I Heart My Web Designer

Running a website like Chocolate & Zucchini isn’t a fire-and-forget operation: ever since I did my big redesign (and major switch to the WordPress blogging platform) a couple of years ago, I’ve kept busy behind the scenes, tweaking things and adding features to improve your experience and the site’s performance.

I’m not doing this alone, fortunately: I am lucky enough to work with the amazing cre8d design agency for my site design and development. Cre8d is a brother-and-sister team (which I think is super sweet): Rachel Cunliffe handles the creative side, while Stephen Merriman takes care of the technical implementation. And I can’t speak too highly of them. Their professionalism, their informed advice, their fresh outlook, their responsiveness: it just feels amazing to have them on my side.

I thought I would offer this review of cre8d because I know many of you have a blog of your own, and it’s often in the wee months of the year that we feel an irresistible itch to change things up, whether it’s a mega overhaul or just a fresh coat of paint. Or maybe you’re just wanting to start a blog (yay, you!) and you want a personalized WordPress theme that will help you stand out.

But it’s hard to find web designers who are both talented and reliable at a reasonable rate, and I feel like I’ve struck gold with the cre8d team.

The C&Z site, as designed by cre8d

I’ve grown close to Rachel over time — we actually belong to the same mastermind group* now — and when I said I wanted to recommend cre8d to you, she and I decided to form a partnership and offer you a sweet deal.

If you’re considering a blog design or redesign, take a look at the cre8d portfolio. If you like what you see, go ahead and fill in their project form, so Rachel can get back to you with a proposal, entering the referral code CNZ.

Using this code will let Rachel know that you’re a special client referred through me, and this will get you:

  • A free copy of Rachel’s e-book 101 Ways to Market Your Website — a $19 value and full of actionable ideas,
  • One free hour of credit for any ongoing site updates or maintenance when your site is live (and because Stephen is a very efficient engineer, he achieves a lot in a single hour!).

And if you’re not ready to make a move yet, still make sure you follow Rachel on Twitter and on her blog, where she shares insightful thoughts on blogging and design.

Join the conversation!

Have you had good or bad experiences working with web designers? Do you have a site of your own that you’re feeling the urge to make over? If you have any question about the process of working with the cre8d team, please let me know: I’ll be happy to share my experience in more detail.

* A mastermind group is a small group of like-minded professionals who get together on a regular basis to share their successes and struggles, and offer feedback, advice, and resources. I belong to two such groups — one where we meet over Skype, the other in real life — and it has had an immeasurable impact on my work life. I recommend it to anyone, self-employed or not. To learn more about how to get your own group going and how to run it, read this post and this post.

  • Great resource, thanks for sharing.

  • barbc

    I am glad you like your web designer and I understand the need to make a food blog profitable. However, the pop up ads that show up throughout and hang on the bottom of pictures have ruined your formerly enjoyable website. I wasn’t going to say anything but the heading of this post encouraged me to. For what it’s worth I have been visiting your web space since you were in California. I am sorry to lose this place to visit.

    • Thank you for taking the time to write in, Barb, I appreciate it. As I mentioned, I am always experimenting, so it is helpful for me to get your feedback. (For the record, the cre8d design team doesn’t handle the ads or the ad placement — I’m using an ad network that’s a third-party company.)

  • Clotilde, you’ve made my day – thank you! I so admire your thoughtfulness and work ethic. I hope we can get to meet one day in person :)

    • My pleasure, Rachel, it’s so easy to recommend a service you’ve been 100% happy with. ^^

  • Ginger Smith

    I have been working for several months now building a food blog. The last couple of weeks I have made a big push and spent all day working on my website. As I sit here totally numb from staring too long into the computer screen I dream of someone to sit beside me and help me out. Oy! Since I am new and not making an income from blogging I have been hesitant to hire someone. I have been surprised at how the cost keeps adding up. I like Word Press but it is not always self explanatory to a newbie like me. I wish I could check your friends out but I am in NY.

    • Hi Ginger,

      I’ve noticed that for most people, their first year of blogging is particularly hard – they start off inspired and full of hope and energy, then easily feel bogged down by all the things they feel they need to do, the frustration at not getting the traffic, seeing people who’ve made it and wishing they were at that point too, pulling their hair out trying to get the code or layout working how they want….

      Most of the people I work with are in NY – jumping on a Skype video call makes the distance disappear away (well, except for the fact that you’ll see me wearing my summer clothing at the moment!). If you’d like to simply talk over where you’re at and some ideas, I’d be happy to Skype or call you :) Drop me an email and I’ll make it happen :)

      • I can attest to the summer clothes! It sort of feels like time travel. ^^

      • Ginger Smith

        Thank you Rachel for your offer. I will keep you in mind. There is certainly a lot for me to learn on multiple levels.
        I am jealous of your ability to wear summer clothes now and New Zealand is a place that is on my wish list to visit. My sister, the lucky duck, has been there 3 times!

        • Thanks Ginger! I hope you get to come down here one day too :)

    • I sympathize with the overwhelm! Bjork Ostrom of Food Blogger Pro talks about the concept of “1% infinity”. Rather than wanting to do everything all at once, focus on improving by 1% each day (or week or month) and if you do that for long enough, the sky’s the limit! But slow and steady definitely wins the race.

      As Rachel mentioned, location would not be an issue — they’re based in New Zealand, but the time difference or the distance have never been a problem.

      I hope that’s helpful. And never hesitate to come to me with a question about blogging, if I can share some insights I happily will.

      • Ginger Smith

        Thank you Clotilde. I have been going at this at a slow pace, but recently I wanted to really see if I could push it and get my website published. Thank you for your offer.

  • I cannot say enough wonderful things about Rachel and Stephen — and I say plenty of them to anyone who will listen. Clotilde, your site is STUNNING and sometimes makes me wish I were a food blogger. :-) Oh, and PS — I’m meeting Rachel for the first time next month!

    • Thanks so much Dianna, I’m glad we have her in common, and appreciate your kind words. Give Rachel a hug for me, will you? ^^

  • Clinton Davidson

    It’s worth pointing out that you engaged this team even though you have a background as a software engineer. Not only do you want to spend most of your time on your main job, but the skill sets required
    are rarely found in a single person- hence the brother and sister team. As far as the banner ads, the business models are either to use a subscription model (which is hard even for establish brands like
    the NYTimes, Figaro, or Cooks Illustrated), or use banner ads. Decent content isn’t free.

    • That’s a very good point, Clinton. I did start out doing everything myself, and as time went on decided that it was best to focus on what I do best, and let others do what *they* do best! And I appreciate your thoughts on quality free content. In an ideal world (= me being independently wealthy!) of course I would lose the ads, but that’s not sustainable at this point.

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