Graphic design, print and web design in the San Francisco Bay area

Case Study: Aurora School website

Aurora School web site

Project: Custom WordPress Website Design

The Aurora School is a unique private elementary school founded in 1988. Its mission is to develop individuals who are academically excellent, socially compassionate, and emotionally secure.

Challenge:The current Aurora School website has problems with design, maintenance and usability.

While the school is known for its welcoming and diverse community, they also have a “PR” problem — the popular mispercemption is that Aurora School is a “hippie school” without a rigorous academic curriculum.

In addition, usability problems inhibit the site from becoming a useful tool and resource for member families. The site contains all the critical information users need but it’s too hard to find.

On the administrative side, making even simple updates to the web site is expensive and slow. All changes require coordination with an outside web designer.

Solution:Redesign website on a custom WordPress CMS platform. Update the look and feel. Create information architecture with user needs in mind.

A content management system will solve many administrative problems with the current site and providing a simpler platform with which staff can control content.

Results: Maintenance, usability, relevance all dramatically improved with the new site.

  • The website now attracts new families and website visibility and relevance is improved
  • The site now reflects both the socially compassionate nature of the school and its academic excellence
  • Parent interaction with the site has increased. A useful, accessible resource for families has been created
  • Website maintenance is simplified enabling Aurora staff to make content updates quickly and without third party involvement
  • The unique and exploratory learning atmosphere of Aurora is being conveyed by featuring examples of lessons and events on the home page

Case Study: Diablo Theatre Company Logo and Website

Diablo Theatre Company Website Design -- Custom WordPress Development

Project: Logo and Custom WordPress Website Design

The Diablo Light Opera Company, celebrating its 50th anniversary as one of the Bay Area’s premier producers of musical theater, was changing its name to the Diablo Theatre Company. A new logo and website were needed to launch the rebranding effort.

Challenge: Busy theater company website required constant, expensive maintenance from an outside web designer

The maintenance of the old site was a constant chore for this vibrant organization. Notifying the public of upcoming performances, auditions, and children’s acting classes required weekly updates and the cooperation of an outside web designer.

Solution: New logo, branding and website design centered around user needs

A new site was needed to emphasize the excitement of live theater and streamline maintenance for constantly updated content. We built the site on a customized WordPress content management system (CMS), writing widgets and a back-end tailored to their needs.

Result: A new CMS website the staff can update daily, reflecting an updated brand. Workflows streamlined, improved user experience.

  • Logo and website now conveys the excitement of live theater
  • Streamlined the online ticket ordering process
  • Emphasize grant-friendly programs like youth theater offerings
  • Encouraged press coverage
  • Built a content management system that allows administrative staff to make changes to the site whenever needed.
  • Features upcoming shows, auditions and educational opportunities

Case Study: San Francisco Professional Food Society Website

San Francisco Professional Food Society Website Design -- Custom WordPress Development

Project: Logo and Custom WordPress Website Design

The San Francisco Professional Food Society is a diverse community of professionals whose careers revolve around food, beverages and hospitality. The SFPFS is one of the country’s oldest organizations for professionals working in the food industry.

Client Challenge: Fussy, feminine logo and outdated website gave the wrong impression of this vibrant professional organization

The SFPFS website was several years old. Site maintenance was laborious for staff and required knowledge of HTML. Administrative tasks were largely manual and time consuming. Usability problems prevented the site from becoming a useful tool and resource for current members. In addition, the old, ornate SFPFS logo and site design did not reflect the mission or spirit of the organization.

Solution: Redesign the logo and branding, and re-imagine the website as a central hub

After a thorough user profile and task analysis to better understand the SFPFS audience, we created a site architecture to meet those users’ needs. In the analysis we identified three main user groups; prospective members, current SFPFS members and administrative staff.

We used WordPress, a blogging platform, to function as a (CMS) content management system. We customized the platform to

Result: Website is now 100% staff maintained with major benefits to member users.

For prospective members, we determined that a blog would be a persuasive tool for learning about activities and the benefits of membership as well as give SFPFS social media marketing opportunities. Big, bold buttons used throughout the site encourage prospective members to learn about the benefits of membership.

Current members have a way to edit their own profile info online, access members-only content, pay fees and sign up for events online.

Administrative staff would realize a huge time-saving benefit by members performing their own profile updates, making payments and signing up for events online. Creating events announcements and follow up reports become simple and fast via the website admin.

Case Study — Razzolink Branding and Web Design

Razzolink Web Design

Project: Logo, Branding and Web Design

Razzolink brings affordable high-speed Internet service to rural areas in Northern California. Customer service is an important company value: they wanted to improve their website experience for current and prospective customers as part of that goal.

Challenge: Customers confused by the old website flooded customer service telephone lines to handle simple customer service issues

The old Razzolink website had serious usability problems for current customers. People found it difficult to manage their accounts and preferences for webmail, tech support and payment collection. Though the company offered terrific tech support and online ordering, most users of the old site ended up calling the customer service desk in frustration, rather than using the website.

Razzolink.com Site Goals:

  • Reduce calls to the office staff by making the website an effective customer tool for both ordering and technical support
  • Increase orders by making the order path more clear and effectively comparing the plan options
  • Optimize website for search engines

Solution: Focus on user needs, and make it easy for customers to find what they’re looking for

Solve usability problems, increased search engine exposure, increase sales, and reduce calls to customer service.

Result: Increased website sales, customers can perform several key tasks without calling customer service

Internally, the sales and support teams benefited by having the website answer most of the key concerns of their current customers. For Razzolink customers both new and prospective, plan and pricing information is now much easier to find and compare.

Case Study — Landmark Realty CMS Website Design

Landmark Real Estate SF Web Design

Project: Logo and CMS Website

Challenge: Outdated website was difficult to update and hindered renter application process

The original site was outdated, without any branding or tools for renter interaction. The application process was old-fashioned and laborious for office staff and renters alike.

A new site was needed to greatly improve user satisfaction, allow online booking of furnished apartments by out-of-towners and foreign visitors, and to simplify administrative tasks.

LandmarkSF.com Site Goals:

  • Increase the rental of short-term furnished apartments by 1) providing out-of-towners all the information they need to rent an apartment sight-unseen, and 2) creating a smooth online booking process.
  • Simplify the application process for the local renters of unfurnished apartments by creating an online application and “request an appointment to view” form.
  • Simplify upkeep by creating a content management system to enable listing agents to freely edit apartment availability.
  • Automate marketing by creating a tool that generates attractive HTML for Craigslist posts using the content management system and existing property listings.

Solution: Build site to answer common renter questions and facilitate the rental process

Landmark Realty handles apartment rentals for three audiences with very different needs:

  • Unfurnished rentals for long-term accommodation by a local Bay Area audience
  • Month-to-month furnished rentals for long term vacations and corporate travelers
  • Hawaii vacation rentals

Result: All-time low vacancy rate leading to business expansion

The new site is so effective that, for the first time, Landmark had almost no vacancies for Summer 2011, with open properties renting almost as soon as they became available. The company is in the process of acquiring new buildings to meet increased demand.

Case Study — Athena Williams Corporate Identity

Project: Logo and Web Design

Challenge: Communicate values of social responsibility and serious business solutions

Athena Williams is a nationally known business coach who was ready to take her own business to the next level. She needed a new identity, website and marketing material to reflect her dedication to socially responsible business practices and her personal, spiritual values. A further challenge was to create a look and feel that would also attract serious business clientele without sacrificing the soft, elegant attitude of the brand.

Solution: Use imagery from Greek mythology to communicate strength, strategy, peace and prosperity

We started by creating a logo that not only communicates compassion and caring, but incorporates a back-story, playing on our client’s unique name and its association with Greek mythology. In a competition with Poseidon to be the patron of Attica, the goddess Athena presented an olive tree to the people of the city. While a modest gift on the surface, the olive tree fed the people of the city, gave them wood to keep warm and oil to light their houses. Poseidon’s gift of war horses paled in comparison. The city was renamed Athens, and the olive tree became a symbol of peace and prosperity – a marvelous metaphor for a socially conscious business coach.

We then created a user interface using the same palette and key elements of the logo as a design reference while preserving a clean, corporate look and feel, thus appealing to Athena’s target market, which is comprised of social entrepreneurs, CEOs and serious business professionals. The website also provided a marketing channel for her monthly newsletters and her schedule of speaking engagements and workshops. Other marketing collateral followed, including business cards, letterhead and a flyer template.

Result: Unique brand more suited to the mission of the company.

Response to Athena’s logo and branding has been overwhelmingly positive. Her newsletter subscriptions have tripled since the web site launch, and workshop attendance is at an all-time high. A comment from one of her clients:

“I really liked the old website, but absolutely love this one! I feel your personality and philosophy really coming through in the new one. It’s given me tingles all over and it makes me actually WANT to spend time on it. It even makes me excited about the opportunity to explore it! Wow. Please pass on my admiration for a job very well done to Sara Waters Design Group. I’m going to log her name so I can talk to her in a bit about possibly doing a redesign…”