So now I have a hosting service, I've done my market research, and I've written pertinent content based on that research for DinerDave.com. Now it's time to design the layout and look of the site. Once again I turn to Ros for recommendations on who could create a professional looking blog.
WHO Will Design DinerDave.com?
I reviewed dozens of WordPress template sites and became frustrated that I could not find the perfect “skin” for DinerDave.com. Then I read a case study on Doglirious.com in the latest revision of the Super Affiliate Handbook (Feb 2009). I was very impressed with the layout and functionality of this particular site and knew right then and there that I wanted the EXACT same layout for DinerDave.com! Well, as fate would have it, one month later Ros recommended Justin Parr, the creator of Doglirious.com, to create these beautiful StudioPress theme sites for her subscribers. After checking out Justin's portfolio of work on Juscott.com and the templates available on Studiopress.com I was hooked! I made up my mind that I would use Justin to create the Diner Dave website, rather than trying to spend hours trying to learn CSS, basic design and editing templates.
Selecting a Theme and Design Package
That afternoon I purchased the same StudioPress “Lifestyles” theme that Justin used to create Doglirious.com (with the bonus “Streamline” theme for free…I can use that for another website later). I uploaded this theme through NetProfitsToday link and selected the Gold Package from the design services page on NPT. I did so because I wanted a strong foundation for the Diner Dave site and that included all the advanced plug-ins and features included in the Gold Package for email marketing, social bookmarking, tag cloud, etc…
Ros said in her recommendation for Justin's design services, it is “preposterous to pay $5000 to have someone create a website” and then not know how to change links, upload pics, or perform any other simple updates. I agree! As someone who has actually spent thousands of dollars to create a static website I'm here to tell you that $999 for Justin's Gold Package I selected is a steal! It is possible to find web designers on Elance.com or Rentacoder.com to create WordPress sites for the same price or maybe a little lower, but I prefer to hire a person that is recommended by someone I trust (Ros) AND that guarantees their work.
Creating the Logo
Creating a logo was the only service offered by Justin that I did not select. I created the logo a few weeks before Ros' post on Justin's design services. I reviewed several logo creation sites like 99designs.com before selecting logoloft.com to create the Diner Dave logo. The main reason I selected them was because of their impressive portfolio of work AND they were running a $99 special on logo creation. I contacted them and described exactly what I wanted. After a few revisions, I received the finalized Diner Dave logo. I was very pleased with the results! Now it was time to get started on the site.
Justin Works his Magic!
After contacting Justin via email we set up a phone and online meeting (via Yugma.com) to discuss how I would like the design and layout of DinerDave.com to look. I already knew what content I would be adding to the site…it was just a matter of organizing it in a website for ease of use and arranging merchant offers on each of the pages. I started by creating a map of the home page on an Excel spreadsheet (because I couldn't email him a cocktail napkin!). Here is a copy of that spreadsheet:
After discussing my vision of the layout and design of DinerDave.com, Justin had a checklist of items for us to cover before he started in on the design work. The list included:
- Color scheme – I chose red, a color that invokes passion. Plus, I wanted to make sure the color scheme matched my logo. He matched the primary and secondary colors to those displayed on the site.
- Layout – Obviously, I wanted to place the AWeber email / RSS opt-in collection form at the top right of every page. I know from experience that I will make 100x more money on merchant offers with my email subscribers than random visitors to the site. I also needed to make sure that my revenue producing merchant offers/reviews were featured close to the top of the page (ie the “Diner Dave Daily Deals”). I relied on Justin's recommendations to determine where to place the remaining content.
- Google ads – There are several locations in the Lifestyles template where you can place Google ads, but I decided I only wanted one area in the right column for these ads. I really want the emphasis of Diner Dave to be content over ads.
- Category and tag selection – Once again I chose the categories I selected based on my market research. The categories are based on what people are looking for on google and other search engines: restaurant coupons, restaurant gift certificates, restaurant reviews, etc… Moreover, I already had content for each of these major categories.
- Navigation menus – I selected a 2 tier navigation menu to give visitors a broad overview of the dining out tips and advice featured on the site. The primary navigation bar contains broad topics: tips and advice, web discounts, the about us page, and contests to win a free lunch (a popular concept I started with DinerDeals.com). The secondary navigation bar lists the most popular categories with my merchant offers – THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT to monetize the site.
- Pictures and graphics – Justin was a huge help when it came to selecting the perfect pictures for the featured article box on the home page! He also taught me how to find and download these pictures myself using sites like Dreamstime, iStockPhoto, and Stockxchange. Plus, he advised me on how to use tools like SnagIt and Picnik.com to capture and edit screen shots, photos, tables, etc..
- Plug-ins – I added the SEO All-in-One pack and Ninja Affiliate Links to my admin section to optimize the site for search engines and to cloak affiliate links.
After my data dump, a few dozen emails back and forth, and a couple more phone conversations, here is the result of our collaberation (drumroll please…..):
I can tell you that one of the great things about dealing with Justin is that he will patiently walk you through how to use WordPress to create and edit posts, create pages, optimize your site for search engines, create categories, and everything you need to know to become a self sufficient blogger. I HIGHLY recommend him to anyone that is looking to create a new website or transfer an existing website to WordPress!
Getting the Word Out
Now it's time to let my DinerDeals.com subscribers know about the NEW DinerDave.com! Look for the next post that deals with how to motivate existing subscribers to join my new list.