Websites for Small Design Firms

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    Jen Overton

    Hello all!

    Need some advice/brainstorming from the excellent community here.

    I am in the process of creating a website for my new design company and would like to use a template service with a simple interface and elegant template options. Some that I am considering/testing are:


    other people’s pixels


    Does anyone have experience with any of these or recommendations of other services?

    Must serve small design firm needs, which I am thinking are:

    nice portfolio display/interface

    easy to update

    looks good on mobile devices

    possibility for online payment


    Anything missing? Thanks for any help!!


    Susan Murray

    Hi Jen!!  Have you seen Ian Scott’s firm’s website?  I think it looks awesome…I wonder what they use. Good Luck – Looking forward to seeing your website!

    Mike Metevier

    try  mine is on there and they have plenty of templates

    Jen Overton

    Great to hear from you Susan! Thanks for the link. Big shout out to roothouse studio for their excellent site and work! I’ll check with Ian…

    Wyatt Thompson, PLA

    Roothouse’s website does *look* really unique and their display of projects is impressive. Unfortunately from an SEO (search engine optimization) perspective I bet it suffers. Google and other search engines can’t index web pages that are solely image-based nearly as well as they can sites that are built on a CMS platform. Maybe Roothouse has found another way on the back end of their site to manage key words and metatags, or perhaps they draw traffic through social media. I don’t know a lot about how the web template companies you mentioned work, but I would definitely want to make sure that your site is optimized for search if you want people to find you through any of the major search engines.

    Tanya Olson

    We used Word Press for exactly this reason. 

    SD gave technology grants to small businesses through the SBA for consultation with a tech advisor – ours said flash pages aren’t recognized through the search engine index. Our tech advisor was 9Clouds and they were great. How can you go wrong with a couple of guys who call themselves ‘brofounders’? 

    I had no idea how to maximize web traffic, search for the best key words, etc etc and you won’t find that on a web template. I still don’t really understand it, but Scott at 9Clouds walked us through every step. We used the 4 granted sessions and paid for one or two extras. While we didn’t have as much template selection on the artsy side we are maximizing our site the best we can until we can afford to have someone do it all for us.

    Great subject, by the way!


    Squarespace is best, easy and nice.

    Just make sure you get a simple dot com domain name. Nothing says unprofessional more than a url like


    Wordpress is the way to go. It is easy and can be changed quickly without paying someone. It is what I use and have never had trouble.
    Beyond that there are plenty of free themes that can get you started.
    Then at a later date you can always develop more with a web design company.
    I use hostgator for my hosting and domain registration. Don’t pay for bandwidth and storage when a company like hostgator gives you unlimited.
    I use Square for payments and think there is a WordPress widget for that.
    Just my experiences.

    Also I second a good .com name is important.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    I’m a big believer in low overhead when you are starting out. I’m not as big a believer that such a website needs to have as many bells and whistles. I have used a cheap template web hosting which costs me about $100 a year – Lycos Tripod. I’m fully in control of it. While it might not be a great web site, that is because of me – I seldom update it and did it entirely myself using one of their templates.

    It has served me well as a one person operation. I get about 30% of my work from it – all residential. All of my other work is from referal. I’m a big believer in keeping a lower profile by trying to be found by those seriously looking for someone who does what I do, so I don’t push it through other web reference sites.

    I do show up at the top of google when you type in “cape cod,landscape architect” – not sure how I got there, but I do share links with other people’s web sites and they reciprocate. I also have a link in a signature line in my posts on another welll viewed messageboard. It is six years old which helps with web spiders, if I’m not mistaken. It also gets robbed for pictures from time to time. I’ve found one of my CAD plans on a couple of different web sites.

    It is not great, but it gets my message to those looking for me and the price is right. I do no other advertising and don’t even list in the yellow pages any more.           http://www,

    You can always move your website to a more sophisticated web host, but my advice would be to start cost effective and see what it does for you.

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