hired a web design and development agency. I always cringe a little when this happens. It’s a red flag to strategize your website after it’s been designed. Here’s why:

Web design is fun, but it’s not the starting point

It sure it! It’s visual and helps you see what your site will  look like – instant gratification. But don’t be tempted to start here. Designing your website is the second step.

How can you design a website for an excellent user experience without the marketing and business intelligence to tell you what your clients are looking for?

Case Study – My client had a lovely design created without any idea of what type of content or keywords would be used. They designed their navigation without the marketing knowledge that thorough keyword research provides.

Start with keyword research

When I research someone’s industry, competitors and business environment through keyword research before designing a website, my clients learn valuable, factual information to help them make sound, objective business decisions that lay a solid foundation about how their business will appear online.

For example, which keywords can you compete for to outrank your competitors? How do these keywords play into your URL and navigation? How can you structure your site to deliver what your customers are looking for online?

Case Study — As a result of my keyword research, my client changed their navigation to deliver what their prospective clients are looking for and what Google needs to help them be found. They also removed an unnecessary photo gallery (which also saved some money) and enhanced an interactive map.

Design around the content

When your content and strategy is developed with your customer in mind, your design can support your site’s purpose.

If you don’t take this approach, you are sure to design a website that you love because you made the subjective design decisions based on what you like, yet may not connect with what your audience is looking for. Don’t get caught in a trap of doing what you like. Put your clients’ needs first.

Case Study – After making some design changes, like removing unnecessary blocks of content, a photo gallery and archives (this was a new website and my client didn’t have the history to quantify building an archive just yet), they had a clean design that focused on what their audience needs.

Don’t let your web developer take you to the cleaners

Web developers are very important people in the process of turning your website dreams into a reality. However, they are more focused on site architecture and technology than your business’ marketing strategy.

Case Study – The web design and development agency hired by my client churned out a look and functionality that wasn’t custom to their needs. Unfortunately, they charged an arm and a leg for generating generic work that could have suited any industry.

Sadly, they overcharged enormously for a design that was no better than a template look. They also over-processed the development of the website, meaning they applied a development process geared toward a large corporate site to justify the expense. This only forced too much cost onto a small business.

Additionally, the agency lacked a consistent point of contact or project manager, education along the way and a commitment to a timeline. Education is key!

Contact Cara at Spiffy Web, a web developer that puts you and your clients first.




Hold your web development agency accountable for education

by Cara Crosetti on November 25, 2013

You’re not a web expert. Why should you be? Hire a web development agency to guide and educate you.

web development santa barbara

A good web development agency educates you so you can make better business decisions

I recently heard an Internet professional at a local SABER event rename marketing to markEding. I like that. Education is a cornerstone for any consultant worth their salt (and fee).

You have your expertise; your web development agency has theirs too

Psychology, academia, design, industry or real estate (to name a few) is where your business experience and specialty lies. You live your business’ daily details that give you an edge and why you know your industry inside and out.

You aren’t expected to know how to strategize and develop a website just because you need one. You hire experts for this.

The web developer and designer you hire should have two goals. One: build a website that gets tangible business results. Two: educate you about web development so you can make sound business decisions. Unfortunately, this second goal is never part of many web developer’s approach.

7 things to look for in an excellent web developer (for non-technical people)

  1. Someone who uses plain English and avoids techie jargon. If you don’t understand any of the acronyms or phrases, stop the conversation and ask for an explanation. If what you hear still sounds too complex, ask for your web developer to break down the complexity into metaphors or smaller chunks.
  2. A dedicated contact and/or project manager. Someone dedicated to your client relationship helps ensure consistent and clear communication. Don’t settle for talking with the owner during the sales process, then being handed off to a web architect, then a web designer, then someone else. You deserve a consistent point of contact to ensure your project gains momentum and keeps it.
  3. A maintenance plan and approach. Typically, this isn’t covered in the sales conversations, but it’s critical that you know how your site will be maintained and who will do it, before you build it. If you require someone on your staff to maintain the front-end content, make sure this person sees the interface of the screens, with a detailed demo at the least. A hands-on tour while screen sharing is best. And ask about back-end maintenance. Does your web development agency offer this service? What does it include or exclude?
  4. A written time and cost estimate with details of what’s included / excluded. Demand it. You should know what you are paying, the timing of when payments are due, milestones and what is excluded from your project’s scope.
  5. Keyword research process specifically for your business. Many web development agencies will tell you they are building your website with SEO (search engine optimization) in mind.  But without specific keyword research for your industry, company and competitors, you are most likely getting a rehash of what was used for someone else. This defeats the purpose of helping you stand out in your marketplace. You are better off hiring a separate Internet marketing specialist or a web development agency that takes care of everything,  like Spiffy Web.
  6. Clear and timely billing. Demand it. Know exactly where you stand financially at all times. Ideally, request a project-based fee instead of a time and cost fee. A project-based fee, with a clearly defined project scope, will help you manage your budget. You’ll know what you are getting and at what cost. If you decide to expand the scope, no problem. Just request a revised project contract and estimate before work begins.
  7. Technical experience and samples. This is where many web development agencies excel. They focus on past projects, flashy websites and happy clients. Dig deeper. Make sure Flash isn’t being used on your site. Or frame-based content windows. Ask about the cost to build a responsive website or use a pre-designed template with responsive technology built in. This can also help you curb design costs.

Why you should expect education

When you understand what’s going with your web development project, you will be able to make better business decisions, instead of getting shepherded into a direction you may not want.

This will take your time, focus and a willingness to learn basic web development concepts and terms. As long as your development agency includes education, the process will be smoother (and you’ll learn something new!).

Contact Cara at Spiffy Web, a web development agency that educates you and creates websites that get business results.

Zen-like business writing blossoms into a better reader experience

April 13, 2013

People want to read clear stories and messages that don’t take up a lot of their time. The average person spends 18 minutes a day reading and 2.7 hours watching TV! That’s what Twitter, work demands and our to-do lists have done to our lives – reduce the time we spend on everything. Follow a […]

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My secret love of writing in secret code

April 11, 2013

Writing for the web is like writing a performance review. A couple weeks ago I had dinner with a friend I hadn’t seen in years. We reminisced about the past company and people we worked with and how we met. Over truffle fries, she mentioned she was surprised to hear that I loved writing performance […]

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A fast and sexy little website for DOCG Imports

April 10, 2013

This fun and quick turnaround project brings high-end prosecco to California. DOCG Imports needed a logo and home page designed and built in a week. We were happy to help this start-up company establish a presence so they can begin importing DOCG-certified prosecco into California. Ever heard of DOCG-certified prosecco and wines? If not, check […]

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It’s like a high five for web design and development

January 12, 2013

It feels great to see your work recognized as solid  examples of web design and development Yesterday a client of ours sent us a link to Holy Thesis because the website we created for her was listed. A friend of hers randomly saw it and told her about it. A nice little game of telephone, […]

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Internet Marketing Calendar: December

December 4, 2012

Take inventory and classify what needs to get done. December is Awareness Month of Awareness Months Month! Ha! That cracks me up. As we wind down the year, there are a couple things to be aware of to improve your site and get it in top shape for next year. December 10: Dewey Decimal System […]

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Internet marketing calendar: November

November 27, 2012

Be aware of how your site balances performance, design and content. November is Banana Pudding Lovers Month. Can’t believe there is such a thing. So moving right along from there, here are a few things to help your site run smoothly this fall: November 8: X-Ray Day — Examine your site’s performance over the past […]

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Internet marketing calendar: October

October 5, 2012

Everyone loves a good story, including your audience. I don’t know what it is about a campfire, but it just screams “Tell me a story.” Spooky or sweet, a focused group, hanging onto your next word is the best audience you will ever have. My favorite campfire stories were on Silver Strand Beach in the […]

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