Category: Branding


Fundamental Rules of Website Design
Number 1

“Be Responsive” doesn’t mean replying when you are spoken to. It refers to the ability of your website to scale up or down, depending on the viewer’s monitor size. It means that your site will automagically rearrange itself to work as well on a mobile phone as a full size desktop computer.

Not only do responsive sites improve legibility and usability for mobile users, who now account for more than 50% of internet traffic. In addition, Google rewards responsive sites with higher search engine rankings.

You can test your site to see if it is responsive by minimizing the window size on your monitor, and/or by viewing it on your phone. If it is not responsive, it may be time for a new website.

Stay current and join the responsive crowd!

Studio Hill Designs for Adventure – An Exciting New Brochure!

Looking for adventure? Look no further than the 44 page guidebook we crafted from the ground up for Specialized IRA Services. This hefty tome is printed on #120 cover and smartly coil bound for quick reference. SIS wanted to target a younger, adventurous demographic who are not afraid to carve their own financial path. This fun-to-read reference book gets them off to a running start.

Studio Hill Brochure Design

The award goes to…

design that wins awards

Dayna Crawford, Deputy Director, Project Manager for ART and Sandy Hill of Studio Hill Design

While many this weekend were comfortably curling up on the couch to watch the Oscars we packed our bags and headed to Florida. There, in Tampa, we were thrilled to collect our 1st Place Adwheel Award for ART (Albuquerque Rapid Transit) from the American Public Transportation Association. We learned a ton about transit and the weather wasn’t even half bad. Ok… the weather was awesome!

Ybor City, Tampa, Florida

Ybor City, Tampa, Florida

Award Winning Design from Studio Hill

Studio Hill Design is pleased to announce that in conjunction with the City of Albuquerque Transit Department we have won a First Place Award in the 2017 Annual AdWheel Awards competition. The competition, sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association, accepts entries from municipalities across the country.

The winning entry for Best Marketing and Communications Educational Effort will be presented at American Public transportation Association’s 2017 Marketing & Communications Workshop in Tampa, Florida, Tuesday, February 28th. Don’t forget your swimsuit!

Stone Age Climbing Gym reaches the summit with a new website by Studio Hill Design


Albuquerque’s gathering place for the New Mexico climbing community would be stoked if you took a look at their new website – and so would Studio Hill Design. The indoor climbing gym is on the cutting edge of facilities across the Southwest and now clearly stems the gap on the web too. Fully responsive and optimized for both mobile and desktop, the website doubles down on the welcoming environment of their brick and mortar. On the technology side, the website utilizes the endless flexibility of the WordPress CMS and seamlessly integrates RockGym Pro to allow climbers to book classes and schedule events. clip in and check it out.

Studio Hill Designs Websites with Heart

nmhi_webNew Mexico Heart Institute, the largest private cardiology practice in the state of New Mexico, has unveiled a complete redesign and rebuild of their website Developed by none other than Albuquerque’s Studio Hill Design, the new website puts the patient experience front and center. The new site presents a fresh, friendly face for NMHI, and welcomes viewers with a simple and intuitive navigation experience.

With various custom built tools running a complicated but sleek backend, the site delivers simple and easy access to patient information and resources while allowing for easy in-house updates.

Studio Hill Design is proud to be a part the effort of NMHI to keep New Mexico hearts happy and healthy.

Studio Hill Design in the News… Albuquerque Business First interviews Sandy Hill


Mike English of Albuquerque Business First took a left turn into our Downtown Albuquerque studio office to find out what it takes to make a perfect website and what it takes to make a successful 30 year career in marketing and branding. The interview can be read in the current issue of Albuquerque Business First or online via the link below.

Here are some excerpts from the article:

Sandy Hill’s marketing career covers more than 30 years in Albuquerque. As the owner of Studio Hill Design, which she started in 1986, she guides the company’s branding and web design efforts as well as everything from logos to interior design. She spoke with Business First about how her company helps clients discover the core of who they are and what they want from their website.

Your design career predates websites, if I might note. How does web design relate to other kinds of design?
It’s true. We not only predate websites, we also predate computers — think Xacto knives and rubber cement. But basically, the same principles still apply and they apply across all mediums. What I tell our web-design clients, who might be comparing us to other tech firms, is that we’re a marketing firm and a design firm. Our goal is to go in and see what is unique about the client, learn about their target audience and make a connection. Websites are just the vehicle that carries the same kind of messaging that we’ve always created.

What makes a good website, here in 2015?
All of the above: making a connection, providing value, speaking to the viewer and not just yourself. There’s a book around here we all had to read called “Don’t Make Me Think.” It explains that if someone needs to muck around on your website to find things, that’s not good. It needs to be simple and straightforward, easy to understand, easy to navigate and it needs to make a dynamic connection with the viewer right away.

How do you work with clients to identify what they want from their website?
We run everyone through our branding questionnaire, which is probably 12 questions, from asking them to describe their company in one sentence to what their target market is, what their goals are, all of that. The magic comes when we can get to their unique value. That’s why we do so much listening. It’s just like human beings: When we look in the mirror we cannot see ourselves objectively. Companies are that way too. We’re too close to see ourselves. I think that’s the beauty of having a company like ours come in, because we know how to look and listen and sort and separate out the magic of a company compared to what all their competitors might be doing. That’s the core truth we build the marketing message on. The super fun part then is to figure out how to communicate that.

Read the full interview here…

Sign On!

Our lives and our streets are full of visual clutter. Even if your business has a great location, it is difficult to get noticed/found/discovered in the urban jungle. Few roadside signs are truly well designed beacons for the unique companies they represent. This is a great waste of a powerful branding opportunity. It is literally a chance to rise head and shoulders above the competition and get your company noticed and respected.

To illustrate our point, here are a few “Do’s” in sign design.



Consider the logo design and how it would best work as a sign.

In this case, one feature of our logo for DKG and Associates Roofing Contractors is that it is perfectly reversible. We took advantage of this and created a freestanding 3D version of the logo that can be viewed from both sides, and reads the same either way!



Consider the architecture of the surrounding buildings.

The Seasons sign is in the Old Town Albuquerque area and needed to conform to historic regulations of size and material. A stucco finish was used to coordinate with the buildings in the plaza. A slightly more vibrant yet cohesive color helped it stand out from the surrounding stucco colors. The sign is carefully designed to work well both day and night with integrated lighting in the lettering.



Let the logo do the work.

Once again, referring to the logo to inform the sign design, Zinc’s sign is a circle shape. We stayed true to the logo shape while creating a pleasing balance with the building architecture. The result is a simple, upscale, yet highly visible sign.



Know when to use neon!

EDoSpaces Real Estate office is located on Central Avenue near downtown. They wanted an outstanding neon sign that optimized their logo. Once again, extracting and emphasizing the most unique features of the logo, we created the overall sign in neon while focusing on the solid A with a backlit letter shape.




Be sure it works for both day and nighttime 

By day, the white and silver type stands out against the deep purple. It is pinned away from the surface for added shadow effect. By night, the Aquaceros “a” is internally lit and shines both through the lucite face and reflects on the background. The “aquaceros” type is backlit only, to create a visual hierarchy.


Coordinate interior and exterior signage.

The “a” is carried to the interior with an elegant treatment of white on white. Green and purple neon behind the sign provide contrast in the form of a colored glow for a subtle yet fabulous effect.


paakoCoordinate, rather than compete, with strong architecture.

The Paa-Ko Ridge Golf clubhouse features a stately circular entry, which complicated the sign design due to its curved face. We pared the Paa-Ko logo down to its simplest form, and applied the letters separately to accommodate the curve. Care was taken to balance the proportions of the lettering to the building.



Make it pretty.

Since we had a pretty logo and an attractive building, we had fun simply juxtapositioning the two for a pleasing result.



Maintain and enhance historic structures.

As a designated historic site, Hotel Parq Central had strong restrictions on its sign options. Using a classic old font, we carefully balanced the size and location of the freestanding lettering on the upper building facade. A streetside monument reinforces the brand image.


Albuquerque has a new Ride!

21 brand new city buses just rolled in to Albuquerque. Studio Hill Design provided the concept and design work on the buses, including the new coordinated interiors. The new ABQ RIDE buses, managed by The City of Albuquerque Transit Department, are a big change from the previous bus designs.

“We felt this was a highly visible opportunity to help brand and promote Albuquerque.”

Read more at Albuquerque Business First >>

According to Sandy Hill of Studio Hill Design, “The city buses are large and they are everywhere. We felt this was a highly visible opportunity to help brand and promote Albuquerque. Working with ABQ RIDE, we selected 8 cultural icons unique to our city, and illustrated a different one on each bus, along with the tagline ‘Where You Want to Go.’ The illustrations will engage visitors and inspire them to see more of our city. Locals will be reminded of why this is such a special place to call home.”

4_busses_photos_0006_Background4_busses_photos_0001_4_busses_photos_0002_Layer 1 4_busses_photos_0002_4_busses_photos_0003_Background 4_busses_photos_0003_Layer 34_busses_photos_0000_4_busses_photos_0001_Layer 2 4_busses_photos_0004_Layer 2 4_busses_photos_0005_Layer 1

Read more at Albuquerque Business First >>

In addition to the cultural icons that are displayed on the sides of the buses, Studio Hill Design developed an entirely new color palette for ABQ Ride. The palette was chosen to enhance and coordinate with the existing turquoise used on the bus shelters and on the Alvarado Transit Center window trim. A modern, fresh lime green was selected and used as a natural complement to this classic New Mexican color. The lower section of the buses are detailed with graphics representing the streets and bus stops of a transit map and applied in highly visible reflective vinyl to keep our city safer.

A new, coordinating ABQ RIDE logo was also developed as a modernized, simplified graphic that is easier to read and works well on various applications including the bus shelters, print materials, and of course, the buses themselves.  Catch the Ride!


Is my website working for or against me? Get the website design you deserve.

siteAn estimated 8 out of 10 consumers who are dissatisfied with the performance of a website are unlikely to return. While the reasons for their dissatisfaction can be as numerous as there are connections to Kevin Bacon, the number one reason is due to poor design. Poor design could mean that the site is simply outdated or it fails to reflect the core character of the business it was meant to represent. It fails to communicate. In other cases, the site might be difficult to use due to underlying technologies that slow the site down or generate an unreasonable number of errors. It could be poor architecture, meaning the site is difficult to navigate and find what you want quickly.

Here is a closer look at some of the numbers according to the Online Marketing Institute;

• 85% abandon a site due to poor design
• 83% leave because it takes too many clicks to get what they want
• 62% gave up looking for an item while shopping online
• 50% of sales are lost because visitors can’t find content
• 40% never return to a site because the content was hard to use

In addition to the obvious revenue that could be lost due to a poorly designed website are the potential costs of fixing such a site.

Often placing a “band aid” can be a far from ideal solution and can sometimes cost nearly as much as the initial investment. This leads to the inevitable conclusion that it is well worth your while to plan properly before designing a website and hiring a website design firm.

Here are some questions you should be asking your web designer before beginning your next website. 

How much time do you spend planning and researching?
Designing a successful website requires planning and research long before a single line of code is written or a layout is considered. On average, Studio Hill Design spends 5 to 10 hours diving into the backstories and histories of our clients, learning about how they got to where they are and where they want to go. That might seem like a lot of time. But we take this knowledge and leverage the information into clear and measurable strategies that support our clients’ goals. We need to know who you are to take you to where you want to be. That is how we make good design. That is how we make successful websites.

Do you create wire-frames and site maps before designing a website?
Website wireframes and site maps are visual representations of where the content on your site will be placed. They don’t contain any design or content. They simply explain visually where content can be found. It manifests a mutual understanding between us and our clients as to the scope and expectations of the site. It clarifies and simplifies the viewer navigation experience. It presents an opportunity to consider additional value-added content. Wireframes and site maps are vitally important to creating a website that is useful to its audience and that accomplishes the goals that the research has identified, while staying on budget and on time.

How much do you charge for web design?
This might seem like an obvious question to ask, but the surprise comes in how you react to the answer you get. Website design that is results-oriented takes a generous amount of time and expertise. You might find an inexpensive web coder, but why would you trust your main marketing tool to someone without a design background? Studio Hill Design is a design and marketing company who understands how to make deep connections between you and your customers. Thoughtful website design is the key that helps our clients make that connection.

Is search engine optimization incorporated into the website?
The intent of a powerful, targeted and well designed website is for it to be seen. We incorporate search engine optimization (SEO) organically from the very beginning of the project to maximize every opportunity for search engines to find your site. Little details in the content and coding of your site make a big difference in your SEO rankings. Studio Hill Design can take this even further by offering you enhanced SEO options to drive even more traffic to your website.

So Now What?
Talk to Studio Hill Design. And talk to some web geeks. See who you feel comfortable trusting your company’s brand and reputation to, when you understand how important your online presence is. Then let’s get started promoting your company online and on target.