I’ve been contemplating this post for quite some time but hesitated as it feels vulnerable. Web design was something that inspired me immensely, so much that when I decided I wanted to be an entrepreneur; it felt like the wisest and best path to pursue. It also seemed the most natural, yet fulfilling fit — a perfect amalgamation of my professional and educational experiences (business, computer science & engineering and user interface design). That’s why recently, when thinking about upcoming my re-brand (from Web Couture to Parisa Consulting), I was surprised to find myself reflecting upon many of the pains surrounding a career I once felt extremely passionate about.
As the landscape grows increasingly competitive, it often feels like a race to the bottom. Designers are faced with increasing pressures to reduce prices — and it often seems there’s someone willing to do more for less or that prospects often expect us to give our thoughts and ideas away over a free, yet comprehensive consultation. This is our secret sauce; the skills and unique insights that myself and other experienced professionals have spent many years and thousands of hours perfecting.
Anyone who knows me well knows I’m deeply committed to learning. I spend my free time learning new and relevant skills, immersing myself in the latest technologies and tools and design patterns, and doing everything I can to stay ahead of the curve. I don’t do this solely for financial gain, in fact, if I were to be brutally honest, I’m far better at promoting and helping others than myself so the money hasn’t always followed as closely as you might believe. I’m a perpetual student because I’m innately curious about these endeavors and the power they have to transform a new business or breathe new light into existing ones. I’m in love with the process and growth.
I’ve always felt intimately connected to my work as a designer, so much that my work has often felt like an extension of myself — more so an expressive outlet than a true, profit-driven business. Here lies the problem many designers face. When you’re paid for doing work you’d enjoy doing as a hobby, it becomes easy to discount it, so much that it can cloud your vision and attempts at building something more scalable. I trust this is part of why design and creative works are often devalued. These industries have challenging, dehumanizing standards such as the practice of producing unpaid “spec” work or taking part in design contests to win projects and contracts. These experiences don’t exist in a vacuum.
When I first felt disillusioned about design, I felt a wave of sadness and grief take over me. What I once loved and felt passionate about felt so hollow until I discovered I was far from alone. Beneath the beautiful mood boards, color palettes, and perfectly curated portfolios lies a darker side of the design world; one in which designers’ talents are minimized and one in which we often feel dehumanized in a race to work quickly and cheaply. The irony here is that while I’ve always loved design, I didn’t love how I was pursuing it. This led me to think more deeply about my offerings and how I can shift my narrative and hopefully impact the design community.
Since the beginning, my goal was always to educate and inspire larger communities. I had taught computer science part-time to support my new business and had also taught and trained students, faculty and administrators in academic settings, as well as my own clients. I knew that while I had to work for myself to be the most fulfilled, I needed to find ways to teach and inspire others. Taking on a variety of requests from hourly work to custom programming requests to assistance with PPC ads and SEO, working with a multitude of WordPress themes and plugins, and various web-based platforms; working on sites spanning various project scopes, industries and purposes: portfolios, blogs, e-commerce, small to mid-sized businesses and more, I found little room or creative energy left within me to pursue what I initially sought to do. I had to become laser-focused so I could see the light.
In creating Parisa Consulting, I wanted to capture the deep knowledge that’s helped propel my clients’ and my own businesses over the years. I wanted to play at my highest level. I realized that while can’t save every business, I can create a platform where I educate and reach a wider audience. This is where my insights will shine their absolute brightest. The result is that I scaled way back on my 1:1 services. I cut out the noise and focused on finding where I provide my greatest value, the Digital Dynamite Method. This is part technology consulting, modern web design, strategy and training. An effective website is a multi-faceted investment in your business and should be regarded as such. A talented designer looks well beyond color palettes and fonts. Good design is about problem-solving, systems and strategy. This solution provides immense value, and while it’s unfortunately not accessible to everyone (although I’m thinking of also offering a limited availability, need-based scholarship program), I trust it’ll create space and clarity so I can build a platform to educate and inspire other entrepreneurs.
The web design landscape has evolved significantly over the years. I still believe in the power that hiring a professional offers; but I also realize that for a brand new and bootstrapped businesses, getting a viable concept off the ground is of paramount importance in helping them stay afloat and create breathing room to grow and thrive. I also realize that a website is your digital doorstep; that that even having the most bespoke storefront won’t drive sales without traffic and exposure. In this competitive landscape, the “if you build it, they’ll come” mantra sadly no longer rings true for many businesses. It’s essential to dive in more deeply. It’s essential to go beyond the website.
This is why I’ve chosen to not longer offer web design on its own. This is why I no longer want to just build your website for you. I want to help you with the bigger picture through my comprehensive process or give you the tools and resources to do so own your own effectively.