Chicago Web Designer: FAQ

Just over two weeks ago I announced that Indigo Image was relocating to Chicago. So, we are a new web and graphic design company in town, new to Chicago but not new to world of web design.

Looking for a Chicago web designer? Here is a quick FAQ.

What type of services do you offer?

  • Custom website design
  • Banner ad Design
  • Content management solutions
  • Email templates
  • Blog design
  • WordPress websites
  • Logos /identity design
  • Complete  corporate branding
  • Presentations
  • Brochures
  • Advertisements
  • Internet marketing
  • SEO

We strive to be  “your creative partner”

How much do you charge?

Projects are priced out on an individual basis. We can work on an hourly rate or for a set fee. Our initial consultation is always FREE!

Do you have examples of your work?

View extensive portfolio of web and graphic design projects

Where are you located?

We are located in Lincolnshire, a small suburb in the North Shore area of Chicago.

What areas do you serve?

We  concentrate our efforts in the North Shore area of Chicagoland  (Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Deerfield, Evanston, Glencoe, Glenview, Highland Park, Kennilworth, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Libertyville, Lincolnshire, Lincolnwood, Morton Grove, Northbrook, Northfield, Skokie, Vernon Hills, Wheeling, Wilmette, and Winnetka).

However there are no geographical boundaries to our services and we are happy to work with you whatever your location. Over the years we have successfully worked with many clients with whom we have never had a face to face meeting.

How many years have you been in business

We have over 10 years experience in building web sites and general graphic design.

2010 © Chicago Web Designer


A letter to Chicago from the Chicago Web Designer

Dear Chicago,

Hello! A week ago today I was packing up my St Louis web design business and today, here I am firmly planted in Chicago. It may be a while before I am fully unpacked but I am really looking forward to getting to know you, all your fabulous businesses and getting down to work as the Chicago web designer.

Here is what I do:

Web Design

  • Custom Web Site Design
  • Web Site redesign
  • Banner ad Design
  • Email templates
  • Blog Design, wordpress, blogger
  • Internet marketing ( SEO)

Graphic Design

  • Logos and corporate branding
  • Presentations
  • Brochures
  • Advertisements
  • Traditional graphic design

I have been in the web and graphic design business for over 10 years and am truly passionate about what I do.

One question, as a city you have a lot of nick names. Which one do you prefer, Chi town, ChicagoLand or the Windy City?

Yours Sincerely

The Chicago Web Designer

2010 © Chicago Web Designer

Banner Ads on your website

If you are a website designer or an owner of a web site that offers advertising this post is for you.

website advertising 4 ideas

Yesterday I revealed a branding project I have been working on which included the creation of a logo, business card, website and banner ads. An important part of the website was that it be able to accommodate banner ads as this was to be a major source of revenue for the site.

To refresh your memory here it is again
website sbradio
Designing a web site with ads  in mind poses a  challenge. You need a site with conflicting call to actions.

Call to action A

Engaging your site visitors with your site’s content – happy surfer and web site owner

Call to action B

Encouraging your site visitor to leave your site by clicking on a banner ad – happy advertiser

So how do you design a website to  please both surfer and advertiser? Successfully accommodating banner ads into a web site is all about balance between space,  size, color and movement.

Space and Size

There are industry standards for the size and shape of Ad units suggested by Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).  This list of acceptable shapes and sizes is growing each year but to create a website to accommodate all  is not wise.  A better approach is to pick a few of the best performing sizes/shape (do a search to see the current hot list) and create your website design around those blocks.

The thoughts of ads on a page can sometime conjure up an image of clutter and disarray but careful spacing and positioning of the  units can optimize the performance (click through) of the ad, while minimizing the invasive effect they have on the surfer.


The banner ads provided by the advertisers are likely to be multi colored and certainly not designed to compliment a web site with a complicated color scheme.  The best approach is to keep the color scheme of your site monochromatic, in the case of the SBradio site we selected tones of gray. This approach helps the ads pop, happy advertiser, but enables the site visitor to easily switch focus to the site content, happy surfer.


Many banner ads have an element of movement, either a flash animation or a rotating gif.  To overcome the competing effect of an animated element it is best to ensure the host web site has no or little movement itself.

So ads vs content, let the competition begin!

2010 © St Louis Web Designer

Blog Post and SEO

I have been writing this blog since June 2005 ( quite shocking!) and in that time I have seen the internet do it’s magic and produce and ever increasing stream of traffic to my site via my blog. I have accumulated readers, subscribers and clients as a result, I thank you all.

It’s not really magic at all, its a combination of consistent posting and writing unique posts relevant to my business area, web and graphic design.  Here are a few tips for blog posts that will help generate traffic via SEO or other means

  • Select a good title for each blog post which contains  key words relevant to the post’s copy.
  • Write something unique and make sure you include the key words or phrase you have in your post’s title.
  • If your post contains an image, include key words in the image file name. Also make sure the image size is optimized for the web.
  • Share your post, include links to common social media networks like Twitter or Stumble Upon
  • Comment on other blogs and if appropriate include a link to a relevant post you have written. Do not spam other blogs though.

Blogging can be an excellent internet marketing tool, it has certainly worked for me.

2010 © St Louis Web Designer

What makes a lead generation web site sucessful?

A few weeks back I announced the launch of . The site offers a wealth of information for those looking to beautify their yard with a retaining wall, patio or any other hardscape project. For the client it is a highly targeted lead generation tool.

The secret of success for these types of web sites is in the planning stage.

Start by defining your user groups, give them names – it helps cement their unique attributes.
For the hardscape site we focused on three user groups:

  • Those just starting to think about backyard upgrade and in the market for design ideas. – the Designer
  • Individuals who are further down the buying path, know what they want and looking for someone to build for them. – the Do it for me
  • Hard core DIYers who want to build themselves. – the Do it myself

Once you have your user groups defined how do you engage them. Each of your user groups are more than likely looking for different types of information.

  • For the Designer it was all about ideas and we created custom slide shows of pavers and retaining walls.
  • The Do it for me are itching to get their project underway. We provided information on finding and hiring a contractor and an excellent visualizer tool that enables them to view different products in situ.

  • The Do it Myself user is interested in the more technical aspects and a custom designed project calculator application allows then to get down to the details of their project.

For lead generation web sites you want to capture pertinent information about the users. Requesting information is a balancing act, making users fill in forms, and jump though hoops for every scrap of information on a web site is futile. They will be hitting that back button in no time and trying a different site. It is a give and take process, give away some information but request contact details for others.

“Download our coupon” was our main call to action on the hardscape site,  but we also tailored call to actions according to the user groups

  • The Designer was offered project design tools, with download offered for free and a simple online form to receive product samples.
  • Both Do it for me and Do it Myself we offered a free estimate

Understanding your user groups, how to engage them and capture their information is key in lead generation site.

    Your blog as an Internet Marketing Tool – Six Tips

    Blogging is a great way to market you products or services. But are you making the most of this internet marketing tool?

    Here are six tips that will help maximize your blog’s potential.

    1. Post Title Use key words in your blog post titles and make the title meaningful.
    2. File Naming Ensure that the file name generated by your blogging platform for each of your posts includes the keywords you want to target. Google’s blogger will automatically generate the file name from the title of your post but WordPress need to be configured.
    3. Post Content Write content that will engage your visitors, use imagery to add interest and format text so it is easy to read. Remember to include the key words you have targeted in the post’s title.
    4. Promote New Posts
      • Use social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook to announce new posts. Facebook can actually be configured to pull all new blog content directly into your page.
    5. Subscription Offer your visitors a number of subscription options. For example allow then to subscribe via a reader such as Google’s Reader or have new posts delivered as an email.
    6. Comments Make sure visitors can comment on your posts. All good blogging platforms can be configured so you can approve comments before they get posted to your blog and answering  comments is a great way to engage with your visitors.

    2010 © St Louis Web Designer

    A ROI Website Success Story

    Anyone starting a new business venture understands the importance of having a website, it can be tool to showcase their products or services, streamline their business operations or act as a lead generation platform.

    Depending upon the complexity of the site it can be a sizable investment and the return on investment (ROI) is high on the agenda for any savvy business owner.

    Last year we launched for a website for Ruth Hasser, a St Louis wedding Officiant and she has seen a huge increase in her business as a result.
    Here is what she has to say

    “Last year at this time, pre-website, I had one wedding scheduled for 2009. By the end of the year I had done 25. Right now, I already have 17 weddings scheduled, and I have been receiving an average of one lead per day since the beginning of January- outstanding!”

    You gotta love those leads!

    The site ranks very well in the search engines thanks to excellent search engine optimization (SEO), a successful link building campaign and Ruth’s regular blog posts.

    2010 © St Louis Web Designer

    Can blogging help my business?

    Last month I wrote “Can twitter help my business?” this month question is
    “Can blogging help my business?”

    webdesigner blog

    Blogging regularly about topics relevant to your business and target audience is a fabulous way to increase your visibility among the search engines. Over the last year the client web sites I have launched with blogs, get listed faster and rank higher with the major search engines. For search engines, content is king and blogs, by their very nature, rule the day with their fresh new content.

    Whatever your area of business blogging is a great platform on which to build your authority and reputation. Write about issues relevant to your services, use your blog to pose questions to your readers, offer solutions to problems. Your expertise will show through.

    Engage with your readers through blog comments and don’t worry about your blog being blighted by spam. All good blog platforms have the ability to moderate comments, they can be configured so you can see the comments and approve them before they appear on your site.

    If you can commit to writing a post at least once a week then a blog can definitely help your business.

    2009 © St Louis Web Designer

    Twitter experiment

    Are you using Twitter yet?

    I have had a Twitter account for quite some time now but only really started using it recently. Twittering is like micro blogging; you have 140 characters to have your say. It is quick, easy and free.

    As with any social networking tool there is a time commitment, albeit relatively small for Twitter, so I have set myself a number of goals to see if it is really worth the effort.

    To follow me on Twitter click here

    The quality of your web coding and SEO

    Today I have been working on a site I recently took over.

    The site has a clean well functioning design with no usability flaws. However it has not been doing well in the search engines for the keywords and phrases the client is targeting, so they have asked me to do some SEO work .

    Delving into the code “behind” the site I have come across a number of problems that have not been helping the situation. The code is bloated beyond belief with font tags, span tags and nested tables. It appears that the original creator of the site had a “thing” about using tables…even simple lists were put into a table.

    I have stripped away the superfluous code and used css to control the look and feel of the content. The code is cleaner and shorter ( from around 240 lines to 70 lines) and the web site looks exactly the same to the user.

    Tomorrow I will work on adding elements that will enrich the keyword density of the pages.