My evenings (and early mornings) have been pretty busy over the past few months. After coming home from work and eating dinner, playing with the kids and putting them to bed, spending a little time with Sara and taking care of a few household chores, I’ve been sitting down at the computer and cranking out a few web sites.
A friend of mine in Grand Rapids has a few web sites that offer warranties—one for GM extended warranties, one for Ford extended warranties, and one for Chrysler extended warranties. The sites were getting buried in the Google search results, so he asked me to help move them up in the rankings. A whole industry has emerged out of the need for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and a lot of it seems to be equivalent to magic 8 balls and dowsing rods. There are all sorts of snake-oil salesmen selling people “guaranteed” number-one search results and crooks trying to “game” the system by creating Link Farms, stuffing pages with keywords, and releasing various forms of spam—making it difficult for honest people to have their sites noticed, especially in certain markets.
My work on these sites consisted mostly of reorganizing the source code, making the content more prominent and more easily indexed by the search-engine robots. I didn’t make any substantive changes to the designs that were already in place, but instead worked behind the curtain, so to speak. It’ll be interesting to see how much their rankings improve over the next several months.
Another friend of mine, Sara Hendren, is an artist in Los Angeles, specializing in primitive, naturalistic paintings. I had a great time collaborating with her on the design of a new web site to display some of her more recent work and list her exhibitions for other galleries who might want to consider showing her paintings. We came up with a spare, minimalist design with a sophisticated, modern feel. The site is pretty simple and small, but I’m really excited about the way it turned out.
On the other end of the spectrum is a site filled with custom house plans by internationally acclaimed architect Wayne Visbeen. It’s the first “e-commerce” site that I’ve ever done, and it was enormously challenging. There are currently a little over 100 plans that people can purchase online, with options for either a one-page, high-resolution PDF or a full 16-page set of documents that are complete and detailed enough for a contractor to use to build the houses. Mr. Visbeen, who happens to live in the Grand Rapids area, has a house featured in the June 2006 issue of the national magazine Home.
In addition to these sites that I’ve completed, I have a few others in the works for a real-estate agent friend of mine, a local massage therapist, and a nearby medical office.
So, when people ask how I’m doing these days, I usually just say, “busy.”