Custom or Template Website? That’s the Question

Custom website work for Northern Arizona University

Custom website work for Northern Arizona University

The most important things to be sure of when creating a website are great content, intuitive navigation, website usability, fast loading and SEO friendly.  But which to choose –  a template website or a custom website? Here are a few things to think about …

WEBSITE TEMPLATES

Templates, or “Themes” as WordPress calls them (we build Wordpress websites here at Dayzign) are increasingly popular because they are less expensive and faster to build.  The colors, layout and features are ready-to-go, and we add your own content and graphics to make it your own. There are many attractive themes out there, you just have to be sure the one you choose meets current web standards, is responsive, editable and SEO friendly. At Dayzign we generally suggest several themes to our clients to choose from, so we can be sure we start with a good product from the get go. Themed websites are great if your budget is lower, or you just need a “business card” website, and your functional needs are lower.

We added a custom logo to distinguish the Ridgway Fire Department theme

A website template is perfect for a nonprofit like the Ridgway Fire Department

Personalizing your website theme

With so many folks using templates today, a lot of website designs are starting to look the same. If you’re going to go the route of a website template, be sure to personalize it with custom graphics to distinguish your brand and make it enjoyable for your viewers. We can create a great custom header that goes a long way in capturing your viewers’ attention, and add it into your template. This will HIGHLY distinguish your look from everyone else. Of course your logo design is a big part of that. We can also add some cool fonts for EXTRA pizzaaz!

Dayzign created a custom header and logo, along with using fun fonts on this template

Dayzign created a custom header and logo, along with using fun fonts on the Axel Project template

CUSTOM WEBSITES

If your branding is intact and you don’t want to compromise that or your requirements for your website, then a custom website is the way to go. Additionally, if you have a lot of content and architecture, or want greater flexibility with your design and functions, then a custom website is also the way to go.

Greater design control

Most recently, we have been thrilled to work on several different custom websites for various departments at Northern Arizona University. With a custom site design, NAU can have complete control over the entire page layout. This is important to the University because they need to integrate university-wide design elements such as the header, footer, fonts and colors.

Fun features where and when they want them

Guess what? One of the benefits of WordPress is the many “plugins” or add-on features that can be popped into your wordpress site. From fun social media plugins to blog feeds to weather updates, music playlists and many, many, MANY more, you can make your website interesting to viewers by adding on great features. That’s the beauty of WordPress. For NAU, we’ve included such features as Event Booking, Social Feeds, Photo Galleries and more. If a custom design and greater control is important to you, then a custom website is the way to go. It’s fun to be able to have your website design at your fingertips and work with Dayzign to create the features you want, the way you want.

Whether you’re up for a WordPress Theme or a Custom Site, give us a call to discuss your project: 970-275-5186 or email Kellie.

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Ouray Ice Festival Skeleton Art

Ouray Ice Park Skeleton poster

Ouray Ice Park Skeleton art was made into posters, ads and program covers

I spent years ice climbing at the Ouray Ice Park and in the surrounding mountains. So when the Ouray Ice Festival asked if I would do their 20th anniversary poster, I said, “Heck Yeah!”

Starbucks SIren

Starbucks SIren

The Ouray Ice Festival features different artists every couple of years on their marketing materials. The opportunity to use custom art is one that creates a completely unique look that stands out in a world of corporatized, template-driven graphics. More and more we’re seeing custom illustrations on packaging labels, logos, and corporate advertising like Starbucks.

The challenge (or “opportunity”) on this project was to truly capture the energy and thrill of ice climbing. The ice climbing marketing being edgy, adrenaline and excitement driven.

Don Quijote Calavera by Jose Guadalupe Posada

Don Quijote Calavera by Jose Guadalupe Posada 

Why a Skeleton?

Ice Park board members Clint Estes and Mike McLeod asked me to design this poster in October. Some of my favorite holiday artwork is the Dia de los Muertos skeletons, and October is very near the Day of the Dead holiday. I was very fired up about skeleton art at the time, and fortunately, Clint and Mike were on board with that.

The original painting now hangs at Ouray Mountain Sports and will be auctioned off this Saturday night at the Ouray Ice Festival, Wright Opera House from 8pm to 10pm as a fundraiser for the Ouray Ice Park.

If you’d like to chat about a custom illustration or artwork for your company or organization, email me here.

To read the personal story on this piece, visit my fine art site here.

To purchase prints of the original art click here.

 

 

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7 Web Trends to Watch for in 2015

Beautiful, effective website design – where’s it headed? Read on for trends to keep in mind as you move forward with your website in 2015…

Big, beautiful background images are the web trend for 2015

Responsive design works well on a variety of screen sizes

1. Get Responsive or Go Home.

This is the standard for web design now. A large percentage of your market is most likely viewing your site at least occasionally, on a mobile device. Fortunately the wordpress based sites we design make this simple by offering this feature as part of the package. We incorporate your design into a responsive format. Period.

 

Mobile-style web design

Mobile-style web design 

2. Mobile-style Design

Web design is beginning to move in the direction of a more enjoyable mobile experience. As a result, design is reflecting mobile elements such as: vertical design – long, scrolling pages (but better than before), simplicity, and well …

You'll find big type and better use of fonts in 2015 web design

You’ll find big type and better use of fonts in 2015 web design

3. Big Type. Nice Type.

Web font kits have become plentiful and affordable. (Amost) gone are the days of sticking with Helvetica and whatever whoever had on their computer. Now all of our sites incorporate great headline fonts. More and more we’re able to use nice looking type as part of your site design. Look forward to a more lovely readability experience in the future ­– we love pretty things!

 

Card design on the web delivers information in tasty bites

Card design on the web delivers information in tasty bites

4. Card Design

Been on pinterest? More and more websites are incorporating “card design” for photo images, blog posts, news feeds and more. The cards re-sort and restack nicely. These tasty bites provide a clean way to browse stories or items you’re selling, and are a LOT more fun to peruse than columns of type. We love a fun web experience!

 

Gorgeous background images make dull pages a happy boy

Gorgeous background images make dull pages a happy boy

5. Gorgeous background images

Show off your great content by displaying it prominently. If you’re in the outdoor industry, backdrop the glorious mountains or bike terrain. Turn a less interesting part of your site into a show-stopping display case.

 

Google’s use of flat-toned vector illustrations and icons echoes the company’s dedication to clean and modern design

Google’s use of flat-toned vector illustrations and icons echoes the company’s dedication to clean and modern design

6. Flat Design

Google has revealed its love of “flat design” for websites. Flat design means simplifying the website by keeping the essentials and removing unimportant elements such as gloss, bevels and textures. Overall we’ve seen a trend towards more simplistic design with popular operating systems. There is beauty in simplicity, just be careful not to lose your personal/emotional connection with your customer.

 

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7. Compelling Storytelling

Storytelling is a powerful approach that can convert people to your brand. I’m a big fan of telling your story with logo design. In the web world, it’s time to take that to the next level and relate to your clientele personally, to build loyalty. Be sure to transfer your logo elements into your web design for a more integrated story in your online appearance. Talk with viewers in a conversational tone, and let your personality show through in a way that your customers want to hear.

Here’s to evolving your site into a more effective sales tool for your business in 2015!

Call or email us if you’re ready for a more modern website

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NEW Ouray Hot Springs Website Makes a Splash

The NEW Ouray Hot Springs website features seasonal experiences

The NEW Ouray Hot Springs website features seasonal experiences

 

Splish splash! The Ouray Hot Springs is promoting not just itself, but the Ouray area.

Much like the Ouray Ice Park, the Hot Springs understood that by promoting the Ouray area, the springs itself would increase visitors.

Through a newly designed wordpress website, Dayzign Graphics developed the components that were important to the Hot Springs. This included a Call to Action on each page, driving visitors to site goals, along with links to the Ouray Chamber and the Ouray Resort Association.

A Seasonal Experience

An interior page on the Ouray Hot Springs website, newly designed by Dayzign Graphics

An interior page on the Ouray Hot Springs website

It was also important to the City (the Hot Springs are a city entity), to highlight the rich history of the area, and the different experiences visitors have in summer vs. winter. For example, summers are busy, colorful and more family-oriented. Winters can be quite, steamy, and even romantic.

What Functionality Do You Need in a Website?

The Hot Springs needed not only an attractive website, but one that allowed online swim lesson registration and employment application. Dayzign’s developers incorporated an event sign-up component that allows visitors to register their children for different swim lessons, check availability, and pay online.

Job postings are listed through a separate plugin, where potential applicants can view job descriptions and fill out secure online applications. Job availability can be turned on or off by the Hot Springs.

A Site That’s Easy to Edit

As always, our clients can edit their own site, through the wordpress dashboard.

If you haven’t experience the amazing Ouray Hot Springs and the view that goes with it –  you can take a peek on the new website here.

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Maya Nut – A Website with a Library

Maya Nut Institute Website by Dayzign Graphics

Maya Nut Institute is a gem that empowers women in Latin America economically and nutritionally through harvesting an ancient nut known as the Maya Nut.

Founder Erika Vohman learned about the Maya Nut while visiting Guatemala on an animal rescue mission in the 90’s. The Maya Nut tree is an ancient staple of Latin America, but long forgotten.

An interior page of the Maya Nut Institute website

An interior page of the Maya Nut Institute website

Vohman’s organization supports women to produce and distribute Maya Nut as a means for nutritional and economical sustainance.

A Website with a Library

Dayzign Graphics was the lucky firm chosen to develop a new website for the Institute this year. The undertaking was large due partly to an extensive, open- access library of documents and photos collected or written by Vohman. Students and researchers from all over the world can access the new library, with over 300 documents written by Spanish and English scientists.

The Language Component

The site also needed to be bi-lingual. Thus a wordpress feature was installed that allows each page to have a Spanish version. Viewers can click back and forth between English and Spanish pages as desired. The feature also detects the primary language of the user’s computer, and automatically displays the website in their native language.

A Design that Fits

The colorful, bright design gives a jungle feel with green bird and plant graphics. A media section chronicles CNN and other videos from around the world, on the Institute and the Maya Nut.

The Maya Nut Institute has created substantial Programs that include Reforestation, Children’s lunch programs, and Green Ranching, and many more, which are organized in an intuitive navigation.

Needless to say, Erika Vohman has made incredible accomplishments in young her life to date, helping many people and countries of Latin America.

You can enjoy reading more about the Maya Nut Institute here.

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Coming up with Content – get a jumpstart on your website redesign

So you’ve done it. You’ve made the decision to redesign your website, to bring it up to date with the latest technology and features. You even have design ideas and have hired your favorite designer to create the “look”. Maybe you’ve even seen the first draft. Then comes the big realization: you’ve got to come up with content for your site.

tips for coming up with web content

Coming up with web content doesn’t have to be like pulling teeth

Coming up with web content does not have to be like waiting in line at Walmart, pulling teeth or watching a bad chick flick. Here are some thoughts to give you a head start, so that when your designer calls for that content, you can shock them by handing it over…

1. Figure out the Goal

What’s the goal of your website? Are you booking trips? Are you educating? Are you selling cars? Every place you take a viewer should be leading them to your goal in a user-friendly manner. Figure out the goal, and keep that in mind every step of the way. There should be a “Call to Action” on every page leading them to your goal.

2. Start with the Content, Start Small

Unless you’ve booked a week away from the family in a winter cabin all by yourself, don’t try to write the whole site content at once. It can be overwhelming enough to freeze up the best of us. Make a goal to do one page at a time. Maybe one a week. Get your content together, and make it quality. Keep it simple, keep it clear. It doesn’t have to be Ernest Hemingway. Just pleasant and organized.

3. Think Like a Client

Organize what you want to say due to your client needs, not your company structure. What do they want to hear about your business that will convince them to choose you? Don’t focus on telling them all about yourself. Get them excited about what you are offering by answering their questions before they ask. Let your history, years in business and technical details be subsidiary information.

When you write each page, think about what they will be looking for first. Then second. Lead them to your goal, and make it a pleasant experience for them. Break up big paragraphs with captivating headings. Use videos, photos, podcasts and graphics in key places that make sense, to make the experience palatable.

Don’t waste their time by creating unnecessary pages. Keep your site clean and efficient and provide valuable information. Your viewers will appreciate it, and your search engine rankings will show the results.

4. Extra credit

If you have the budget, we’ll hire out search engine gurus to sprinkle key words for search engines throughout your text. However, as you’re writing, keep in mind terms viewers may be searching for to find businesses such as yours. For example, if you sell health care services, include terms specific to your industry such as “teeth whitening”  or “crown repair”. Not just general terms like “dental health”. Speak specifically to what folks will search for, and what you are selling. Just remember not to let search engine language drive your content. Good, human content comes first.

5. Use Savvy Nav

Once your content is written, coming up with your site navigation will make more sense.  There are lots of ways to determine the navigation of your site…

  • Notecards – use 3” x 5” note cards and write a page on each of these . Then sort them into stacks of what topic goes with what. Now put the most important one on top to determine the main navigational link. You might also have a few “test” people go through your notecards and give their feedback on what navigation makes sense to them as well.
  • Spreadsheet – If you have a larger site with more pages, you may want to create a content inventory in a Microsoft spreadsheet. This should include links to each page and a sentence about what will be on each page.
  • Creative Brainstorming – Drawing with markers is fun. Tacking papers/sticky notes up to a bulletin board and moving these around can be a more creative, fun way to play with your site structure. This is a great way to get the ideas flowing, and is often a great way to start the process, allowing for creative brainstorming with your group. Once you begin to nail down the site structure, you can move to the spread sheet.

5. Give links clear names.

Don’t be cute on your main links. Clients need to know exactly where they are going. Be respectful of their time, and don’t lose them. For example, “News” is better than “Tidbits”. They might not know what Tibits means.

Relax, You’re Done

If you give yourself enough time and a little head start, the process of coming up with your web content can be a breeze. Coupled with the stunning website design your designer is working on, you’ll have a fantastic site that will keep users coming back for more.

Be sure to ask Dayzign if you need help with any of your site content – we have great resources for writing and editing! (970)275-5186

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Evolution of an Ice Climbing Business

The Chicks with Picks 2014 Tshirt is OUT – Illustration by Kellie Day

The Chicks with Picks 2014 Tshirt is OUT – Illustration by Kellie Day


 

Started as a means to teach women self-sufficiency in ice climbing, Chicks with Picks has become a key business in building commraderie in the climbing world.

Co-Founder Kim Reynolds realized that much of the initial attraction to chicks was the sassy, independent attitude reflected in the logo and brand. She has continually built this brand over the last 15 years, beginning with the logo, and including yearly, hand-drawn tshirts.

The Chicks brand is strongly backed by quality built ice climbing clinics for women, that include strong female leadership and skill building. Gals from all over the country visit Ouray, Colorado each year to attend Chicks clinics. There’s one for every skill level.

Coming up on 15 years of being in the biz, Head Chick Reynolds felt the Shiva (Indian God/Goddess) themed tshirt illustration reflected the evolution of the business, and the strength and balance women have in so many aspects of their lives as mothers, business women, and climbers.

You can visit the Chicks with Picks website here, which is being redesigned as we speak.

Interested in a custom illustration? Contact Kellie Day here or call (970) 275-5186

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