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A New Web Site for Shelley Cowan

Shelley Cowan's Web SiteI am thrilled to share with you Shelley Cowan's new web site and beautiful logo. 

Shelley Cowan is a Communications Strategist, Anthropologist and Writer who consults companies such as P&G and Petoskey Plastics. She has been successfully working on this field for 20 years and managed to stay at the top of her game without a web site.  

Shelley approached De Novo with a vague idea about what she needed her web site to do. We spent a lot of time together analyzing her work and unraveling her competitive advantage. Together, we created a strategy that  will grow her reach while addressing her current needs.

It was an amazingly interesting experience that helped me realize how efficient communication and high quality content can make a great difference in a web site. Shelley's constant quest for perfection and accuracy in the use of language taught me to be more subtractive in the way I design myself.

Shelley wrote a wonderful testimonial that I would like to share with you:

"Maria is more than a terrific web designer; she is also a terrific communications strategist. She started by asking, "Why do you want a website?" "How do you expect people find you?" "What do you want them to do as a result?" She listened carefully and translated her understanding into a logo, layout and design in a way that felt a bit magical to me. It's an experience I highly recommend."

She even dedicated a blog to De Novo describing her experience of creating her own web site. You can read her "The Client's Shoes" blog here.

You can visit Shelley's web site at: or you can visit Shelley's blog at

Gentle Breeze or the transformation of a static web site to an online business

I am very excited and want to share with you the launch of an e-commerce site for Gentle Breeze, the Hot Air Ballon company that flies all over the greater Cincinnati area. 

Brian Trapp and Laurie Givin, owners of Gentle Breeze, commented:  "Maria has done a wonderful job for us! ... She's taken the time to read or hear what we say we want, think about it, analyze it and come back to us with a solution! This is a refreshing experience... Wonderful job!" 

Gentle Breeze initially approached De Novo Dezign to create a 5 page, static, brochure type web site for their business. Over the past two years their web site has expanded to include detailed information about their fleet, flying and ballooning. More importantly we added extra functions to facilitate their day to day work and their marketing effort to expand their business, including social media interaction.

The last addition, to what now is a complete on line business, is their shopping cart where exclusive or group rides to metro flights and wedding flights are offered.

Other than the shopping cart the web site enjoys a Content Management System (CMS), complete customer database, e-mail marketing/newsletter and a blog.

Take a look at the cool design and who knows you may want to try a ride!

De Novo's latest web site launch: Mt. Sterling Pediatrics

We love our new website!  De Novo Dezign and Maria did a fabulous job creating just what we wanted.  Our website is vivid, easy to navigate, and very informative.  Maria was extremely easy to work with.  She was responsive to our needs and suggestions and was diligent in completing the website.  We are very happy with the entire process as well as the end result.  Thanks so much De Novo Dezign! 

... said Dr, Brandy Fouch who founded the practice in 2009 in Mt. Sterling, Kentucky. Together with Shasta Kessler, the pediatric nurse practitioner and the other staff of the practice they resonate enthusiasm and positive energy. We brainstormed with Dr. Fouch and listened carefully at the message she needed to convey through the site. We also analyzed her client's needs when visiting and navigating through the site and more importantly the tasks they would perform once in the site.

The web site's main goal is to inform about the practice and its policies but also to educate people on child related issues. Moreover, it was important to express  the enthusiasm and passion that Mt. Sterling Pediatrics is standing for. 

In order to achieve the goals set, the site,  at the front end, makes available a breadth of information related both to the practice and to children's health. 

  • Using a  clean, easy to navigate layout that makes information easy to find. 
  • Using a search option in all pages for quick search of information.
  • Repeating useful information such as address, map, telephone numbers and other emergency numbers in every page so that clients do not have to search for them in case of an emergency. 
  • Under quick links the fever control link  includes detailed tables of Motrin and Tylenol dosages and other fever related information.
  • Under "my sick child" and "parent resources" a variety of downloadable files and links to other web sites related to anything a parent with young kids can look for is made available.
  • The site provides all the information related to Dr. Fouch and her staff, the practice policies and downloadable forms that patients can prepare in advance.
  • It also uses playful, vibrant colors reminiscent of the practice's interior design.
  • A clean, modern, easy to read typeface and minimum ornamentation add to the playful design without intervening with the site's functionality.
  • At the back end the Mt Sterling Pediatrics web site is using an easy to use Content Management System for quick updates, web analytics and e-mail marketing for sending newsletters and other useful e-mails.

    You can take a look at the Mt. Sterling Pediatrics web site here.

Google introduces Social Search and kills SEO?

There is an ongoing battle between Google and Facebook on who will win our search preferences. It an attempt to grow its search engine impact Facebook won't give Google access to its social graph data. In response, Google joined forces with every other social network to make Google search more social by incorporating our social preferences to the search results. 

Yesterday Google launched an upgrade to its search engine. Now Google users, logged in with their Google account, will receive traditional search results combined with their friends' search history. 

The news revolutionize the way web pages and information will be ranked in the future. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) based on keywords will soon be dead as each one of us will see a different page of results, more personal,  based on our search history and connections across the different social media.

Watch the Google video to see how our new searches will look like and understand all the details.

What can you do to take advantage of the new situation in the biggest search engine of the world?

  • Create often fresh, compelling content in your web pages and blogs. More pages means more indexing and more search results for your web site or blog.
  • After you create your new blog pages submit them to the different social platforms. 
  • Even better, add share buttons to your blog entries to make it easy for others to share your content in social platforms. 
  • Create a strategy on how to expand your social presence as the number of connections you have will affect the way you are ranked.
  • Share the Google video with other people in your business and embrace the change.

Future-proof your business

Technology is always changing, and it's well known that when it comes to tech, something you've bought one day can technically be obsolete the next week. This is usually just one of those things you need to accept as part of business - but what if you could avoid that issue all together?

Future-proofing your business is about being ready to take advantage of new technology. It's about forging ahead in the direction you want to go, not in the direction that your out-of-date software pushes you. It's protecting your investment so that you don't become consumed with the costs and effort of upgrading all the time.

Imagine that you could buy a new computer that doesn't get obsolete. A computer that, every night when you go to sleep, the latest parts and software are installed and updated for you. A computer that is the best out there - automatically, every day.

That's what our online business system is. It's a system, built from the ground up for business owners like you, that has incorporated all the major tools a small business needs - not just the ones you need now, but the ones you will need in 3 months, and the ones you'll need next year. We constantly upgrade and add new features while you're asleep, so that you've always got the latest and greatest.

And all for a reasonable price, comparable to what others would charge for simple web hosting alone. So get in touch with us today to learn more about how you can future proof your business, with us.

Invest in the well being of your own business. Trust a professional designer.

Being Search Engine Friendly means more than Key Words

Being search engine friendly is a matter of many things and many factors, and there are experts out there who can spend days discussing them with you. That said, there are some general "rules" to follow that can help tremendously.
  • Put yourself in your customers' shoes - what would you type in to Google if you were looking for a Use Google's Webmaster tools, and their equivalents. In particular, Google allows you to submit a "sitemap" to them, which essentially lists your site's web pages and tells the search engine where to find them. This sitemap is a file in your website, and is usually named Sitemaps.xml - you should definitely have like yours? Write down the top 5 or 10 "keywords" that you would think people are using to look for you. Now when you're writing content for your site, use those keywords as often as possible in your writing. This increases the chance that you will appear near the top of the results when people type in those keywords.
  • Focus on quality and usefulness. If your website has high quality, focused and useful content on it, people will link to your site. Links are like "votes" - search engines treat them as an acknowledgement to the usefulness of your site. But not all links are treated equal. Links from high quality sources are given more weight than unknown or "spammy" sites. This is one of the big reasons that buying links isn't always a good idea.
  • Engage other sites in your industry. Find blogs, forums and other sites that are related to your business, and comment or participate. Get to know the owners of the other site if possible. If your site truly is high quality, they will happily link to your site - often for free.
Invest in the well being of your own business. Trust a professional designer.

The secret to Higher Rankings? Update your Site Regularly

Did you know that the vast majority of websites fail? There are many reasons for it, but there are also some simple things you can do to protect yours from the same fate.

Can you update your site yourself? We're not talking about big design changes or anything, just news and announcements, maybe some articles you've written, or a monthly blog post or two.

If you can't, or you don't - you need to and you should! The fact is that search engines like Google and Yahoo absolutely adore fresh, valuable content on websites - so the more content you add and the fresher your site is, the higher the chance that you'll rank highly in search results - meaning more customers and more profits.

Now, the next question is - what to write? This is the hardest bit, so here are  three strategies to help you figure out what to write.

  • Think about what's been happening in the last month in your business. Did you make any milestones in terms of customers, profit numbers, product releases or new staff hires? Write about them! Customers love to read positive things about your business - it shows you're authentic and successful, which are good signs for any business.
  • Did something special or interesting happen to you that taught you a positive lesson you could share? Maybe you went to the coffee shop and were really "wowed" by their customer service. Perhaps they even inspired you to improve your own service. Share these stories with your customers on a blog post! They're fun, interesting and they say a lot about the things your business values.
  • Think about what's going to happen in the next month - is there anything interesting? Are you going to receive your 1000th order? Are you about to receive a huge shipment or discount frisbees? Tell your customers and build up some excitement!

There's always something to write, just remember the golden rules of content and you'll be fine:

  • Is the content relevant to your customers or your business?
  • Does the content add value to your customers?

Invest in the well being of your own business. Trust a professional designer.

I hope you've found these tips useful! If you have any questions, please let me know.

Color Matters

Color is one of the most important forms of non-verbal communication and a tool to create a mood or rapidly convey a message. In fact color is one of the most important arsenals in marketing and design in order to attract the consumer's eye, create an impression, convey a message and ultimately make a sale. At the minimum create enough interest about a product or service.

Humans react to color in an unconscious way as color stimulates our senses and sends messages to our brain suggesting specific feelings. The power of color is visible around us in logos, advertising, signage, billboards, packaging, websites, blogs even cell phones and MP3 players.

Statistics demonstrate the importance and power of color. Humans spend approximately .03 seconds looking at a package while walking in the aisles of a store. At that time a product must attract our eye, make clear what the product is about while at the same time appeal to our aesthetics and create the curiosity to look at it closely.

To show the importance of color here is a list of human responses just for RED:

Bright Red: Exciting, Energizing, Hot, Dynamic, Stimulating, Provocative, Aggressive, Powerful

Bright Pink: Exciting, Happy, Hot, Energetic, Youthful, Spirited, Fun, Trendy, Wild

Light Pink: Romantic, Soft, Sweet, Tender, Cute, Babies, Delicate

Dusty Pink: Soft, Cozy, Subtle

Mauve: Soft, Subdued, Quiet, Sentimental

Burgundy: Rich, Elegant, Refined, Tasty, Expensive, Mature

Fuchsia: Bright, Exciting, Fun, Hot, High Energy

Brick Red: Earthy, Strong, Warm Country

Terra-cotta: Earth, Warm, Wholesome, Country, Welcoming

And you? How do you use color to help your business grow? Next time you will have a promotional material designed or a logo redesign or a new website think about color and discuss it with your designer.

Invest in the well being of your own business. Trust a professional designer.

10 jquery image galleries

Tired of the same image galleries? Here are some outside the box image galleries for beautiful portfolio sites.

Piecemaker XML Gallery

Demo | Download

Piecemaker is an open source 3D Flash image rotator gallery.


Demo | Download

Supersized is a fullscreen slidehow jQuery plugin. It supports image preloading with image cycling with transitioning effect.


Demo | Download

Galleria is a javascript image gallery written in jQuery. It loads the images one by one from an unordered list and displays thumbnails when each image is loaded.

CU3ER Image Slider

Demo | Download

an image slider initially conceived to create 3D transitions between slides, turned out to be a convenient and multifunction solution that can be applied in a range of website building areas, from content slider to feature slider and image & banner rotator.

jQuery lightBox

Demo | Download

jQuery lightBox plugin is simple, elegant, unobtrusive, no need extra markup and is used to overlay images on the current page through the power and flexibility of jQuery’s selector.


Demo | Download

Galleriffic is a jQuery plugin that provides a rich, post-back free experience optimized to handle high volumes of photos.

S3 Slider : jQuery Image Gallery

Demo | Download

S3 Slider is a jQuery plugin with nice effects and with self image changing.

Anything Slider

Demo | Download

AnythingSlider is a jQuery Plugin with a lot of features( Slides can be anything, Navigation tabs are built and added dynamically …).

Coin Slider

Demo | Download

Coin Slider is a jQuery image slider with unique effects.


Demo | Download

The jQuery Cycle Plugin is a slideshow plugin that supports many different types of transition effects.


Demo | Download

YoxView is a free image and video viewer for websites. It’s written in javascript using jQuery and is available as a jQuery plugin.

Design and the Elastic Mind

In 2008 MOMA presented the exhibit Design and the Elastic Mind and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to see it.
The exhibit covered various areas of design and how design is used by scientists today to translate and bring science closer to individuals, make complicate concepts easier to grasp and experience or interact with. There were approximately 50 projects varying from medicine, to the environment and 3D printing.
The exhibit was fascinating and it was complemented by an equally fascinating website. Designed by Yugo Nakamura, one of Japan's leading web designers and one of the most influential web designers in the world today, the website was highly interactive and provided for a very rich user experience.
In an interview, published last February at MOMA's own blog, Yugo Nakamura talks about the coneption and execution of the exhibition's website, as well as his personal design views, demonstrating his own elastic mind. Captivating both for web designers and curious minds!

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