DeNoma Literary Services

DeNoma Literary Services Case Study

The Challenge

Dr. Elizabeth DeNoma, a professional with extensive experience in the field of book publishing, starts a new business that will engage in translation from Nordic languages, consultations regarding book proposals, and various forms of editing. This new translation/editorial venture needs a brand-new web presence.

The goals of the new website:

  • provide information about services offered by DeNoma Literary Services (DLS)
  • showcase a portfolio of completed projects
  • highlight glowing testimonials from past clients
  • appeal to DLS’s ideal clients, who are agents, publishers, and authors who are already published in Scandinavian languages
  • seek out DLS’s ideal projects, which are high-quality, sophisticated books in translation that are moving into the English-language market
  • Provide ease of use so that DLS can make minor edits in future, while avoiding the responsibilities of full in-house website maintenance

In researching similar businesses, I noticed opportunities to differentiate DLS from the field by:

  • highlighting Elizabeth’s deep experience in the field of translation, and Scandinavian languages in particular
  • presenting a sophisticated, substantive and international tone that will appeal to upmarket, already-published clients
  • reflecting a contemporary approach to the field of book editing

The Solution

Screenshot of home page with DeNoma Literary Services heading and navigation, a hero image of colorful books of various sizes, and descriptive paragraph.

After weighing Elizabeth’s desire to have some engagement with regards to small updates, I recommended Squarespace as a Content Management System: it includes hosting and updates/maintenance, allows for easy edits, connects easily with custom email, and looks great on mobile devices.

In order to present DLS in the most contemporary light, we chose to include a hero image on the home page, and I knew just what to showcase: the gorgeous book covers of her past projects.

They are well-designed, in a variety of color palettes, styles, and typefaces. Each one projects the great care that was taken during the entire process of getting them into readers’ hands. Additionally, with the mix of genres, subjects, and cultural influences, they truly present the range of Elizabeth’s experience and capabilities.

I photographed stacks of books in which she’d played a role as translator, editor, and/or publisher, and edited the photos as needed, with the hero image in mind.

Colorful and varied types of books, lined up on a shelf.

After working with mood boards and looking at examples of other websites, it became clear that Elizabeth favored a bespoke aesthetic that was clean, minimal, and contemporary, and borrowed from Scandinavian design, which has a bright, light touch.

Although her business services are actually quite nuanced and complex, neither Elizabeth nor I wanted to overwhelm users with too much information. In addition to a minimal, controlled aesthetic, Elizabeth also favored minimal scrolling, so I needed to ensure that each page was more or less visually digestible above the fold.

Mood board with colors, fonts and images that create a general aesthetic for finished website.
The moodboard determined that DLS favored a limited color palette, and a clean, minimal aesthetic based on Scandinavian design.

To honor these preferences, I decided that the site would:

  • make liberal use of white space
  • make limited but effective use of color
  • keep the number of pages to a minimum
  • maintain a light, elegant touch throughout

One of the toughest design decisions was how to present DLS’s services. After considering multiple options, I was guided by Elizabeth’s thought that her services can be divided into two distinct “tracks”: Editorial and Translation. I decided to present these tracks, with their subsets of services, within two side-by-side columns (on Desktop view; on phones, the design appears as a list, but the two tracks are distinguished by separate colors).

The columns not only list the services, but also provide users with a helpful guide as to what each service entails. The side-by-side format is also a great way to allow users to easily compare their needs to DLS offerings. I used two similar yet distinct shades of blue-gray, both from the deep blue of the footer and heading text, and included custom CSS code to properly lay out the columns within the Squarespace template.

Services page outlines various editorial and translation services.

Another challenge was how to create a visually striking, contemporary-looking website for a business that focuses on quiet, interior activity. While each book cover in Elizabeth’s portfolio is dazzling, editing and translating are activities that don’t lend themselves to splashy photos.

I decided to leave the book covers within the portfolio pages, but took an opportunity to create additional images out of Elizabeth’s online interviews: from the source websites, I created an image from each article, and made each image clickable, as a link to the original interview, and included these three images on the About page.

Image blocks that link to another website, in order to read the original article.

I also occasionally balanced an empty space by inserting another custom photo of a stack of Elizabeth’s books.

The result is a lean, yet sophisticated and elegant, site for a sophisticated, elegant business. Best of luck to DLS for continued success!

Excerpt of portfolio page, featuring several book covers from fiction titles.

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