Because of the vast number of websites there are on the internet, there’s a stark difference between those that are successful and those that utterly fail. Commercial websites that are made in order to sell a product or service need to implement web designs that are optimised to retain visitors and get them to click the ‘buy’ button.
Joe Combs & Jessica Trimm, founders of URGrafix LLC, work on the frontlines of contemporary web design and were kind enough to share some of their experiences and insights.
Joe and Jessica, how did you get involved with URGrafix?
We started URGrafix out of necessity. Between Joe having a difficult time finding a job and myself losing my second job, we had to think of a way to work for ourselves. With our growing family and vast skill set between the two of us, working from home made the most sense.
Joe: In my younger & wilder years, I had been in trouble with the law and charged with delivery of cannabis in the medically legal state of Oregon. I was really having a hard time finding a job that would pay a living wage. The ones that would hire me didn’t pay enough and the ones that I found that would pay enough, wouldn’t hire me because of my background.
Jess: I had been let go from Orkin Pest Control and then also Whitworth Pest Control both over the use of Medical Cannabis (Marijuana) which was legal at the time in Washington State. I was an over achiever and excellent employee but because of a very strict insurance policy that disallowed use on or off the job I was let go after years of extremely dedicated service.
Being put between a rock and a hard spot, with Jess having a design background and our motivation and desperation, we formed URGrafix. Naturally, we started working with businesses in the medical cannabis industry. Which has now grown to recreational cannabis industry as well. Cannabis is one of the fastest growing industries. To this day, Jess getting fired and Joe not being able to get a decent job is one of the best things that has happened to us.
What is the process of designing a new website?
The process is simple and it has the following 7 phases:
This is where we determine the Websites Purpose, the websites goals and the target audience.
This is where we come up with the websites Sitemap, the structure of the website and what technologies will need to be used.
Custom graphics are designed to match the brand along with a consistent style throughout each page. We also make sure navigation is simple and UI/UX is on point.
Copywriting is handled in this phase along with collecting any photography or stock photos needed. We implement on-page SEO which will help you get found in search engines.
This is where we use both html and custom CSS coding to perfect the look and feel of the website. The design is responsive which means viewers will always see the website with the correct proportions and simple navigation no matter what device.
This is where the website goes through technical testing to ensure viewers don’t experience any bugs or issues during their visit. We check different browsers and operating systems as well. If the website fulfils its purpose, we’ve done our job.
Every website we build is monitored while hosted on our servers. We manage bugs that come up and keep everything up to date for the best security possible.
What does responsive design mean and is it really important?
Over half of online use in the US is with a mobile device. A responsive website ensures that no matter what type of device the user is using, your website will look great and be easy to navigate. Without responsive design, the user may have difficulties finding what they are searching for. With responsive design, images are resized, and elements are optimized. It’s pretty much a standard with websites and we find it to be of utmost importance.
What kind of design businesses should avoid and why? Could you give me some examples from your experience?
Using illustrations as logos is something I would definitely advise against. Logos are best to be kept simple, memorable, and something that looks just as good in colour that it does in black & white. Often clients ask to include too many details and we explain the importance of keeping it simple.
Another common mistake is overuse of fonts. It’s great to pair a couple of fonts to help explain your content but using too many different fonts can clutter up your design. It can also make your copy difficult to read. Not all fonts go well together either, so font choice is very important to communicate your brand tone of voice.
What kind of design do you offer?
Jess: I have been involved with all facets of design since I was a teenager. I started with designing logos and business cards for my co-workers and the creation of email stationery for some larger companies soon followed. As design technology expanded, so did my skills. Designing for print is another area in which we excel since we are also printers. Website design is another important service we offer our clients. Being both the developer and graphic designer speeds up the process since all tasks are performed in house. We utilize the entire range of Adobe Creative Suite products, so if it is imagined, we can design it.
How do you handle pressure and tight deadlines?
URGrafix is a home-based small business which has its perks. We are considered the “go to” place for our clients when they are in a pinch and need something done yesterday. Everything we create and deliver is handled by us, in house, from the comforts of our home! We do not sub out any part of our operations. We have the ability to work late nights or early mornings to accommodate clients from around the globe. Since 2009, we have gone above and beyond expectations for each and every one of our clients. Our reputation means everything to us, and we take pride in our 5 star reviews!
What is your process like when working remotely? What do you feel is essential to ensure a project is completed efficiently?
We primarily communicate via email, where we document all client requirements, changes, and progress on the project, providing a complete historical record from start to finish. Requirements are gathered, then documented via email and presented to the client for approval. Once approval has been given, we move on to the next phase of the project. If ever any confusion happens, we can reference past conversations whereas with phone calls that information can get lost. Since we are very active on Facebook, messenger has been a very useful tool that speeds up our communication. Many of our clients contact us directly through Facebook and it’s worked out great for us because we can answer, reply, and make changes instantly at times which is very convenient for both the client and our team.
Do you also offer other services? (eg. apps, software you can describe all your services)
We offer everything related to graphic design including logos, business cards, flyers, posters and brochures. Our experience with print design is very vast as well since we are also printers. We do a lot of product packaging/prototyping or concepting. Our ability to print on demand in house lets us make changes fast and easy. We offer digital printing services such as promotional stickers, vinyl banners, posters, custom wall covering, floor graphics, window coverings, static clings, labels, removable wall decals, shirts, hats, and much more with our HP Latex wide format printer and commercial Graphtec cutter. Promotional stickers have been one of our known specialties since we began printing in 2016.
Is there more to come for URGrafix?
Yes! We are thinking about doing a podcast soon. We realize the potential in podcasts and podcast marketing, and we have a lot to talk about. Also, we might get into creating video tutorials. We are also exploring offering more printing services such framed pictures, canvas prints and vehicle/object wraps in the near future. We are open to entertaining anything that falls within our capabilities and your imagination!