Sites and Testimonials

Sites and Testimonials

Bed & Breakfast Website

This website was already established.  The owner hired a local person who was eager to help with the site but did not have WordPress experience.  She ended up messing up a few areas of the site and was not able to fix them.   I cleaned up the site and did some reformatting of the content.  I also added a tripadvisor button and a new contact form with reCaptcha.

Bed & Breakfast Website

This website was already established – I took over maintenance for it.  The owners wanted a rebranding, reorganizing and cleanup performed.  There were broken links and images needed to be edited for rebranding.  Images were rearranged for better layout.  Recent posts were moved to the footer area, among other changes.  I also condensed the menu structure.  Its always a better idea to have sub-menus as opposed to top level menu items that represent pages.  Often, with too many top menu items, one or more will wrap and they will be lost.  The Contact Us menu item was getting wrapped into the image of the house – no good.  The updates were completed in 4.5 hours.  I continue to maintain the website.

Bed & Breakfast Website

This website was already established – I took over maintenance for it.  To begin, I went through every page and tested links, proof-read content, etc.  I did this for free.  Then I presented a list of 20+ suggested updates.  The owner agreed and I made the changes – reorganized logos, aligned photos, updated bad links, etc.  This B&B is very unique, as it has a Japanese theme.  So, I added a carousel of Japanese specific images to the front page – images found in the media library.  I also swapped the contact form that was being used for one of my favorites (WP Forms Lite), and included a reCaptcha security feature (I am not a robot checkbox).  The owner had been receiving spam in her contact email and it stopped once this new form was configured.

Finally, I added a weather widget, since this is a B&B, it makes sense that they should include the local forecast.  Now, after playing with several weather widgets in WordPress, it was clear that many are abandoned (have not been updated in years) or simply broken.  I read on a tech blog that IBM bought Weather Underground and immediately killed the WordPress API, so no more weather forecasts from Weather Underground.  I highly recommend using the “NOAA Weather plugin.”  It uses data from the NOAA National Weather Service, which many weather service providers use.  The only downside is that there is virtually no customization for this plugin.

Rainbow Hill Gift Shop Website

Rainbow Hill is a unique gift shop in Luray, VA.  The website is not an eCommerce site, but you can browse several rooms, filled with fairies and angels, wooden art, candles and incense, beer and wine shop, glasswork, jewelry, books on meditation, geodes ,gemstones and fossils – and toys for the kids.  Stop by when you are in the area and say hello to Nita, the owner.

Christmas Tree and Pumpkin Farm Website is a farm that grows and sells Christmas Trees and pumpkins every fall.  They also host fun tours for groups, including a petting zoo, corn maze and other types of games for kids.  It is located in Luray, Virginia, in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley.

This was an established website for which I took over maintenance.  In the age of COVID-19, the owner needed content changes for hours and activities.  Since activities are outside, I added a weather widget from NOAA.  The animation is accomplished using the premium theme, Striking Multiflex, which is about $100 a year for the license.

Clay Art Studio and Website

This was an established website that the website admin abandoned, so the client was left to try find a replacement quickly.  The images of the clay art were out-dated and the content was minimal.  She wanted to boost sales so we updated the site to include details about how Paula creates her clay art and the meaning behind her pieces – The work is grounded in life and is a personal response to the enduring tenacity of life.” 

We also added a subscriber plugin so that clients and prospective clients could sign up for specials.  We used MailPoet, which does not require integration with Mail Chimp, etc.   With a subscriber list of 1,000 or less, its a free solution that fits her needs.

This is not an eCommerce website, as the pieces are one-of-kind.  To purchase a piece, clients are required to contact the artist or visit the studio.   An added bonus when visiting the website or the studio is that you will be introduced to several other local artists crafts, like woodworking and metal jewelry.

Doo-Rags eCommerce Website is a fully-functional eCommerce website, selling Doo-Rags, Doo-Caps, Doo-Masks, and patches.  It interfaces with PayPal and utilizes the WordPress plugin, Woo Commerce, the most popular eCommerce plugin.  The site also includes a blog so owner Kathleen can converse with her many “groupies.”  I was referred to Kathleen by the owner of a Webhosting company, Khimiara, where I do a lot of business.

This website, like many, fell into disrepair over time from lack of maintenance.  The shopping page did not work anymore and the owner’s business was suffering as a result.  She also wanted to start over and update it for 2020, which is the 25th anniversary of her business.  The site took about 10 hours to build from scratch.  The most time-consuming part was adding all the products, especially since she now had a working website, she wanted to add numerous 50% off sale items of existing stock.  I added a carousel of sale items on the front page to give the customer a sneak peak.  To advertise the launch, we extracted 500 email addresses from her Paypal account from prior orders and sent out an email blast.  The first order came in one hour after the email blast and its been a steady flow of orders since.   I continue to maintain this website.

“Mary Russell is the best website builder that I have ever met.

I have been in business since 1995 and my first website was built using Front Page.  Easy to do, just like Microsoft Word.  Once technology started changing and getting more complicated, I didn’t have the time to keep up with the advancement. My site suffered for years until I found another person to help me.  She set up a new site with Word Press and Woo Commerce and showed me how to use it; but she was unable to continue working with me and the technology kept changing.  I have found a couple of other web designers who did the same.  They showed me how it worked, but they didn’t teach me and allow me to do it.  I didn’t have a large enough business to afford to pay the going rates to have someone do all the updating needed at that point.  My regular customers know that this website has been limping along for about 5 years, rarely any new customers coming to it.

Mary came into my life at just the right time.  I was in need of help and God put the right person in my path. She was able to take the basic information I had and set me up with a completely new look in a very short time.  She listened to everything I had to say and allowed me to set my page up how I wanted it; but SO much more professionally done.

It’s obvious that she knows her way around the program and how it works.  She made things very easy for me to understand; and made sure that she covered all aspects of the functions. My site is fun and colorful and that’s because she listened to who I am and made it happen on the site.

The most impressive part for me is not only how my site has never looked so good, or drawn SO much attention that I’m able to employ more Americans now to help me manufacture again; the affordability of her work was affordable for me.  Now she’s increased my business enough I can even afford to keep her continuing to work on my site.”  The Queen of Doo-Rags, Kathleen McCormick

Baseball Scouting Book Website

Author’s Frederick Day and Ray McKenna are set to release their book, Feeling A Draft: Baseball Scouting and the First 50 Years of the Amateur Player Draft in September, 2020.  They reached out to me to create a website for educational purposes and to help promote their book, so this was a new website and domain.

This website is very content-rich, with numerous fascinating, entertaining and inspiring stories as told by players, coaches, managers and scouts.  But the primary focus is on honoring MLB scouts and the critical role they play in baseball.

The site took approximately 20 hours to establish, configure and add the majority of content.  The site includes trivia questions and numerous “Read More” opportunities and thus makes extensive use of the non-PRO version of a pop-up plugin, Popup Anything on Click, by WP OnlineSupport.  This is one of the easiest pop-up plugins to use – I highly recommend it.  I also included a slider on the front page, seen in the image.  I explored themes with sliders and plugin sliders and theme sliders tended to be limited on functionality, while slider plugins had more features and flexibility.  The one I use is Smart Slider 3 by Nextend – its super easy to use and loaded with features, like the background image can be muted/shadowed so that the primary image and content stands out.  This is not a readily available feature in a theme with an embedded slider.   I continue to maintain this website.

“Mary Russell is everything that one would want in a website designer.  She is extremely responsive, her service is excellent, and she works extremely quickly.  Mary is that rare individual who has a solution for every problem and who implements changes in an impeccable manner. 

She has placed an extraordinary amount of text on our website.  The arrangement of the text has been flawless and extremely attractive.  Mary’s composition skills are first-rate.  The flow of the material that she has placed on our website has been superb.  She is the consummate professional and provides service that is far above what I have seen from other website designers.”  Frederick Day, Co-author, “Feeling a Draft.”

Security Company Website

Digitronics, Inc. is a single source for electronic security solutions, specializing in access control, intrusion detection, CCTV, and intercom systems.  This website had many battle wounds.  The site crashed 2 years ago and was hastily thrown back together by an outside firm.  Digitronics was not pleased with the results, but were unable to get any changes made once the site launched.

When I asked what the President of Digitronics, Inc. wanted for that critical front page, she said “I want it to POP!  It must be simple and elegant.  And I want something to rotate.”  If you go to her site, you will see a grey rotating cube.  Note, this type of animation is a PRO feature, meaning there’s a subscription fee – usually $30-$60 per year.  She wanted to use her logo colors of burgundy and grey, so these two colors dominate the site.  The header photo is so important in catching your prospective client’s attention.  I gave her several photos to choose from and she chose two photos which I set to a randomizing header.  That means whenever you visit the site, you could see either of the two photos.   I have included both photos below.   This site took approximately 25 hours to overhaul.  I continue to maintain this site.

“We recently updated our site utilizing the professional services of Mary Russell. Mary presented us with many options and listened to our ideas and concerns. Mary was able to create an impressive site that adds a “WOW” factor and is visually stunning. Mary turned the design around rapidly and her technical knowledge is superior. The site is professional and attractive.”  Senior Leadership, Digitronics, Inc.

Non-Profit Website

Merica House provides independent living for severely physically disabled adults.  The Alliance for Persons with Disabilities (The APD) is a non-profit that manages Merica House.  The Merica House website was completely overhauled.  When I asked, they all said the site needed “Pizazz!”  So, I incorporated bright colors and funky fonts, making the site convey a happy and vibrant feel.

The site was relying exclusively on posts, rather than pages, to provide content.  Posts can be very dangerous, as they can present a cyber vulnerability.  Spambots seek out and target post-enabled pages and will post inappropriate content or embed malware.

All post-enabled pages were removed from this site.  The overhaul required that content be extracted from the posts and new pages created, along with a new, restructured menu.  For the website header image, I had a vision of a person shadowed in a wheelchair with arms raised in triumph.  I found this image with the sunburst – it was perfect.  This site has fundraising links, such as a GoFundMe page and an partnership for additional fundraising.  The overhaul took about 15 hours.  I continue to maintain this website.

“The website looks fabulous! Thank you so much Mary!  You’ve been a tremendous asset already.  Definitely would love to see you stay on.  I love the “Tour Our House” idea on the vacancy page.  Great idea!”  Annette Porter, APD Board President

“Thank you so much for agreeing to work with us on the website for Merica House. Your ideas, enthusiasm and knowledge are inspiring and hopefully contagious! The site looks fantastic! We’ve come 4 decades in a week and while you were on vacation! Brilliant work!”  Father Matthew, APD Board Member

Non-Profit Website

The Page Free Clinic is a non-profit 501-C3 organization dedicated to providing quality medical services to those who do not have access to affordable healthcare in Page County, Virginia.  They rely exclusively on grants, donations and volunteers to fund and operate the clinic.

I did not create this website, but rather I took over its maintenance after the prior webmaster retired. Several changes were made to reorganize content and additional pages were created for some of that content.  I spent about 5 hours on the content changes, including uploading numerous photos into several new galleries to highlight prior fundraising events.  I continue to maintain this site.

Even though we just started working together, Mary has been a pleasure to work with. She is a motivated individual who is quick to respond to calls and emails, and make the requested changes to our website. Mary is not only creative, thinking of additional information to add to the website, but is also a master of her craft, she understands the ins and outs of the website building technology and features. I would highly recommend her to assist with any website build or update.  Ben Dolewski, Executive Director, Page Free Clinic

Volunteer Rescue Squad Website

The Luray Volunteer Rescue Squad‘s website suffered a breakdown and they needed a new website fast.  A board member contacted me on a Wednesday, and I built the entire website from scratch in 6 hours ($300) the next day.  The site has photo galleries, a contact form, training, volunteer and a donation pages, with integration to Paypal and Amazon Smile, which takes 5% of your purchases and donates directly to the rescue squad – without costing you a penny.  This is rescue squad 3, so they embed a 3 in Res3cue on their vehicles, so I replicated that on the website title.  I continue to maintain this website, although the board member that contacted me may also make content updates.

About Exteriors Striping Website

About Exteriors Striping is based out of New Market, VA.  They paint lines on parking lots in the area, with a focus in Harrisonburg.  The website is fairly basic, including a welcome page, about, services, contact and a photo gallery.  There is a slider of 6 examples of Jim’s work on the homes page.  The design includes a clever asphalt background and a font that looks like lines on a parking lot.

Local Construction Contractor Website

This is a very basic website.  It includes several photo galleries of prior work projects (over 40 images), his equipment, and how to contact him.  The front page does include a carousel of images of some completed projects, as an added interest.  This site took approximately 3 hours to build, including obtaining a new domain.

Photographer Website

This Professional Photographer website was developed from scratch using not WordPress.  Smugmug is ranked as one of the best website platform tools for photographers that want to sell their photos online.  Business models vary widely, so researching and choosing the right eCommerce platform is critical to the success of your business.  This site consumed about 40 hours, spanning one month to complete, with the majority of the time spent uploading 400+ photos at an average of 35MB each.  I continue to maintain this website.

“For several years I had my photography business hosted through a third party website provider.  The site was limited in so many ways and fulfillment to my customers took as long as two months!  It really made my business suffer.  Mary Russell worked collaboratively with me to create a beautiful, customized website through a platform designed specifically for photographers.  My customer fulfillment takes only seven days on average and my business is humming. 

I highly recommend Mary Russell Web Services, LLC to any small/medium business seeking to optimize their online presence or eCommerce-based business.”  Mark Wolsky, Photographer/Artist

Woodworking Crafts Website

This website,, was built from scratch in 6 hours ($300).   The owner has been making log cabin birdhouses and other woodworking crafts for decades and while he had an eCommerce site hosted by Square, it did not offer the range of design and capability that WordPress offers.   So, he wanted a new eCommerce website in WordPress and all the flexible designs.  He cancelled the Square account and opened a Paypay account and we connected it to Woo Commerce.  I continue to maintain this website.

Homeowners Association Website

Skyline Lakes is a 50+ year old, rustic cabin community, bordering Shenandoah National Park.  Cellular reception is nearly non-existent on the 3 mountains that encompass Skyline Lakes.  So, this website needed a feeling of remote, mountainous beauty.  The header photo is of the blue ridge mountains in Shenandoah National Park.  The HOA board did not have any members with website experience, so over time, the website fell into a broken state.  It had broken links, missing or old information and lacked visual appeal.  When I was asked to become the HOA treasurer, I quickly adopted the newsletter and the website.  This HOA Website was overhauled in 2 days or ~18 hours, with additional updates following, as needed for maintenance and new content.  I continue to maintain this site.

“Mary, thanks so much for your efforts revising and updating our Skyline Lakes Homeowners’ Association website!    It looks great!  It is easy to maneuver around to find information, topical and inviting.  I know that the shape it was in before you began had to frustrate owners and potential owners, alike!  Thanks again for bringing us into the 21st century and putting a fine public face on who we are!”  Beth Cayer, Secretary, Skyline Lakes Property-holders Association (SLPA).

Historical Fiction Author and Press Websites

Historical Fiction takes a figure or event in history, and weaves a fictional story within it.  So, the story is part fiction, part historical facts.  Christine Trent’s books take the reader down a journey of mystery and murder, centered around a strong female in an unlikely career – especially for the time period – 18th and 19th centuries.  For example, her Lady of Ashes series features a female undertaker.

Christine has two websites.  The first is her site,, and includes her books, about the author, her blog, calendar of events, etc.  The second is her press site, Twopence Press.  I did not build either of these websites, rather I took over the maintenance, and recently made significant content updates to both, which consumed about 6 hours.  I also migrated both sites from an older GoDaddy Web Hosting plan to a newer, more secure and comprehensive plan.

Christine’s website incorporates Zazzle eCommerce integration for merchandise, and links for book purchasing through common online book stores, including Amazon, Books-a-Million, and Barnes & Noble.  You can also sign up for her monthly newsletter.

Christine’s press site stays up to date with her Lady of Ashes series, and includes approximate release dates.  This site makes use of the the Visual Composer plugin by WPBakery, which enables block content, allowing you very precise formatting.  The site was also using a Gridbox WordPress Theme, which advertises a three-column grid-layout right out of the box.

Wait a minute…?  The theme and plugin are both designed to do the same thing, but I discovered the two were conflicting with one another, so I swapped the theme for the current theme, giving the site a facelift in just minutes.  Using the Visual Composer plugin is great for collections of objects, such as jewelry, car parts, and yes, books.  But, you do not need a plugin for displaying collections of objects.  Christine’s books on her primary site make use of good old-fashioned HTML tables, where I maintain them in raw HTML.   I continue to maintain these sites.

“I appreciate the lightning-quick turnaround on changes to my web sites. Ms. Russell was not only fast, she was thorough enough to recommend numerous changes and enhancements to my sites that improved their look and performance. I can’t wait to see what other new ideas she may have for making my websites even more appealing and professional.”  Christine Trent, Historical Fiction Author