Blog - News & Views

Make a Great First Impression With Your Website Homepage

July 15th, 2015


When a potential customer lands on your homepage, you have at most a few seconds to catch their attention. If your website doesn’t make a strong first impression, you may not get a second chance.

But what exactly makes a good homepage? Over the years we’ve spent studying and designing websites at Sparktank Creative, we’ve noticed certain differentiators that make effective homepages stand out from the crowd.

Here are four qualities that top-notch website homepages have in common:

1. Clear Messaging

With such a short window of opportunity to make an impression, your messaging must be clear and concise. If possible, condense your company description into a single phrase that tells people who you are, and what you do.


Example: MailChimp


We’re fans of MailChimp, a user-friendly email campaign program. MailChimp’s website greets you with one pithy invitation: Send Better Email. Below that they give you even more reason to consider them: “Join more than 8 million people who use MailChimp to design and send 600 million emails every day.”

They tell you what they do (send email), how it benefits you (your emails are way better), and why you should go with them (they’re trusted by millions of other people).


2. Visually Attractive

When it comes to websites, looks matter. Of course content is extremely important too, especially for SEO (see the next point). But a visually attractive website tells visitors that your company is professional and trustworthy.

With so many options to surf on the web, a poorly designed site can be enough to cause visitors to reject the website and move on to something else. And don’t forget to make your website responsive, so it looks amazing whether it’s being viewed on a phone, tablet, or desktop screen.


Example: Zipcar


Zipcar’s website is not quite what you expect. Instead of a photo of say, a car, you’re greeted with a picture of hikers high in the mountains, and an intriguing suggestion: “Upload yourself to the cloud.” The website conveys a sense of adventure and makes you want to be part of an elite group (the cloud of online Zipcar users). Beneath that splash they clarify how Zipcar works.


3. Draws Visitors In

So you’ve got an attractive website with clear messaging. Great! Next you want to engage visitors to draw them further into your website.

Creating a Call to Action is one way to engage customers. What is your ultimate goal of getting visitors? Is it to get them to sign up for your program, or to contact you to discuss working together, or to make a purchase? Make sure this is easy for a customer to find.

And substance matters as well as good looks! We highly recommend a blog, or at least crafting valuable, intriguing content that engages customers. Offering useful content also improves your website SEO and is a way of demonstrating that your company is the expert in your industry.


Example: NatureBox


NatureBox has a clean landing page with a clear call to action: Start your free trial. They give potential customers an incentive to sign up by offering a free trial. Other incentives could be a free e-book for joining your newsletter, a discount on a customer’s first order, or a free 30-minute consultation for joining your online training program.


4. Speaks to Your Audience

Learn as much as possible about your target customer. What are their needs? What questions and concerns will they have when they visit your site?

Try this exercise: Create a persona for your target customer. Describe in detail their age, gender, background, and other demographics. Get really detailed. Some companies even give this target customer a name. What are their goals? What are their primary needs and pain points? What are their main questions and concerns?

Make sure that your website copy addresses these needs and goals. The more you speak directly and anticipate their needs, the more likely you are to attract your ideal customer.


Example: Dove


Dove made headlines with its “Real Beauty” campaign in 2004, which celebrates different body types and showcasing real women rather than models in their advertisements. Today Dove’s website still features real women who are confident with their bodies. Their homepage also highlights their Self Esteem Project dedicated to helping girls overcome beauty-related anxieties. These campaigns speak directly to their target audience: women account for 85% of all consumer purchases in the U.S., and 75% consider themselves the primary shoppers for their households.


It’s a Win-Win

By crafting a clear message that is visually attractive and engages visitors, your website homepage will be a positive and memorable experience. And if you speak directly your target audience, you’ll be able to connect with your ideal customers.

This is a win-win: customers enjoy their visit to your website and feel connected to a brand that speaks to them, while you are able to engage with customers and make a strong first impression.

What sort of impression does your homepage make?


Which Brochure Format is Right for You?

May 4th, 2015



One of the first questions we are asked when discussing a brochure project with a client is what format to use. To help us make the best suggestion we can, we like to understand as much about the project as possible; to know what it is trying to achieve, who the audience will be, what the content needs are, and how much the budget is.
All of these factors will help shape the final decision on format, as they all bring their own qualities and limitations. To help you understand how, we’ve put together a rundown of the most common marketing brochure formats used today.

Rack Card
Sitting in racks in reception areas of restaurants, hotels or theaters, at landmarks, travel agencies, trade shows, and other locations that see a high amount of foot traffic, single panel rack cards are designed to quickly grab the attention and provide a call to further action.
Providing a short burst of information, rack cards are ideal for conveying a specific message, such as an upcoming event, a special offer, or an invitation for the reader to visit your website to find out more.
Because rack cards are usually displayed in tiered racks, the top half has to be eye-catching. This may be your logo, an attention-grabbing title, or a call to action, with your contact information, map of your physical location, or even a QR code can be placed in areas that are only visible once the card has been picked up.

Traditional Trifold
Folding to the same dimensions as the rack card, the traditional trifold is a staple of brochure design.
Often fitting in the same reception area display racks, the extra real estate allows a lot more text and visual information to be presented, making them more suitable for introducing a company than rack cards while still being small enough to be taken away.
Following the rules of brochure design, the text should be broken up with images and graphics, with bullet lists also making the information more scannable by the reader. As the back cover is the least likely panel to be read, no important content should be placed there; your contact information is often enough.

Larger Bifold or Trifold
For those looking for a more visually impressive result than the traditional trifold can give, larger bifolds or trifolds that typically fold to an 8.5 x 11 or similar size allow more room for the higher quality photographs that are preferable when introducing higher-end products or services.
Simple yet flexible, good brochure design can allow large bifolds to feel less claustrophobic than traditional trifolds, with more space around the images and text.
While rack cards or traditional trifolds are designed to easily fit into the pocket or bag and be taken away, larger bifold or trifold brochures are aimed more at individuals who will have the time to sit and read at the point of contact, and can be used as folders to hold additional papers or proposals too.

The pinnacle of brochure design, booklets are used to give in-depth information about a company and its products or services while making a more impressive statement than any bifold or trifold could.
Whether placed in a company’s own reception area to be read by visitors or sent out to clients or prospects who have requested more information, the number of pages available in a booklet allows the designer to provide something unique while both impressing and informing the reader.
Full-page photographs can be used in high-end booklet design for a greater impact and to give visual breathing space to the content, while the quality construction of the booklet lengthens its lifespan; not only will it be physically more durable than a bifold or trifold, but the recipient is also less likely to discard it.

Further Considerations
Once you have decided on the most suitable format, there are a number of further aspects to consider regarding your brochure design.
Whatever message you’re trying to convey, your copy has to be right. As most company brochures are marketing pieces, that means focusing less on yourself and more on the customer, with more persuasion than information, and technical jargon reserved for when further contact is made.
High-quality photography is also a must for showing your company in the best light. Depending on the subject of the photos, hiring a professional photographer or having your designer select high end stock photos is highly advised to ensure your business brochure is conveying a professional image.
Finally, both the printing quality and choice of the paper stock used can have a huge effect on the success of your brochure. Today, there are many more affordable quality printing options available so a high end look can be achieved on a smaller budget.

Thinking of getting a brochure designed for your organization? Get in touch and we’ll happily help you sort through all the options.

Is your Website in Need of a Redesign?

April 7th, 2015



All successful business people understand the importance of a well-designed and up-to-date website. Taking on the role as the public face of the company, the website has multiple roles to fulfill.

Keeping your marketing fresh is vital to your continued success, and your website acts as a vessel for this, while also reflecting on the previous success of your company and providing a first point of contact for potential new clients. If left to become outdated however, even the most creative marketing can look tired, your previous achievements may not appear so glowing, and your first point of contact is in danger of giving a bad first impression.

To remain one step ahead in the ever-evolving online online world, websites have to be given the occasional redesign, but it might not always be obvious to their owner exactly when this needs to happen. To help you understand whether your website might be in need of a revamp, here are some factors you should consider.

Is your current website generating new business?

With proper internet marketing, your target clients should be finding your on the search engines. Getting those results requires not only a great website and good copy, it also needs the expertise of an internet marketing specialist to help you optimize your website for best results and find the right marketing channels to promote your business on.

Whether you’re trying to  gain sales leads, build an email list, entice someone to call or fill out a form, or even make a sale there and then, your website should be designed and optimized to guide your visitors towards taking this action.

Is your current website working on mobile devices?

For years, web developers have been speaking about the rise and rise of mobile web browsing, and of how the gap between this and desktop computer usage was closing. For companies, this shift meant that having a fully responsive, mobile ready website that automatically adjusts to fit any screen with no adverse effects to the user experience was becoming ever more important.

Sometime in 2014, the landscape changed as smartphones and tablets came close to overtaking desktops and laptops as the most commonly used device for internet browsing. This meant that responsive websites for businesses shifted from being highly advisable to becoming essential.

It’s not only your customers who will reward you for offering a responsive site though. In plans recently announced, Google will start significantly penalizing websites that are not mobile friendly – ie. responsive. If there ever was a good time to convert your site to a responsive format, this is it.

Helpful hint : if you would like to check if your website is considered “mobile friendly” – go to this website to take a test.

Are you able to update your own website?

The practice of paying a web developer to provide text updates on your site is well and truly over. At least, if your site runs on a content management system (CMS), it should be.

Content management systems such as WordPress or Drupal allow one or more administrator to sign in to the backend and create, publish, manage, and even archive content without the need for any coding.

This capability comes into its own when publishing a regular company blog, which in itself is a highly recommended SEO practice. Search engines place great weight on sites with high quality, fresh content, and often the best way for a business site to achieve this is with a blog.

When publishing new content every week or two, the ability to sign in to the backend of your own website without the need for a developer will save time, money, and allow you complete control over what is posted and when.

Aside from this more streamlined content creation and publishing process, other benefits of running your website on a CMS are improved site navigation and flexibility, better security, and of course reduced maintenance costs. If your site hasn’t yet been transferred over to a CMS backend, doing so is another great reason for a site revamp.

Does your website reflect who you are today?

If your website hasn’t been revamped for a few years, it may be outdated technologically, outmoded aesthetically, and even unrepresentative of who your company is today.

Aside from not being responsive to mobile devices, older websites may suffer from slow load times or incorporate obsolete technological features. If your site relies on Flash, it’s definitely time for a change – iPads won’t even run this technology as standard. Earlier sites are also easy to spot due to how different they are aesthetically to modern ones, often looking too small on the screen, and with stale images or amateurish fonts used.

While the simple need for a fresh look is reason enough for a site revamp, the message your site conveys is equally important. Is it still consistent with your aims, your philosophy and values, your brand and position, and is the information still up to date and relevant? It’s not uncommon for a company to outgrow their website, and the occasional revamp can prevent this from happening.

If you’re still unsure about whether your website might need a revamp, there are two more simple questions to ask yourself;

When was it last updated, and how does to compare to your competitors’ sites? If it’s been more than three years, it’s probably ready; if your rivals’ sites are leaving you looking outdated, it definitely is.

To see how Sparktank Creative can help you revamp your website, contact us today.

Vancouver Film Studios Website Redesign

January 30th, 2015



Vancouver Film Studios is one of the largest film studios in Vancouver, Canada. Their website needed a new look and new content that would showcase their top notch facility and environmental stewardship. In addition, having a responsive website that would cater to their growing audience of mobile users was also a top priority. Sparktank managed all aspects of the project including strategy, writing, photography, search engine optimization/social media work, design and development.


A WordPress Content Management System ( allows staff to make their own content updates ).

Responsive Website

360 Tours

Custom built Interactive Facility Map

Company Blog

Custom Photography





Culinary Capers Website Redesign

January 1st, 2015



Culinary Capers is an award winning catering and events company in Vancouver, Canada. They needed a website that showcased their beautiful creations and presented their extensive menus in a clear and organized way. The new responsive website work perfectly on all mobile devices and also features a new blog, a venues page, an employment section and more!


A WordPress Content Management System (allows staff to make their own content updates)

Responsive Website

Photo Galleries


Interactive Catering Menus


“Culinary Capers Catering’s new responsive website presents our food, catered experiences, menus and overall content gorgeously. The feel of the site is fresh and contemporary and visually dynamic. Thank you to the creative team at Sparktank Creative.”
—Carla Felicella – Special Projects, Culinary Capers.

Pacific Destinations Responsive Website Redesign

November 30th, 2014





Pacific Destination Services is an internationally recognized and award-winning destination management company. They offer meeting, incentive and event planning in Western Canada.

They had grown out of their existing website and were ready to make a change to something fresh and new to celebrate the 16th anniversary of the company.

Sparktank worked with the Pacific Destinations team to develop a new responsive website that ensured their site would be viewed correctly on both computers and mobile devices. Their new site is fully manageable with a WordPress CMS, to allow them to easily make additions and revisions as required. To best showcase their work, we added galleries with full sized images to highlight the many fantastic photographs they had available.

Pacific Destination Services also required a blog to share company news and information. We worked with them to create a searchable blog that organized their event & destination news, inspirational posts, media features and awards:





Custom WordPress Content Management System

Fully Responsive (mobile friendly) Website

Project Galleries


Search Engine Optimization


“Once again, you have exceeded all expectations. I am so in love with our website, I can’t thank you enough for your time, creativity, advice, patience and expertise in designing and developing our new and amazing website. This website speaks to who we are, what we do and how we do it.

Since our launch, we have received innumerable compliments. The excitement that it has created for us will convert, no doubt, to future business and great opportunities. It’s a sales tool, a closing tool and an information tool – just what we need! Thank you for taking our vision, expanding on it, animating it and making it a beautiful reality.

You and your team are exceptional. We love what you have created for us. Thank you most sincerely!”

—Joanne Burns Millar – President, Pacific Destination Services

View the Pacific Destinations Website >