FAQs for the Patrick Houston Design Studio

Professional Q&A

Q: Are you easy to work with, Patrick Houston?

A: I like to think that I am in most cases. I have a lot of long-time clients that have been with me for years, so I guess that speaks to that.

I genuinely enjoy collaborating with clients. Working together to come up with creative solutions to branding, marketing and design problems gets me excited and enthusiastic.

However, if you’re really looking for someone to drive the computer while you design, you will find me fairly prickly. And you will get billed at my very highest rate.

First and foremost, I am a problem solver and I believe that the best design is done by creative collaboration, not dictation.

Q: You said that you couldn’t publish a price. Can you give a rough idea?

A: That’s a fair question and I’ll do my best to give a straightforward answer.

For a fairly typical small client with a fairly typical small website, my price generally starts around $2,500 from conception to delivery of your spanky new website. Some sites are much more than that, few are less.

Without question, you will find me cheaper than an ad agency or bigger web development firm, but if you are looking for a $500 website, I am not your guy.

Having said that, I sometimes take on pro-bono projects or give reduced rates for non-profits, struggling artists, people doing great things for others and the like. But this time is limited as I also have a couple of causes I already support on the reg. There is also a Family & Friends Rate for family and friends.

One of the great things about working for myself is that I get to pick and choose who I work with, and doing work for folks that are trying to make a positive difference in the world makes me happy. I have also discovered the power of saying “no” – a freedom I didn’t have in my ad agency days.

But if you have a great idea and I have the bandwidth available, perhaps I can help, even if it is only to refer you to someone else.

It can’t hurt to ask.

Q: OK then, I need a redesign on my existing website, how much would that cost?

A: Answering that question is a bit of a moving target, but here are some basics:

If you already have a WordPress site and want to update the look, make it responsive for mobile, add new features and whatnot, and your content is good, this can be very affordable.

If you have a website built on a different CMS platform, depending on the platform, or if you want to move your site to a new server or some such, we can probably get it done fairly efficiently.

If you have a tired old website built with html, that is a different animal, but the content can perhaps be used intact – but probably not as a lot has changed in how sites are built since you had that website built.

So depending on the starting point, it can be as little as $1,000-$1,500 or very much more, according to the project requirements.

Q: Is a new logo included in the price of my website?

A: No.

Q: Why not?

A: Logo design is hard work. Logo design is time consuming. Logo design is an entire discipline. I wrote a post about logo design a few years ago. It’s worth a read if you are in the market for a logo.

Logos should be simple, memorable, and original, and getting there is an incredibly complicated and time consuming process. It takes hours and hours of thought and hours and hours of scribbling, and then more thinking and more scribbling to get anything worthwhile.

If you want a $100 logo for your $100 business, there are plenty of places to get one, but I am not interested in that kind of work.

Full disclosure: Having said all that, every so often, lightning strikes. Any designer who tells you otherwise is lying. The idea drops out of the sky and hits you on the head, and an hour later, you have a great, awesome, perfect logo. It happens.

Q: Can you give me a discount today for more work in the future?

A: No.

Q: Why not?

A: I fell for that a couple of times when I first opened. It did not work out.

Another question I get is “Can we partner on the ownership of my awesome project so we both get rich?”, which basically means “I have a great money-making idea but don’t have the skill to pull it off. Will you do all the work and let me have 80% the profit and all the credit?” (I’m looking at you Sporting Life Arkansas and Bourbon & Boots).

Yeah, no. I’m not going to do that again. Painful and expensive lessons learned with those. There is a saying I like, “My prototype will beat your business plan”. Great ideas are awesome and I’ve had a few. But it takes sweat to turn an idea into a product. I have discovered that if I don’t respect my sweat and get fairly compensated for my skill and talent, no one else will respect it either.

Q: What is this Search Engine Optimization business all about?

A: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is putting in place all of the functionality to hold the meta information needed to get your website ranked highly in Google search results. It is tediously time-consuming and takes a lot of data research, industry knowledge and specific skill. There is an awful lot that goes into it, way more than is possible for me to get into here.

SEO is incredibly important. The days of putting up a website and expecting anyone to find it are long gone. It is website development malpractice to build a website without basic SEO included. Even so, there are folks who won’t pay for it up front. They always, always, regret it.

I do SEO a bit differently than how most SEO specialists do it for a pretty simple reason – most SEO specialists are shysters. What they are primarily interested in is getting you to sign a long-term contract and most of what they do is designed to justify that instead of generate traffic for your website.

Now, SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is an entirely different beast of another color. The good SEM guys are worth their weight in gold.

If you are interested in adding SEO to an existing WordPress website, give me a call and I’ll give you the specifics. I am very good at it and can back that up with data.

Personal Q&A

Q: Are you some class of website design wizard, Patrick Houston?

A: I know this may come as a shock, but no, I am not a website design wizard, or any other class of wizard for that matter.

I am just an ordinary guy who has spent 30+ dedicated, passionate years in the advertising, marketing and design business and I have become very good in many different areas of it.

From strategic thinking, marketing planning, creative campaigns, art direction and design to execution, deployment and tracking, I know my stuff. And if I can’t do it, I have partners in all areas of the business who are very good at it.

I can, and have, put together ad-hoc teams and temporary virtual agencies to conceive, birth and successfully complete marketing campaigns on behalf of my clients.

Q: Well what the heck are you then?

A: I am a husband, a father, a website developer / graphic artist / print designer, a Razorbacks fan, and a comic book geek, in that order.

I am aware that the tone on my website is fairly informal. I am the same in person and that really does put some folks off. And that’s fine, I’m not for everyone.

But I really tire of the pretentious tone of so much in the advertising and marketing world. I believe that simple, honest communication, spoken in an authentic voice is the way to do business with you, and for you.

And I believe that we all do our best work together as friends rather than adversaries.

Q: A Razorbacks fan? How’s that working out for you?

A: Not so well lately, but hope springs eternal.

Q: How do you think the Hogs will do this year?

A: I am relatively optimistic, as I am every year before the season starts.

We have a fair bit of talent and experience coming back from a team that closed last year strong. I loved the way that the Hogs demolished a goodly portion of the SEC this year. It is certainly encouraging when we remember what a train wreck that Bobby Petrino left us.

We improved a game over last year, and even though some of the losses were a bit maddening, I still have faith in how Coach Bielema is building the team.

Q: Will the Razorbacks make the College Football Playoffs this year?

A: No.

Q: OK then, what about the SEC Championship Game?

A: Probably not, but this is a year where the SEC West is fairly wide open, so maybe.

But probably not.

Q: Didn’t I see you playing in a band back in the day?

A: Yes, you very well may have. I was in a band called Hell’s Kitchen for about 8 years from 1997 to 2005.

People were somewhat entertained. Judge for yourownself.

Q: What is the meaning of life, Patrick Houston?

A: I’ll let my friend Monty Python answer this one for me.

Exec #1: Item six on the agenda: “The Meaning of Life” Now uh, Harry, you’ve had some thoughts on this.

Exec #2: Yeah, I’ve had a team working on this over the past few weeks, and what we’ve come up with can be reduced to two fundamental concepts.

One: People aren’t wearing enough hats.

Two: Matter is energy. In the universe there are many energy fields which we cannot normally perceive. Some energies have a spiritual source which act upon a person’s soul. However, this “soul” does not exist ab initio as orthodox Christianity teaches; it has to be brought into existence by a process of guided self-observation. However, this is rarely achieved owing to man’s unique ability to be distracted from spiritual matters by everyday trivia.

Exec #3: What was that about hats again?