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Meet Stefani Harris of The Essential Website in Heights

Today we’d like to introduce you to Stefani Harris.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Stefani. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Our story is fun and adventuresome (at least we think so)! My business partner (Janet Hoover, who lives in Fort Worth) and I “met” virtually in an online web development course and became quick friends. That course enabled us to start our own businesses, and we, of course, remained friends, helped each other with our individual businesses, bounced ideas off each other, and more.

After a while (about 3 years), we decided to join forces (because two brains are better than one, right?) and voilà! The Essential Website was born. Now, here’s the fun part…

We started a business together (while living in two different Texas cities) and had never met in person. We had plenty of Skype sessions, calls, and had worked “together” for quite a while, so we had a great working and personal relationship. We decided to finally meet and brainstorm, but our meeting didn’t happen in Houston or Fort Worth. We met in Paris (France, not Texas). That was almost two years ago now, and it’s been magical ever since!

Has it been a smooth road?
Being in business for yourself is amazing, scary, stressful, and wonderful. When you have a partner to share the load, it’s great…but it also brings a new set of challenges. Like figuring out who’s responsible for what, learning to let go (when you’re used to doing it all), worrying about how to pay two people instead of one, etc.

If you find a partner as dedicated as you are, has the same goals, is positive, and fun (yes, that should be a requirement) – you’re golden! If you’re not happy or clash with your business partner, that will cause problems (in all areas). Us meeting, our personalities, and how the stars aligned for us worked out beautifully.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the The Essential Website story. Tell us more about the business.
The Essential Website is all about working with small businesses that are ready to grow.

We design and develop professional, functional, work-the-way-it-should websites. What we do is pretty darn amazing (if we may say so) because not only do we provide our clients with the best tools for their online home, we make sure they are set up for success by showing them how to navigate their new site with personalized tutorials as well as access to our Clients Only website full of even more tutorials and other helpful resources.

Security and optimization (think SEO, load time, backups, etc.) is something else we’re passionate about. Each website we create has all of what we consider to be “the essentials,” and each one is customized to our client’s needs and brand. Our clients put their business in our hands, and we take that very seriously. We’re proud of every project, and our clients love us because we take care of every detail, making the whole process easy and fun!

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
The web design and development industry have changed quite a bit over the past few years. The biggest change, in my opinion, has been with “free” website builders such as Wix and Weebly or other popular, user-friendly premium options for DIYers like SquareSpace.

As most people know, free doesn’t always mean better, and free doesn’t always mean 100% free. If you want your own personalized domain name with Wix or Weebly (instead of yourname.wix.com), you still have to buy your domain. Also, there seems to be a misconception that free or DIY means that it will be easy or [somehow] done for you.

When you decide to build your own site using a free website builder or even if you pay for a product like SquareSpace or decide to DIY your own site with WordPress, there is still the concept of overall strategy that needs to come into play. A nice-looking template or layout doesn’t mean it’s the right one for your business and your goals. When you hire a designer and developer, you are also hiring a professional who will ask you tons of questions to ensure that everything that should go on your site not only gets included but goes in the right place and functions properly. A professional will also make sure that every element of your site is mobile responsive so that it looks exactly how you want it to look on every device.

Other big shifts will be in pricing (there are always shifts in pricing, as it is all over the map!) and virtual reality! Soon it will be the norm to dive into your screen (virtually, of course), and take a 360 look around. How wild will that be?

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

Katie Mitchell Photography.

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