Behind the Curtain with Liora Pine, Rocketspark Design Partner
In this interview series we sit down with Rocketspark Design Partners to learn more about their work in website design, how they got started, and how the Rocketspark platform and partnership program has helped grow their design businesses. This week we chatted with Liora Pine who’s the founder of The Little Acre, a creative studio based out of Cambridge. Originally from California, Liora spent years working in the graphic design industry before settling down in Aotearoa in 2007.
This article is proudly sponsored by Rocketspark
Can you tell us a bit about your career background and how you got started in website design?
When I studied Graphic Design at American University in Washington DC, we had the option back then to pick Print Design or Web Design as our focus, I said no thank you to Dreamweaver and went the Print Design route. It wasn’t until after working for multiple agencies, both in the US and in NZ, and receiving many website design requests from my clients that I started designing my own.. I originally started with a Shopify site first for my previous business Toodles Noodles and then moved onto a Rocketspark website for my own design business The Little Acre. From then on, website design didn’t seem so foreign or scary and just like anything else I slowly gained more confidence the more I did. To this day I’ve now designed over 70 websites with 57 still active and online.
Tell us about your design process
I start all projects by asking lots of questions. One of the perks of having designed multiple websites means I know what to ask for from my clients to get their websites started, even if they haven’t gotten that far yet in their strategy. Having had two e-commerce businesses myself I love helping clients really understand how the consumer shops online and best practices. So after we get all the questions out of the way, I ask clients if they could please prepare me a love and hate sheet. This lets me know what underlying themes they either like or dislike for their own designs even if they don’t know how to articulate it themselves. This is when the design process finally starts. After going back and forth with initial concepts we finalise the designs and bring their vision to life.
Is there a website design project you’re especially proud of?
There are a couple stand outs for different reasons that will always hold a particular place in my heart.
Skinvae & Anna Hayes Academy – helping Anna use her new branding to promote their relocation and ever expanding service list. Originally Anna had 2 different websites, one on WordPress which she couldn’t update herself and then another one on Shopify to sell all her products. The original designers told her she couldn’t use one website for both needs. We fixed that right away and made it super easy for her now to update anything she may need to maximise business. This website was also runner up for Rocketpark’s website of the year award last year.
Turner Road Architecture – these guys loved pushing the envelope and seeing how we could design their website to stand out from the crowd. The job included their rebrand and incorporating a video on the homepage to showcase their work. It’s also the largest project I’ve taken on with Rocketspark with over 40 pages in the backend.
Another website that always sits near and dear to my heart is the Leven website. This one gets featured often on Rocketpark on ‘what to do’ when using them for e-commerce. Kath has been fantastic to work with over the years and whenever I mention to her that Rocketspark has released a new feature that would work well for her website she’s always up for the latest and greatest addition.
How long have you been using the Rocketspark platform and how has it made designing websites easier?
I designed my first website on Rocketspark back in September 2016. The platform was a lot different back then, massive credit to the team as they have made exceptional progress and updates to the programme since. Just like any software, the more you use it, the more second nature it becomes and you know its capabilities. By focusing on using Rocketspark for my client websites, I’ve managed to really learn what Rocketspark can and cannot do and any workarounds needed for my clients. It also means that I can work faster and more efficiently without spending 30 minutes looking at functionalities. Even though I ‘gave in’ to website design doesn’t mean I know or care to learn to code!
“I love Rocketspark because it doesn’t require any customisation or coding to get great looking websites.”
As a Rocketspark gold partner (50+ live sites), what’s been your favourite aspect of the Rocketspark Partner Program and how has it helped you grow your design business?
The support that you get from both the Rocketspark team and the fellow designers has made a huge impact. Being self-employed and in the competitive design industry life can get pretty lonely pretty quick. The support team are always friendly when you ring up with a question or a good chat when you run into them on their Friday office coffee run, and they host regular partner evenings to socialise with other designers and their staff.
What are your words of advice on how to get started or make the move into website design?
Don’t be scared! Just think of it as a print design project, like a poster, all the same rules of layout and hierarchy apply. The only difference is you don’t get to see it displayed up on a wall. Also, get to know one platform well before trying them all. It will make you a more confident designer and it will put your customers at ease when you know how to use the tools well.