COMMON QUESTIONS

GENERAL

Where are you located?

We're based in the beautiful Inland Northwest corner of Washington state, but I have clients all around the globe. Whether you're in Spokane, Washington or Wellington, New Zealand the design process is the same.

What is your preferred method of communication?

There are occasions when voice communication like a phone call or a Skype call will be the best option.  

On Build Days, we'll collaborate through a combination of instant messaging (on your choice of Skype or Facebook Messenger) and voice chat + screen sharing on Skype.  We'll keep a running task list within a project management system I've created in Google Drive.

Any other communications can be sent using the form in the footer of this website or by emailing me at larah (at) mindmeldcreative.com.

Can I hire you on retainer?

I do occasionally work on retainer. I prefer to only enter retainer agreements with clients who have established a good working relationship.  

My normal hourly rates begin at $85 per hour. Retainer rates are much lower.  Here's some information about how retainers work:

Retainers

Monthly retainers provide ongoing support at a discounted rate up to a set number of hours. Retainer fees are required in full and in advance of services. Unless otherwise stated, retained payments are set up on a 6 month subscription (or longer), which can be reviewed and renewed at the end of each term.

Any work that extends beyond the retained number of hours will be billed at the end of each month at my full hourly rate. Hours are billed in 15 (fifteen) minute increments.

Retainer payments are considered earned and are non-refundable. As many as 1.5 of your retained monthly hours can be carried over. As an example: A 5-hour monthly retainer can carry no more than 7.5 hours from month to month.  A 3-hour retainer can carry no more than 4.5 from month to month.

If overages or carry overs are happening regularly, we can adjust the amount of retained time to better fit your needs.

Retained Services

You can use your monthly retainer for any combination of the following services: Basic project management, technical advice, recommendations & guidance, question answering, editorial feedback (for DIY websites), step-by-step instruction, graphic creation, finding just the right photos, plugin recommendations, form design, 3rd party integration, minor css customization, and more. If you need something not listed here, just ask if it would be included in your retained time.

How do we get started?

Most projects begin with a chat during which we'll zero in on your needs and find a price + payment terms that fit your budget.

For web projects, you should start by downloading the Website Planning Toolkit as soon as possible. Then book your Build Day. After you schedule your big day, you'll be given a link to set up our quick chat. 

You can initiate a conversation by completing the form in the footer of this website. Or, if you'd like to get right to the chase, you can schedule a 30 minute chat here. 

 

When can we start my project?

I post my next available project start dates in the "let's start your project" section at the bottom of every page on this site.  

Sometimes, smaller projects can be slipped into my calendar in the space between larger projects. So if you need something small, don't be disheartened. Reach out to me. Let's see what we can do.

I recommend giving website projects at least two weeks of lead time so you can focus on completing the Website Planning Toolkit. However, if you've downloaded & completed it already, get in touch. We may be able to sneak you to the front of the line.

All Build Days and project start dates are tentative until the set up fee or deposit is paid. 

WEB DESIGN

What is a responsive website?

A responsive website is designed to automatically adjust according to your visitor's screen size.  The site is designed to look beautiful & function properly across devices (desktop, laptop, tablet, and phone).

Will I be able to update my own site content?

Absolutely! If you can place an order on Amazon or send an email, then you have the necessary skills to manage the content of your new website. I'll teach you the basics and make sure you're comfortable with the content management system. 

Do I have to host my website with you?

If you are on a Website as a Service contract, then yes I do require that we host the website...at least until the end of your contract term at which point ownership is transferred to you.

If you're paying with standard payment terms, your price includes 90 days of hosting. I strongly recommend that you choose to purchase an extended care plan. 

 

Please get in touch if you're considering migrating your website to your own hosting account. I can clarify what that means for your continued costs and recommend a few hosting services that I trust implicitly. 

Will you also host my email accounts?

No. MindMeld Creative does not host email accounts. I recommend setting up your @yourwebsite.com email addresses with GSuite from Google.  For most small businesses and organizations, this will be $5 per month. 

If you'd like us to help you get this set up or manage your GSuite account, we can incorporate this into your Site Care plan for an additional $5 per month.

Do you need my content before we start building the site?

Yes. The content is the most important part of your website. The site is designed & developed to showcase your content.  The first step in the site design process is to consider the overall goal of your website so we can work together to create the site architecture and user interface that will be able to achieve that goal.  To create that architecture, we'll organize pages, images, sections, text, calls-to-actions, and more.

Can you help me prepare the content for my site?

Absolutely. I created the Website Planning Toolkit to take as much anxiety and overwhelm out of this process as possible.  

The Toolkit is a comprehensive step-by-step designed to help you gather everything we'll need to build your website.  This will be your homework in the weeks leading up to your Build Day.

Can you help me source gorgeous images and photos for my site?

Yes. I love sourcing just the right images to convey just the right message! Each site design package includes a certain number of photos that I can source for you.  I can find more for an additional fee of $15 per photo.

Do you provide copy writing?

No. You know your business better than anyone. So, I encourage you to write the initial copy yourself.  However, I do provide copy editing and refinement.

I can help by massaging the words you've written, making sure that your site not only looks and functions great, but also reads well.

If you aren't comfortable writing your own website copy, I can make a recommendation for a professional copywriter.

Do you do SEO?

Mindmeld Creative does not provide search engine optimization services (SEO).  Your site will include the tools necessary to manage your own basic SEO needs.

You can purchase an add-on service for us to set up the basics of your SEO tools (COMING SOON).

If you have more advanced needs (like page redirects, site migrations, guaranteed ranking, etc), we can make recommendations for an SEO professional.

What are your website care plans?

We provide loads of additional services and support well beyond the design of the website. To learn more about our Website Care plans, go here.

How to the additional hours on Care Plans work?

If you need more than 1 hour per month of assistance, additional hours are available for a largely discounted price. These discounted hours expire at the end of each month. That means any unused time will not carry over into the next month.  

If you would like to retain monthly time that can carry over, please check out the Retainer question/answer on the General FAQ tab.

IDENTITY

What’s the difference between a logo and a visual identity?

A logo is a graphic or symbol that identifies a company, product, service, or person. Logos come in a number of different styles from a wordmark (with is a thoughtfully designed typographic nameplate), icons, illustrations, and combinations of styles. 

The logo is typically the central point of any branding strategy. But a logo does not make a brand identity.  This is where the visual identity comes in.

A visual identity includes the logo, but it can also include any combination of image style or tone (usually presented as a moodboard), a color palette, logo variations, a typographic system and supporting design elements or graphics such as iconography, patterns, photo style examples, etc. All of these elements are packaged together as a cohesive visual language and presented in something called a style guide. This is the visual identity.

Do I need a logo or a visual identity?

You need a visual identity. You need a cohesive, consistent brand. And the only way to present such a brand is through a visual identity.  

Now, the size of that endeavor can grow with the size of your business' needs.  A small or new business can do quite well with a simple identity system that includes a wordmark or logo, color palette & typography.  

A larger organization requires a more elaborate visual identity system to ensure that everyone in the organization is empowered to appropriately promote your brand.

What’s a mood board or a style tile?

When trying to convey a design idea things like mood, emotion, and tone can be remarkably hard to communicate. Designers often use mood boards to help. A mood board is a collection of textures, images and text related to a design theme. The mood board is meant to be used as a reference point and is not intended to be a literal definition of the final design. The goal of the mood board is to invoke the kinds of emotions & tone that we want the final design to invoke. From that reference point, we can select a style, color palette, and typography to begin creating a visual identity.

What is the difference between a concept and a revision?

Your design concepts will provide you with several different creative directions or ideas to choose from. I offer a number of concepts or versions depending on your design package.

Once you have narrowed down the options to one or two of your favorite concepts, I begin to refine your choice.This refining is called design revisions. It can include slight changes to the color palette,  iconography, typography, and proportions. Revisions typically do not involve changing the main concept of the logo itself.

What is a revision round?

Once we agree on the conceptual direction for your design, I offer a number of revision rounds based on your design package.

A round refers to the feedback - implementation - presentation loop.  Before a revision round, you'll provide feedback on the concept.

I'll interpret & implement that feedback in the form of edits. Then I'll present the updated design as Revision 1. At this point, all feedback is added to the to do list for Revision Round 2. This loop continues until you are happy with your design.

A revision round happens each time I apply your suggested edits to a design.  So, it will help both of us if you collect all of your feedback into one list with as much detail, clarity, & examples as possible.

What if I need more revisions? Or more concepts?

If you "run out" of revision rounds, more can be purchased for just $45 each. If you would like to be presented with entirely new concepts, more can be purchased for $85 each.

PAYMENT

Tell me more about Website as a Service

After almost 2 decades of building websites, I know one thing is true: your website will never be done.

Your business may have small shifts that change your direction or you might completely pivot and start focusing on something entirely different. This is a natural part of evolving businesses. But, small business owners and grassroots organization leaders often decide to hold back an evolutionary next step because "I can't afford to update the website again." 

Other than making space for your business' growth potential, Website as a Service is just smart decision making. Rather than dropping a relatively large sack of cash for a website that’s going out of date as soon as it goes live, you can make small monthly payments for one that gets better and better every day.

What is the Website as a Service contract term?

We require an 12 month commitment for Website as a Service contracts. At the end of the contract term, your monthly price reduces to just the cost of the Website Care plan.

You can think of it kinda like getting the fancy new phone with your mobile phone service. You pay a slightly higher monthly payment until that phone is paid off. Once the phone is paid off,  your monthly payments go down. 

 

How do I set up my Website as a Service contract?

When you choose a Website as a Service plan, you'll receive an email with a link to your terms and agreement. Clicking that link will take you to the Partial.ly customer checkout. This is a fully secure, custom checkout page with the payment plan amount and details listed.

You'll be asked to enter your payment method details, agree to the terms and conditions and type your name in a digital signature box to complete checkout and initiate the payment plan.

All future payments will be timed and automated according to the custom terms of your payment plan.

 

So is Website as a Service a loan or a service?

At first, it's both.

The minimum term on your Website as a Service contract is a no interesloan not service contract.  The Website Care plan is the service contract portion of that payment.

When you sign your payment agreement with Partial.ly, you are agreeing to pay the full amount of the loan according to the terms in the agreement.

At the end of your minimum term, after the loan is paid in full, your Website as a Service plan will become a pure service contract for the extended Website Care plan.

What happens at the end of the term?

After your 12 month term, you'll be enrolled in the extended Care plan.

We also offer an annual site refresh to Extended Care clients. The price and terms vary, but it's a great way to make sure your website looks fresh and new each and every year.

At the end of your 12 month term, ownership of the site design transfer to you.  (You always own the content on your site.)

If you decide to cancel your account with us at that time, we'll help you migrate to another host or package up your website in a zip file.

What if I'd rather just pay for my site instead of a Website as a Service plan?

No worries. You don't have to choose the Website as a Service plan. You can still choose to pay for your website with standard payment terms.

What are standard payment terms?

Standard payment terms split your project costs into two equal payments.

The 50% deposit will get your project in my schedule. While waiting for your project start date, you can focus on completing the Website Planning Toolkit.

The remaining 50% is payable on the site launch date or 30 days after the date of your scheduled Build Day, whichever comes sooner.

What if my project takes longer than 30 days to complete?

Website projects taking longer than 30 days will be charged a bi-weekly continuation fee.

Graphic design projects begin with a project timeline. Any projects that extend 30 days beyond the project timeline will be charged a bi-weekly continuation fee until the project is complete.

On day 45, I’ll send an invoice for the $325 fee. I’ll send this invoice every two weeks until website launch.

Yes, I know this fee is prohibitive. This policy is in place to avoid bottlenecks & long-lead times in my project calendar.

To avoid continuation fees, you are encouraged to clear time in your schedule during your project so they can provide feedback and meet any deadlines that might delay the project.

With the introduction of 1 Day & 2 Day Websites, this should not longer be an issue. However, delays are possible if you come to Build Day with an incomplete Website Planning Toolkit, are unavailable to collaborate and provide instant feedback during your Build Day, or if you are indecisive about your design...requiring many time-consuming revisions. 

 

The 30 day limit allows us time to schedule a second or possibly even third Build Day if we need to.  

 
The moral of this story is to be prepared, be available, and never, ever, never utter the words "I'll know it when I see it" to your graphic designer.

How do payment plans for graphic design services work?

I understand that you may not have a few thousand dollars laying around to drop on a book launch, business branding project, or a social media campaign. This is why I've decided to make payment plans available to my clients.

Most design projects over $750 can be paid with a payment plan.

Payment plans require a 25% deposit and include a 9% service charge. Monthly payments are made automatically. The number of monthly payments will be determined by the total price for your project. 

When you request a payment plan, you'll receive an email with a link to your terms and agreement. Clicking that link will take you to the Partial.ly customer checkout. This is a fully secure, custom checkout page with the payment plan amount and details listed.

You'll be asked to enter your payment method details, agree to the terms and conditions and type your name in a digital signature box to complete checkout and initiate the payment plan.

All future payments will be timed and automated according to the custom terms of your payment plan.

NOTE:  Payment plans are loans not service contracts.  When you sign your payment agreement, you are agreeing to pay the full amount of the loan according to the terms in the agreement.

Can I get a refund if I change my mind?

I do not offer refunds for website design or graphic design services.

There is one exception. If you've made a 50% deposit under the standard payment terms and you change your mind, you can get a 50% of your deposit refunded to you if you cancel your project in writing (via email is ideal) at least 7 business days before your project start date or website Build Day.

The 25% deposits for Partial.ly payment plans are non-refundable.

Website as a Service setup fees are non-refundable.

Automatic payments might be refundable. If you have a WaaS or payment plan agreement and if you cancel your project in writing (via email is ideal) at least 7 business days before your project start date or website Build Day, you will be refunded any automatic payments that may have been paid between signing your agreement and your start date/Build Day. You will be able to avoid additional payments by cancelling your Partial.ly agreement as early as possible. 

What if I miss a Partial.ly payment?

If you're on a Website as a Service (WaaS) contract or a payment plan for graphic design services, your payments are processed automatically each month. Please keep your payment method up-to-date in your Partial.ly account.

If your payment doesn't go through, Partial.ly will attempt to charge your credit card three times.  

If it doesn't work after three attempts, your payment account may be suspended. 

Remember, your payment plan is a loan not a service payment. 

If you do not update your payment method to re-initiate your account within 14 days, a $50 late fee will be added to your account.

If a WaaS account remains inactive for 45 days, your website will be taken off line until the account is caught up.

If a payment plan account is inactive for 45 days, a late 20% late fee will be added to your account.

If your Partial.ly account remains inactive for 60 days, the remaining balance will become due in full, and we will begin the debt collection and credit reporting process. Any legal fees incurred in the collection process will be added to your amount due.

 

Can I pay off my Partial.ly balance early?

Absolutely! You can log into your Partial.ly account and make additional payments anytime you like for any amount that you like.

Keep in mind that, regardless of additional payments, your automated payments will continue according to the terms until your balance is zero.

LET'S START YOUR PROJECT

I offer a 30-minute, no-strings consultation for potential projects. I also love building long-term friendships with my clients...which means I'm selective about who I choose to work with. 

If you're awesome and would like to work with me, click the link below to tell me a little about you & your project. I’ll be in touch to set up a time for us to chat.

MY PROJECT CALENDAR
Next available project start

October 3, 2017