The 'Why' Behind Our New Website Design

Meet Danielle, aka Danny the CreativCat and Branding Expert behind AMA Colorado’s new website design.

Danielle has been serving on the AMA Colorado Board since July 2020, and has been working hard at bringing brand consistency to the AMA Colorado brand across all digital platforms. So far, her work includes designing a new Instagram Grid structure, email templates and (of course) our website.

We caught up with Danielle to learn more about how she got her start and her ideas behind the design!

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Written by AMA Colorado

Meet Danielle Shearer, AMA Colorado's Director of Graphic Design. This year she was a key part in our website redesign, and has answered a few questions about her process and the 'Why' behind the design choices she made.

To start it off, how long have you been a graphic designer and how did you get your start?

I have been a professional graphic designer for over 10 years now, starting in Pittsburgh, PA and furthering my career here in Denver since December 2015. I have always been crafty since I was little, and knew art and design would be my future. I’ve worked at a few agencies and a corporations over the last 9 years, and took the leap to start my own business 2 years ago, CreativCat Design. 2020 was the year of new beginnings and I decided to run CreativCat full-time focusing on Personal Branding, Branding, Website and Package design.


Why branding and website design?

I’ve always had a love of branding (it’s my bread and butter) as well as all things design – such as websites, product packaging, brochures, invites and more – and I wanted CreativCat to offer those services I love most. Branding is the biggest part of a company or person (personal branding); it’s the most crucial piece of who you are. Your branding sets the tone and voice of your company, it’s the foundation, and I get to help with that. I love designing logos to help others build their story and brand because I want them and their company to be successful!

I like to consider myself a creative engineer, I help by figuring out how to make a design work best for my clients. Whether it is their custom brand, website or package design, that’s where the fun starts for me. Websites are such an important tool for any business. I love figuring out how to make each website unique and different, all while capturing the target audience and staying true to the brand. Nothing excites me more than working with clients who love their brand and are 100% satisfied with the designs I create. And, I got to do that with AMA Colorado!


Now that we know more about you, can you walk us through your ideas and designs for the new AMA Colorado website.

Absolutely! Typically, I consider myself a clean and fun designer. When I design websites, I always keep in mind that that site has just 3 seconds to capture the audience. No pressure, but it helps me hone in to make sure we highlight the most important information on the homepage, while not making it overwhelming for the user.

AMA Colorado has a fun secondary logo we get to use, relating to our state. This logo includes the mountains, and it was important to our team to include mountains/Colorado lifestyle in the new design. When I’m working with clients, I always like to include options - because I want the client to be apart of the process just as much as I am. Initially I presented two different design ideas utilizing the mountains in some way, for our president and team to pick from. We are a team, so it was important that we had options and were able to discuss what they liked or didn’t like. We were able to merge a few ideas and create the perfect design that you see on our site today!

Throughout the process I worked with Melissa Ryan (who organized all of the content, including sourcing images) and Jake Beckstead (the web developer genius behind the design). We thought it would be powerful to include a person climbing mountains hero video to help signify not only the beautiful state we live in but also climbing the mountain of marketing! Hero videos are more on trend as well as icons. Icons are a favorite element that I love to bring to every project. It really helps break up content and “paint” a simple picture to help denote a section or call to action (CTA). Throughout the website, you will see icons of some sort on a lot of pages. The AMA brand uses icons based off of the AMA letters, so for me it was a must to balance icons with images.

Which brings me to my next point: images and photography. Working very closely with Melissa, we really wanted to hone in on selecting diverse images and showing a community working together. With the current state of our country, it’s been a challenge to have in-person events, which hasn’t given us much of an opportunity to shoot our own content. Melissa really knocked it out of the park with all of the images she sourced and selected, really elevating our brand image! Can’t thank her enough to take on this task!

Throughout the entire site you will see subtle nodes to AMA branding, such as using the repeating “AMA” pattern lightly in the background. You will also see bold AMA Blue and AMA Red color blocks and buttons throughout the site, which really leans into the brand and helps break up content, popping out the CTA’s and making the content digestible and easy to read. All of these elements have been used throughout all of the brand refreshes we've accomplished this year (such as in the Instagram posts and emails).

Finally, the website wouldn’t function and be what it is today without Jake being a magical developing wizard and the help of everyone on the website committee. So, I’d like to thank everyone on the committee who helped, especially with creating and organizing content! Many thanks to: Corey Lakow, Kristy LaPlante, Jake Beckstead, Melissa Ryan, Leanna Jackson, and Tim Paskowski! I’m so grateful to be apart of such an amazing board - and it’s been great connecting and fun!


So… what’s next?

Well, you’ll have to check back in 2021 to see what else we are up to at AMA Colorado!


Do you have any fun projects you are currently working on?

I’m always working on fun projects, so of course! The most exciting project I am currently working on is the redesign and development of the CreativCat website (launching Jan. 2021!) It’s going to be very different, a lot more interactive and fun, all with a new focus to my service launch! And, let’s just say Captain Jack learned how to ski ;-).


Where can we find you?

Through AMA Colorado of course! Become a member and let’s connect!

You can also find me at: CreativCat.Design, Instagram (@CreativCat.Design) and on LinkedIn. Send me a meow! I’d love to connect. If you can’t find me at any of those places then I’m either skiing or hiking mountains - and don’t be surprised if you see Captain Jack tagging along!