I love WordPress website development and design. I also love managing website projects. When I listen to what a client needs, I get to figure out solutions to help them achieve their goals.
But you’re probably wondering how I stand out from the crowd. What can I offer you, as a Vancouver WordPress website developer and designer, that is hard to find out there?
I have found that most small business or organization websites need the help of an expert who can bring together the major purposes of a website design. Those are:
- Solid development and functionality (i.e. properly built, up-to-date code).
- Search engine optimization (SEO).
- Content organization and delivery (usually to sell more of a product or service). This leads to conversion rates and metrics, online marketing and more.
- Good web design that is aesthetically pleasing and easy to use.
In truth, the above components can each form an individual’s entire career. And that would be justified in many cases.
However, ideally, all of the above aspects of a website project should be considered together, and planned together, so they work cohesively, and are not produced to be counterintuitive to one another. But if a web developer or designer person only knows one part of the job, it can negate the importance, or comprehensiveness of the other specialties.
You wouldn’t want a website that looks good but doesn’t function well or rank well on search engines, right?
And you wouldn’t want a well-ranking site that doesn’t convert visitors into buyers after they land on you site.
You also wouldn’t want to invest heavily in a well-coded and well-designed site that doesn’t do anything to market you online, or that says nothing about your organization.
You want the best of everything – the whole ‘pie.’
But finding a single ‘unicorn’ who understands all of these aspects – and can balance them all in one website – is rare.
That’s where I’ve worked to advance my skill set from being just a WordPress web developer in Vancouver, or just an SEO, or just a content writer. I’ve made it my mission to keep myself educated about these different ‘levers’ that affect the final product of websites I put together. I hope to be that ‘unicorn’!
It’s important to me that websites are built right, and are effective at what they initially were set out to do.
So, during project management, where necessary, I’ll hire an expert to do parts of the job, while making sure they are enhancing, and not stifling, the other website goals.
But even when I myself am working deeply on a website’s components (whether it be the coding, the SEO or the writing, etc.), I also keep a grip on the entire project. That means, I manage people I work with. You don’t have to do that. Work passes through me, before it gets to you. I’ll be your one point of contact. In my opinion, that gives you the best, most organized and cohesive experience while doing this.
If you like what you’ve read so far, there’s more! But you’re welcome to get in touch right now, to get the ball rolling on your website!
My contact info:
604 817 9962 (try e-mail first if possible)
What you’ll get from me as your Vancouver web developer and designer:
Your site will be built on WordPress, which is a state of the art content management system (CMS). A content management system makes it really easy to update content on your site without having to know a lot of code. And, WordPress can make that process even easier. I usually explain it like this: if you can use e-mail and Microsoft Word, you shouldn’t have a problem using WordPress :)
WordPress is so good at its job, it now owns more than 60% of the CMS market share by some estimates. So, it really is ‘the way of the future.’ And, it can grow with your site, if you need it to.
People love WordPress because of all it has to offer: almost unlimited customization abilities, scalability, SEO opportunities, ease-of-use and more.
I also offer top-grade website design standards! For an explanation on this I encourage you to read my article titled, “How does a good web team make decisions about your website design?”
In addition to the above, here’s what you can expect, in a nutshell, when you work with me as your WordPress web developer:
- Clear communication and updates on the progress of your site.
- Deliverable deadlines and project management organization. The “horrible web guy” experience won’t happen with me!
- SEO, journalism and marketing expertise.
- Testimonials describing my track record and high work ethics.
Interested in getting started? Let me know your needs and ideas by writing to:
Or calling 604 817 9962 (try e-mail first if possible)
Below are the best qualities of working with me as your Vancouver WordPress Web developer and project manager:
Although I’ve summarized this above, below you can learn more detail about my job, how I work and how I think about my work.
1) Good WordPress web design that is coded well
While some aspects of design can be subjective, there are principles of design that are consistent, no matter what you’re designing. When it comes to web design, there are objective standards that should be followed, whether or not they coincide with subjective preferences.
Designing for web standards takes more than an ‘eye’ for what looks good (though, that’s important too). It takes an ‘eye’ for details that must be addressed during front-end development phases of a website project. It also requires the forethought about technical aspects of web design in particular (not just print design, or other types of design).
In the end, every website provider has a choice to make about how they’ll carry out a web design in conjunction with web development. You can’t have one without the other. But, it is possible to ignore one and not the other.
To me, they need to be balanced.
I have found that most people looking for a website service are often concerned with the way it will look. So, I’ll say this: if you trust a software-focused developer to handle your web design, you may not get the results you were hoping for. It works the other way too, but more on that later.
Not all developers see the importance of perfection in a design. For example, keeping things aligned; using crisp imagery; setting up proper hover states for usability standards; checking, and re-checking the site on many screen sizes to ensure elements are not too small, and not too big; proper spacing between elements.
All of these things matter. However, they can be less noticeable, because they are small. So, when you see a ‘good web design’ having been coded properly, you may not know, or understand, why it’s so great (or not). But a trained eye from someone who cares about these things will know why it’s good or bad. It’s often because the details were looked after.
‘Marrying’ the two worlds of design and development can be like mixing oil and water. Or, it can be like making a fine vinaigrette to enhance the flavour of your lovely salad. They can work together! It just takes the right set of standards and procedures.
So how is it done?
Someone working on the project, has to be able to understand both sides. They also need authority to execute decisions based on their knowledge. The designer-in-charge needs to know aspects of the developer’s job and the developer-in-charge needs to know the aspects of the designer’s job. Or, a project manager who understands the necessary aspects of both professions must interject to communicate and fix issues that arise (preferably before they become issues).
If plans are not in place in advance of a website design and development project, you’ll get the ‘oil and water’ situation.
I avoid the ‘oil and water’ situation. I work on both sides. Or, I manage people who are specialists on each side. I make sure that what I produce for a client is meeting standards of both design and development.
So, when I say I provide “good web design,” I don’t just mean that I follow common, modern standards for displaying information on a web browser. I mean that I can be picky about the details. My standards are high. I check, and check again, before I send a website to you for review.
Sometimes, this is re-checking my own work. Other times its re-checking other people’s work (people whom I’ve hired). Either way, you can know that I care enough to check.
Below I explain more about how I check design work for SEO readiness, too.
2) WordPress SEO (search engine optimization) built into the foundation of your website design and development
This subject needs to be explained in two facets:
- SEO and web design
- SEO and web development
Let’s tart with SEO and design.
Good design versus SEO – is it a competition? I’ll give you both!
One HUGE problem that I see a lot around on web, and in my audits, are designs that interfere with SEO (not just usability and development). I’ve also met people who think that good web design and SEO are not compatible. I disagree completely. That’s usually only true for those who are not making a web design, and are hoping to implement a print design as a website.
It’s very, very possible to have a beautiful web design, while still taking care of technical and on-site SEO (especially with regards to content needs). It’s really all about planning, and thinking ahead. When I see a design element on a proof that is delivered to me, I simply ask myself questions like:
- Will this big text be a heading tag on the page? If so, does it visually introduce a section properly, and keep the HTML semantic?
- How will this scale down responsively? Will it still be readable on smaller screens? Will it affect Google’s mobile usability checks?
- Where will we fit in the content that Google needs to read to understand this page or that users need to know?
- Will this affect site load time too much? If so, is it absolutely necessary?
And so on.
Even deciding in advance how users will achieve their goals, and find information, is important in this regard. This should ideally happen before designers enter the scene.
It is truly my belief that a good designer will be able to work within any parameters they are given. If a designer really, really feels that a ‘good’ design is one that contains little content, and huge resource-sucking elements that will slow down a site, they may not be considering the ‘who’ of their design. Who does this affect? In the end, it affects your site users. It affects an organization’s bottom line.
‘Beautiful’ doesn’t have to mean that your design emphasizes visuals more than the text that sells your product, for instance. In fact, I (and many others) would argue that is bad design, or no design. Because, design is usable!
So, I’ll say it again: talented designers can make a website beautiful while still having that beautiful website be SEO friendly. It just takes a bit of planning, a web-based approach and a knack for creativity.
Good SEO and web development: the two are meant to be one!
I do SEO audits on people’s websites. I’ve done them a lot in the last 8-9 years or so. And I’ve learned this: While WordPress can be SEO friendly, and there are popular plugins to help with on-site SEO set up (like the Yoast plugin), many webmasters miss ranking opportunities by neglecting some important, but obvious, things. These neglects often happen in two categories:
- Technical SEO
With that in mind, a webmaster wanting a site to rank well on search engines needs to take care of two things in those above categories. They need to:
- Communicate the topics of their pages clearly.
- Build a website with proper coding practices.
It may not seem that hard to do. But the thing is, these tasks get very detailed. And they take work. They take forethought, planning and time. So much time.
The content part is something we can talk about on another page. I won’t get too deep into that here.
With regards to proper coding practices, in all my years of auditing sites, I can say I’ve witnessed a lot of developers out there resorting to short cuts. They need to get a site up and running fast (which is not always their fault – it’s the demands put on them). Or, they are only considering one part of the site – the functionality (usually). Or, even worse, they just don’t know any better.
It’s possible to set up a WordPress website quickly by overlooking the details, or – gulp! – doing things the cheater way.
To add to the problem, mass-market themes and plugins – even popular ones – don’t always handle the ‘best’ of coding practices ‘out of the box.’ They may not be cheating, but they have to appeal to a wide variety of users. So often, a lot of ‘extras’ can be thrown into the code that you don’t need (but others might, that’s why they’re there). These ‘extras’ can potentially adversely affect your site’s performance. That is, especially if strong technical SEO is a goal.
It’s not always easy (or cost-effective) to ‘clean up’ all of these so-called, ‘extras.’ Sometimes, you might as well leave them alone. But I do believe they should be considered for the possibility of removal, at least. And the ones that are easy to remove, should be.
I’ve been shocked to see some of the horrible code that goes into some sites I’ve done audits on. They can completely ignore the impact that programming can have on SEO. A lot of my SEO clients whose sites I did not build, end up having to do some re-development on their site. This is because, as the saying goes, “web developers keep SEOs in business.”
However, I started in SEO, so websites I build for my clients are made with that in view, always :)
In addition, I hate shortcuts that work but are technically wrong, or at reasonably avoidable. Especially when it comes to SEO. So, a lot of the work I do on a website happens ‘under the hood.’ I like taking care of the technical things that don’t necessarily affect the web design, as much as they affect the SEO and performance of a site. But that doesn’t mean I ignore the ‘look’! Not by a loooong stretch! More on that below…
Let’s get back to the content and communication aspect of SEO on your site, briefly. I can help you plan for that, and advise on it, when working on a web development service for you. If you’d like to ad copywriting services to your website package, let me know! Though, copywriting is not typically included in a WordPress web design build. Ongoing writing and SEO services are something I offer clients, apart from a technically-optimized website.
3) Website speed and performance features
Having a fast-loading site is a no brainer. Most people want this because they know what it’s like to visit a slow loading site. It’s frustrating. Plus, these days, a fast-loading site can be good for SEO too.
While some issues surrounding site load time can have to do with the content you put on your site, other parts of it have to do with web development and design practices. Still, other parts can have to do with things like hosting, too. If your site is loading slowly, the root cause can be a variety of issues.
However, when I work on a website, I hope to address as many of these potential causes of a slow-loading site as possible.
Above I mentioned that sometimes, mass-market software can adversely affect website performance. In relation to SEO, that’s often because of how it affects site load time. So, even if you didn’t want an SEO-friendly site, but did want a faster loading site, the principles of good coding standards would still apply here. The point being: good coding is technical SEO, as much as it is equivalent to having good performance on your site, based on good design planning. It all works together.
During the conception of a website plan and set up with my clients, I usually consider the following regarding how we’ll keep site load time manageable:
- Are all of these elements needed on the page? Can we do without, or will that affect other goals of the site? What is the cost versus the payoff of having a resource on a given page? What value is a certain element bringing to the user of a web page? Are we including an element because we like it, or because we have researched it to be effective?
- Will we be able to strip a resources on pages that don’t need them?
- Is there a way to combine resources so that fewer requests to the server are being made?
- Can we reduce the file sizes without losing quality, especially for imagery? Can we easily change the formats of imagery to reduce their site load time?
- Can we achieve a desired animation effect in a way that will load faster? Or remove it altogether if it won’t change much?
- Are there ways of loading elements asynchronously in the background, without affecting the user’s experience?
And, by answering those questions truthfully, we can plan for site speed in advance! For example, we can:
- Include all icons into a custom icon font, which load only our necessary SVG versions of iconography into a single resource, which can be localized.
- Minify, combine and compress all required resources (though these are not all necessary all the time).
- Remove default features in WordPress or a theme that are not needed for the site in question.
- Crop, reduce and compress image files before uploading them to the site, using only the size of image needed for a certain area of the site.
- Use image file formats that are inevitably smaller in file size and will load faster.
- Use a content delivery network (CDN) on a fast, secure host, with common performance features (such as Gzip compression, server-side caching, WordPress-specific optimizations, and more).
- Avoid adding too many elements to a page design, especially if they are known to be slow loading. For example: too many videos, a slideshow with too many images etc.
- Consider using off-site solutions for some content where possible, and wise to do so. For example, instead of embedding Tweets and Instagram feeds, can we link out to them instead?
And sometimes, even more!
In short, the way that web design and development practices affect your user’s experience is planned for. While some parts of site load time will be up to how you manage your site and where it’s hosted, I’ll do what I can to help on the technical side!
Another important thing to note here is that I purposely avoid the use of DIY, or drag-and-drop web builders for WordPress. These often create several performance issues, and lots of coding mistakes. To compensate for the CMS learning curve issue, other methods can be used in the back end of WordPress to make it easier to use. If you feel you need extra ‘dummy proofing’ on your site’s back end, we can discuss options for it during your estimating phases.
4) Mobile responsiveness and mobile website development
Without question, your site will be mobile responsive if I am to be your web developer and design service provider!
I almost wasn’t going to include this section, because it’s such a no-brainer these days :) However, I figured some people may want to be sure, so I better be explicit.
Actually, much of what I mentioned above about site speed and good development and design has much to do with the mobile experience.
In case you’re interested, I’ve also got experience working with Google AMP plugins for WordPress. If you are a heavy publisher, you may want my help with that too.
4) Documented programming for easy updates to your WordPress site, that another developer can work on, too
To the best of my ability, most of the time, I use code that another developer could come in and know, or learn, what to do with.
In other words, if I fall off the face of the earth or you decide you don’t like me anymore, most of what I use, and tactics I implement in your site, are released under General Public Use License (GPL). This means it is standardized, and documented, so other developers can read the principles by which the site was made. They can usually come in to make more changes without it having to cost you a lot (or at least it shouldn’t).
Using standardized frameworks and mass-market software is by no means a ‘low-quality’ way of doing things (in case that’s what you were thinking). It helps to future-proof the support of your site, as well as giving you more options as to who can work on your site (though there are many other elements to future-proofing a site). It is very valuable to work with a developer who has been educated in universal, documented standardized principles.
What frameworks and GPL software am I talking about? Apart from WordPress as a CMS, I work in the Genesis Framework when it comes to themes. The Genesis Framework is a widely-known, high quality system for making WordPress websites. Is it the only way? No. There are others. But this is the one I chose to specialize in (for good reasons!).
The Genesis ‘way’ of doing thing can be specific. But, thankfully, it’s also documented and easy to follow, for a professional, trained developer willing to do a bit of reading and googling. But also thankfully, there are many other developers who already know the Genesis framework (some are also specialists). So, if you needed an outside hire at some point, you could still get help with your site.
For the other customizations that go beyond the scope of the Genesis Framework, I usually opt for other well-known, mass-market plugins. When a client wants a specific functionality for their site, ready-made WordPress plugins are usually the course of action I’ll recommend. I’ll also do research to look into the viability of these plugins, and how well supported they are (whether free or paid).
It is rare that my clients have wanted something so customized that a comparable, mass-market solution did not, or does not, exist for it already. If that ends up being the case for you, we’d have a further discussion about how this can affect the management, cost and longevity of your site going forward (whether or not you decide to keep me in the picture – though, I hope you do!). It’s not impossible to go completely custom and to avoid these pre-made plugins. But whether that’s the right fit for you will need to be discussed on a case-by-case basis.
5) WordPress security measures
WordPress is open source, and that means it can get hacked easily. I see a lot of sites not taking basic security measures on WordPress installations. This is strange, since it’s easy to learn of its common vulnerabilities. While I can’t guarantee your site will never get hacked, as no one can, I do everything I know of to keep things secure with basic protocols.
Some of your site’s security will depend on the choices you make and actions you take on it. For example, your decision on where to host your site, and how to keep it updated and maintained (if at all). Other safety practices (or lack thereof), that you perform on the site, after I hand it over to you, will matter too (like keeping passwords secure, not loosely giving out access to your site, keeping backups, ensuring you don’t install unnecessary software, nor upload vulnerable content, and so on). These should be basic, and I’ll advise you on best practices after we launch a site I make for you.
6) Really good communication about your website project :)
I think many these days have met a less-than-communicative web developer or programmer of some techy thing. There is a stereotype about this kind of folk. You know: introverted, disappears for a while, expects you to know what they’re talking about, etc.
I’m not like that at all. I’m a talker. I tell my clients what’s going on. I plan. I write things down. I try to make sure we’re on the same page. I ask questions. I want us both to be informed.
If things are silent on my part for a while, I usually write an e-mail just to let you know I’m still here, I got your message, and I plan to get back to you.
I believe I am a communicator at heart. Actually, I have a diploma in journalism and a degree in Communication. So I guess that makes me a communicator for real?
Why does Joyce explain so much to her clients?
When possible, and when they want to know, I attempt to keep my clients fully educated. I’m often providing as much explanation and documentation that I can for clients, too. I don’t consider my e-mails unnecessarily long when I’m writing them, though some people do find them long. My brain just wants to explain :) I’d rather you have the information you need to make informed decisions, than not.
I’ve heard this method of communication tailors more to some personalities than others. Some people just want the basics, and that’s ok too.
However, usually, when communicating project details to a client, I think to myself, ‘what would I want to know if I didn’t have any background info on this?’ Or, ‘what would be helpful to know that might save my client time and money if they know it before they take the action they want to take?’
Can I guarantee you I will always anticipate those questions in all of my e-mails and never leave out any information you may need in the future? No. But I can say it’s in my personality to veer in that direction, more or less.
Yes, explanatory types of answers can get long, and technical. But I do try to give a ‘dumbed down’ version of what I’m saying, if needed. And I also sometimes try to give a summary too. But in reality, my job as a web developer is technical. These projects are detailed. There is no way around it. So if someone wants to know something about the work I’m doing for them, there may be a longer e-mail coming :)
Why does Joyce ask her clients so many questions?
When starting a project with a new client, I can be known to ask a lot of questions. My questions stem from my desire to understand their business and intentions as fully as I can. I want to do the best job I can for you. The more ‘nitty gritty’ I can get, when it’s needed, the better. If I can get into your headspace, I think I can do a better job servicing you.
Phone calls are ok too!
If written communication is too much, that’s ok! We can get on a phone call to discuss questions and details about your project. Sometimes I’ll request that too – especially if I can see e-mail communication will be harder to understand some subjects. Sometimes, a Skype call with screen sharing visuals is really helpful, too.
After important phone calls, I usually write out a summary of our call, just to make sure we’re both on the same page about what we ‘remember’ of our verbal conversation (you know how those things go – human memory is SO frail). This is especially if decisions were made on the call that affect the scope of work at hand.
We’ll have a written agreement and project documents to keep expectations clear
Another example of my diligent communication style is with my documentation methods. My contracts are comprehensive, and fair. When managing a website design or development project, I’ve found it’s best when all parties involved know what to expect, and how we’ll work together. Sometimes, these projects that can span weeks, if not months. So, advance communication about our roles, responsibilities and timelines, is key.
For complex website projects, I’ve got questionnaires, contributions checklists, charts to explain milestones, written reports, approval processes, and so on.
Good communication also helps us stay organized. I feel it helps us make steady progress, without wasting time.
What do these WordPress websites cost?
The custom WordPress web development projects I work usually start at about $6,000. This rate would include design and and responsive development of say, an information-based website, where mostly text and images are used to convey messages to site visitors.
The rate would then increase for add-ons such as e-commerce, extra designed template pages, plugin licensing, extra software or framework integrations, stock image purchases, additional functionality, content architecture planning, writing services and so on.
Some projects can cost much less, depending on the expectations and scope of work involved.
However, each case will require an estimate, so please do get in touch if you’re interested in working together!
My contact info:
604 817 9962 (try e-mail first if possible)
“Can you work with my web designer to create my site in WordPress?”
You bet I can! However, there are some things you should know about the process of going this route.
Firstly, know that it may not cost that much less than simply having me take care of all of this for you, in one, ‘tightly wrapped’ package. That’s because, as explained above, the project management of a website can be quite complex, and involve a lot of considerations. Bringing a new person into any part of an existing project management system will take training and education.
So, inevitably, more communication time will need to be added to your website budget. This is so your designer and I can get on the same page about how the site will be designed for a successful build, and for ongoing marketing and SEO later.
When working with my own subcontractors, a lot of those discussions have already been had. People on my team already know their roles and what’s expected of them. Or, I train them with the view to doing multiple projects with me, which is a cost that does not get passed on to you, in those cases.
In addition, your designer will need to be a web designer. The difference between a web design and other types of design, are important to know. Your web designer, at a minimum, should:
- Know what acronyms such as “GUI,” “UX” and “UI” stand for.
- How to design for the technology they are working with (and not try to force technology to fit into their design.
- Know the possibilities of designing with pure code, especially CSS nowadays.
- Understand the basics of semantic HTML. For example, they should know the hierarchy of heading tags, and what tags like <hr> mean, and how it would relate to their designs.
- Know the latest Web browser standards and abilities.
- Know how to plan their design for mobile responsive code, and stacking of elements.
- Know how to produce designed files in the proper formats for web development and site speed. For example, they should know how to produce an icon font file, proper SVG exports of vector path graphics, etc.
And so on.
To keep development costs under control, it would help if the designer also understands the technology behind WordPress and Genesis, and is willing to work with me to come up with their design plans. If they prefer to send me wireframes or designs that they came up with on their own, without collaborating with me beforehand, it’s possible your development fees will increase. Other quality points noted above may also suffer. Not surely, but very possibly.
This is simply because of the extra work associated with getting an existing design to ‘fit’ in to a system or framework for which it was not originally intended. With my ‘in house’ processes and plans, design is budgeted along with development considerations, to keep project costs manageable. This is done without losing the ‘balance’ of elements that go into a quality website, as described above (design being one of them).
Finally, your designer will also need to be ok with the following:
- Delivering original Photoshop (.psd) files of your site design (if it was developed that way) AND specific exports needed for development. In some cases, delivering a single Photoshop file with hundreds of layers in it will not be feasible for a developer to work with. The designer will need to be willing to produce certain parts of the design in separated files, and in certain formats.
- Using Creative Cloud or other resources to provide an extract of the CSS needed to code their design into a WordPress theme.
- Refraining from infringing on any copyright issues to do with your site design, such as with font licensing, imagery, etc. Note that creative licenses for print are not always cleared for web use. And licenses to designers are not always transferrable to their clients.
The above requirements may seem like a lot. But for a trained web designer, this is pretty commonplace :)
And, if you’re getting a good deal on their design services, you may also be better off having my costs only account for the development and extra consulting time. That decision will be up to you, of course :)