Blacksmith’s Web Design Review – Chicago Edition
How to Improve Award-Winning Web Designs – Chicago Edition
Blacksmith Industries has carefully searched far and wide. We scoured the web and researched some of the most profound website designs found either from Chicago business or developed by agencies in the Chicago. Please take a look at our Chicago web design research and see how even the best can still be improved. Enjoy!
Contact: 35 West Wacker Drive, Chicago, Illinois, 60601 | 312-220-5959
This a perfect example of a classy website created with UX and UI in mind. Fifth
Third Bank does a great job at capturing the audience right at the start with an engaging video being displayed as a banner. Although the load time was a little slow (which could be due to my location) overall the elegance of the site made up for it. This is a great example of how photography and videos can make for a great combination even on a responsive web design.
Some web design elements that we liked most include the color pallet, typography, and parallax design. The developers of this site did a great job combining all the elements to form ReEmploy 53. One improve we would make is separating the share from the other menu items. When you attempt to navigate through the site, this sometimes throws off the user, especially when the other menu items disappear.
If Blacksmith Industries were in charge of this web design a few items that we would fix would be the menu navigation to make it more user friendly, the WebGL’s, and the site speed.
A common solution to solving the site speed is through our partners over at CloudFlare. Cloudflare is a CDN, which is just a fancy terminology or acronym for Content Delivery Network. A CDN, can dramatically speed up any site if used correctly. In essence it distributes your website contents and traffic across multiple servers. Once your website is pinged, it will query the closest server fro the user. This along with compressing your html, css, php, or wordpress cms, can dramatically increase your ability to shorten website load time. blacksmith.agency’s load time when from over 60 seconds in load time to now under 3, just from you a CDN. This would definitely a helpful tip for http://reemploy.53.com as well.
Contact: 35 West Wacker Drive, Chicago, Illinois, 60601 | 312-220-5959
How do I turn this music off?! Even though this site might have been done by a professional web a developer, that is still the first thought that comes to my head when visiting this site. My eyes quickly scanned the top of the site looking for a menu option to cancel or pause the music from blasting my headset.
One this I did like was the snow falling from the screen. This probably wasn’t too foreign for a Chicago web design seeing as they find several inches of the white powder each year in their front yard. Nevertheless, great touch.
Our UX (user experience) tips would be the following. Increase website engagement by having the ability to pause the music more obvious. If the goal of the site is to interact and build/decorate a house, then it should be obvious and should guide the user with relative ease towards the correct page. Lastly, if the user wants to go back to the original page I would advise creating this in another format if possible such as php in order to prevent this experience.
It is not easy being an international model but somehow Tawny Jordan Ring from Chicago, Il is able to manage. She did a decent job picking the right developers to complete her site as well. Apart from the site be sleek, modern, and aesthetically pleasing they got it right by building it on the php framework of WordPress. When we dug into the code we were able to easy find out the type of site. By navigating to the script we were able to see the following:
This format is very family to what is found on all WordPress sites. WordPress for those who may not know, is a CMS, which stands for Content Management System. Tawny got it right by asking for a CMS. This is was we provide nearly 99% of our clients as well. The benefits to the CMS is primarily control.
There are many times when a client will want to update the site on their own with out paying another individual or agency to make the changes. Typical changes that can be done could range from images, text, titles, pages, blog posts, etc
At Blacksmith Industries we try to make sure our clients are set up for success so two thumbs up for Tawny’s marketing department for requesting this and another pat on the back for the dev team that was able to get it done.
Contact: 6311 W. Gross Point Road, Niles, IL. 60714 | 847.647.7500
The ShamROCK Chicago initiative website takes a little different approach that our team at Blacksmith might not have agreed with. While at first glance this site might seem fine, there is in reality a large lack of detail.
For example when you look at the website design you can clearly see that the logo is unaligned with the banner. Now while I’ll agree that sometimes responsive web design has its challenges, they might have been off choosing a different type of menu, one that doesn’t make the logo seemed unaligned on different viewports.
For those who might not know what a viewport is, I will try to explain it a little better. So a viewport is just a fancy term that is used when describing different the viewing region on a specific device. This device could be a mobile phone, iphone, ipad, laptop, desktop etc.
When creating a mobile responsive website it is import to check your view port breaks. One great tool that we use here at Blacksmith is called breakpointtester.com. If the developers who created shamrockchicago2015.com used this viewport tester they might not have ran into the issue we found today. Here is an example of what we are discussion on a 90.06EM: https://www.dropbox.com/s/jryiul9k5q791p0/Screenshot%202015-03-26%2016.49.22.png?dl=0
Other than that the site was ok in aesthetics. We took a look at the code and saw that it could be using a “slick theme” of sorts but didn’t dig too much further. An ok site that could use some improvement overall probably a 6 out of 10 from us here at Blacksmith.
Contact: 6311 West Gross Point Rd. Niles, Illinois 60714 | 847.647.7500
Celtic Chicago offers a clean and easy to navigate experience. When you first arrive on the page you can tell that some professional web developers created this design. The parallax web design offers a creative touch that allows the user to feel comfortable and allows for easy delivery of content. Overall we liked how they displayed their web design portfolio. The unique WebGL’s allow for an interactive experience that gives the user a great experience. It allows the web visitor to stay in control of the site, browse the specified project, and then click back to the page if they care to browse more.
One area that they could improve on is the contact us page. While we get it, that they are trying to be modern and sleek, missing out on traffic visitors due to a lack of a contact form is almost an elementary level mistake. Contact forms, might see over-rated for some. But we feel that simply putting in some basic fields such as: name, email, phone, or message could do wonders for their lead generation. For an example of what we are talking about take a look at blacksmith.agency/contact-us/
Contact: 750 N FRANKLIN ST SUITE 101 CHICAGO IL 60654 | 312.371.0773
Today we will take a look at Arsova with more of a technical view. The overall design of the website is great but the on-site SEO could use some improvement. The owners of Arvosa definitely have a good start on the basics but with a view web design tweaks they could improve their search engine rankings.
For example, when we ran the site through a SEOquake analysis, we came across some interesting results. They had a title tag and 2 thumbs up for them having a “branded” title tag. Overall, google suggests that you have “branded” titles that tell the user who you are.
Arsova Homepage Title: Arsova Salon | Chicago Salon | Downtown Chicago Hair Salon
An area that could be improved would be the meta description. For their homepage they had the following text:
Top Downtown Chicago Hair Salon, expert stylist and colorists. Cut, styling, extensions, balayage, flamboyage, bridal hair, makeup.
While we definitely have seen sites have worse descriptions some pointer that could help Arsova out would be the following:
- Have more than just keywords
- Describe your service
- Brand your description
Contact: 9950 W Lawrence Ave Schiller Park, IL 60176 | 847.299.3600
At one point in the online (web 2.o) world everyone was absolutely obsessed with CTR or as some know it, Click Through Rate. CTR was all the fuss, from spammy looking buttons to 1203981029 contact forms. Everyone was so tightly focused on maximizing their ROI they quickly forgot, their main purpose, server the visitor.
This is exactly the first thoughts we had when arriving at the Smart Cars Inc website. Immediately we are greeted with calls to action, yelp links, phone numbers, sliders, ugh I am getting a head ache just thinking about it. While we definitely have seen worse website in the online world, I do not think that this would qualify as an “award winning website”.
It is very important when design a website in Chicago to ensure that you relay your local presence with a professional touch. From the beginning we see that the social icons appear “stock” in nature. Which basically means that they were downloaded for free off of some website in order to take prevent the time consuming task of creating original social icons. (For example of custom social media icons, take a look at blacksmith.agency’s footer.)
Coming soon reviews…