A website is more than just a place for information. In many cases, it will be a customers first impression of your business. A strong online presence is key to making a great first impression. There are a lot of buzzwords in the industry right now surrounding UI (user interface) and UX (user experience), and they're important for a billion reasons. Is your current site capable of making a great first impression? If not, then I can help, just like I did with these fine businesses!
Client wanted one photography site to be broken into two separate portals: weddings and portraits. The sites had to have a similar look and feel, be clean, easy to navigate, and be mobile friendly.
The interior pages are clean and simple, with the galleries built right into the content, instead of being separate pages or modals. The copy (provided by the client) is short, but descriptive, and the pages are easy to navigate.
The new logo design was not part of the original project brief, but I proposed a few optional changes that were modern and clean, which matched the branding of the website slightly better. The client took the ideas and ran with them, and new logo was settled on within a couple of days.
Total project time: 4 weeks
Project URL: christophercoleweddings.com
Bushwhacker didn't come to me for a site, I went to them. And for good reason—they're one of the coolest stores in my hometown, but their website didn't reflect that. It wasn't mobile friendly, had important information buried very deep, and wasn't easy to update.
The first thing we did was make the brand consistent. The logo is great, but the sites colors didn't match the brand. So we scrapped everything and started over fresh. We tried to find out what information was the most important, and build off of that. We started with the best gear, the many featured events the store is involved in, and making sure that the outdoors ambience of the store carries over to the design.
The second step was developing a plan to incorporate the new designs (a whole look and feel honestly) into the overall marketing plan. Specific landing pages were created with annual events, and tracking variables were put into place to gauge the effectiveness of those campaigns. After that, we refreshed the existing blog, and developed a plan to keep content fresh with scheduled updates and posts.
Total Project Time: 9 weeks
Project URL: bushwhacker.com
Local telecommunications company that previously did not have a web presence of any sort, but all of his competition did. He needed to move into the digital age with a site that was visually catching, without being busy. Plus, it needed to be responsive for mobile, easy to navigate, allow customers to get estimates, and offer a professional online presence consistent with current brand standards.
The client already had a logo and some marketing materials, so we pulled graphical styles & colors from those sources. To reach their goals, we came up with a tried and true design, with popping calls-to-action, limited visual clutter, and a professional look and feel.
The last part was learning all we could about the telecom industry, so that we could represent the company and its many services to the right audiences. For Peoria Communications, that meant hospitals, large offices, and factories. By creating an online presence that worked across all industries, we helped Peoria Communications improve brand visibility and create an online portal that could act as another source of lead gathering.
Total project time: 7 weeks
Project URL: peoriacommunications.net
*Pearl Insurance Project
Pearl Carroll is an affiliate of the Pearl Companies. Website needed updated to bring it inline with Pearl Insurance brand standards, increase usability, and update mobile responsiveness. Client requested a website with strong visual appeal, that represents their dedication to their biggest clients—CSEA and NYSRTA.
As a Pearl project, this job came with several prerequisites. Brand standards were already established, and the logo was already in place. I was tasked with coming up with the layout to present to the client, and finding a way to add strong visual elements, but still maintain the Pearl brand standards. I achieved this through a large full-width background image of the state building in Albany, NY (Pearl Carroll's headquarters).
Pearl Carroll does one thing: insurance. So the most important thing about this site was getting as many people as possible to sign up for insurance. To achieve this, we put everything we know about user experience, visitor habits, and external marketing efforts and applied it to the layout of every page. We kept page lengths to a minimum, discussed both benefits and features, and had a clear call-to-action wherever necessary.
Because of the nature of the project—which includes both client approval and legal approval from the various insurance carriers, policy writers, and two separate corporate entities—this is one of the longest projects I've ever worked on from start-to-finish. But it was also one of the most in-depth, and consisted of the largest team "cooks in the kitchen" that I've ever experienced. In the end, the client was very happy and that's all that matters.
Total project time: 5 months (combined)
Project URL: pearlcarroll.com
*Pearl Insurance Project
CSEA is the largest client of Pearl Carroll and Associates. The redevelopment of the Pearl Carroll site is in conjunction with splitting the three member portals into three separate sites (Pearl Carroll, CSEA, and NYSRTA). The sites must have similar UI/UX components, while maintaining brand specific standards.
Keeping the brand consistent with CSEA's brand colors and logo was fairly straight forward. Using Pearl Carroll as a template for the design, we were able to keep UI/UX components almost completely identical, while still allowing the CSEA brand to be represented. CSEA, being the biggest client of Pearl Carroll and Associates, was a very important job for us to undertake, because any failure on our part reflected poorly on Pearl Carroll—something we weren't going to allow.
The second step was working closely with design and copywriting to make sure that the site was professional, but not dry and lacking of any personality. The large background image, of the New York State Capitol Building, created a strong visual of the organizations ties to Albany and the New York State government. The approval process for an insurance website is time consuming, and has to go through so many legal channels. In the end, the client was incredibly happy iwht the design, and the member community is taking full of advantage of newly added features.
Total Project Time: 5 Months (combined)
Project URL: cseainsurance.com
*Pearl Insurance Project
NYSRTA is a prominent client of Pearl Carroll & Associates. The old site was just a page on the Pearl Carroll website, which really limited what was possible, and what could be included. The redevelopment of the Pearl Carroll website meant that we needed to break this page out, and develop it as its own entity online.
The look and feel of the site needed to fit in with the Pearl Carroll Portal—they are part of the same site after all. But it was important that the overall branding of the NYSRTA Portal matched the colors and feel of the NYSRTA page. We wanted members to know they were in the right place immediately upon visiting the site.
With such a limited amount of content, there was no need for multiple pages. We went with a single page design, hotlinked to the products, and put all of the different products into an accordion format for ease of access. The contact information is clearly visible and easy to find in the aside. This was by far the easiest part of the entire Pearl Carroll project.
Total project time: 5 Months (combined)
Project URL: nysrtainsurance.com
The world's greatest Social Studies teacher needed the worlds greatest classroom portal. Priority number one was making sure that it was mobile responsive. A lot of my students didn't have computers at home, but they pretty much all had smartphones. Priority number two was having notes and powerpoints available for download. It needed to be easy to update, easy to follow along, and hopefully not boring as hell.
I chose a modified WordPress site for this one. It made it easy to update, and took care of most of the dirty work. It isn't as nice as a completely custom site, and WordPress has its limitations, but for a classroom portal it manages just fine.
Building the site was the easy part. Populating it with engaging, meaningful content, that was the hard part. Trying to cram an entire month-long lesson onto one page is no easy feet. This is where good design comes in. You can't just cram a ton of text on a page, or you end up looking like a nicer Wikipedia. Breaking it up by section creates a certain hierarchy of information, and interjecting it with meaningful images helps those visual learners.
I didn't post this site because of the good design, but I posted it here as an example of the importance of hierarchy when you're dealing with large amounts of content. A good designer won't just put your information on a page and expect it to be good enough. A good designer will create a site that flows and keeps the user engaged. Just like I did here!
Total project time: Basically forever
Project URL: 48ounces.com
This really bad ass designer (disclaimer: I'm talking about me) was working freelance while going to school to be a teacher. Problem is, he didn't have a website. Well, he did, but it was really old and not up to modern web standards. That needed rectified.
Enough third person already. I needed a site that showed my design chops, but I didn't have a ton of time to put into building a true portfolio. After all, I was working full time, going to school full time, writing lesson plans, being a dad, and still thought it was a good idea to do some light freelancing. I wanted to make sure I was keeping up with design standards, trends, and software. But I also needed a new site that made me look like I knew what I was doing.
I chose WordPress, which I still use on a lot of sites, but modified the hell out of it. A lot of themes will let you override the styles, and I took full advantage of that. I went with a simple, one-page design that broke my projects up by type. There was no time for building websites then, so the page focused on print projects and logos...mostly logos. Check it.
Total project time: 10 days
Project URL: Site is no longer active
*Pearl Insurance Project
The American Chemical Society (ACS) came to us with a request. We want to start a campaign that will target millenials, especially college students, and get them to engage with us on social media. It had to be separate from their current website, and they wanted more than just a landing page.
We came up with the idea of a social sharing campaign. One of the most effective ways to target millennials is asking them to talk about themselves (sorry, millennials, it's true). But what did we want them to talk about, how did we want them to do it, and how would the whole thing work? That last part was all on me.
The finished product was to ask them what passes their "Litmus Test" of life. We all have jobs, we do something to make money, but there has to be more to life than that! So we asked them what mattered most in their life, and had them discuss what motivates them the most. The finished product used Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to have them submit their own stories. We then output that on the website through a social feed, which would aggregate all of our posts in one place. Drive them to the website, they can see themselves, and they could share that story (and our site) right on their own social media.
To steamroll the project, we coincided the hard launch with the American Chemical Society's Annual Convention. There were chemists from all over the US, and also chemistry students in attendance. We set up the booth with iPads and laptops, and asked them to tell their story right there on the spot. The response was huge, and the project as a whole was an overwhelming success.
To see more, or even to tell your own story visit the link below.
Total project time: 5 weeks
Project URL: litmusproject.com
A local Non-Profit organization is holding their second annual festival for makers, inventors, tinkerers, and innovators. The event was a huge success, but being free to the public means needing corporate sponsors. Client needed a site that both represented the event well, but also looked professional, and allowed donations to be made directly on the site. The site required a very tight deadline.
Talk about a rush project! I was already in the process of developing a new site for River City Labs. So when they said, "Can you make a new Midwest MakerFest site too? In, like, 10 days?" I knew I had to make it happen. I went to this event last year, and it was awesome. The current site was a terrible production using one of those build-your-own site things (don't get me started on that garbage). I wanted to give them a site they could be proud of.
The first thing we had to do was get enough information out there for people to understand what it is. If you're in the maker community, then you would already know. But for everyone else, we needed some info. It's one thing to come up with a great design, but it's a whole other ball game to get a site's content put together, and that's the most important dictator of layout. Once we had our content, we came up with a layout that worked wonders to engage users, and encourage donors.
With the new site up and running, we were able to use it as part of a larger promotional initiative. That's marketing speak for, "We used every channel we could to tell people about the website." We used the obvious avenues of social media, but also employed email marketing campaigns as part of the outreach program. And it worked! Within two days, we had nearly doubled the initial sponsor count, and had nearly ten exhibitors signed up for the show. Talk about a huge success! I'm the shit.
Total project time: 10 Days
Project URL: midwestmakerfest.com
The best way to contact me is through email. You can text me too—I'm a modern man.
Ampersand is a Peoria, IL based company. I operate out of coffee shops for meetings. You can find me at Leaves 'n' Beans most mornings. (I did not make their website!)
Just in case you need it: (309) 868-3449