Web and Graphic Design for Small & Minority Business


Your business is growing and needs a home on the web and you are not sure where to begin. Like I always say do your homework. Learn to ask questions not just any questions the right questions of your designer. Ask them what is the best web platform for my business? If he or she is not a one trick pony they will be able to build in multiple platforms and can suggest the best web platform for your business. The purpose of this article is to help you decide the best for what is needed to do the job. All of these platforms have advantages and disadvantages I will layout some of them. So lets find the best solution within your budget.


This platform is the one I use the most as a wed builder. I love that you have complete control of your site from the way that it looks to how it functions. WORDPRESS not only is a web platform but a CMS. The platform is an OPENSOURCE platform which means that anyone can create a plugin or theme for the platform which gives you a plethora of plugin options to choose from when building you site. I like using it also because I can hard code functionality if needed with ease.


  • Complete control of every aspect of your site
  • A huge number of themes and plugins to help you deploy any kind of website without programming skills
  • SEO-Friendly
  • Mobile-Friendly
  • A good option for e-commerce
  • Great for blogging


  • Premium themes and plugins can get expensive
  • Plugins must be updated frequently
  • Occasional plugin conflicts


Wix is a great option for most small business owners. It offers a lot of functions and customization it’s also very user friendly so if you have a good eye for design have a go at it. If you are looking for an e-commerce solution or a solid website with optimal speed you may want to look elsewhere.


  • One of the most intuitive drag-and-drop builders
  • Self-explanatory: no need to understand coding or technicalities
  • A wide range of design options and templates, even with the free version
  • Mobile Friendly


  • E-commerce options are a bit costly and clunky to use
  • Relatively slow loading speed.
  • SEO is a pain in the neck with Wix


SQUARESPACE is also one of the best website builders for small business owners. If you want your website to look neat, clean, and responsive then Squarespace is your place. It is also very easy to implement.


  • Easy and simple to use templates
  • Mobile friendly
  • A diverse range of design options
  • SEO tools
  • Customer support is always available with Squarespace via email


  • It requires a business plan to access powerful features like custom code
  • There are fewer add-ons and apps than similar tools
  • Not the best for e commerce websites
  • Pricing is more expensive with Squarespace
  • Editing and adding content can sometimes be difficult


SHOPIFY is your one stop shop for e commerce solutions. From calculating shipping to ease of use in the back end SHOPIFY wins when it comes to e commerce but it does have some drawbacks.


  • Ideal for large stores
  • Multi-platform selling… Sell across multiple channels , facebook, Instagram, Amazon, and eBay
  • Extensive payment options


  • Not as user friendly as the other platforms
  • High transaction fees
  • Expensive to use
  • Not for information based sites


Square E-commerce, formerly known as Weebly, is a website builder platform for small businesses. Although not as advanced as Shopify, Weebly is cheaper and makes it easy for starters to build a website from scratch.


  • Easy to set up
  • There is a free plan
  • A large number of templates available


  • The drag and drop feature provides ease but there’s no option for moving elements to precise places on the website as Wix provides
  • Limited SEO capabilities

There other platforms out there as well like BIGCOMMERCE , SITEBUILDER and more as always do your due diligence in deciding. My dad used to always “YOU PAY FOR WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW” and in the case of your business you want to make sure you make a decision based on good information. Even you are hiring someone to build your site you will do yourself a service in getting to know the platforms so you can communicate and understand why your web designer chose that platform. I hope that this useful and save you time and money … good luck.

Why I don’t offer discounted pricing for services

Some 10 years ago when I started doing web design and logo I was very new and wet behind the ears to this business . I wanted to work on every project that came across my screen. If you was in need of a website I wanted to do it. If you were in need of a logo I was on it . After a while I found myself getting better learning new skills but earning enough to sustain the business or myself. I had locked myself into thinking that if I raised my prices people wouldn’t pay for my services. I remember explaining to a friend of mines about the problem and his response changed my life “YOUR ASKING PRICE IS BASED ON WHAT YOU FEEL YOUR SERVICES ARE WORTH THEREORE YOU GET WHAT YOU ASK FOR”. I realized at that point that I needed to raise my prices. I learned new things I worked faster than I did when I first began and discovered tips and tricks in the industry that made the workflow more efficient.

I understood that the clients that I wanted to deal with did not live in the lower price point that I had previously offered. My new clients understood and knew the value of my services just as much if not more than me. I had realized that these same clients knew the value of their brand as well and would pay for quality services and work. They wanted to hold someone accountable for the work that they needed done and sometimes that comes at a premium. When I begin to get that knew client I had noticed that the clients in my lower price bracket would love to haggle and expect to get more for a lesser price. I started to understand that not all money is good money and that the same people that would want to get discounted prices from me would pay full price for brands like NIKE , GUCCI etc. They would never walk into MACY’S and ask for a discount why didn’t I deserve the same respect? They didnt respect my brand because I did not respect my brand, This is why I don’t offer discounted prices for services … and you shouldn’t either. Respect your brand and ask yourself how much is your brand worth.

Welcome to The Dark Web

I have been in the graphic design business for over 10 years held various positions at companies from webmaster to content creator for companies ranging from publishing houses to non-for profits. During my time I have learned a lot about protecting your brand. I have heard horror stories of people losing their brands to unscrupulous designers and companies that prey on small business owners. As a freelance designer and small business owner I am always aware of protecting my brand so I wanted to share some stories and tips on how to make sure you protect what you worked hard for. Welcome to tales from the  DARK WEB the dark side graphic design.


I get a call one day from a potential new client inquiring about my rates for revamping her site. The conversation starts off typical. Me asking the usual questions when do you need it? What is needed? Etc. As she begins to answer the questions I ask about the platform she is currently on I realize that she doesn’t know. Not a problem I am the professional I am not expecting every client to know what platform they are using. Most just know this is how I access certain things and this is what I do when I log in. I ask about getting access to the site she emails me the username and password, when I log in I realize that the access she has is an editor not an administrator. This presents a bit of a problem. Not being able to access the site as an administrator limits your access to any code or the part of the CMS that is needed to redesign or alter the site if needed. I explain to her that I am unable to do the design work via that method she sent me but I can access it by way of her CPANEL I ask her for any hosting information that she may have. She doesn’t have that information. She explains that the designer that she used to make the site never gave her that information and that she had him buy all of the domain and hosting it was part of the package that she had purchased. This isn’t necessary a bad thing if the company that your where dealing with were honest. But in this case they basically took ownership of her site and refused to give her the access. After many calls and me trying to access the site I had to explain to her what was really going on.


If you do not want to handle the any of setting up of a domain or hosting and would rather someone else do it, which is common due time constraints or just plain ole rather focus on the part of the business you understand, then finding a company that will handle all of the other stuff is fine. Make sure though you find what you get for that package make sure to ask if you will be made an ADMINISTRATOR in the CMS. Ask if you will receive all of the credentials needed to fully access all levels of the site. If the designer is unwilling to give you full and complete access find one that will. Last but not least get it in writing.


One of my longtime clients refers me to an associate of his for a re branding of his companies logo. I speak the client and realize he doesn’t want a re branding but a cleaning basically of his current logo. In most cases I stay away from these projects because I rather create something new than clean up some other designer’s work. In any case I decided to do it the client sends over the logo I ask do they have the source files. The client doesn’t understand what I am talking about. When I explain what a source file is they inform me that the designer only gave them jpg files. So after hearing this I realize that I will have to recreate the logo which is an whole different service and more money.


A source file is the file that the logo was created in whether it is a PHOTOSHOP , ILLUTSTRATOR or any program that the designer uses. You as a paying client should request those files when the logo is done. There are cases when the logo may need to altered for special occasions like holidays or events. Having the source files allows you do any changes yourself if desired or use another designer should something happen to the one that created it. As always ask these questions upfront before you begin to work with a designer and always get it in writing.


New client reaches out for a revamp of their current site. They like the current site but feel like the business has grown out of its current websites platform and is looking to move the site to another platform. Not a problem I am giving access to the database and can download all the necessary information to start the rebuild. But there is just one problem, the new platform that the client wants to use requires that they move their DOMAIN to their platform, This presented a very special problem because the client did not own the domain. She informed me that the original designer of the site had taken care of everything even the purchasing of the domain and was unhappy with her not using his services for the revamp. So instead of relinquishing her domain to her he had decide to resell the domain back to her at an astronomical price. This happens more often than you think. Designers with no integrity do this type of stuff all of the time.


As always ask the right questions before you work with a designer. Find out whether again you will own the domain will they transfer domain ownership to you when site is done and again ….. GET IN WRITING.

Choosing the right domain for your business

Choosing the right domain name for your business website can be just as hard as choosing a name of your first born . Your first born can legally change its name when it matures but as your business matures it will be harder and more expensive to change your branding…. changing the domain is easy, but it can be time-consuming and does have consequences. It can lead to a loss of traffic and unnecessary downtime. Which is why choosing the right domain is crucial. Here highlight the basics of findiing and getting a domain name. The trick is finding one that works for your business but will resonate with your customer.

Choose something that is easy to remember short and relevant to your business. If the domain you like is already registered, don’t panic – think of a smart variation, but mind potential trademark infringements. Remember the 2o minute rule we spoke about earlier? Well think of that but now you have 20 seconds.

Try to make sure it is a TOP LEVEL DOMAIN meaning a .COM or .ORG. There are plenty of domain extensions you can get, but TOP LEVEL DOMAINS are preferred.

Do your best to keep it short as possible nothing worst than having to remember or repeat a long domain, you always want to think about that 20 minute rule that I wrote about some time ago. People want things quickly if they have to look too long or try to remember a domain or business name they will give up and you may have lost a potential customer.

Do not add hyphens to the name. Hyphens can be a sign of spam domains which you do not want to be associated with.

Research your name use a domain generator to find if your name is already taken. There are over 300 million registered domain names and finding the correct one that is not taken can be time consuming and at times frustrating. Use a DOMAIN NAME GENERATOR here are a couple Nameboy, IsItWP, BlogTyrant, Network Solutions and NameStation.

Act quickly if you see a domain that is available that you may fit the criteria of what you are looking for snatch it up.  There are millions of people online buying domain names some are looking for names for a business and others  business is buying domain anmes tor resell them .  You van buy multiple domain names and use the best one or point them all to your website, but the key is to act fast.

So you have the basics of finding a good domain for your business do your reaserch and act quickly. Good Luck.

Content is King

Our presence on the web is super important from the way our site looks to the user experience it all plays a big part of whether you get traffic and more importantly repeat traffic. Having good products or offering a service that is phenomenal is only half the job. Managing a website is not for the faint of heart it takes a lot of work and a lot of time. I like to say that your site is a living breathing thing and anything living it needs to be fed the right things to grow. Your content is that food. Having enough content is the key. You may ask how much content is enough? The answer is there never is enough. Now that doesn’t mean create 10 paragraph pages on your site for a product or service. What it means that having content that relates to your product or service strategically and specifically placed is important.

So often I get clients who have never thought about simple content concepts of there product. For instance if you are selling apparel besides having just basic name information a description of what that product is made of or why someone should buy yours will do wonders for your site’s chances of visibility. The internet is based on UPDATED CONTENT,POPULARITY, QUALITY RELATIONSHIPS and RELEVANCY if you can get people to talk about your content online and associate with other businesses coupled with relevant product descriptions and keeping your content fresh and up to date you can compete in the game.

Be sure to think about these 3 things before you begin writing

  • Define the purpose of the page
  • Understand who your target audience is
  • Know your competitors

Your about page is a great place to start. Use this page to tell the story of your brand and expound on again why your product or service is best no need to be humble this your baby and you must brag about it if you are going to grab the attention of the public. Remember you are competing for the eyes of millions of people with a million other businesses. Start a blog about your product as well as relevant products with the field in which you are in. When writing . Remember to talk in layman’s terms for the common user don ‘t confuse them with a whole lot of industry jargon. If all else fails HIRE A PROFESSIONAL!. Your brand is worth it … CONTENT IS KING.

How much is your BRAND worth?

How much is your BRAND worth? Really how much. One of the challenges I face as a designer that works independent of a larger firm is that I am dealing small to medium level business owners who do not have the capital of the big boys. That being said a lot of them are on budgets. Now any business should have things budgeted based on what is a need and what is a goal. With understanding that you will have clearly define what is NEEDED TO GET TO THE GOAL. Your web presence should be a priority especially since over the last 2 years the world has changed so dramatically. Small business can no longer afford to not have a web presence and that web presence has to truly represent your brand accordingly. Understanding this is vital.

How do I view my business among the sea of other businesses? Ask yourself these questions because how you view your business others will view it the same. If you cut corners on your website it only shows how valuable you believe your product is and your customer will view it the same. Since I focus primarily on minority owned small and medium business I run into a lot of business that don’t see the services I offer as priority. They will not see the importance of having professional pictures for their product done. If you cant afford a professional photographer YOUTUBE and GOOGLE are your best resources for help taking better pictures. This is just one example how you value your business. Do not fool yourself into believing that you have to spend a ton of money in order to get results there are designers out there like myself that truly love what we do and will offer competitive and comparable services. Do your research get references set a realistic budget and find a designer that sees your vision and offers the services needed at the rate it is within your budget.

Any designer who offers his or her web design services for $40 to $50 more than likely doesn’t value their time enough to put any effort into your brand or does not truly know the work involved to get desired results for your vision. Design is not done in a vacuum next day services on logos will more than likely render horrible design and even worst wasted money. If it sounds to good to be true it probably is. My job as a designer is to ask the right questions and provide the right solutions. Ask yourself do I want it done fast or do I want it done right? The answer will let you know how much you value your brand.


As a designer I get crazy design idea request for logos, brochures, menus, websites etc. It’s understandable because the public is not necessarily aware of the best design practices which why I was hired in the first place. Most of my clients are great and understand that my job is to take their vision and bring it to life. In reality my real goal is to take their vision and bring it to life in a way that they couldn’t even imagine. Then there are the other clients that are so clear about an idea that they have in their head that will only settle for just that vision and only that vision. There is nothing wrong with having a vision of your business you are supposed to . You are supposed to have a clear and concise vision not based on a trend that is happening now or what the competition is doing . Every brand has its own personality even if they are in the same business the brand has to have its own personality. McDonald’s , Burger King and Wendy’s all have different personalities even tho they sell similar products.

That personality begins with your logo. Your logo is supposed to separate you from your competition and create a relationship that will last with you’re audience. That relationship obviously is based on various factors but in some cases your logo is the first line of defense. When coming up with a logo ask yourself a number of questions.


The previous questions are exactly what I ask before I present design ideas to a client so in this blog I am going specify what not to do and the reasons why and by the end you will know what to think of when coming up with Ideas for a logo or at least be able to communicate your design ideas and reasons for them to your designer.

Color is a good thing, of course, but when it comes to logo design, its best to keep your colors to 2 or 3 at the most. The rule of thumb is KEEP IT SIMPLE . Understand your logo must look good whether small or large if you look at it shrunken and it becomes blurry or mucky then you may too many colors.

Wordiness doesn’t work in marketing copy, and it doesn’t work in logo design either. Think back to the logos we mentioned in the beginning. They work in large part because they’re simple. In today’s social media world we have very short attention span as well as limited space so if you can convey what it you do in the quickest shortest way possible your ahead of the game.

A trend can be anything that may be hot at the time whether its a words or fonts or color or style. Just like all trends eventually they disappear and become un-trendy (NOT SURE IF THATS A WORD?) but you understand what I mean.

Your favorite color may not convey the feeling or work in theory with the industry you are in. Understanding what colors invoke what emotions is something that is important and just using your favorite will not always work.

So this is a big one. I once worked on a design after consulting a client abut their ideas and eventually had to bow out gracefully because the client was so head strong about having various elements 4 to be exact, be part of logo. None of which conveyed what business they were in . Refrain from using or wanting images that are part of your social, religious, spiritual or personal environment that have nothing to do with your business. Having image of your 101 year old grandmother holding her cat in your logo when your business is selling computers and cellphones can be a bit confusing.


    • Use imagery that relates to your business
    • Use fonts that fit the industry and tone of your business.
    • Be mindful of where your logo will be presented i.e. BUSINESS CARDS , APPAREL, MARKETING MATERIAL all of those things will have to be taken in consideration when designing a logo
    • Research your audience and your competition I wrote a blog how to do it check it out
    • Get Feedback from others
    • HIRE A PROFESSIONAL… remember you get what you pay for if it’s cheap 9 times out of ten you will get a cheap logo . Don’t spend millions but dont spend $40 expecting get a million dollar logo.

What to look for in a web designer

So you have decided it is time to take your business to the next level . You’ve made the sales and stregthened your infrustrature and now its time to play with the big boys. Your’e ready but where do you start? How do you start? what do you look for ? All of those questions are valid and important and I am here to help you ask the right questions that will avoid you wasting time money, money and resources. Choosing a web designer or a graphic designer is and will be one of the most important decisions you have to make when growing your business. You will want to spend time researching what look and personality your brand has and how to convey that to a designer. Many times we as graphic designers will get clients who believe telling us CLASSY, CHIC, CLEAN etc describes what they envision about thier company and it may well be but there should be more to how yu describe or envision your brand need more clarity on why read my article on the 2O MINUTE RULE. Prepare yourself to ask specific questions and to be asked specific questions about your brand your goals and how to achieve them. Web designers are visual beings that take visualsl and then have to translate the visuals into working movable parts so if you can clearly show and express what you are looking for the quicker and better your exoerience will be when working with a designer. Try your best to show examples of other sites or designes that you may like and be clear of what specific you like about the site what you dont like about the site . This will give the designer you choose a clearer vision of where to go with your project. It will also almost garauntee you are will be happy with the outcome. Below I have compiled a list of things you should be looking for when choosinga designer.

  • A broad design portfolio. Look at the designer’s  previous work. Your very first step if that work appeals to you and is professional inline with the vision of your brand you are one step closer to finding a great fit.
  • They Listen to Your Ideas
    You’re an expert in your industry. As such, you know what you’re selling, and you have some idea of how you need to present it to your potential customers. No one knows your business better than you do. If a web designer won’t listen to your ideas, then you probably don’t want to work with them. Your designer needs to be able to put your ideas into action, not create their own pet project.
  • They Have Their Own Ideas
    While it’s important for your web designer to listen to you, you don’t want a yes-man. You may know your business, but your website needs to be designed by someone who knows design. If a web designer does nothing but nod their heads and produce an exact replica of what you say, then you aren’t getting your money’s worth. Your designer must be able to bring exciting ideas to the table.
  • Appropriate pricing
    As a designer I can’t begin to tell you f the many conversations that have ended when I quoted prices to a potental client. My father used to say “YOU PAY FOR WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW” a lot of times we don’t know the vaule of either our business or either we undervaule the need for a service we need for our business. Cheap will always get you a cheap product but also paying astronomical amounts of money wont garuantee you success. Finding a designer that offers more that what the precieved vaule is the key.
  • Website maintenance
    Some web designers offer continued services for website maintenance to keep your site functioning properly as you use it. Similarly, you may be able to maintain your website yourself, if you have the time and know-how.Either way, it’s important to know what to expect after your website is created. Most of the time, freelance or agency web designers only make your website, and then it’s up to you to do anything else. In rare cases, you may find agencies that offer an affordable maintenance plan.
  • Is the designer available if I need revisions or changes? What are the costs? When you hire a web designer, you are hiring him/her for a project as defined in your contract (if there’s no contract, run away screaming). That doesn’t mean the designer is obligated to provide free services for life. Find out ahead of time what costs you’ll incur if you need changes or new layouts down the road, and keep in mind that rates do change over time – the ballpark rates a designer gives you in 2019 will not be the same if you contact him/her in 2021.
  • Get References
    Esentially a web designer is a work for hire and jus like any work for hire talking to past clients to get thier experience is fair game. Of course not everyone will havve the most favorable or most glowing experience but your designer should have more favorable then less faorable reviews from thier clients. some of the questions you should ask

    • were easy to collaborate with?
    • did they finish the project on time and on budget?
    • did they do everything they promised?
    • are they providing good support?

Your journey to expandining your business has begun and I hope that I was able to share some god information that will be useful and will save you time and money in the long and short run. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions kitchingweb@gmail.com

Start Before you are Ready

Sometimes you have to start before your ready .. words from my father. My father wasn’t the most communicative person as far as small talk. He really sat with his thoughts before expressing them. I am not sure if it was because he was very analytical. He had to find all of the pieces of the puzzle before he felt confident expressing his thoughts.

He would sometimes just walk by and say something and then walk away. I thought he was strange weird and a loner. One of the things he said to me was “there is never a good time for anything. Begin anywhere just begin”. I didn’t understand the statement till years later.

As business owners we are calculated in everything we do. We have to. It is a matter of success or failure. But sometimes we just have to trust our wings skills and the creator. TRUST THE JOURNEY.

Stay ready…

There is a saying that goes “If you stay ready you won’t have to get ready”. That quote is so essential to anyone starting a business. Preparing one self is imperative to success. One of the reasons Business plans exist is because when you layout everything you are able to see what’s missing and where things are placed and how they relate to your whole business. Here are a couple of things that will help you get ready to stay ready.

1. Secure a domain name for your business. In the digital world that we are living in it is essential that we start creating a digital footprint for ourselves. Buying your domain name is important start to that footprint. Securing that domain will allow you to now send professional looking emails for your business rather using your personal email. You can buy your domain for companies like Godaddy or Ionos for as little as $10 a year. Later you can buy hosting once you are ready to have your site built. Hosting you can get for as little as $8.

2. Purchase an 800 Having an 800 number also gives your company a professional feel as well as a central place for your customers to connect with you without feeling like they are calling a start up. You can even have your 800 number calls rerouted to you personal cell number so you don’t miss those important calls. A 800 number can be purchased at Grasshopper for $16 per month.

3. A virtual address avoid using your personal address by getting a P.O. Box to receive official business mail from Regus for about $30 per month

These 3 things are just a start. There are many other things that can be used to make your business appear to be more professional. Each business is different but these 3 things are an intricate part of every business. Get ready to be ready.