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Navigating the Digital Landscape with Bonita Kay Hodgson

Navigating the Digital Landscape with Bonita Kay Hodgson

Bethenny Carl
In the dynamic world of web design, Bonita Kay Hodgson stands as a seasoned creator with over 30 years of experience. From the early days of WordPress experimentation to empowering entrepreneurs through her business coaching, Bonita shares her journey and insights into the evolving landscape of web design and its intersection with individual empowerment and online presence. Learn more in her exclusive WebsitePlanet interview below.

How did you get into web design and what sparked your interest in the field?

I started designing my own sites using WordPress over 30 years ago simply because it was fun to do! I love technology and I’m a creative person, so it was the perfect opportunity to play! I tend to learn by doing, so I’ve gained a lot of skills over the years, learning new tools as clients ask for different features on their websites. I have worked with Wix and Squarespace, but I love WordPress because it’s such a robust framework, with many designers contributing plugins to improve functionality and add new features.

About 10 years ago, I decided to try outsourcing the design of my site, and it was a nightmare! I had to deal with a very unpleasant designer who created a site that was nothing like what I wanted, and she almost fired me when after testing the site and finding a lot of nonfunctioning features and issues, I refused to complete payment until everything worked. In the end, the site worked so poorly, I trashed it and went back to designing my own.

After that, I thought of all the other entrepreneurs with limited budgets who needed someone to design their websites, so I turned it into an aspect of my psychic business coaching. In creating their websites, I also offer to teach my clients how to manage the sites themselves, so they aren’t having to pay me every time they want to add an event or blog post. I want to empower my fellow entrepreneurs to own the look and function of their websites. Of course, for those less savvy or less interested in taking on that task, I will maintain their site for a reasonable monthly fee.

What tools do you use when it comes to web design?

I use WordPress as my framework, but to keep my clients’ rates down, I use prebuilt Elementor-based WYSIWYGs to create my sites, mostly in Avada and Astra. To translate, I load a prebuilt site of my client’s choosing onto their server, and then modify it to personalize it for my clients. I use templates designed to load quickly, along with added plugins for security and SEO. Elementor is pretty easy for most users to master — at least for the features they are most likely to update on a regular basis. I’m always ready to help if they hit a snag.

How important is it in today’s society to be able to create and manage your own website, even if your primary services are something completely unrelated?

It’s really your presence on the Net! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gained new clients because they liked my reassuring smile and my engaging content on my website. It builds your clientele’s confidence and trust in you — and with today’s sophisticated booking plugins, you can make it easy for them to make an appointment and payment at their comfort and convenience.

If you’ve suddenly had a brainstorm for a blog post, or just been invited to participate in an event, there’s NO frustration at having to ask your webmaster to load your content when they can get around to it, never mind the added expense. It’s so easy for most users to do it themselves, it’s criminal that anyone should have to pay someone else to do that work. Outsourcing should be a choice, and since I’m non-proprietary in my approach, it’s always your call as to whether I do the work or you do! You own your site on your own server. I help you figure out how to obtain a domain and set up hosting (or I do it for you), and then I load the site… and away we go! It’s your baby. I just get to participate in enhancing your online presence.

You are also pretty familiar with SEO. What role does it play in maintaining an online presence for individuals and small businesses?

Simply put, if someone doesn’t already know your business name and to look for you online, you’re going to need SEO to do it for you. For example, people who know me will Google “Bonita Hodgson” when they want to find my website. Far more users will search “psychic Kelowna”, “tarot reading” or “psychic parties” to pull me up. (Website design is less prominent online because I actually get most of my website clients by word of mouth or through my Facebook page “Website Design You Can Afford”.)

Having excellent Google ratings means that I show up in the search engine for those terms more readily. When I design my clients’ websites, I also include an SEO plugin and a Google plugin that loads the sitemap to Google. This helps Google find and index your site faster than if you just wait for Google to find you. I also teach my clients how to use social media to promote their sites (and some folks just pay me to do that for them).

Having a beautiful site doesn’t mean a thing if you’re not driving traffic to it.

Can you describe your web design/networking courses and tutorials? What are they like and what specific skills can people hope to acquire through them?

My tutorials are tailored to the client I’m working with. Once I’ve loaded their prebuilt site, I will either take them into the backend through a share on Zoom (recording the session for their future reference) and show them how to modify the site, or more often, I will put the site together for them, and teach them just the steps they need to add posts and events, and any other steps they would need to keep their site current. Most of my clients get pretty savvy with Elementor because it’s so user-friendly.

To learn more about Bonita and her work, you can visit www.spiritkelowna.com/website-design or www.facebook.com/buildmysitetoday

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