On getting the website you need to grow your dream business.
As founder and owner of O’Neal Design, Tammie O’Neal has been building successful websites for her clients for over 20 years. And her mission statement declares the goals of O’Neal Design in a powerful and impactful way:
“Get the website you need to grow your dream business.”
As Tammie explains,
“I’ve been building websites for 21 of the 22 years I’ve been in business. My number one goal is to help my clients get themselves found online.”
To achieve this, Tammie takes a multi-faceted approach that has led to a world of success for her clients, as well as herself.
“I really focus on my client’s marketing strategies. Many of my clients host events as a major part of what they do. So I operate a lot in that space. I also do a lot of marketing for various tourism-related businesses and nonprofits.”
In fact, working with nonprofits is a major component to the success of O’Neal Design. Tammie creates and markets websites for a multitude of different nonprofits, including churches, state-funded drug prevention organizations, and many others.
When working with nonprofit organizations, Tammie sets her goals on helping them impactfully get their message out, while bringing in much-needed volunteers and supporters.
Building a Business on the WordPress Platform
Tammie began working on the WordPress platform early in the game. Her first exposure to WordPress was when she was getting ready to build a website for a hospital. She was looking for a solution that was more robust than standard HTML.
“I started building websites way back when it was mostly hand coding entire websites.”
“I started building websites way back when it was mostly hand coding entire websites. When I say hand coding, I was using Dreamweaver and Adobe. And to go back even farther, I used a technology called Go Live and even Netscape. But I knew those solutions weren’t as robust as they needed to be for my upcoming projects.”
At this point, Tammie began to search for a content management system (CMS) that would help take O’Neal Design to the next level. After fully researching Drupal and Joomla, she realized that neither option was her cup of tea.
“With the limited amount of information I understood at the time about open source web building solutions, I ended up landing on WordPress. I was kind of like, this makes more sense to me. After two or three years of using WordPress to build sites, I started to get away from building regular HTML sites completely. I’m now to the point where I have around three HTML sites that I still support. But I tell people all I do is WordPress now. I don’t even offer to do anything else.”
What WordPress Tools Are In the O’Neal Design Toolbox?
Currently, Tammie designs her WordPress sites using the Astra theme and Beaver Builder, along with additional plugins that accompany Beaver Builder, such as UABB (Ultimate Addons for Beaver Builder) and Power Pack. However, in the near future she’s considering making the transition to WordPress block design using the Kadence theme.
“At some point I’m going to switch over to blocks. I haven’t made that transition yet. I’m still waiting for when I feel like that style of WordPress design is fully mature.”
She goes on to explain:
“I’m very happy with Astra. But I feel like, from what I’ve seen of Kadence Theme so far, I’m thinking that’s probably my next step. I’ve tried not to change design approaches too often because then you end up with this conglomeration of multiple things that you have to support. And you kind of have to, you know, you can be a plugin after a while.”
To Tammie, using WordPress is a lot like using a Swiss Army knife because of its versatility. On one day, Tammie’s building a WordPress membership site, on the next, an elaborate ecommerce site, and the day after that, a plain brochure-style site.
Using WordPress allows Tammie to take advantage of a lot of development and design flexibility, even without writing her own PHP. And while she loves the WordPress platform as a great solution to build websites on, she does heed some caution for people just beginning their WordPress design journey.
“I love WordPress and I think it’s a great tool to build sites on. But, if you haven’t ever touched a CMS to build websites, you may have a ways to go to make the jump into intelligent WordPress design.
“Using WordPress is a lot like using a Swiss Army knife because of its versatility.”
I tell beginners to look into Liquid Web when they begin designing on WordPress. Liquid Web has some great automated tools that help beginners shorten their learning curve.”
The Inspiration that Lead to O’Neal Design
Tammie began her professional career by attending college and studying fine art. But it was a very different era in technology when her career began.
“It was so long ago. We were still doing physical mock ups of designs. I did an internship at a local newspaper. Back then, things had to be laid out on a board. It was all very hands on. So that’s where I started.”
At the time, Tammie was living in Texas. While Tammie was pregnant with her daughter, she decided to move to Oklahoma where she went back to college and attended Rogers State University in Claremore.
“It was then that I figured out that I can do art on computers. So from that point on, I was like, this is awesome.”
While attending Rogers State, Tammie was working part time for an ambulance service company. A guy that worked with her was just launching a new medical supply company, and had seen some of the work Tammie was doing.
“It (success) is often who you know more than anything. He asked if I would be interested in doing some work for his new company. And I would never do this today, but I made a logo for them. They had had several other companies submit logos, but they liked the one I did much better. And so it all started with that.”
Tammie began doing all of the new company’s marketing, producing catalogs, and much more. Unfortunately, in spite of all her efforts, the company only stayed in operation for a couple of years.
“At that time, I was like, OK, what am I going to do for a living? Am I going to stick with this path or do I go to work for somebody else? It was about 45 miles away to drive to the closest company that I thought would be worthy of working for. So I decided to stay doing what I was doing on my own. To get things going, I got involved with the Chamber of Commerce and started getting a lot of work from that affiliation.”
The Challenges of Running a Web Design Business
All businesses come with their challenges. O’Neal Design is no different.
Tammie says that one of her biggest challenges with running her business is getting timely, impactful content from her clients.
“Yeah, getting content. Also, educating a lot of clients on, well, basically everything. Some people come to me and they don’t yet understand the difference between a domain and a host. So you basically need to educate them from the ground up. Then there are the people who think they already know everything but don’t. Those people can sometimes be difficult to educate on the process.”
She goes on to say:
“That’s probably the biggest problem I run into with clients. But there are no bad clients. Sometimes, people just need to be someone else’s client. So I’ve managed to weed out some clients. But in general, just trying to manage all of the client content coming in can pose a challenge.”
What Is Success?
Tammie says that when her clients are successful, she feels like she’s successful. In fact, she takes their successes very personally.
“I’m a little bit too much of a people pleaser. But I tell you, when I have a client say that they couldn’t have succeeded without me, or what a difference I’ve made in their business, it really helps validate what I do. I really want everyone I work with to do well. I’m like a big cheerleader, because I like to see people succeed.”
Tammie goes on to say:
“If they don’t do well at achieving their goals, it’s very hard for me. I want to help them and I want to make things work for them. And, you know, sometimes they make some decisions that aren’t as lucrative. But I’ll still do whatever I can to try and have them be a winner.”