Monkseaton Dog Spa – your business, your website

How to be a good web designer, tip #1

Last week saw the launch of my latest website,

Like all my sites, it started with a design consultation between myself and the business owner, Michelle.  I showed her a selection of my favourite themes and together we chose one which most closely fitted her requirements.

In this case, it was actually the Kathryn theme from, which had really been designed for accountants, but it had the right layout and all the sections that Michelle wanted so it made an excellent starting point.

The big problem with it from my point of view was that none of the available colours were anything close to what either I or Michelle envisaged.  That’s not a problem in itself, it’s just a bit fiddly when you have to identify every component that needs changing, so it can become a little time consuming.

I knew that Michelle was after mostly beige with pink highlights – this wouldn’t have been my choice.  Beige? Really? For a website? And with pink???? However, when I started working on it I realised that it actually worked quite well. The bulk of the background and navigation is in shades of beige, but I made the headings and navigation text dark brown, which actually looks a lot softer than a nearly-black, which was where I started.

Once I had the beige and brown sorted I added a nice, bright pink. It wasn’t too bright, but just bright enough to add a bit of zing to the site.  Marvellous! Only then Michelle sent me her logo.  And it turned out her idea of pink wasn’t the same as mine – she wanted a muted, salmon pink.

When I started to change all of my pink to Michelle’s pink I really wasn’t happy – I thought she should have consulted me before getting her logo done.  But the damage was done now – no way could I have my bright pink with the salmon pink of her logo – that would have been just awful. So off I went and changed all those pinks again.

You can see for yourself how the site finally turned out – it’s gorgeous.  The salmon pink isn’t zingy, but if you read the text too you’ll see that zingy is not what her spa is about – it’s about a dog groomer who prides herself on her gentle handling of the dogs in her care, and about her desire to create a calm, stress-free environment for them.  The website reflects that ethos in spades.

Not only that, but within a year of starting her business, Monkseaton Dog Spa was full and has remained like that ever since, with Michelle running a waiting list for new clients.

So what is the moral of the tale?  To be a good web designer, you need to be able to steer the client in the right direction, but you also have to accept that they know their own business better than you do.  If you work together you’ll create a beautiful website that the client loves and is happy to own, and with any luck she’ll come back when she needs more work, and will recommend you to her own friends and customers.  Win win all round!