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Original design by Maggie McLeod Designs.
Mariana Ruiz has been a custom tailor and bridal gown seamstress for 30 years. Her skills are renowned and she’s been relied upon as a tailor for a wedding gown specialty store in Altamonte Springs, Florida, for two years.
Prior to opening Bridal Solutions and Custom Tailoring in Maitland, Florida, Mariana was a seamstress in New York with bridal gown salons for 28 years.
Sewing, fitting, designing and tailoring is Mariana’s personal passion because she learned from her role model and from one the best tailors: Her mother.
“My Mom is a seamstress. She taught me everything I know,” said Mariana. “I went to school for this, but I learned patterns and cutting from her.”
Mariana enjoys bridal gown fittings because of the satisfaction she receives after a bride receives the dress of her dreams.
“I’ve created brand new dresses from what a bride brings me,” Mariana said. “It starts out as a plain, basic gown. I add sleeves, lace, and basically customize it to what she wants.
“It’s really hard to find the perfect wedding gown. But if she can describe it to me I can add on and reconstruct her gown. I can custom make gowns too. A lot of times brides have their mother’s dress. I can alter it to update it, fit it to her perfectly and make it the dress she’s always dreamed of.”
Visit Mariana’s site: Bridal Solutions and Custom Tailoring.
By now everyone is settling into the recent changes made by Google. On April 19, 2012, Panda 2.5 updates went into effect followed by Penguin updates on April 24th. Many sites fell hard in the rankings and some sites were ecstatic when their rankings improved dramatically.
Confused? Not sure what all this means? Join the club. Many website owners share your frustration. If you were one of the unlucky sites that lost ranking, it’s time to sit back and take stock of what transpired. Did you employ black-hat SEO tactics? Do you even know what black-hat SEO tactics are?
Let’s take a step back. There are many opinions about the recent Google algorithm changes. The Penguin updates were designed to address problems with web spam. The purpose of the update was to reduce rankings for sites that violated Google’s quality guidelines. As with all Google algorithm changes, there is disagreement about what techniques violate these guidelines.
The Panda 2.5 updates targeted over-optimized sites and sites associated with link-building networks. Some sites were totally removed from Google’s index which is deadly. Some link-building networks are issuing refunds to customers because of the devastating hit to rankings.
We believe in creating solid websites that have quality and focused content. We do not buy links for our customers nor do we recommend they engage in such tactics. Updates such as these happen throughout the year. Google is constantly evaluating the results of their algorithms and make adjustments periodically.
At Maggie McLeod Designs, we will help you build a solid foundation based on your strategic goals. We will answer your questions and help you develop a strategy to get your site ranked without ever using black-hat tactics.
Contact us today to get started.
We recently had an inquiry about updating a WordPress site for a client. The site that seemed so simple in the beginning had become difficult for them to manage. They were looking for someone to make major modifications to their site without impacting their existing traffic.
Content Management Systems are often a good solution for the client that wants to control their content themselves. Quality content management-based websites are built on sound design decisions with a focus on strategic marketing goals. Neither was in place for this client.
My client’s ‘friend’ helped him buy the URL name and select a hosting package. Once the site was configured, many different color combinations, page layouts, and strategies were tested. No clean up was done to remove what had been unsuccessful. The same ‘friend’ helped with SEO by trading links with a link farm who had a less than positive reputation with Google. Needless to say this was a very bad decision.
Over time, the responsibility for updating the site changed hands. Complete access to all the content of the site had been given to at least 5 people. Poor content was now peppered throughout the Search Engine results and the owner of the site was not aware of the problem.
These impacts can be far-reaching. Content can be published prematurely. Associations with link farms can kill your hard-won search engine results. The cost to correct the problems is almost always more than the cost to prevent them. Worst of all, friends become enemies. Is it worth the risk?
The solution for this type of problem depends on so many factors. Sometimes configuration changes can be made successfully, and in some cases, a complete re-build of the site and re-launching is the solution. Working with Search Engine companies to restore your reputation takes time – sometimes a very long time.
Web design should be included in your overall marketing and business plan. Taking shortcuts upfront will be much more costly in the end. At Maggie McLeod Designs, we want to work with you to develop a website that supports your business plan.
Let us help you take the first steps to achieving a strong and effective presence on the web.
In my opinion, good designers spend as much time away from their computers as they do in front of them. Remember the old adage All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy? My name may not be Jack, but the message is not lost on me.
Next week I will be drawing inspiration from the artists participating in the Winter Park Paint Out hosted by the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens. This is a highly anticipated event by art enthusiasts throughout Central Florida. We have been attending the event for three years and we are very excited it is just around the corner.
The Paint Out kicks off on Sunday, April 22nd and culminates with a fabulous Garden Party the following Saturday, April 28th, at The Polasek. Throughout the week, 26 plein air artists will be finding their inspiration throughout Winter Park as they capture the light, the scenery and the activity in and around our beautiful town. In addition, several artists will be offering demonstrations showcasing their oil painting and watercolor techniques. Check out the schedule of events for dates and times.
For those of you who frequent Park Avenue, you can expect to see artists capturing street scenes. Last year two friends came to the Garden Party specifically to purchase a painting they were in. They were delighted to have such a wonderful memento of a quiet lunch on Park Avenue!
The Garden Party is my favorite event. This is the public’s chance to purchase an original painting from one of the artists. You will have an opportunity to meet the artists and talk to them about their work. I always love hearing the ‘back stories’. It makes owning the painting so much more personal when you know what the artist endured to paint it! The event always sells out, so make sure you get tickets now so you will not be disappointed.
If you have never attended this event you have really missed something special. I recommend you attend. You will not be disappointed – in fact – you might just find something to inspire you in your own work.
Let’s just say I’ll see you there!
I recently had the pleasure of working with a clay artist from Orlando, Douglas Bringle. He is an amazing artist with a quiet disposition. He has been working with clay as his medium for fourteen years. Using traditional pinch, coil and slab methods he creates amazing art. His pieces are sometimes whimsical and while contemporary, they embody the feel of the ancient cultures that he loves so much.
We love to work with first-time website owners at Maggie McLeod Designs. It give us an opportunity to meet and talk with the owner of the website and really understand the look and feel they are seeking.
Douglas is an artist. His work represents contemporary and ancient cultures spun together through the use of textures, color and subject matter. We wanted his website to reflect his art. It needed to tell his story and serve as a place for people to learn more about him and his work.
Doug (as many people know him) teaches art to both children and adults at Crealdé School of Art in Winter Park, FL. He takes great pride in creating a curriculum that sparks curiosity and inspires creativity. Children create magical creatures intertwined with bits of science, history and geography – they love what they learn.
Adults find relaxation in his classes. They enjoy learning about ancient cultures and techniques in his ‘Handbuilding like the Ancients‘ class. You will find a schedule of upcoming classes on his website.
Doug is a graduate of the University of Florida and is well respected as an artist in the Central Florida area. His pieces are alive with texture and often contain hidden features if you examine them closely. His work has been exhibited at Disney’s Festival of the Masters and EPCOT’s International Flower and Garden Festival. He is a frequent exhibitor at art festivals throughout the state of Florida. Douglas’ exhibitions are not confined to the state of Florida, however. He has also exhibited as far away as Tennessee, Virginia, California and Belgium!
You can find out more about this amazing artist by visiting his website – DouglasBringle.com – or by emailing him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maggie McLeod Designs is a Winter Park, Florida web design company specializing in website builds and rebuilds.
Contact us for more information.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is often misunderstood in the process of building a website. The client and the designer spend hours hammering out a design, content and navigation. Once a design is approved, a good designer will insure that the website is architected so that the design is ‘SEO friendly‘. Marketing, social media and SEO are often separate deliverables with separate pricing structures.
A good designer will define deliverables and set expectations for both the designer and the client. Websites can be beautifully designed and fully functional and yet generate minimal traffic. Marketing a website entails ongoing work requiring extensive research, daily traffic monitoring and implementation of strategies to help the client get their website ranked. Clients may not have the time, knowledge or manpower to take on this level of work.
This is the most common statement heard from clients after the website is online. In some cases, the client may have contracted for SEO services, but in many cases, the client opted not to purchase ongoing marketing and SEO services. Unfortunately, there is no ‘magic’ involved in SEO. It requires knowledge, time, and quality content to establish and achieve SEO goals.
Small businesses rarely have available staff that can take on such rigorous requirements. If the staff does exist, they may not have the knowledge or the skills to get the website to come up in search. Depending on the competition, this may take months and mistakes can be costly in terms of ranking among your competitors.
I recently did some research about Orlando auto parts stores. There were over five million results returned. Five million. If I did a more specific search, the field was narrowed down to one and a half million results. That’s the competition.
The easy answer is ‘in the beginning’. Everything is strategic. The end results require the proper planning and strategy in the beginning steps of the project. It is imperative to be upfront about your business goals and to communicate those thoroughly to your design company. The relationship between designer and client is a strategic relationship.
This is great news and news we all want to hear. Getting there and staying there are two different things. Remember the auto parts store and their competition? Over a million search results and statistics indicate most people do not look past page one of the results. Remember: Your competitors are reaching for the same brass ring.
It can be overwhelming – but it does not need to be. Establish your goals and your budget upfront before you call in a design company. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you clearly understand your goals, it will be much easier to communicate those goals to the company that will design and market your website.
Apparently Facebook has finally succumbed and has started the verification of celebrity and other high profile accounts. This will allow the use of nicknames or pseudonyms for people in the public eye.
Twitter has been doing this for a long time and I have appreciated knowing when I am following who I think I am. The difference with the Facebook verification is this – the common people will not be given any indication of the verified account. Twitter puts a checkmark beside the verified name. Facebook does not plan to do this.
So, celebrities can use their stage names and no longer must use their legal name on their account. But we won’t know who the verified accounts are.
The verification process will require uploading an official id such as driver’s license or passport. Or you can upload two other id’s such as a credit card or social security card. I, for one, am not going to upload my private documents to some unknown holding company. I guess that’s why I am not a celebrity.
Not yet, anyway.
How do I get on page one of Google?
That is the phrase every web designer will hear at some point during the design and configuration of a website. It is an honest question, usually asked without the client understanding the work involved to get there.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of having your page rank high in search engines naturally – often referred to as organic search. This means you are not paying money to gain visibility through advertising. Sounds simple and straight-forward, but it is truly a process that literally changes daily.
The standard method of achieving organic search results requires a properly structured website with current and quality content. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, the algorithms change frequently and staying current takes a focused effort that most website owners do not have time for.
Many businesses rely on metrics to measure the success of their marketing efforts. Google provides an analytical tool to measure those statistics. With the introduction of Google’s new encrypted search algorithm, some of those key metrics are no longer visible. Now what do you do?
The terminology and methodology can be overwhelming. The methods employed today may change tomorrow. It is important to find an SEO company that stays current and knows how to get access to the information needed to evaluate your website’s performance.
Who Needs SEO?
The simple answer is: Anyone who wants their website to be found. If you have launched a new site, or had a website rebuilt, or if the website you own has been on page 30 of Google searches since it was launched, then you need SEO. Tread cautiously when someone offers quick-fix packages that equate to buying performance. If someone wants to sell you 1,000 inbound links, turn and run the other way. Quality content always trumps quantity.
There are many ‘free’ tools on the internet that may tell you how well your site performs. They may tell you if there are errors, or if your structure is broken. They will not tell you how to fix those problems and how to move toward a higher search engine ranking.
Unfortunately, there are some unscrupulous methods used to attempt to achieve a high Search Engine Result Page (SERP). These methods are known as ‘black hat SEO’. Google and the other search engines are constantly changing their algorithms to weed out the bad guys. If you employ these methods, you risk the possibility of getting banned by the search engines. It is a long and painful road to come back after being banned. In many cases, you might be better off to buy a new URL name and start over.
SEO requires ongoing research, evaluation of methods, monitoring and updates based on those findings. SEO is not something you can do part-time. Find a company that will work with you to analyze your goals, evaluate your website and your positioning on the web, and offer a strategy to help you get where you need to be.
Successful website design depends on several key components. Everyone wants a website that looks great, but then what?
In today’s market, you may find a web designer who will design a striking website for a relatively small fee. The designer gets paid, the client gets a great looking website and everyone is happy, right? Remember the old adage about the ‘needle in the haystack’? Web design is much like that. You can have something beautiful and shiny hidden in a mountain of hay and you may never find it.
Know what you hope to gain from your website. If you want people to fill out a contact sheet, or find your email address or phone number, then SEO is critical. Most businesses do not have a need for a ‘vanity website‘. They seek out a web designer to help them solve a business problem.
Discuss website functionality requirements before you discuss design. Do you need to measure website traffic? Do you want to be on page 1 of Google? Do you want to know that when someone types a particular word in a search engine that your site will be found? Do you want to be able to blog? Do you want to run an Adword campaign? Do you want to integrate social media? All of these requirements are best discussed up front before the design is done.
Remember, it’s easy for someone to find you online if they know the name of your business. If you are looking for new business and new customers, it will not happen without the work being put into the design and the content. It is time consuming and an ongoing responsibility. Many web designers offer support packages for this reason.
We want you to be successful. Communicate upfront and honestly. Don’t get caught up in the design, the fonts or the graphics until you have discussed functionality. You won’t regret it!
Maggie McLeod Designs
We Make the Web Beautiful