There was a nice article by Paul Chin in the latest issue of Dynamic Graphics magazine, urging graphic designers to expand their skill sets to include a basic knowledge of web technology.

He had some important things to say about web design that resonate very strongly with me. To quote: “Web design is a perfect marriage of form and function that originates from two distinct areas of expertise – the creativity of design, coming from the heart, and the science of technology, coming from the head. When the former is sparked within us, the latter allows us to realize it in material form. In web design you can’t separate one from the other.”

This is the definition of my calling as I have always seen it.

In junior high, our school was the first to get computers. I was in the first class, and all the other classes. I had never seen anything that fascinated me as much as those machines. I learned how to do graphics in BASIC – frightening but at the time I thought it was pretty cool.

Then I had a teacher in high school who was incredibly tough. This was 10th grade open world humanities GT, and in this class I failed my first test ever.

Every week we were required to create a project illustrating the balance of form and function in the context of making a presentation about something – it could be anything in the world, but the method of presenting had to be equally as compelling as the content.

This became an important weekly ritual that was at least as valuable to me, as a future designer, as the lessons I learned in my first two semesters of design studio in college.

‘Beautiful websites that work’ is one of my taglines. Achieving the sweet balance of form and function is one of my goals in everything I design. Thanks to Paul for his great article.

Search engines don’t assume that http://www.domain.com and http://domain.com are the same site; they don’t need to be, and can be owned by different parties and have totally different content.

How do you make sure that the search engines are seeing the URL you intended?

I’ve been setting up 301 redirects in my clients’ .htaccess files for a while now, to make sure that when someone searches on ‘domainname.com’ they get pointed to ‘www.domainname.com.’ I just think it looks better and more professional to keep it consistent.

Here’s an informative article and discussion by Matt Cutts on canonicalization.

I’m wrapping up my first large SEO project this week. The client contacted me yesterday and wants me to present to them ways that I can continue improving visibility for their site…

I’m happy about that – the company I’m working with is small but growing and is in an interesting but competitive niche industry. We’ve had a number of good conversations about the work and the site and it was all quite productive – they are now much more knowledgeable about where they stand in relation to their competitors and tactics to improve that standing, and I have my SEO processes and reports debugged to the point where the next time I perform this service, my workload will be cut way down.

So… over the weekend I thought about how I could continue with them. They have a medium-sized small business site, and we worked on 8 landing pages for the first three months as a package deal, not monthly fees.

Now my suggestion to them will be to continue in that vein with the next set of 10 pages or so, and rather than moving to a monthly fee-based service I think I’m going to revise my packages and present one of them as the best option (the more cost-effective option since I’m really starting from scratch with the next batch of pages). If we get to the point where all landing pages are optimized, then it will switch into monthly fees.

I did some reading today online, visiting about 20 SEO firms and a few blogs and found a big range in pricing, for the few that even mentioned it. $2000-$6000 per month for some, $75 per hour for others…

I really undercharged when I started working with them (it was my first large SEO project) but I’ve revised my single package into three, based on the number of hours I spent the first time and the fact that this time will be a lot faster. I don’t really know how to price my services based on the value I provide for the client, but that’s something that I noted frequently when I was researching how to reset my prices.

I spent a lot of time in the beginning getting the processes, data gathering methods and reporting formats nailed down, and don’t have to do any of that again. It was tricky at first to create a cohesive set of documents but now I think it’s come together quite well, and the client’s been very pleased with the depth of reporting.

I think my pricing structure is fair, reflects my level of experience accurately and will cover most of my clients’ needs, except for the smallest sites. I’m really interested in targeting small to medium-sized sites with moderately competitive keywords because it’s a bit more challenging.

I’m an associate with The Creative Group, and have been working for the past month for a company in Boulder that makes a really nice interface for photofinishers.

I’ve been creating dozens of banner ads to run on vendor websites and on a series of emails. I’d never made a banner ad in my life until a month ago, but it’s fun. I don’t have to think too much when I’m selecting photos and writing blurbs for banners.

My supervisor wrote me today with kudos for the ads I made this week – and to tell me that they were going out in an email to 250,000 potential customers today. That’s really cool.