We caught up with Liz Webb, owner of LW Creative; a website design business based in Tauranga, New Zealand.
Tell us a little about yourself Liz. Did you have any web design/art/tech experience before you started your business?
I've been a Rocketspark Design Partner since around 2016. Before starting my business, I had previously worked for a kitchenware business doing their ecommerce site managing SEO, content writing, email marketing and product photography. I've also freelanced for agencies and have a diploma in graphic design and one in 3D design.
What made you decide to start your own business?
Growing up surrounded by a family of business owners, self-employment always felt like the right path. However, deciding what to specialise in was surprisingly challenging, especially with having so many interests in the creative field. I started my business for so many reasons. The top 3 would probably be flexibility at work, to take on projects that I felt passionate about and use my experience to help others.
At what stage in your journey did you realise that you needed a website?
I'd been freelancing for a couple of years and was ready to take the next step and start helping clients of my own. I had a few regulars on the side but needed to find more. People would always ask me for my website so they could see my work, or refer me onto others, but I didn't have a site. Starting out, I couldn't afford a good developer that could create what I wanted.
The phone call that changed it all.
I was halfway through pulling my hair out, drafting up my site in Photoshop when I received a call from Greg, the Partner Manager at Rocketspark at the time. It’s that conversation with Greg that became a total game-changer for my business.
Straight after that call with Greg, I was keen to get cracking and test out what could be achieved in the Rocketspark website builder. The dashboard was super user-friendly, and it was much easier to create layouts than on any other platform I had been using or had used before and I recall the photoshop draft site got deleted pretty soon after.
The most time-consuming part about building my own site was creating a decent portfolio. Most of my previous projects were created under agreements with agencies and that meant that I couldn't show any work online or mention any clients. So, I set about creating logos and brochures for local contacts and used my site as an example of the kind of web design I could offer.
When did you start building websites for your clients? How did that come about?
My first site was for a flooring company that my husband and I started back in 2005. The website was created on another platform, which looked good on the front end, but the content management system was overly complicated. I never felt confident making changes, and we couldn't adjust the design, only the written content—not ideal. The floorboards site was ranking quite well on Google. So, when I took the project on to redo the site, a big concern was if the change over would negatively affect the rankings.
Before starting the redesign, I took the time to brush up my skills on the latest search engine requirements. Rocketspark was super supportive in this area and quickly brought up to speed through their online SEO help guides and Design Partner Meet-ups.
The floorboards site went live in 2016, and it wasn't long before it outranked its former positions in all our targeted keyword search phrases. Realising that this website created on Rocketspark had the potential to perform well, and the support was top-notch, it gave me the confidence to offer web design as a core product to clients.
Tell us about your first ecommerce client.
The owner of my first ecommerce site came through a Rocketspark referral. She was quite nervous about the technical side and didn't want to pay ongoing designer costs for future changes. So what she needed from me the most was advice—everything from branding to ways to build trust with web visitors online, how to optimise and upload products to the site.
In addition to the help and information I could offer my client, I also pointed out that she had extra layers of support from the Customer Success team at Rocketspark plus their Partner Network if needed—this was a significant advantage that eased any concerns.
What were some of the challenges and learnings you faced in the early stages of your ecommerce web design career?
Setting up ecommerce is surprisingly simple on Rocketspark. Slide that toggle across, enter a few products and hey presto, there it is.
So, one of the biggest challenges I faced early on was quoting correctly for the job. When you're designing a site for a new client, it's not quite as straight forward. Each project will be unique, and there will be lots of questions and decisions to be made throughout the process. As these steps are quite time-consuming, I always tracked my hours so that each job quoted would become more accurate.
Educate yourself so that you can educate your client. I’ve learnt that clients often work with me because they need advice and they trust that I have the knowledge and experience to deliver this to them. It's my job to educate them with the most up-to-date information that's relevant to their project. I’m confident to be able to answer any questions that come my way and offer the best advice available.
Providing knowledge-based answers and solutions builds trust and when a client trusts you, the project is more likely to run smoothly.
Clients are also naturally concerned about their investment; ecommerce websites need to generate sales.
Your client needs to feel like they have the perfect platform, the knowledge and tools for their investment to pay off. Tell them about it. I’ve found that by educating my clients on exactly what their Rocketspark website provides, and by advising them on website marketing techniques to apply, like how to write product descriptions that focus on benefits rather than features, they feel empowered to be able to take over their website admin after launch, with confidence.
How has ecommerce website design contributed to growth in your business?
It’s been a game-changer. Ecommerce clients are usually more invested in their website, and the potential for ongoing work is much higher.
What do you love most about building websites?
It's a mixture of creative and practical, and I enjoy the whole process. I love creating a good-looking site that fulfils a purpose and hearing that the client is happy and website sales are being made.
Do you have any advice to give to designers, marketers, virtual assistants on cracking that first ecommerce site?
Recognise that you can't do it all. For instance, your client will need an online advertising plan in place ready for when the site goes live. They may need social media management or content for email marketing. It's a good idea to align yourself with specialised people that you can trust, and introduce them to your client at the right time. The Rocketspark Partner Network is a great way to find those talented people. They'll help you to fill the gaps in your business so that you can provide a better service offering to your clients.
Also, in the words of Nike "just do it". The Rocketspark team are always super supportive, so you never really feel like you're on your own. You'll always have extra advice and support at hand if you need it, as well as a whole library of help guides at your fingertips. If you can, add ecommerce to your website and start learning that way. You'll only get better and more confident with practice.