Riverbend Capital Advisors

Riverbend Capital Advisors

When a client wants a clean simple site, that does not mean less work.  The pressure is on to create a subtle site of precision and quality.  In this piece, it is the little details that add the sophistication.

Project Overview:

I created a site for the Riverbend Capital Advisors through my partnership with Seraph Technology Solutions. The main capital advisor, Tom Hession, was re-branding his company and needed a new site.  With many years of experience, and a large client list, Tom needed a site that portrayed the stability and growth that his clients found through his services.  He wanted the site to be simple though.  The content, page structure, and layout are indeed simple.  But the interactivity and design details subtly portray the quality of the brand.


Project Details:

A Question of Branding:

The idea behind the company name was Tom’s love of the water, specifically the Chicago River. Plus it makes for a great metaphor of investing.  Clients need help foreseeing the path beyond the next bend in the river.  Who knows what lies beyond.  Riverbend Capital Advisors act as a river guide to the torrential waters of the investment market.  In their capable hands, the twists and turns of economic boons and downturns seem like still waters.

On this project, I worked with Jennifer Lunz, a skilled graphic designer.  Jennifer helped create a logo for the Riverbend brand. Jennifer did a great job portraying this concept in the logo.  I worked with Jennifer and the client to choose the colors, patterns, and layout of the pages that would best support this conceptual branding.

Complexity to the Simplicity

Despite the desire to have a simple site, I wanted this site to be more than a plain white corporate homepage.  Riverbend clients were not children learning about investing, they were successful and wealthy people looking to maintain their success.  They were used to steak dinners, cigars, exotic places, nice cars – all things of quality.

So I figured tight lines, patterns, gradients, and interesting interactivity could be a nice subtle touch.  To keep the simplicity, there would be no drop-down menus, no aggregated content, no banner rotator element or accordion or flyout to show information.  And initially, I wanted a rather monotone site too. This was the main change: after talking about branding (see above), we decided to have some complexity through subtle use of tan and blue.

The Subtle Details

I really like the subtlety and complexity within the simple setup.  I hope the audience barely notices what is going on.  Apple OS has a similar subtle interactivity, and people rarely even notice.

How about you?  Do you see the following…

  • Notice how clicking from page-to-page animates a move?
  • Do you see the horizontal line drop down as the new page loads?
  • See the subtle radiating gradient of tan on the top and left sides of the main region?
  • How pages collapse as you move away from them?
  • The big buttons that support finger-input on tablets?
  • The slight shadow of the frames and even the text on the page?

These elements are all ways to make the site complex while not distracting from the simplicity of the layout and content.

A Technical Feat

Since the site was intended to only have 4 pages of content and only 2-3 images, we went with a one-page site.  While the page number grew by the end, the lack of images still worked in our favor.

A one-page site is a cool concept in the world of web design, where elements all load at once, and only portions are displayed as needed.  Provided your site loads quickly with few images, this can allow for a very snappy user experience moving through topics on the page.  From a technical side, this looks like Ajax-style pre-loading with a nice Flash-like transition, while still being just an HTML/CSS layout.

I was very forthcoming that there is a single downside to this approach we chose.  For things like email marketing, this site becomes difficult.  Linking people to sub-pages instead of the homepage is very difficult and not browser compatible.  This is due to the current incompatibility of CSS on browsers.

The First Impression

In the site wireframes I came up with, there are many options for a home page. There is an option to have a landing-page style homepage like modern designs, a way to segment audience groups by giving them a taste of different paths on the site, or even simply a splash screen like older Flash-intro style sites.  However, the client did not want any of these.

The client felt getting to the point directly by going to the About Us page was a better bet.  It is a very direct and can be very effective.  Usually that involves marketing-hype and persuasive writing styles.  In this case, the client chose to not be sales-y instead giving a more corporate-style intro.  While this first threw me off, after a conversation, I saw this was indeed a wise move.  More on that below.

To the client, his existing customers were the target market, so persuasion in content was not necessary.  He did not have to worry about bounce rates in analytics. Essentially, this site is brochure-ware to him as well as a file repository.  This decision is a big reason why I wanted the simple and elegant layout and design to be augmented by little details and interactivity.  Even though it was direct, it should be classy and high-quality.