Use a hosting service that you love and trust

love-hosting

Your hosting service is like the owner of your website’s house. Choose a nice landlord.

Me? My “website landord” is solar-powered hosting from AISO.net – a sustainable earth-friendly hosting company that I trust with my business and my money.

In the past, I’ve used BlueHost with ease – and I support clients in using other services like HostGator and the like. (Just never use GoDaddy!

The choice is yours. But do look into your options! The best feature is a good referral from a knowledgeable friend – but a quality cpanel and good pricing is important too!

So why AISO for me? Continue Reading →

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WordPress Essentials: regular automated backups of your website

backup-ease

Take it from experience… Creating backups of your WordPress website is absolutely essential.

Just last week, a client reported that his website had been hacked… just a week after we had completed the website’s redesign! The hosting service had an archived backup from 2 weeks earlier. But it was missing the key updates that we had made.

So what did we do? Continue Reading →

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How I rock project management (Basecamp Basecamp!)

basecamp-best

The success of a website design studio relies on an efficient process. And I love a good collaborative process.

From client intake to design to development, your process needs to be streamlined and user-friendly. My process, which I’ve refined and refined over the years, relies on one key application.

And what is that not-so-secret special application, you may wonder? Continue Reading →

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What is my favorite WordPress framework?

woothemes-wp

Three years ago, I discovered WooThemes, and it has transformed my technical work with WordPress.

After exploring other themes and frameworks when I first started, I landed on WooThemes and found a treasure trove of tools and themes and functionality that I was looking for.

Then in February 2010, the WooThemes team released Canvas – a nearly blank theme with minimalist default styling for designing totally custom websites. That changed everything. Continue Reading →

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Why and how to track my time through the workday?

tracking-time

The single most effective habit of small business owners is tracking your time.

It took me almost two years to figure this out. But once I found a time tracking application that I actually loved and really used – then I became a miraculously good time tracker. Want to know my simple secret tool? Continue Reading →

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Why I choose WordPress, again and again

using-wordpress

WordPress.org is my go-to platform for all client projects.

I’ve been using it for years now, and although I’ve toyed with the idea of other platforms (like Squarespace and Joomla), I always come back to my deep love of WP.

When I first started my  work as a web designer, back in 2009, WordPress was the linchpin in my decision to make the jump to work for myself.

At that point, I had designed and developed in Dreamweaver with HTML – and I had  experience using Joomla in team collaborations – but it felt clunky and I didn’t love the user interface. I didn’t trust the technology. So what happened next? Continue Reading →

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New! Sharing my notes from The Bright Studio: digital learnings and wisdom

sharing-notes

Hello again! I’m excited to return to the blog here after a long digital hiatus.

For nearly five years now (5!), I’ve been working hard as a freelance designer and small business owner… And in that time, my attention has been hyper focused on client projects and expanding my service business (plus enjoying my everyday life!).

And now I am long overdue here on my own website. And there is so much to share! This year, as my work is transitioning, I’m looking forward to reflecting on what I have learned in my business and sharing that here on the blog.

I will be sharing my experience and knowledge about digital design, sustainable business and the simple+good life.

The ah-ha moments. The tips. The tricks. How I use my go-to applications – like WordPress and Basecamp and more. My work routines. How I run my business, and how I design and develop websites.

There is so much that we can learn from one another. There is so much that each of us has to share.

I look forward to stepping up and sharing more of my own digital love and experience with you. :: What would you like to learn about? What do I know that you’d like to learn about? Leave a comment below – or email me at lillie [at] thebrightstudio [dot] com

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[2011] Keep It Real

The point of your web presence is to be present.

So keep it real, share what’s happening with you or your business, now, today. This applies for everything from your website, to your latest tweet, to your email signature. It’s easy to overlook but important to be intentional.

What’s the challenge to being present in your web presence? What’s holding you back?

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[2011] 3 Steps to Brighter Branding

These are the essential V’s of visual style — three simple steps to keep your personal or business brand in line. This isn’t a check-list. There isn’t anything that can be crossed off, completed, finito. Each of these requires an ongoing process to keep it balanced, sustainable. Oh no, this here is a checkin-list. Check in with your V’s on a monthly basis. Your biz and brand will thank you for it.

Streamline your visuals.

Visual style magnifies your business and simplifies your updates + edits. Even for my own projects, I like creating a simple visual style guide — a color palette and a handful of graphic elements, like buttons and icons — in a Word document or Photoshop file. This helps get new projects started, and it especially helps when jumping back into a project (like updating your own website!) to maintain a consistent visual brand. Let’s not recreate the wheel each time.

Polish your voice.

We’re drawn to the beauty of an authentic voice – even in business. It’s everything: the message, the language, and the display itself. Copy isn’t just for explaining your services. Keywords + phrases aren’t just for SEO. Yes, how you shape your message matters. So what keywords + ideas are part of your biz voice? (For me: creativity, sustainability, light, balance, beauty, growth.)

Refine your values.

This is the core of your work, why you do what you do, what lights your fire. Beyond the what of your offer, this is the why. For some folks, this is easy to nail down — for others, it’s more challenging to pinpoint. The important step here is to constantly circle back to these values of yours. Review, refine, reflect. Keep that at the heart of what your work offers.

. . . . .

What tricks or tips do you use for your visuals, your voice, or your values? I’d love to hear them… Email me, tweet hello, or leave a comment below!

PHOTO BY D SHARON PRUITT

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[2011] Scratching for Inspiration + the Creative Habit

Some book are like beacons for me. They keep calling me back, over and over. Guiding me through the dark. I need to own a copy, just to have it nearby. The list is short (yes, I’m particular) — but Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit is near the top. It has great energy and sure-fire lessons for honing your creativity in daily life. (Plus, the book’s design is a killer in simplicity + typography.)

One of my favorite lessons learned is scratching in Chapter 6.

“The first steps of a creative act are like groping in the dark: random and chaotic, feverish and fearful, a lot of busy-ness with no apparent or definable end in sight… I call it scratching.”

This act of scratching put a name on all the tangents that I feel compelled to – trips to the museums, walks around my city neighborhoods, hours spent in bookstores. Exploring of the world for ideas, connections, sparks of inspiration.

When I’m just getting started with something new (or like now, in between projects), I remember: it’s time to do some scratching.

Click through my folder of “inspiration” web links. Go for a walk. Flip through some old sketchbooks. Pick up a novel for a half hour. Take a field trip to someplace new. And something always comes from that — wheels turning, mind whirring, the engine starts.

. . . . .

What are you scratching at this week? Where are your favorite places to go when you’re scratching for inspiration?  If you do creative work of any kind, I highly recommend getting your hands on The Creative Habit — worth it!

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