The Evolution Of Web Design From Nicety To Necessity

The Evolution Of Web Design From Nicety To Necessity

Evolution Of Web DesignWhen the first website was published in 1991, it was considered a marvel. A static, text-based, incredibly simple marvel, perhaps, but it showed the world the potential of what websites could be used for. It took an additional 10 years before there was any expectation at all that a business would have a website, but by the mid-’00s, all but the smallest businesses had or were developing websites. In the time between 2005 and 2010, we saw a tidal wave of services designed to help bring even the smallest businesses online, and in the current marketplace, people not only expect, but demand that businesses have a website.

How Website Design Has Evolved

Like all people experimenting with new things, early web designers scrambled to try all the tools at their disposal, and created a lot of wild designs, in an effort to discover what users would respond most positively to. There were black web pages with neon pink text (ouch!), and fonts so intricate that they were illegible, but it was new and exciting. As web design moved through the ’90s and into the ’00s, sites moved past text-based design, through frame-based design, which was temperamental and inflexible, and into cascading style sheet (CSS) design, which opened up opportunities to build websites that displayed correctly on a much broader variety of browsers and systems. The advent of HTML 4.0 in 1997 contributed significantly toward the efforts to build sites that rendered correctly across platforms and browsers. In 1998, CSS2 came out, with more improvements, and Google launched: An event, which would ultimately drive much of the evolution of web design for years to come.

Website Design In The Age Of SEO

With the rise of search engines like Google, business websites have huge opportunities to reach more prospects than ever before, but only if those websites are specifically designed for success in the current online marketplace. Three critical issues top the list of SEO website design criteria that help businesses achieve top search engine result page (SERP) rankings:

  • Fast Page Load – A recent study from DoubleClick by Google found that 53 percent of mobile users will abandon an attempt to use a website if the page hasn’t loaded within three seconds, and 50 percent of mobile users expect a page to load in under two seconds. Desktop users have a tiny bit more patience, but the gap is closing quickly, and websites need to run lean enough to achieve that two second page-load consistently, or risk losing a significant number of clicks and closings.
  • Mobile Friendly – Changes to Google’s SERP algorithm, and subsequent changes to other search engines, have moved mobile-friendly web design from optional to mandatory. Search engines actively test and reduce the rankings of websites that are not fully functional on mobile devices. Mobile compatibility is a key factor not only for SERP rankings, but also for driving traffic to physical businesses; a majority of mobile users who search for a store visit one that same day.
  • Fresh, Unique Content – Websites that continually post new content are rewarded by search engines, but that content has to be unique because there is a SERP ranking penalty for duplicate copy. In addition to the search engine benefits, users are more likely to return to websites that have a fresh stream of new content.

Keep Up With The Evolution Of Website Design

Website design is evolving quickly, and not likely to slow down any time soon. It can be a challenge to keep up with the latest technologies, trends, and practices. At Design & Promote, we help our clients develop and maintain up-to-date websites that stay on top of the SERPs that matter most in their businesses.

Web Design Content Creative Website Responsive Concept

Long-time local Chicago clients, Stay in Lisle, recently approached us for a full WordPress redesign. Since the lifespan of most websites is 2-3 years, it wasn’t surprising that the company wanted an improved website design with enhanced looks and functionality. The new site showcases more visuals and imagery that expresses the beauty of Lisle, and provides a better user experience that allows users to navigate the site easily and more quickly. Finally, the new site is fully optimized, and features a responsive design that allows it to be viewed on any device.

Here’s what we did for them.

The Discovery Phase

Stay in Lisle knew precisely what they wanted to change about their website when we met with them, and we brainstormed creative solutions to their concerns:

• The older site lacked visual imagery. The new site will feature high resolution photos of beautiful parks and recreation areas all over Lisle and its surrounding areas.
• Too much green. Design & Promote completely reimagined the new site and updated the color scheme to include richer colors for a visual boost.
• Inner-pages lacked functionality. We added functionality like tabs and other toggles to help people find information easily. Because people like to skim pages while reading, making information easy to find and digest is a great user experience (UX) design.

Additional WordPress Customization

So many of our clients prefer WordPress sites because of the vast amount of ways they can be customized. While you may initially select a “theme” to get started with, by adding plugins and utilizing the customization options within WordPress, there really is little limit to what you create. The end result can be a visually stunning and highly-functional site and looks nothing like a “template.”

Stay in Lisle wanted some specific pages customized to improve user experience and make utilizing the site faster and more convenient. Namely:

• Calendar/Events page – Instead of a singular page users have to navigate to, the new calendar is now a feed that scrolls across every page. While visitors can still go to the calendar page to look for future events, the quick scroll on each page shows what events are coming up at a glance, and will ideally result in higher interest and turnout for events.
• Special Offers page – The old website’s offer page had coupons aplenty, but the new site’s offer page is color-coded and organized by category, making it fast and easy for visitors to find coupons and deals for the service they’re interested in.
• About Us/Meet the Team page – The smiling faces haven’t changed on this page, but the functionality has. Now, the staff photos and titles are front and center, instead of being reduced in order to fit additional information like duties and contact information. The new site features flip card images, so that when you mouse-over an image, it flips to reveal additional information and contact buttons.

Are You Ready For An Improved Website Design?

If you feel like your users could benefit from improved website design and functionality, it might be time for an improved website redesign. Design & Promote has been here for local Chicago clients, like Stay in Lisle, to not only build their initial website, but to help them imagine a redesign that will poise them to take their business to the next level.

To learn more about website design services from Design & Promote, contact our Naperville website design company today!

Plenty of website developers that design WordPress sites use plugins, including our Chicago web design agency. Plugins make the site more functional and are a quick and easy way to tailor a site to meet your specific needs.

Plugins are pieces of software that adds more functionality to your site.

From a website development perspective, there’s a lot of debate over how many plugins are acceptable on a site. How many is too many?

The Problem With Plugins

A strong website will only use plugins when the design calls for it. For instance, small functional items like social media icons should be coded into the design template instead of using a plugin. Why? Because most social media plugins don’t fit the design of the site and they can actually cause more issues. Larger site functionality items like: galleries, forms, sliders, and ecommerce functions are a great use of plugins.  Relying on too many plugins can actually bog down the site.

In general, plugins are a good thing. They make a site more user-friendly and capable of doing so much more than providing straight-up written content. The downside is that using too many plugins can cause your site to slow down. A slow site is equal to a poor user experience and Google rankings.

Choose Your Plugins Wisely

 The WordPress Plugin Directory hosts hundreds of free plugins. Often times, the paid versions of plugins comes with additional support and security. Knowing when to use a free or premium plugin depends on what your site needs. For example, if you have an ecommerce site, downtime can be detrimental to the business. Paying to have extra support for an ecommerce plugin can help you when something goes wrong.

Website developers and managers must pick their plugins wisely. Plugin theme compatibility is important. You don’t want your web team installing an outdated plugin that won’t fit or work with the template.

Tip: Knowing what you want your site to do BEFORE designing it will help prevent you from going plugin crazy. This way you and your web team will confidently pick the right plugins.

How to Pick the Right WordPress Plugin like a Developer  

Generally you can gauge how well a plugin is performing by a few factors: How often the developer of the plugin is updating the plugin and fixing bugs and continuing to make it more compatible with the latest WordPress updates.  A developer will check things like “last updated” and “compatible up to”.

If you’re having trouble deciding which plugins to use, you can research them in WordPress. This is a great resource that provides you with feedback from developers. They will regularly update and comment on the latest plugins so you can gauge how well it is performing and whether or not it is compatible with your site.

Look for plugins that are frequently updated and where bugs are fixed. The last thing you want to do is install an outdated plugin that won’t fit or work with the template.

To find the right plugin for your needs, do a search for “WordPress Plugin” and the keywords for the type of functionality you are seeking. There’s bound to be a solution out there for you.

Struggling with plugins? Call us for a free, no obligation website consultation today.

Design & Promote is a Chicago web design agency based in Naperville, IL. We work with clients to design and improve websites and can help you navigate the world of plugins. If you’re struggling with plugins, aren’t sure which ones to use, or your site is running too slowly, contact us at 630-995-7109. We can take a look and make some recommendations that will make your site more functional and effective.




chicago web design agencychicago web design agencychicago web design agencychicago web design for emotionThe days of designing a website that does nothing more than showcases your products and services are over. You must go further to reach your potential customers. You need to appeal to their emotions.

Consider life insurance companies. They learned long ago that people weren’t interested in talking about their impending deaths and the financial ramifications for their families. So insurers began to appeal to their audience’s positive emotions. Take a look at their websites. They’re designed to inspire sentiments like trust, love, optimism and joy.

Our Chicago web design company goes to great lengths to create sites that reach visitors on an emotional level. Hard-hitting sales copy that trumpets your products’ benefits isn’t enough. Your website should have an aesthetic that encourages visitors to engage with your brand.

An added bonus is that your site will stand head and shoulders above those that neglect emotion in their design.

Designing For Emotion To Boost Your Conversions

Your most important goal is to increase your conversions. That can include sales, downloads of a white paper or joining your mailing list.

Your biggest obstacle is logic, or specifically, how the brain processes and responds to marketing content. In 2011, UCLA researchers found that ads that used rational reasoning were more likely to trigger activity in the brain that inhibited a response. In contrast, the use of “non-rational influence” lowered subjects’ inhibitions.

The researchers’ findings, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics, confirmed what smart web designers have known for ages. Appealing to visitors’ emotions has a positive effect on conversions, and that holds doubly true for Chicago web design.

The question is, how do you design your website to take advantage of that fact?

How To Infuse Your Site With Emotion

When it comes to emotional web design, you have a lot of options.

For example, you can appeal to visitors’ tendency to prefer attractive things. To that end, design your site to be visually stunning and easy to navigate.

  • You can appeal to visitors’ sense of family and parental instinct.
  • Photos of smiling children and happy babies can be extremely effective depending on your audience.
  • You can appeal to visitors’ desire for success and happiness.
  • Images of successful individuals can inspire people to put themselves in those individuals’ shoes.

Emotions reinforce perceptions and dictate behavioral responses. In the context of web design, that means seducing visitors to take your most desired action.

The Effect Of Showing Faces On Your Site
One of the most powerful tactics for using emotion in your web design is by including images of faces on key pages. Our Chicago web design company has made this practice an art form.

We relate to people better than we relate to ideas. Images of people instill trust. The more a person in a photo seems to reflect our values and circumstances, the greater our trust in the company behind the image.

This effect occurs on an instinctive level. It happens without our thinking about it.

In terms of relating to the person in an image, the most important feature is his or her face. It provides an instant familiarity and sense of reassurance. Even though the individual displayed in an image is a stranger to us, the inference that he or she has benefited from doing business with the company gives us comfort.

We see ourselves in that person. If they’re smiling, we imagine we’ll be similarly delighted by following their lead (e.g. buying the company’s products).

This effect is even more pronounced with the use of close-ups. When an image is composed entirely of a smiling, confident face, we’re more apt to consider the photographed person’s intelligence and character. Our ability to relate to the individual will influence our decision-making, including whether or not to make a purchase.

Chicago Branding Company Trumpets Emotional Design

In 2016, websites that neglect visitors’ emotions will pay a steep price through a lower conversion ratio. Fortunately, it’s an easily solved problem. Evaluate every important page on your site and ask yourself whether images showing confident, happy people will appeal to your audience.

Chances are, they will.

If your site is not currently designed for emotion, it’s time to renovate it. The upside is that your site will be better equipped to stimulate a positive emotional response from your visitors.

Design & Promote is a Chicago web design company with years of hard-won experience building sites that deliver measurable results. Contact our team today to create a plan for increasing your conversions and making 2016 your best year yet!


Are you a freelance Naperville web developer who’s tired of looking for new clients? Do you regularly feel exhausted after working on one-off WordPress development projects during the day only to spend your evenings looking for new jobs? Do you perform tasks like prospecting; creating proposals and negotiating rates frustrate you?

The good news is that you have another option. You can join a team of web design professionals who work together to bring gorgeous, high-performance websites to fruition. Here at Design & Promote, we’re looking for a proficient Naperville web developer with experience in working with WordPress.

This is a unique opportunity to help evolve and impact a growing web design team.

What We’re Looking for In a WordPress Developer: 

Your core strengths lie in your familiarity with the WordPress architecture.

You know how to optimize a WordPress site so that it loads quickly. You know how to code elements of a responsive design that looks just as good on your Android, as it does on your MacBook Pro. And you know how to tweak the WP backend to guarantee Google’s bots and spiders can crawl and index a site.

At Design & Promote, you’ll be a part of a skilled, enthusiastic team of design and marketing pros. You will no longer be flying solo for the entirety of a project.

You’ll have plenty of autonomy, of course. As a talented developer, you’ll need space to brainstorm and implement creative WordPress solutions. Our work environment is geared toward honoring new ideas!

At the same time, you’ll have the opportunity to use other expert team members as a sounding board for your ideas. That’s an invaluable part of the website design process. It allows you to tap into an array of in-the-trenches perspectives, all of which are focused on producing results.

Questions To Ask Yourself Before Joining Our Team

Although we firmly believe collaboration optimizes the web development process, we realize that type of environment isn’t for everyone. Ask yourself the following questions to determine whether you’d work well as part of our team.

Do I enjoy working with other design and marketing professionals?

Our best web design and marketing campaigns spring from working together. Each member of our team brings a different set of core competencies to the table. Each contributes something valuable to the end product.

Do I have what it takes to be an agency WordPress developer?

Working solo is a lot different than working as a Naperville web developer in an agency. You’ll have a broader set of responsibilities. You’ll have exposure to larger brands. And you’ll benefit from opportunities to deploy WordPress solutions on a larger scale.

Do I have enough experience?

The more experience you have developing and optimizing WordPress sites for clients, the better. Working in the trenches exposes you to challenges you may not confront when creating your own sites. Experience as a freelance Naperville web developer is good. Experience in an agency is even better.

How familiar am I with non-WordPress aspects of web development?

You should understand the basics of search engine optimization, hosting and server management. You should know your way around various scripts and programming languages, such as PHP and CSS. When problems surface, you should be able to troubleshoot them.

How confident am I in my WordPress skills and ideas?

The environment at Design & Promote is fast-paced. We thrive on creative, innovative ideas posed by team members. As a member of our team, you should have the confidence to present solutions to known issues. You should also be able to anticipate potential problems and make recommendations that will prevent them from occurring or fix them before they wreak havoc.

What Do You Want From Your Career?

Design & Promote has built a hard-won reputation for delivering groundbreaking WordPress-based web designs that prioritize brand visibility, lead generation and conversions. For the right Naperville web developer, it’s the ideal environment to learn new technologies, improve your current chops and collaborate with a team of motivated marketing professionals.

Ask yourself: where do you want your career as a WordPress developer to lead? If you’re looking for a career “home” where you can dig deep into interesting projects and face challenges that force you to grow, get in touch. You may be our next team member.

Apply today for a position with Design & Promote as a WordPress developer. If you’re ready to go the extra mile for our clients, we’ll go the extra mile in helping you to further your career.

If you’re running a business, you need to generate leads.

No leads = no sales.

No sales = no business.

It’s not easy. If it were, every site would be a lead-producing machine. The reality is that for every site that has been optimized to convert visitors to leads, there are 10,000 that are starving for business.

Our Chicago website design agency spends a lot of time helping clients transform their sites from online billboards to effective lead portals. In a few weeks, I’ll be giving a presentation in Chicago titled “Modern Marketing in The Big City” that covers much of that process. I’ll explain how design impacts lead generation and why it’s a crucial piece of your inbound marketing plan.

Below, I’ll give you some of the bullets. These are actionable tips you can use starting today to boost your conversion rates and grow your business.

#1 – Build Your Site With Responsive Design

This is something I’ve talked about in the past. It was important then, and even more so now.

Here’s the gist: your site must look good on every platform. Whether someone views it through Chrome on a 24-inch HD display or on his or her iPhone, every page should appear perfect.

That’s called responsive design. Your site’s layout must respond to every browsing environment. Remember, every visitor turned off by a badly designed site is a forfeited lead. That’s money down the drain.

#2 – Encourage Visitors To Contact You

Put your phone number and business hours on your site (preferably in the upper right hand corner of your website). It’s also best practice to build a contact page with a contact form. You may even install a chat software to help guide people live if they have any questions while looking at your site. A lot of folks will want to contact you to see if you are reachable and trustworthy.

#3 – Capture Visitors’ Contact Details

This is where the rubber meets the road when it comes to lead generation. You need to collect visitors’ contact info so you can reach out to them later. However, don’t bog them down with 50 questions like address. Chances are you can collect that information further down the conversation funnel. You probably only really need to know three things from a first contact:

  • Name
  • Email address
  • Phone number

Choose these criteria wisely; keep in mind, the less information you ask for, the more likely the visitor will provide it.

#4 – Make An Offer Visitors Can’t Refuse

Unless they have an urgent need for your products or services, few visitors will provide their contact details without an incentive.

What types of incentives work well for lead generation? EBooks, checklists and white papers are effective when they’re combined with a solid value proposition. Video tutorials also work in some niches.

Once you have an offer your visitors can’t refuse, make it prominent and clear.

#5 – Add Social Proof To Your Site

No one wants to be the first to do business with you. Your lack of a track record presents too high a risk of failure.

That’s the value of social proof, such as testimonials and customer success stories. They tell prospects that others like them have benefited from working with your company. Social proof stimulates trust.

#6 – Hire An Experienced Copywriter

Chicago website design and solid copywriting go hand in hand. The former ensures every visitor has a good experience viewing and navigating your site. The latter speaks to visitors’ needs, identifies the problems they’re facing and proposes workable solutions.

Design and copywriting are the Bonnie and Clyde of lead generation. They work seamlessly together to achieve a common goal.

#7 – Expand Your Traffic Sources

The most important piece of lead generation is targeted traffic. You need people who are interested in your products and services to visit your site. Only then can you convert them to leads.

There are a lot of ways to attract targeted traffic. If you’re like most business owners, you’re not taking full advantage of them. Or worse, you’re neglecting them altogether.

A comprehensive marketing campaign should include search engine optimization, PPC advertising, social media outreach and email marketing. Those are the basics. Each one can send an ongoing stream of highly targeted visitors to your site.

#8 – Point All Traffic To Your Landing Pages

Sending visitors to your site isn’t enough. You must send them to pages that have been optimized to generate leads. Called landing pages, they’re designed to continue the conversation already happening in the visitor’s head.

Every landing page on your site should include a value proposition, bulleted list of reasons to “opt in,” social proof and an image, either a “hero shot” or a picture of the lead incentive. And of course, it must have a clear call to action.

All of your traffic should be directed to these pages.

#9 – Split Test Your Landing Pages

Traffic volume is important. You can’t generate leads without traffic. But conversion rates are equally important. They define the percentage of your visitors who become leads. Another way of thinking about conversion rates is that they define how much of your traffic goes to waste.

It pays to split test your landing pages. Each test can produce an incremental improvement in your conversion rates. Over time, small improvements add up to big results.

Suppose you’re paying $10 to bring each visitor to your site, and converting 25% of the traffic to leads. That means you’re paying $40 per lead.

Now suppose you manage, through consistent split testing, to increase your conversion rate to 50%. You’re now paying only $20 per lead.

Can you see how that might benefit your business?

#10 – Add Calls-To-Action Throughout Your Site

Remember earlier when I recommended sending all traffic to your landing pages? That includes folks who are already on your site. Whether they’re reading your blog, perusing your case studies or reviewing your testimonials, they should always be one click away from a landing page.

Sprinkle calls to action throughout your site. Put them on every page. You can also install software that pops a lightbox when your visitor signals their intent to leave your site. Design the lightbox to serve as a mini-landing page.

My upcoming presentation on Chicago website design will cover the points outlined above, as well as many others. Until then, go back through the list and start making changes to your site. There’s no better time to turn your website into a lead generation machine.

Design & Promote is committed to helping clients get their sites ready for 2016. Don’t let the new year arrive without having a clear, actionable plan for growing your business. Contact our design team today to learn how customized responsive design and smart lead generation practices can help your business leapfrog ahead of your competition.

Web Design Archives - Design & Promote

Evolution Of Web Design

The Evolution Of Web Design From Nicety To Necessity

The Evolution Of Web Design From Nicety To Necessity When the first website was published in 1991, it was considered […]

Web Design Content Creative Website Responsive Concept

Local Chicago Clients, Stay In Lisle, Partners With Design & Promote For An Improved Website Design

Long-time local Chicago clients, Stay in Lisle, recently approached us for a full WordPress redesign. Since the lifespan of most […]

Plugins And Web Design In Chicago Plugins And Web Design In Chicago

The Great Plugin Debate. How Many Is Too Many?

Plenty of website developers that design WordPress sites use plugins, including our Chicago web design agency. Plugins make the site […]

chicago web design for emotion

Chicago Web Design Company On Designing For Emotion

The days of designing a website that does nothing more than showcases your products and services are over. You must […]


Start The New Year Off Right Being Our New WordPress Naperville Web Developer

Are you a freelance Naperville web developer who’s tired of looking for new clients? Do you regularly feel exhausted after […]


10 Tips For Turning Your Chicago Website Design Into A Lead Generation Machine

If you’re running a business, you need to generate leads. No leads = no sales. No sales = no business. […]

Search Engine Optimization

seo-company-chicago-ilAt Design & Promote, we are SEO experts. We have the skills, the expertise and the resources to create a customized SEO campaign for your website that will allow you to dominate the search engines, draw more visitors to your website, and convert those visitors into sales.


Web Design & Development

featured-innovativeWe custom design innovative, hard-working websites that you can proudly stand behind as the online face of your business. We hone in on three key elements for maximum impact: visibility, usability, and converting visitors into customers.


Branding & Graphic Design

brand-guidelines-creationWe know that your brand needs cohesion in order to be effective. That’s why we focus on your complete brand identity. Whether we’re designing your logo, brochure or electronic newsletter, we create brand assets that complement and interact with each other.


Custom Photography

custom-photography-chicago-ilWe offer custom photography services to compliment your design & branding campaigns. From meet the staff photos to virtual office tours, we can provide you with beautiful photos to convey your message!


Internet Marketing

social-media-marketing-chicagoDesign & Promote specializes in social media marketing, and online promotional techniques that put your brand everywhere it needs to be.