Tamela

So…What’s Your Story?: Interview with Sterling Williams aka The Web Stylist™

So What's Your Story Sterling Williams Tamela D'Amico

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With 22 years of experience in web design + a lifetime in Photoshop and Graphic Art, Sterling Williams started his business The Web Stylist™ 7 years ago. What began as ‘Sites by Sterling’  soon became a full service ‘one stop’ for not just website design but also creating client logos, media content, business cards, promo graphics, photo editing and as all of the services listed here.

TamelaFor the life of me, I cannot remember how we actually met. But I want to say it was like in 2012, and back then, you were actually a fashion designer. Briefly give me your backstory on how you came to be a web “stylist”.

Sterling: I don’t recall our initial meet/connect either Tamela, what the heck?! I of course remember our first hangtime was at the photoshoot we did with a few of my Style by Sterling outfits on top of your awesome Hollywood building roof top where you definitely brought the sexy!

And yes indeed, my background started in the fashion industry where I spent a decade as a clothing and fashion designer. I still have the website for my last collection online just for reference if ever needed https://StylebySterling.com However, after a decade in that field, I decided to transition into web design and founded “The Web Stylist™.” The shift allowed me to explore my passion for creative expression through digital mediums. With my experience in design aesthetics and attention to detail, I found that web design provided an exciting avenue to blend my artistic skills with the technical aspects of building visually appealing and functional websites.

 

Tamela – I’m in love with my website that you designed. What’s even better, you taught me the skills to make changes on my own. Let’s walk others through your process. When a client asks you to design a website, what are the first questions you ask?

Sterling: When a client approaches me to design a website, I believe it’s essential to understand their goals, target audience, and overall vision for their online presence. To achieve this, I begin by asking questions such as:

• What is the purpose of your website?
• Who is your target audience?
• Do you have any specific design preferences or examples of websites you like?
• Are there any specific features or functionalities you require?
• What are your branding guidelines or existing brand elements that need to be incorporated?

By gathering this information, I can gain a comprehensive understanding of the client’s objectives and tailor the design process to meet their specific needs. And yes usually I build out so that a client can easily updated the basic content of their site whenever they may wish to, so they don’t have to rely on and pay me to do. The larger company and corporate sites prefer I just always take care of all but for artists/brands/friends etc I definally like them to be independent to easily take care of and and all of that.

Tamela – What steps do you take to tackle the client’s vision, and how involved should your clients expect to be?

Sterling: Once I have a clear understanding of the client’s vision, I begin by creating a design concept that aligns with their goals and branding. I then present the initial design to the client, encouraging open communication and feedback. Collaboration is crucial during this stage, as it allows me to refine the design based on the client’s input. Throughout the process, clients can expect regular updates, opportunities for review, and the chance to provide feedback and direction.

Tamela – How do you incorporate current design trends in your work?

Sterling: As a web stylist, I believe in creating designs that are both visually appealing and timeless. While I do pay attention to current design trends, I ensure that they are incorporated thoughtfully and in a way that enhances the user experience rather than overpowering it. I carefully evaluate the relevance of design trends to the client’s brand and target audience, aiming to strike a balance between modern aesthetics and functionality.

Tamela – What do you see happening in web design that should be avoided, in other words, does something scream dated?

Sterling: One main thing I advise is to not use a ‘template’ based platform like Squarespace. I can immediately tell a Squarespace, Shopify or Wix based web design as those have very little design flexibility and look like 100,000 other sites. WordPress is by far by favorite web design foundation as I can truly dial in the ‘on scroll WOW factor’ as I like to call it. I incorporate dynamic elements like animations, parallax, and just an engaging overall style that visitors want to engage with. Creating a memorable site that visitors want to stay on, revisit, share etc is absolutely priceless and these days more than ever.

Web design is a constantly evolving field, and it’s important to stay ahead of trends while avoiding practices that may quickly become dated. Some elements that can make a website feel dated include basic static content, overly complex layouts that sacrifice usability, and reliance on outdated technologies that hinder performance and accessibility. Striking a balance between innovation and usability is key to ensuring a website’s longevity.

Tamela -Why do you think people/brands resist building a website to promote themselves?

Sterling: There can be various reasons why people or brands resist building a website to promote themselves. Some common factors include:

• Limited understanding: Lack of knowledge or misconceptions about the benefits and value of having a website.
• Cost concerns: Perceiving web design and development as expensive, especially for smaller businesses or individuals.
• Time constraints: Believing that building and maintaining a website will require significant time and effort.
• Fear of technology: Apprehension about the technical aspects of website creation and management.
It’s important to address these concerns by highlighting the advantages of having an online presence, emphasizing the scalability and affordability of modern web design solutions (especially when you choose The Web Stylist™! and referrals get my ‘family style’ rates), and providing support throughout the process.

Tamela – How do you handle pressure and tight deadlines when there seems to be endless revisions?

Sterling: I learned (the hard way many times) in my first year as a full-time web designer to use Working Agreements that outline all that we went over for a flat rate or an estimate of hours for the project. If we go outside of what was discussed and included in our agreement then I just charge my hourly rate. After 10 years running my business, I becase accustomed to working under pressure and tight deadlines, in fact I get more done in less time than clients usually expect so my turn around times are never behind. However to effectively manage such situations, I employ several strategies:

• Efficient communication: Keeping open and clear lines of communication with the client to ensure a shared understanding of project expectations and deadlines.
• Prioritization: Identifying critical elements and focusing on completing them first to meet the core requirements.
• Setting realistic expectations: Educating clients about the importance of balancing revisions and maintaining project timelines to achieve the desired outcome.
• Streamlining processes: Utilizing efficient project management tools and frameworks to streamline workflows and ensure smooth collaboration.
Ultimately, effective time management, clear communication, and a proactive approach help me navigate tight deadlines and revisions while delivering high-quality results.

Tamela – When you receive feedback from a client, how do you incorporate it into your designs? Tell me about a time you received harsh criticism for your work, if any.

Sterling: Feedback from clients is invaluable as it provides insights into their preferences and expectations. When receiving feedback, I carefully analyze it to identify the underlying concerns or objectives. I evaluate whether the feedback aligns with the project goals and make necessary adjustments accordingly. Communication plays a crucial role during this process, as I engage in open dialogue with clients to clarify their feedback and ensure mutual understanding.

While I strive to deliver designs that meet and exceed client expectations, there have been instances where I received harsh criticism. I approach such situations with professionalism and a willingness to learn and improve. I evaluate the criticism objectively, focusing on constructive elements that can enhance the design. By maintaining a positive attitude and using feedback as an opportunity for growth, I can deliver even better results in subsequent iterations.

Tamela – On the flip side, what’s the easiest job you have ever done?

Sterling: There’s quite a few projects that come to mind, and all of them involved two things: I had all of the content upfront, and I was given total design freedom. Clear communication from the beginning, a solid feel for their brand and shared visions made it easier to incorporate their initial thoughts/feedback, resulting in very successful and efficient projects.

Tamela – How does your process differ when working remotely?

Sterling: Working remotely requires effective communication and collaboration tools to bridge the physical distance between myself and the client. I utilize project management platforms, video conferencing, and other collaborative tools to maintain a seamless workflow. Regular check-ins and frequent communication help ensure that the project progresses smoothly, even without in-person interactions. Additionally, remote work allows for greater flexibility in scheduling and accommodates clients from various locations.

Tamela – How did your last two projects go?

Sterling: My last two projects, the website redesigns for LashGirlAcademy.com, were highly successful. Both clients were thrilled with the end results, and the websites received positive feedback from users and fans alike. The projects involved close collaboration, effective communication, and a thorough understanding of their unique needs and brand identities. Also, these were two projects that I was able to bring my AI design tools aboard to actually create the majority of the images and some of the text information. The outcomes were visually stunning, functional websites that reflected the clients’ visions while providing exceptional user experiences.

Tamela – Photo optimization was key for my website. How do you compress your images to optimize performance?

Sterling: Image optimization is a crucial aspect of web design to ensure optimal performance. I employ a few techniques to compress and optimize images, including:

• Bringing the images into Photoshop and sizing to 1500px width or 1000px high for vertical images and then ‘web optimizing’ the exports into our shared Dropbox folders, then importing into the site(s).
•If I’m hosting the site I also use my Managed WordPress internal image caching and optimization

Tamela – What are your plans in 2023 forward for you and expanding your company/brands The Web Stylist™ and The WordPress Ninja?

Sterling: I’d like to bring aboard a part-time and eventually full time assistant for one. I’ve had a few that I brought aboard at different times but finding the ideal person who’s motivated, talented, has a positive attitude and good vibe and is willing to constantly learn has been tricky to find, but I’m putting this out there again. Also I’ve been embracing AI since the end of 2022, and ever more monthly for my own productivity and creativity and work efficiency as well as bringing these new and growing Next Level content creation abilities to my clients. 4 of my last 5 projects have had MidJourney based images and ChatGPT text content to the forefront of my website designs and has been a total win WIN for one and all!

I know many people are concerned with Artificial Intelligence and how it can negatively impact certain professions short and long term but AI is here to stay and I know that from the beginning, well when ChatGPT first was released. I believe those that embrace it for a greatly improved workflow and productivity will of course benefit over those that don’t and for what I can bring my clients in terms creativity and providing the content they don’t have yet could use, then I’m going to be the one who can provide and deliver it all. I have a few web pages that showcase some examples and how it can help them, just to highlight some examples https://thewebstylist.com/ai-content-creation/https://thewebstylist.com/ai-created-imagery/

SO jazzed we were able to rejoin forces after all these years Tamela, from fashion/apparel styling a few outfits a decade via our impromptu photoshoot on top of your amazing Hollywood building, to ‘Styling you for World View’ (my initial web design catchphrase) via your awesome new custom WordPress based site design https://TamelaDAmico.com – by The Web Stylist™! 

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