Hey, I'm Meghan a Squarespace web designer that works with creative entrepreneurs to get more clients with less hustle through a well-crafted website. Ask me anything!

Meghan Hartman-Gomez
Sep 23, 2017

As a marketing designer with over 6 years of professional experience, I've worked with SaaS companies, startups, biopharmaceutical companies, as well as small women-led online businesses.

My background is not in graphic design and I'm not overly concerned with pixel perfection. My expertise is in crafting an experience that leads people to want to engage with your brand – through words, visuals, and layout.

In this AMA, I'm happy to answer any questions you have about copywriting, ideal client research, Squarespace, and web design strategies.

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Are there some organisations/sites you would recommend to connect with women in business?

Sep 23, 11:45AM EDT1

Yes! Well, one that you may be tempted to overlook is Facebook but, with more than 1.9 billion monthly active users, it's highly likely that other women in business are using it. And there are a number of free groups where you can connect with them (that are on Facebook). One that comes to mind is called the Savvy Community.

There are also paid groups on Facebook like Unf*ckwithable Girlfriends (I'm in that one). And I'm also a part of a one a group called CoCommercial (while this isn't strictly limited to women, it seems to be mostly female dominated).

Do you have any favorite ways to connect with women in business? I'd love to learn and connect in more ways.

Sep 23, 11:56AM EDT1
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What are your thoughts on different CMS options? Do you prefer pure old manual coding? What are the ups and downs of using software that writes software?

Sep 23, 11:24AM EDT1

Hey, Stacey! Thank you for your questions. First, let me be clear, I am not a programmer or software developer and so I really can't comment on "software that writes software".

But in terms of different CMS options – I went through a period of time where I played with ALL of them (I am fairly certain that I have used over 2 dozen). And I think in terms of top contenders for business websites, it comes down to two: Wordpress and Squarespace.

To be honest, in the past I was very pro Squarespace because I just haven't seen very many Wordpress websites done well (unless they're professionally done). And because Squarespace is much easier to build a beautiful (and functional) website by yourself AND that it's an all-in-one solution (meaning no need for separate hosting, backups, or security), that's why I recommend it to most small business owners. 

That being said, Squarespace isn't right for everyone. All of the large corporate websites that I worked on were completely bespoke. And now I'm working with Wordpress. So, it really depends on your level of technical ability, your budget, and how custom you need to make it (I mean Squarespace is incredibly customizable in the right hands, but it does have limits).

And I actually do love coding with the bootstrap framework (I've played around with creating my own grid system in Sass but find bootstrap to be great and easy). But, clients generally prefer a CMS type website so that they can blog and/or make small updates on their own.

Sep 23, 11:51AM EDT1

Did you attend conferences and classes to learn about websites?

Sep 23, 1:48PM EDT1

Hello Meghan, thank you for hosting this AMA with us! I am working with the team here on AMAfeed for some time now and although we have over 3000 channels covering different topics, we are presently focusing on startups, tech and crowdfunding projects/professionals simply because we can't cover all at once.

Curious thing I am noticing is we have a lot of women hosting, it is totally not something we do on purpose and not something I expected given the areas we focused on (but clearly I am happy about it:)) You should have a look around, I am sure you will find some interesting AMAs to jump in like Ashley's and Maxine's here! So my question is, do you think we are finally getting to a place where women in tech is not such a rarity or is that just a peculiar phenomenon on our platform?

Last edited @ Sep 23, 10:58AM EDT.
Sep 23, 10:57AM EDT1

Hey, Tatiana! Thank you for recommending those other two AMAs, I will definitely check them out. I'm all about supporting and empowering other women. 

To answer your question, I think it's pretty obvious that, even with all of the initiatives and incentives for getting more women into tech, it's still a male-dominated sector. And, to me, this is just an example of the more widespread male domination that still exists in America. We still are not paid equal wages for equal work. We still do not have equal rights and equal respect.

Of course, as a supporter (and lover) of tech, I look to them to lead us into a better future but it's a slow growth process.

Last edited @ Sep 23, 11:43AM EDT.
Sep 23, 11:43AM EDT1
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Do you design websites to be compatible with mobile phones?

Sep 22, 7:04PM EDT1

Great question, Sharon! Yes, I absolutely recommend that all website be mobile responsive, meaning that they work and look great across all devices. This is not just good for user experience but for SEO, as Google give priority in search results to mobile-friendly sites.

And the web builder platform that I use and recommend with private clients is Squarespace, which is inherently mobile-responsive (with no need for extra coding or anything).

Sep 23, 10:36AM EDT1
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How often do you get repeat clients?

Sep 21, 9:57PM EDT1

Excellent question. First, as a web designer, when I design or redesign a site for a client, I wouldn't expect to have them come back for another website design package for at least 2 years.

But, one way that you can get repeat clients is by having multiple products or services that you sell. For example, I offer small one-off customizations for sites built on Squarespace and have had a client repeatedly buy that service. I also offer some digital products that clients can buy.

So, while I haven't had any repeat website design clients, I have had clients buy more than one of my products/services.

And, you could also structure your packages in a way that starts with, a brand refresh, and then the next level would be a website redesign – that way you could upsell a client to that next package if they need it.

Sep 23, 10:40AM EDT1

How did you get into this business?

Sep 23, 12:09PM EDT1

What do you enjoy least about doing this?

Sep 21, 7:58PM EDT1

This is a very personal question that I imagine would be different for each person you ask. But, for me, I'm very triggered by people that get hung up on minute details that don't matter much to the big picture. For example, if a client keeps going back and forth on which email service provider to use, to me that is just a form of procrastination. Because it doesn't matter if you use MailChimp or ConvertKit, it matters what you're sending to your list. So, like I said, this will probably be very different for other web designers but that's what frustrates me the most.

Sep 23, 10:44AM EDT1

Do you recommend one email provider over another, and if so why?

Sep 23, 12:33PM EDT1

Do you have any examples of what you've done?

Sep 21, 7:53PM EDT1

If you're asking if I have a portfolio of work on display somewhere online, the answer is no. I think as a full-time employee with a freelancing side hustle, I just prefer to focus on doing the client work (and writing, which I love) instead of tweaking my own site.

Sep 23, 10:45AM EDT1
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Where are you based out of?

Sep 21, 3:36PM EDT1

Hey, Lisa! I work remotely so I'm living in Ohio now but do have a tendency to move around every couple of years ;)

Sep 21, 5:22PM EDT1
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What do you believe are possiblly the worst kind of web design strategies?

Sep 21, 2:27PM EDT1

That's an excellent and thought-provoking question, Stephanie!

I'll give you the short answer and then explain what I mean. The worst kind of web design strategy is to start with what you want the site to look like.

For example, I see many small businesses buying beautiful templates and then trying to fit their content and graphics into that mold. Whereas I want to mold the design around their content.

A good strategy is to start with who the client is and what goals they have for this website design (or redesign).

Next, I want to learn as much as I can about their ideal customers (their struggles, what are they hoping to achieve, why are they coming to this site, etc).

Then, I dive into a first draft of the copy. For me, great design is all about having great words. Words that connect with you when you read them.

Only after I'm happy with where the writing is going, will I start to layout and design the visuals. And then I'll often adjust my wording (especially headlines) as I'm developing the design.

I did write an article here about some typical mistakes I see very beginners making.

Last edited @ Sep 21, 7:45PM EDT.
Sep 21, 7:31PM EDT1

Cool, I'll read that right away. Thank you so much for that!

Sep 23, 11:46AM EDT1

What do you believe are the most important factors to consider when approaching the 'how to lead people to enage in your brand' aspect?

Sep 21, 2:10PM EDT1

Hey, Jennifer! Great question. Well first, I think the word "engage" can get a bit vague (I know I used that term in the AMA description) but let's be more specific. 

So, when we say engagement, that could mean that they're spending a lot of time on your site, visiting several pages before leaving, sharing your content on social media, signing up to your email list, or buying from you.

And the best way that I know how to get people to want to do those things on my website is to connect with them through my copywriting and give them clear calls to action. (Of course, you've got to know who it is you're talking to first).

But once I know who my ideal audience member is and I get clear on what actions I want them to take on my website, then I can write the page content in a way that encourages them to take action (and making my call to action button very clear). 

By eliminating unnecessary visual clutter and keeping my website simple and easy to navigate, I'm also encouraging them to engage with my site.

But, first, you've got to understand what kind of engagement you want to have (and what metrics you'll use to measure that) and then how you're going to talk to your audience to encourage them to take those actions. I wrote an article here that talks about my specific method for defining website objectives (it's about halfway down the page).

Last edited @ Sep 21, 7:43PM EDT.
Sep 21, 7:39PM EDT1
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Do you work from home or within an office?

Sep 21, 12:05PM EDT1

Hey, Breyes! Although I do sometimes miss getting to work in an office and talk to co-workers, I work from home 90% of the time and from a local coffee shop the other 10% (because sometimes you gotta mix things up).

Sep 21, 5:23PM EDT1

Do you think you need to be a lot more disciplined to work for yourself rather than for someone else?

Sep 23, 4:19PM EDT1

Which website do you use?

Sep 21, 11:56AM EDT1

Hi Ecner! I use Squarespace and Wordpress, primarily. Although I do enjoy coding sites out with Bootstrap, I find that for my clients, having a CMS makes it easy for them to feel comfortable taking ownership of their own websites. That way they can blog easier, or update page text without messing with the code.

Last edited @ Sep 23, 10:47AM EDT.
Sep 21, 5:24PM EDT1

Cool. If I would share a link to my website how much would you charge to tell me what your opinion is and how I could make it better?

Sep 23, 9:43PM EDT1

How long have you been interested in web designing?

Sep 21, 10:30AM EDT1

Hey Valerie! Thanks for your question. To be honest, I came to web design in a very roundabout way (meaning, this was not an intentionally planned career move, but more just finding my path).

Even though I first worked in graphic design in 2004, I didn't think of design as something I'd make a career of until 2014 when I started actively pursuing professional opportunities in the field.

Sep 21, 7:42PM EDT1
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Will you continue working as a web designer for good?

Sep 21, 9:30AM EDT1

That's a tough question, Melissa. I do enjoy it but, what I really love, is helping my fellow ambitious women to realize their entrepreneurial dreams. So, I'd like to move toward a more coaching/consulting/teaching arena so that I can have that kind of impact. 

Sep 21, 7:46PM EDT1
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Please can you explain the best methods in conducting ideal client research?

Sep 21, 9:29AM EDT1

Ooh I LOVE this question Margaret! Because the advice that I hear most often about ideal client research (or user research) is to (1) send surveys, (2) conduct face-to-face interviews, or (3) hold a user testing lab. But I have a real problem with all of those scenarios in that they are:

  1. Costly (both in terms of time and money for the amount that you put in to get a significant number of results).
  2. Contrived (meaning you're taking people out of context and asking them specific questions around your topic).

So, what I like to do instead (this is my go-to research technique), is to do sleuthing. What this means is: 

  1. First, find out where your customers are hanging out online (Facebook, with over 1.9 billion monthly active users, is a very likely candidate. But also Reddit, Stack Exchange, or Quora are good ones).
  2. Don't ask them questions and don't poll them. Just listen. Listen to what they say they're struggling with when it comes to your topic and what they wish was different. (I call this sleuthing technique "listen-only mode").
  3. Take screenshots or copy the comments into a spreadsheet. This research will form the basis of any product or service offerings you come up with.

    This research is also a treasure trove of customer language to use in your sales copy.

And, if you're interested in learning more about this, I wrote a whole article with a training video here.

Sep 21, 7:54PM EDT1
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What are some best practices in copywriting?

Sep 21, 9:06AM EDT1

This is such an excellent question, Ricardo! Because I feel like copywriting is the most crucial aspect of a well-crafted website and yet so many designers overlook it or think that it's not in their job description.

For me, I can't design a site if the copy is poorly written. So, some best practices that I've come up with are:

  1. Have a structure that works - you don't need to start with a blank page every time, in fact having a formula for how to write an effective page is helpful for maintaining consistency throughout your website.
  2. Be conversational. So many websites have language that is overly professional (read: filled with jargon) and lackluster. When you inject personality into your writing, it resonates with your readers.
  3. Be specific. Vague and overly used words or phrases are just filler, they're not adding anything to your message. (For example, "level up your business" doesn't actually mean anything, get specific about the results you'll deliver).
  4. Break it up. Make your page easy to scan through by keeping paragraphs short and having section headers or pull quotes.
  5. Have one primary (and clear) call-to-action per page. 

Now, I adore writing copy, but I'm not a professionally trained copywriter and, if you're looking to learn more, then I highly recommend Hillary Weiss (I took her Wordshops workshop last year and it completely changed the way I write).

Sep 21, 8:02PM EDT1

Thanks for your advice, I'll certainly be checking the link because I have no idea where to start :)

Sep 23, 8:06PM EDT1

What are some of the unique features of the tool you're using for web design?

Sep 21, 6:20AM EDT1

Hey Bobby! I've been using Sketch as my go-to web design tool for the past 3 years and I absolutely adore it. It's infinitely easier to use than any Adobe product.

Some of the features that I love are:

  • The keyboard shortcuts are intuitive (to create a rectangle, I type an "r" –that makes sense!)
  • I can quickly export multiple sizes or formats with a single click (for example, I might want a JPG, a PNG, and an SVG or I might want a PNG at 1x, 2x, and 3x).
  • They have plugins that allow me to extend the base functionality and automate some tasks.
  • I can easily create styles for color fills and typography so that I don't have to remember hex codes or copy and paste...formatting is just so easy and fast.
  • Bonus points: it's a one-time fee and not a monthly subscription
Sep 21, 8:06PM EDT1
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What do you like the most about your job?

Sep 21, 2:05AM EDT1

Ooh that's a good question, Patrick. And, to be honest, I've never really thought about the one thing I like best.

I love the autonomy I have working remotely and with a manager that values my input. I also love having variety, I might be coding one day and creating a fullpage ad design the next.

Overall, I think I enjoy: research, writing, and coding more than the visual design.

Sep 21, 8:08PM EDT1
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Do you enjoy what you do?

Sep 21, 1:12AM EDT1

I do enjoy it! But, to be honest, I enjoy working with other women entrepreneurs more– helping them find clarity around their passions and goals and then building up their business and marketing plans. Of course, web design is really fun, but the true enjoyment comes when I feel like I've positively impacted someone else.

Sep 21, 8:12PM EDT1
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So why Squarespace over other website creators?

Sep 21, 1:02AM EDT1

Excellent question, Brandon. To be honest, in the past I was very pro Squarespace because I just haven't seen very many Wordpress websites done well (unless they're professionally done). And because Squarespace is much easier to build a beautiful (and functional) website by yourself AND that it's an all-in-one solution (meaning no need for separate hosting, backups, or security), that's why I recommend it to most small business owners. 

That being said, Squarespace isn't right for everyone. All of the large corporate websites that I worked on were completely bespoke. And now I'm working with Wordpress. So, it really depends on your level of technical ability, your budget, and how custom you need to make it (I mean Squarespace is incredibly customizable in the right hands, but it does have limits).

Sep 23, 10:53AM EDT1
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