Black Oak Title—Stand Out Brand & Website Success

For many small businesses, the first year is a rocky and often challenging start. Black Oak Title, however, crushed the competition right out of the gate in early 2018.
Original Logo
Logo created by Harford Designs
Harford Designs was honored to design both their logo and website(s). An overused tree logo quickly became distinguished for its bold lines and autumnal colors. Their Wix website evolved from a DIY project to basic-upgrade to an entirely revamped, simple yet beautiful WordPress website. After a recent training session with owner Steven Sokolov, here are a few noteworthy design features that we found to be successful and unsuccessful.

Contact Page Details

Yes, you can have a simple contact page with a email address. When every team member plays an integral role in the business, having everyone’s pictures, titles, phone numbers, and email addresses are crucial for your clientel. Harford Designs uses design platforms that allow our clients to edit their websites without the fear of breaking the site. With his team growing, Steve can easily use Elegant Theme’s Divi Builder to add new staff members.

Adding profile pictures to your site? Great!

  • Ensure all staff photos are the same size and color style — full color vs. black and white.
  • If you are opting for a circular profile picture, crop your images as a square.
  • Try to position each person’s face in the same exact position on the screen and enlarge or shrink heads as need be for consistency.
Observe how everyone’s heads stay within the orange guides.

Bad Form(s)

Intended to keep visitors on your website and stop them from navigating to another, you may see a “send us a message” or “contact us” message form on most websites. While Harford Design clients such as Harford General Insurance find these incredibly successful on their website, the only messages Steven and his staff received were spam. Given the nature of his industry, when someone needs a title agent, they need answers ASAP. It only made sense to scrap it from the footer as serious inquires were emailed or the agent, homebuyer, or homeowner called directly.

Avoiding Stock Photography Cliches

Black Oak Title is proud of its logo and brand. You can see the use of fall colors throughout their site. Falling leaves in a yard, a sunny fall day in the neighborhood. What you don’t see is cliche “handshake in an office” imagery. There are no stock photographs of realtors handing over the keys to a new home. And you won’t find generic pictures of houses. This lack of business stock photography is one of the many things that separates Black Oak Title from its competition. They aim to make the closing process enjoyable for everyone. So why would they use cold, sterile imagery on their site? No matter if it’s fall, winter, spring, or summer, every Maryland resident will experience the change of seasons. It’s relatable, personable, fun.
Generic Stock Photography Not Found On Black Oak Title
Nature & Brand Inspired Photography Current image on Black Oak Title Website

No Tedious Homepage Hero Slider

A general misconception about a homepage and the hero banner at the top of the page is that it needs to be a slider—that is to say, it needs to move, with arrows on either side for multiple pictures. Again, it didn’t entirely feel appropriate or necessary for Black Oak Title. Instead, we took advantage of the most crucial space on the page and integrated illustration with imagery, using the white space to clarify the mission.
Homepage Hero Image

Qualia Integration

Don’t hide integral programs from your clients in some obscure link randomly placed across the pages. Like many title agents, BOT utilizes Qualia as a client portal. Unlike other title agents, BOT embedded a button that will automatically scroll on the bottom right corner of their page. Additionally, they created a permanent link in the primary menu. Instead of calling it Qualia, however, they have chosen to call it “Under Contract.” Because let’s be honest, a home buyer or seller has no clue what Qualia is. What they do understand is that a page exists just for them when the property is officially “Under Contract.”
Qualia integrated directly on the company website

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