I'm back! After a career break caring for my Mother, I am now free to work again.
Naturally over the time I was inactive, most of my clients have had to find other web designers to service their sites, so in a sense I am starting over. However I have extensive experience, beginning in 1997 when I first started doing this work, and when I was tapping out sites by hand in a very basic word processor.
Knowing how to code by hand is fundamental to creating websites that are going to be Google friendly - forget the automatic website design systems that allow you to create sites with no knowledge or experience whatsoever. They're never going to be highly placed in Google's or anyone else's Serps (Search Engine Results Page). If you look at the code behind such pages you'll see it is riddled with errors, not something any search engine is keen on. With a service like mine, all code gets checked for mistakes before it gets uploaded.
Another advantage of having your website done by an independent designer such as myself is greater control - you are not limited to the options provided by any online system - you are free to do whatever you want, as long as it is technically possible.
Add to that the fact that you have someone at the end of a phone to talk to and discuss any issues with you, the same person who created your site, and the advantages of using a service like mine are obvious.
Some of the sites I did before my career break still stand up to scrutiny, although as screens get bigger and resolutions get higher, websites get smaller. All sites I do are tested in Windows, Mac OSX, iOS and Android, with multiple browsers.
Here is the Pelham Planning website that I designed and produced last year (2013). Note how in these examples the earlier ones were done at a time when a relatively graphic rich environment was the norm. Then we had the redesign of iOS and the release of Windows 8, where flat design becomes more fashionable. You can see how Pelham Planning is flatter than Cotswold Cottages or Footprint Surveys. And then this site, which I'm creating in 2014, is entirely flat. Being aware of the ebb and flow of design trends, combined with solid technical knowhow is just not something you're going to get with online design systems. Throw in all the SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), and you're talking chalk and cheese. What you're getting with the online systems is the equivalent of a print ad - it might look pretty but it isn't much use.
(Please note these were done before mobile devices became common. I will be rewriting them as and when the owners want me to). First up is Cotswold Cottages. Both these sites were designed by a friend of mine and I was supplied the photos, text and briefing to create the site. I include them here because, despite being done 8 years ago they still look quite good. I think they demonstrate that I know what I'm doing, and that forward thinking is essential when producing websites - I don't want to be ringing the client up every few months and explaining further upgrades are required, and I'm sure the clients appreciate the lack of maintenance fees too.
Next we have Footprint Surveys. Exactly the same format, in that I was given photos, text and a briefing and produced this, to the satisfaction of all concerned.
These examples demonstrate that you can have me design and produce your site from scratch, or I can produce a pre-existing design for you, to a very high standard, in terms of visuals, site structure, SEO and all the rest. In my time, through agencies, I have worked on the websites of The Tate, Du Pont and many other leading names.
I no longer work for Agencies. Before designing a website you must have a complete grasp of the technical aspects of Web Design. I find a lot of agencies are staffed by print designers who have unrealistic ideas, which while they might work well in print, are not really suitable for the web, and in some cases, undesirable. Things go a lot smoother if I, or one of my professional contacts whom I have worked with before, do the design work on your site, as the issues relevant to web design are taken into consideration at the design stage, before anything is produced, thus saving time and money.
If you need hosting and a domain name I can recommend reliable companies that can provide these economically. (I do not act as an agent).