Back in the May of 2022, Kat and the folks (Larry and Joanne) at Wildcat Fire Services reached out to inquire about getting a new website design. Founded in September of 2005 by Larry Werner, Wildcat Fire Service is a family-owned and operated wildland firefighting and value/structural protection business based in Bowden, Alberta. They are committed to providing the highest quality firefighting services possible and strive to ensure the prevention of loss of life, minimal impact on the environment, and the loss of property.
They had family connections to a previous client of mine, Leon and Executive Shuttle Service, and he was nice enough to provide my name when they expressed displeasure with the current email/web hosting/web design service they had been receiving from their previous contractor. During our consultation, I quickly learned why. Normally, I’m not one to bad-mouth anyone in the web design industry, especially when I only get one side of the story – but these people had been taken advantage of by their previous contractor and it irritates me to hear stories like these. The costs were astronomical for what had been provided and the “nickel and diming” their previous contractor was doing to them was appalling. These situations are what lead to me creating Arktos, to give small business access to affordable marketing materials to better build their business.
I was happy they got in touch and I wanted to not only build them a better-looking, more functional website that produced higher traffic and SEO rankings – but provide a better overall experience of dealing with the web design industry.
Conceptually, I was excited to use my skills and the provided information and imagery to build a website for Wildcat Fire Services. Images of fire are always eye-catching and provide ample opportunities to create some interesting graphics. After my consultation meeting with the staff at Wildcat, it was clear that they needed a site that properly organized the services they provide and the equipment used for those services. But the main thing I took from our meeting was Wildcat Fire Services custom manufactured fire safety equipment that they not only use in performing their services – but that they could sell to potential customers!! This was something that was impossible to find on their existing website.
My main focus became how to properly represent all facets of their business, the services, the equipment and their custom manufacturing – to help provide more information about each and draw more potential clients to the site with good SEO practices. As is not only the case with all companies I work for, Wildcat Fire had a ton of information about their services and equipment – as they are required to “bid” for contract jobs throughout the course of the wildfire season. This information is vital to be able to construct an educative website.
The first task was to get Wildcat Fire out from under the contract they had with their existing contractor which gave them no control over their web or email hosting. This is never a good thing, and why at Arktos, I will NEVER own access to your web or email hosting services. I work with my clients to find the best of both services but they set up the accounts and have complete ownership of it – to avoid situations just like this. Working with 4Real I.T. Solutions, based in Innisfail, Alberta – we were able to gain new email and web hosting services and migrate all existing emails to the new accounts. Ken and his team have assisted me on a couple of projects and their support and work are always top-notch.
Once we had all the “techy” stuff worked out, I started building a temporary homepage (placeholder) that would serve in the short term to allow the transfer of the website to the new host to happen. It was a simple one-page build that gave a brief overview of the history of Wildcat Fire Service and the services they provide. As with all placeholder pages I build, there was a countdown calendar and contact form so potential clients are only a quick email away!
With the placeholder page in order, I started the design process by creating a custom header and footer for the site. The header is quite simple with the Wildcat logo, a navigation menu and links to WCFS’s social media accounts. The biggest addition to the header was a clickable link to their 24-Hour Emergency phone number – something that is essential when dealing with fire safety and suppression. The footer included a simple-to-use contact form, more contact information and again a clickable link to the 24-Hour Emergency line.
As I have mentioned before in a number of these project posts, a website is really only as good as the graphics/imagery you have. Although WCFS had ample information, the imagery they supplied was….not the best. So I scheduled a day/time to head to their location and take new pictures of all their equipment. Having higher quality, consistent imagery of their equipment would allow me more freedom in layout choices and graphic creation. Any gaps that I had in my media library I filled in using stock imagery from IStock.
The next task was to create a branding guide for the site design. As is the case with most smaller businesses, they don’t invest a ton of time or money into developing their own branding guide – as they don’t see the benefit. The nice thing about creating a website with Arktos, is that the end result actually develops a small branding guide my customers can use moving forward. For WCFS I used the logo they provided as a jumping-off point for colours and fonts. I made some tweaks to the guide as the web design process went on, in order to find the best text hierarchy for the goals of the site.
Once all the dirty work was done, it really just becomes a matter of laying out each page of the site in a manner that makes it easy to navigate and find the information visitors could be looking for.
The final design is probably one of the designs that I am most proud of. I love the overall look and bold nature of the site. The colour combinations and font hierarchy provide great ways to break up information into sections to make for ease of reading while allowing me to target the important information to draw more attention where needed.
The overall site organization is done in a manner that breaks out each part of Wildcat Fire Services’ business – but ties them all together as well – just like how their business runs! It is completely mobile-friendly and looks just as good on mobile devices as it does on desktops. The animations used provide some interactivity with the user and keep the eye moving and active. At the end of the day, WCFS deserved a well-constructed, well-designed website, and I hope what I did does exactly that.
Graphic Design Skills Used: Website Structure, Layout Design, Copy Editing, Photography, Graphics Creation, CSS and Layout Customization