LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT US:
USA Financial is not your typical Financial Services wholesaler. We are a business building company for Independent Financial Advisers. If the Financial Adviser is successful in building their practice, then we're successful.
We are (4) companies in one, USA Financial Insurance, USA Financial Securities, Portformulas & Plug-N-Run.
The guts of the site revolve around a blogging platform that we've adapted to our needs. We use the blogging platform to continuously feed the financial adviser information about their practice, the financial industry, and new offerings from our company.
HERE IS WHAT WE NEED:
The attached images show a basic scheme with two navigation rows. The top row contains links to specific elements within each of the companies, the lower row contains the categories our blog posts are mapped to.
Our color scheme, as you can imagine since our name is "USA Financial", is Red, White & Blue and we tend to focus on the blue and accent with red and white. The blue chosen in the mockup can be changed if you have particular leanings, the darkness of the current scheme is so the contrast of the white areas would help pop the text of the blog entries on this home page and then the post details page. We're not designers so we're open to your ideas as well.
The white border around the USA Financial logo in the mockup was a test, the actual logo (without the border) is attached. Feel free to follow your intuition to integrate it into the header as you see fit.
Design Areas to Focus on:
1) The entire USA Financial "header" section could use some design elements to make it more interesting (whether that be background images, gradients, whatever), including designing the login textboxes and buttons to fit the overall style of the site. When the user is logged in, the login controls will be replaced by the following text/links: "Hi, (their full name) | Dashboard | Logout". In your design, please offer both states of that user login area (logged out and logged in).
2) We could use some help with the colors, fonts and font sizes of the menus and dropdown menus, both for the top level items ("Affiliates by Common Ownership") and the lower navigation "Home, News By Product, News By Service, etc...".
3) We need a good design for the layout of the headers & text under "Hot-Off-The-Press" (the blog post list). We're only showing the post title, publish date, and author and the design of the text needs to make each one stand out while the user is scanning the list. Our current reps aren't young so the initial font sizes should not be tiny, but comfortable for anyone to read.
4) The blue area right of the blog post entries will be a space where we'll rotate a number of "internal advertising" sections (like small banner ads but only from our company) highlighting these topics: Upcoming Events, Testimonials, Product Highlights, Direct links to some highlighted post, etc... For the purposes of this design, a common size and border (some sort of rounded rectangle design that the elements could utilize to marry them together in that space) font choices and font size, etc... Some of these will be filled with Images that we'll build so feel free to throw some stock images into your size/border to simulate that. There will probably be 3 or 4 elements stacked in that space at any given time. If you have further refining questions regarding this area feel free to contact me.
5) We need to integrate a SEARCH box into the design somewhere -- I assume in the header somewhere but you can play with that.
6) We have to show the modal dialog (see attached) to new visitors for them to agree to. We need that to be designed to fit the site as well. This can be a combination of images & text.
OUR TARGET AUDIENCE IS:
Mainly adult males 30+ who are successful -- they know how to make money. We don't accept reps who just dabble at being financial advisers, our reps know how to be successful and how to manage other people's money. The financial advisers need to see that 1) We're professional 2) We're technology savvy 3) We're not afraid of the Web 2.0 world 4) We know what we're talking about.
WE LIKE THESE DESIGNS:
We've done some of the heavy lifting and have attached a basic two navigation design. See the "here is what we need" section for complete details... Part of this was based on zdnet.com if that helps...
WE ABSOLUTELY MUST HAVE (or we don't want to see) THIS IN OUR DESIGN:
1) Text elements have to take advantage of the typical web font limitation. No fancy use of fonts in this design that we're not going to be able to reproduce in HTML.
2) We have to have the modal dialog designed so that it matches the look and feel of the new home page.
3) The login area needs to provide both states of the user (logged out and logged in) -- simply by giving us the final PSDs (one for logged in, the other for logged out).
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