When Kim Zeszutek of Filtering Light Counseling in Portland, Oregon, reached out to me, she was frustrated. She had been working with a developer who struggled to understand how she wanted her website to feel. Any time she wanted to make a change or provide feedback, she seemed to always get pushback.
"I tried my best to communicate [to my previous developer] what I wanted but because I didn't have the web design language, it took about nine months to get it to a place I was comfortable with."
Her practice had been in existence for about two years, and she was ready to put more effort into growing it. She knew that in order to grow her practice, she would need to have more control over her website.
This is one of the dilemmas I see private practice owners, and business owners in general, struggling with. It seems like there's two choices: either spend time away from your work and build your site on your own, or hire someone else to do it and risk having little control.
It doesn't have to be that way.
I love designing websites and writing copy. It's my "zone of genius." Counseling, I discovered, is not my zone of genius, so I don't do it. So many of us believe that we have to do everything ourselves - even the things that don't light us up. But the truth is, the more time we spend doing things that don't align with our strengths, the more time and energy we're taking away from our zone of genius.
If counseling, or coaching, or teaching is your zone of genius, I want you to focus on that. If website design, copywriting, and marketing is not your zone of genius, I want to do that for you. But I don't want to take away your control and agency over your website. With Kim's project, my number one goal was to help her feel confident in managing her site after I was done. Because I didn't want her to end up in the same place that I found her - frustrated and lacking control.
When we started working together, Kim was able to clarify who she was trying to serve. She discovered that her ideal clients were young adults, they were navigating dark times, and had interests in new age spirituality. She also wanted to serve youth with ASD diagnoses.
Her brand keywords were: youthful, nature, filtered light, spirituality, and sacred geometry.
Taking a look at her existing site, it definitely lacked a youthful energy. While there were natural elements, I couldn't feel the strong connection to nature that Kim carries, and the overall design didn't match the intense emotions that her ideal clients were likely experiencing.
Kim told me she wanted her site visitors to feel as if they were taking a walk in a forest; "There's a comforting smell and coolness," she explained, "and when the light filters through the trees, there's a feeling of warmth."
She told me that she named her practice "Filtering Light Counseling" because she's passionate about helping people see the light that filters through even the darkest of forests. She's an ecotherapist, and uses nature analogies to help her clients integrate healthy coping skills and self-awareness.
After learning more about her practice, her clients, and her goals, I was able to create a new visual identity for her practice that both matched her personality, and spoke directly to her audience. I updated her fonts, tweaked her logo, and created an aligned color scheme to help her website visitors feel comforted, energized, and inspired.
We both agreed that simplicity was a top priority, so her homepage now consists of a simple introduction, her practice's mission, and quick descriptions of her two main counseling services.
In addition to a more aligned design, Kim needed some important functionality on her new website. She runs therapeutic groups for youth on the Autism Spectrum, and needs to publish when and where these groups take place.
For this need, I created an events calendar to house the dates/times of her upcoming groups. Now, instead of going through a developer, Kim can quickly and easily create or edit her events, and they'll instantly publish to her group counseling page.
As she expands her practice, she'll be able to add more groups and let her website visitors know when and where they're happening.
Designing a website that instantly attracts her ideal clients, clearly describes what she does, and is easily navigated and controlled was a priceless experience for both Kim and I. I loved translating her energy and goals into visual terms, and she loved the ease, simplicity, and speed at which the project moved. This is what Kim had to say after we finished her site:
"My frustration with communicating and creating my vision of who I am completely dissolved. I'm once again excited and inspired to market projects I had put on hold because I was having challenges [with my website]. I am walking away with a website that projects the feelings I want to bring into the world and my practice. My time with Monica was extremely valuable, and the creative process was so enjoyable!"
- Project Length (start to finish): 5 weeks.
- What we started with: An existing site on a different hosting platform, an existing logo, existing headshots, and some existing copy.
- What I provided: Branding development (new fonts, color palette, and logo reframe), custom copy, template and custom design, custom sacred geometry supporting imagery, and basic editing on all photos.
To see Kim's full site, check it out here.