Fabric Design: Prairie Beauty

I have just launched a new collection of fabric “Prairie Beauty

This collection of 13 patterns was inspired by the floral and foliage found on a prairie. I have been working as a habitat restoration volunteer for the last year or so at Cuba Marsh, a forest preserve in the Chicago area and during that time I have seen so many beautiful plants and had to paintbrush to paper.

Most of the designs stated off as watercolors which were then scanned and pulled into Photoshop where I waved my magic graphic design wand and turned them into repeating patterns.

prairie beauty fabric collection
prairie beauty fabric collection
prairie beauty fabric collection

The collection is available through Spoonflower where they can be purchased in a large variety of fabrics or as ready made item such a duvet covers and table linens.

Media Mentions: Daily Herald – The Creative Side of Volunteering

Indigo Image is Moving to Lancaster PA

This week marks a 700+ mile move for web design company, Indigo Image. We are relocating from Chicago to Lancaster Pennsylvania.

lancaster pa web designer

This is not the first time we have moved. We relocated from St Louis in 2010 and quickly established a healthy client base here with clever re-optimization of our website and lots of strategic networking. Moving has never meant we abandon our clients. Although face to face meeting are a lot harder we go the extra mile with email and phone communication – our move from Chicago from St Louis saw no loss of clients and we strive to have the same success with our move to Lancaster PA.

We are looking forward to meeting business owners in Lancaster looking for a creative partner they can truly rely on. From web design to graphic design, internet marketing and hosting services, we provide the small to medium sized business owner everything they need to have  a successful internet presence.

The Evolving Web Site

“A good web site is never complete – it is a user interface that evolves over time with changes to better serve your visitors.”

Is your web site built to adapt as your business transforms?

All of the websites we create are robust enough to accommodate this need to change, whether it is something as simple as updating a logo, adding a new service or taking advantage of new internet technology.

Here an example of what I mean.

Interior Designs 2 Go

This site we created for Interior Design 2 Go has undergone design and “call to action”  tweaks and “under the hood” tinkering

This is what the site looked like when it was first launched.

wordpress website interior designer

and here it is today.

evolving-interdesigns2go

It has a new logo, accent color, home page layout and does a better job at illustrating the service being offered.

 

New Fun Website for Kids

As a graphic designer I have always been drawn to patterns and this fascination ultimately led to a fantastic job designing anti counterfeit patterns for currency. It was the ultimate in technical design – the patterns had to not only look good but offer serious anti counterfeit protection too. Working in the security printing industry opened my eyes to all the secrets a design could hide and a new fascination was born!

Over the years I have been dabbling in these “secrets”, albeit on a much larger scale that you would typically see on a bank note and have brought the first round together in a new web site – Secret Messages for Kids!

secret messages for kids website
The site offers 4 types of secret message, all with easy to follow instructions and plenty of fun!
fancy-folding-hm cosmic-color-hm

groovy-grid-hm mask-lettersr-hm

It has been designed to appeal to kids with bright colors and hand drawn cartoons.

New website for Northbrook Dr

We recently launched a new website for a Naprapathy doctor, Dr Daryl Newman – www.chainreflex.com

Based in the North Shore area of Chicago, Dr Newman offers unique treatments and programs to help patients move better and feel better. Naprapathy is a non invasive method for treating and managing pain, everything form back aches to carpal tunnel and Dr Newman combines treatment with custom exercises unique to a patient’s problem.

He also offers customized fitness training – Chain Reflex, and wellness programs including weight loss, pre and post natal and sports nutrition.

North shore naprapatic web site

Given that most people do not have a clue (me included when I first met Dr Newman) what naprapathy is, we approached the creation of the website based on how treatment could help specific problems. The home page features a slideshow with distinct patient scenarios leading to targeted call to actions.  We also included a section titled “How can we help you” with more scenarios such as ” I am in pain and looking for relief”.  As the visitor delves deeper into the site a better understanding of what naprapthy is and what to expect are gained. The site is sprinkled with an amazing set of testimonials that speak volumes of the skill Dr Newman offers.

The design is clean and uplifting reflecting how patients feel after a treatment session. It  is built on the WordPress framework which will allow Dr Newman to easily update, he is also going to be writing a regular blog – a great way to market a site.

pain-treatment-northbrook

It is also completely mobile friendly.

Visit it a www,chainreflex.com

Money Saving Tips for Your New Business Website: From Creation to Internet Marketing

If you are planning on starting a new business in 2014, getting up and running online is probably a high priority. With  budget concerns, many business owners will be willing to do as much as they can themselves. Here are some money saving tips to get started.

new buisness website money saving tips

  • Research and Register Your Domain Name
    When coming up with a name for your new venture make sure you also check out domain name availability. There is nothing worse than coming up with a great business  name to find the domain name is unavailable. Godaddy is a good place to do you research.
    Ideally you want one that is

    • Short and sweet
    • Can be easily communicated verbally – avoid weird spellings
    • Avoids hyphenation
    • Has the .com extension
  • Your Website
    If you are technically savvy you may want to have a go at building your site yourself- WordPress.com is a good place to start. But if HTML, CSS, SEO, templates, plugins, widgets and web hosting give you the shivers it is probably best to leave the creation of your website to a professional web design company.  Scope a few local web designers and when getting a quote be specific as possible in what you are looking for. This way you will help the designer come up with an accurate quote right from the start and not have to worry about hidden costs later into the project.
    Some areas to consider are-

    • The size of your site – sketch out a site map of all of the pages you would like, it doesn’t have to be perfect.
    • The functionality – do you need e-commerce, a blogging platform  or want visitors to be able to upload information. Think long and hard exactly what you want your visitors to do once they reach your site.
    • The look and feel of the site -will you need a logo and brand image creation
    • Do you want your web site to be responsive? – look great on a desktop. tablet, cell phone etc … full explanation of responsive web design
    • Do you want to be able to update the site yourself ?
    • Are there any third party tools that you want integrated into your site
    • Search engine optimization- to get your site ranking well in the search engines required a myriad of behind the scenes code enhancements.  All search engine optimization projects start with a researched  list of keywords and key phrases. Get a jump start on your list –a great tool for evaluating what phrases are worth targeting is Google’s Adwords click “Tools and Analysis” for a keyword planner.
  • Online Marketing
    Getting visitors to your site will require an online marketing strategy, many web design companies – including Indigo Image, can do this for you.   If you decide to tackle this yourself some of the basics you need to address are

    • Submitting your site to all the major search engine-  each search engine is slightly different
    • Creating quality links to your site from as many different sites as possible
    • Setting up social media profiles e.g Facebook page, Twitter account, Linkedin , Pinterest. Make sure you use a brand image consistent with your site across all social networks.
    • Engaging and promoting your business within your targeted social networks. It is much better to select a few social networks to focus on rather than dabble in all of them.
    • If your site has a blog write it as often as you can…to begin with aim for a post every day for maximum impact.
    • Promote any new content on your site through your social networks.
  • Website Maintenance
    Keeping your website fresh is important not only for returning visitors but also for your search engine rankings. Search engines will favor sites with frequent content updates compared to those with few.
    If your site has been built on a platform like WordPress you will be able ( if you are so inclined!) to update the site yourself.

Three questions to consider for mobile friendly websites

How much traffic is my website getting from devices like ipads and smart phones?

While you may not know the answer, I can guarantee it is more than you were getting a few years ago.  A quick look at the statistics for our own web site shows a 100% increase in the amount of traffic we are getting from mobile devices in just the last 12 months. A personal site I write, creativeinchicago.com, derives 40% of it’s 35k monthly traffic from mobile devices. Numbers like these are difficult to ignore and there is no doubt that mobile access  is a growing trend that is here to stay.

What does my site look like on mobile devices?

There are quite a few online tools that have popped up that emulate how a site will look on a particular device and while they can’t guarantee how you site will behave on any given device they do provide a quick snap shot. You can test your site on a simple emulator HERE . It will show you what your site looks like in different window widths, which is a simple but effective simulation technique –  to see which window size corresponds to which device click on the device sizes button.

A responsive website will adjust itself depending on the size of the window (or type of device) as shown with our site. This means that the site will be easy to use and offer the user an optimum experience regardless of what type of device they are using to visit from.

reponsive web desig in chicago.

 

A site which is not responsive will not adjust as illustrated in the site below. The simulator will display horizontal scroll bars in this case.

unpresonsive website

Most tablets and smart phones will actually shrink the website down to fit their screen instead of making the user scroll horizontally so the simple simulator used above is not accurate in that respect.

A more rigorous  simulator to try is Mobile phone simulator .

Here are the same two websites plugged in.

responsive and unresponsive web sites

The responsive site has adjusted to offer the user and optimum viewing experience but the unresponsive site offers tiny text and  unreadable navigation. These can be magnified  of course but the site makes the user really have to work to see it.

Can my website be converted to a responsive web site?

To behave responsively a website needs to be coded in a unique way. In many cases the existing design can be used, as in the case of a recent responsive conversion we carried out for ruthellenhasser.com. We made almost no changes to the overall design of the site but completely revamped the code powering it

RESPONSIVE DESIGN CHICAGO responsive_design_chicago_2 responsive_design_chicago_3

I am ready to move forward with a mobile friendly website

If you are looking to move forward either building a new website that is mobile friendly or converting an existing web site to behave responsively we are here to help. Call 847 607 8679 to get started today.

The Eye of a Chicago Web Designer

As a web and graphic designer my “design” eyes never seem to rest. If I am out and about driving, I am reviewing and critiquing logos on the sides of vehicles, if I am waiting at a clients office for a meeting to start I am analyzing the patterns in the carpet or on the wall coverings. Just sitting here as I type I can see patterns every where from the wood grain on my desk to the grill of my computer speakers.  I am constantly absorbing design all around me; patterns, textures,  shapes, color palettes, color combinations, type faces … to many it may sound exhausting …but to me it’s not!

Even at 30,000 feet the “Chicago web designers eye” is primed and ready. As I peered out of the window on a recent flight to Vegas I was greeted by an amazing patchwork of shapes and contours that had been highlighted by a sprinkling of snow.  How cool is that!

The eye of the Chicago web designer