The Client: Vantage Leadership Consulting
Since 1976, Vantage Leadership Consulting has been in the business of cultivating and promoting exceptional leaders and teams for corporations and other organizations. Its talent-management services include executive assessments, coaching, succession planning, high-performance team building, and leadership development. Located in Chicago’s historic Civic Opera Building, Vantage today employs about two-dozen consultants, many of whom hold advanced degrees in industrial/organizational and clinical psychology and are experts in helping businesses manage and develop effective leadership strategies. Among Vantage’s clients are world-class organizations like Motorola Solutions, Exelon Corporation, Shure, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, and Northwestern University.
The Challenge: Revamp Vantage’s Outdated Website
In recent years, Vantage had experienced a doubling of both its revenues and the number of consultants it employed. Along with this growth, Vantage’s senior leaders knew that in order to stay abreast of their competition (which includes at least one Fortune 500 global company), the firm needed an online presence that lived up to Vantage’s own tagline, Talent Accelerated, to reflect its blue-chip reputation as a thought leader in the industry, and attract new business – which their aging website fell woefully short of. Not only was the site running on outdated programs and clunky navigation, its design and content were described in user experience surveys as “a mishmash,” “mysterious,” “scary,” and “like a dark alleyway.”
In 2014, Vantage called on the Usman Group to engage us as their design partner in a comprehensive website upgrade. Vantage’s key goals for a revamped site included:
- Simple navigation to showcase the firm’s services, capabilities, and client success stories
- Promotion of the firm’s thought leadership through its recently launched blog, featuring original content authored by the firm’s experts
- Use of engaging images and graphics to convey the firm’s culture as modern, team-oriented, and forward-thinking
- Ability to attract quality business leads
- Internal control over content edits, updates, and functionality
Usman’s senior art director, Jonathan Speir, took the lead on this project. As our senior designer, Jonathan is specifically focused on the needs of our clients. His day-to-day tasks include meeting with the client’s creative team, providing artistic direction, mapping the user interface and user experience, and creating user-friendly designs. As with every project, Jonathan’s end goal was to deliver a finished product that thrilled us and, most importantly, our client.
Throughout the project, Jonathan served as the “steady hand” to manage the concerns and preferences of the website’s core stakeholders and project team, which included the firm’s founding partner, its marketing director, and its finance and administration manager. Jonathan became a trusted member of the team, using his ability to describe visual and creative concepts in a way everyone from technophobes to technophiles could understand.
Key Outcomes: Clarity, Accessibility, Control
Our chief objective was to cut through the unnecessary page clutter, verbiage, and general ambiguity of the old website and replace it with a clean, consolidated, vertical scrolling experience that would be visually engaging on any size screen (from mobile to tablet to desktop) and easy to navigate, and reflect Vantage’s team-oriented culture. Key features of the prototypes we developed included:
- Home page slideshow of professional and candid photos evoking the firm’s Chicago roots and team spirit
- A trio of portals for individuals, teams, and organizations that steer users to the landing pages highlighting the firm’s services
- A thumbnail gallery featuring professional-quality black and white headshots of the firm’s entire staff. Rolling over a particular photo turns it to color and spurs a drop-down panel with the individual’s bio and contact information. All the bios are optimized for search engines so that proper name searches lead directly to the individual’s headshot on the “Who We Are” page, which also includes photos and bios of the firm’s advisory board, wrapped up with a Join Our Team link to the careers section
- Logos of Vantage clients that with single click activates a drop-down box containing a testimonial quote from the client’s senior leadership about the great services Vantage provided their organization
- Visual enhancements such as infographics illustrating the firm’s key metrics and a slideshow format highlighting key milestones in the firm’s history
- A resources section with downloadable white papers, publications, and links to news articles featuring the firm’s experts.
Built on WordPress
To promote the expertise of its consultants, the firm had launched a blog on a WordPress platform featuring thought leadership content. We migrated the blog to the new website and incorporated links in the “What We Do” section to prominently promote featured blog posts, as well as pop-ups to specific client testimonials and success stories, accessible on multiple pages and not just sequestered to their own section that users may or may not visit.
The new site’s WordPress platform also addressed the Vantage team’s desire for more internal control over its own website – [an overriding concern with many of our clients making website upgrades that free them from the grip of an outmoded relationship where the web developer holds the control.] As the firm continued to expand, Vantage wanted to be able to add bios and photos of new hires and make changes and updates to its own content without having to engage its website development vendor every time minor edits were needed. With the user-friendly WordPress platform, making updates internally, including new images, pages, and navigation menus, is now a snap.