Jessica Santa-Cruz, Owner Softshell Design

About Jessica

2021
jessica@softshelldesign.com

Hello, my name is Jessica Santa-Cruz and I am the Owner and Art Director here at Softshell Design. I wanted to take the time to introduce myself and to let you know a little more about me and my business.

I would be remiss if I didn’t immediately mention my right-hand woman, Lucía García. Softshell and I would not be where we are today without her joining us almost ten years ago.

She is an integral part in most facets of the business. I look forward to sharing more about Lucía in the future, but this post is more about me – Consider yourself warned.

Jessica Santa-Cruz, Owner Softshell Design
Queens

I am a native New Yorker, and proud of it, like most NY transplants down here in South Florida.

Young entrepreneur

I was born in Queens and grew up alongside my twin brother, Charlie. I have always been a tomboy, so seeing me among a group of boys trying to hold my own, was the norm back then.

We didn’t have a lot of money, so I learned quickly to do chores and anything I could to earn some cash. Here you see Charlie and I selling iced tea on the corner – raking in the dough at 10 cents a pop!

Upstate New York

In fifth grade, my parents moved us to a little town called Central Valley in the lower Catskill Mountains, 70 miles north (just north of Suffern for all my New Yorkers out there).

School

At eleven years old, every Sunday, I began to babysit a little boy while his mother worked an 8-hour shift, earning myself the sum of $20. Now we’re talking! I liked the feeling of working to earn my own savings and becoming independent. It was from that time on that I continued to work many a job during my school years to buy and pay for things myself. By the time I began college, I was used to juggling sports, education, and work.

College

I commuted to SUNY New Paltz enjoying my classes while working full-time. I was thankful for my graphic design education but was eager to graduate and get my degree so that I could move out and concentrate on working in my field. At that time, the internet was just emerging and only one class within my major focused on web design.

I knew I needed to get into the workforce to really learn this new skill, which supposedly could be done from the comfort of your home! That sounded very appealing, especially since I hoped to also have a family of my own one day. How fortunate I was to have been a part of this fascinating and revolutionary way of communicating and doing business. The internet had already begun to lessen the “distance” between us worldwide!

Out in the World

Since graduating in 2000, I have been creating and producing websites.

Santa Fe

I moved to Santa Fe for a short time after college and met many talented individuals in the tech industry, some of whom I still collaborate with today. After only a year, my yearning for a faster pace took me to South Florida, where I already had extended family.

Miami

I moved to Miami just before 9/11 and immediately began working with a small web firm. At this company, I was eager to be a part of all the aspects of the business and did my best to learn all I could. As fate would have it, the stars must have aligned that day, because I was lucky enough to be seated right next to the best partner I could have asked for, the programmer. He, Ivan, would also become my best friend and later my husband (and IT guy). Being in a group of men in technology was no different than how I chose to surround myself as a young child. While being the only female in the room does not intimidate me, I am ecstatic to see that more women are emerging in this industry as times moves on.

Cuban Culture

Spending time in Miami with Ivan, I also dove headfirst into the Latin (more specifically, Cuban) culture which now surrounded me.

Abuelonga

His grandma, affectionately called Abuelonga, basically took me and my meager Spanish education and helped me learn how to speak the language almost fluently. What a gift, but it was only the second best one she’s ever given me. The first being how to make croquetas! If you’ve never had one, you MUST give it a try next time you are in Miami, although it probably won’t compare to the ones Aba made. Here I am with my daughter Eva, many years later, carrying on the tradition.

Softshell Design

In 2007, I moved out on my own and founded Softshell Design.

Not completely coincidentally, we were also going to have our first baby, so working out of a home office would be convenient if nothing else. Always grateful for my network, I continued to collaborate with existing contacts and clients both in New Mexico, locally, and internationally. I have always been pretty driven and disciplined (thanks Mom!) so working from home was doable. I am also a dreaded ‘people-pleaser’, but I venture to say that this attitude has assisted me in acquiring and retaining clients over the years. After all, I have the knowledge, skills and ideas, but I work for you!

Many Hats

Fast forward fifteen years (and one more child later) and I am still working out of my home office, now in Palmetto Bay (just south of Miami), and juggling mom life instead of school. It’s not much different though – I am careful to divide my time in an effort to succeed in both areas of my life (overachiever – I know). I try to give Lucas and Eva (now ages eleven and thirteen) tools to help them help themselves and this independence benefits us both. For example, making their own lunch allows them to feel self-sufficient and gives me the extra twenty minutes at night to connect with them instead of doing for them. It’s not always easy, in fact it’s almost never easy, but I reap so many rewards from being dedicated to both home and work life.

A successful small business, a beautiful and capable family, and a feeling that helping other small businesses succeed is at the core of my purpose. I feel good knowing that I am showing my children that moms can kick butt at both their professions AND making dinner!

WORK WITH US

I love meeting all kinds of new people and learning about their businesses.

I relish the work of creating tools and designs that will serve growing companies and help them succeed. This job inspires me to collaborate with individuals and small companies to provide the best possible product our teams can produce together. This is our objective at Softshell Design, to give you and your company the marketing tools you need to thrive.

South Florida Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Softshell & South Florida SPCA

2021
Finding Satisfaction in Your Work

The past year has been trying for us all.

While we consider ourselves deeply grateful for the health of our families and survival of my business over the past thirteen months, the emotional toll of the pandemic cannot be avoided.

Recently, Softshell Design was lucky enough to work with the non-profit organization, the South Florida Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). As a small business owner, this project benefited both me and my company in many ways.

Working with the South Florida SPCA has afforded us a respite from the daily worries in a way that has been more fulfilling than other project we’ve worked on in the past twenty years of developing websites.

South Florida SPCA Logo and Icons
SOUTH FLORIDA SPCA
Vision

The board, staff and volunteers at the South Florida SPCA give of themselves ceaselessly on behalf of animals suffering from cruelty and neglect. Driven by the need to serve abandoned and starving horses and with the vision to create a safe haven for them, the South Florida SPCA was formed.

Mission

The mission of the South Florida Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is to rescue, rehabilitate horses and other livestock in Miami Dade County and safely rehome them across the country.

Founded in 1992

The SFSPCA, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, was founded in 1992 by Laurie Waggoner.

SFSPCA Desktop Website
Chris Septer, Executive Director, SFSPCA
A GOOD MATCH

The last year has afforded us the opportunity to become partners with the SFSPCA. Working with them has been a salve to our souls over the past months.

Genuine Enthusiasm

The new brand has evolved into a pet project of ours. Lucia and I willingly threw ourselves into this endeavor and worked to create a professional brand that speaks of the changing mission of the SFSPCA to include livestock.

Forging Relationships

To have had to the chance to work with Chris Septer, SFSPCA’s Executive Director has been a honor and pleasure. There is no question that this industry attracts selfless and compassionate souls. While the animals have the very good fortune to be under her wing, we also felt the abundance of her considerate nature. We needed that this year. Chris is passionate about building a network in the local community and we are gladly a part of that circle now.

THANKFUL

We’ve been beyond fortunate just to have work during this pandemic, but to have been fatefully paired with the SFSPCA makes us even more appreciative.

We hope that this is the beginning of a long partnership where we can help the South Florida care for their rescues, make the most of their website and market their brand in a more effective and productive manner.

South Florida Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
We are dedicated to providing professional & custom web and print solutions for our clients.

Softshell Design is eager to expand its local clientele in South Florida. We will work tirelessly and meticulously to provide you with the design tools that will help your business further its goals.

Why Blend in When You Can Stand Out?

Omni-channel digital marketing

Going Digital in a World of Social Distancing

2020
New Normal Brings New Opportunities

What will the ‘new normal’ look like for small business entrepreneurs? The days of shaking hands and exchanging business cards may be over, but how can we compensate?

We need to leverage the opportunities available to us in order to increase exposure, clientele and business.

While Coronavirus has had a negative impact on traditional purchasing, online shopping is doing better than ever. Users are not only buying products, they’re searching out services, entertainment, and scratching that social itch.

An omni-channel retail marketing strategy (implementing several online avenues for customers to browse your services and/or products with a cohesive customer experience) will yield a greater benefit to your bottom line.

As always, in order to stand out among competitors, your brand needs to have unique representation with a sound foundation. Online users strongly value brand image and identity, ease of functionality and social media activity.

A few things that should be considered when embracing your omni-channel approach are:

  • Exposure Online
  • The Right Software
  • Social Media Networking
  • Getting & Keeping Followers
Omni-channel digital marketing
EXPOSURE ONLINE

Whether you are looking to sell a product or a service, the most important way to transition your small business to reach an online audience, is with a professional mobile-first website that delivers. Accompanying social media accounts, apps and printed materials with consistent branding and messaging will create a successful omni-channel marketing approach.

Custom & Innovative UI/UX Design

A distinctive design and professional brand will help to solidify a customer base and increase your return on investment. Consumers rely on the brand image of your site to be unique, consistent, concise and attractive. Your brand speaks to your audience and if you don’t take the time to develop something inspiring, you will lose users.

Quality Content

When gathering and writing content, be sure to take the time and effort to properly and thoroughly describe your business and its services. Remember that search engine robots read the text on your site in order to get to know your business. It is imperative that your copy use terms and syntax particular to your industry in order to improve your chances of being found online via organic search engine optimization.

Easily Maintained In-House

Your website, ecommerce store and/or app should incorporate seamless functionality for ease of maintenance so that you can concentrate on your passion rather than struggling with poor design.

Responsive Custom Web Design
Maintain Your Own Content
THE RIGHT SOFTWARE

In order to fully flesh out a digital marketing campaign, the right software is necessary so that you get the most out of your investment. Depending on the size and existing budget of your business, you may choose to implement your omni-channel strategy in phases.

Content Management System

The CMS best suited to your company will depend on the functionality needed both internally and externally. Software is tailored to the specifications of different clients and in most cases, there is a solution out there that will fit your needs. Whatever option is chosen, analytics and reports are necessary to help you gauge where your site needs improvement or enhancement in order to increase profit.

Integrations

It’s extremely important to consider any existing requirements before ascertaining the best platform to build your website. For example, if you need an ecommerce site and want to use the same payment processor as your brick and mortar storefront, that can help to wildly narrow your choices and facilitate management of your inventory and sales. If you want your online forms to automatically add users to certain newsletter subscriber groups in order to reduce the time invested, there are out of the box integrations which can ease this.

SOCIAL MEDIA NETWORK

Social media platforms may be our best option for networking in the future. It has become a legitimate and respected avenue for marketing. With almost half of today’s buyers searching for products/services via social media, now is the time to take advantage of these marketing channels for greater exposure.

Facebook

FB has 1.13 billion daily active users and is intended for connecting with friends. When friend’s comment and like (or even better – love) your posts, they stay active on timelines which could allow for a longer period of exposure. The FB audience is more advanced in age than Instagram, so you are reaching a different demographic. FB can be used to promote your brand, market your services and to sell your products.

Instagram

Instagram also enables your business to promote its brand as well as market its services and products. IG has 500 million monthly active users and has better statics in engagement and sharing than FB. Users follow businesses and pages that are not friends and they expect to see your business post to tout success or products via this avenue.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is an outlet for professional networking and the perfect platform for posting articles and business updates in order to retain industry relationships. Staying active on LinkedIn encourages collaborative projects with complimentary businesses.

How to Get Followers
GETTING & KEEPING FOLLOWERS

Consistent and relevant content that is reliably posted creates a relationship with the consumer that builds loyalty.

Getting People to Follow You
Subscribers

Compiling subscriber lists from users that have opted in to receive your digital communications is the first step. More importantly is the need to develop consistent email marketing campaigns that continually spur involvement from your subscribers. This avenue opens doors to increased exposure with which to market sales promotions.

Personalized Communication

Paying attention to specific consumer needs and creating a personalized communication through social media and website customer groups will help to boost participation. Consumers want to feel that they are special, and your communication should make them feel first and foremost, that they have been considered.

Consumer Engagement

Boost your clientele by incorporating subscriptions, reviews and writing blog posts that allow for comments. Create newsletter campaigns with eye-catching graphics to bring users back to your site. When needed, chats and support options can be integrated into your website to help assist users in order to ensure a positive customer experience.

Basically it all comes down to the fact that UI/UX design which is bulky, hard to manage and difficult to navigate will result in a high bounce rate for your site.

If you want customers to engage and interact with your business online, it is absolutely essential to invest in a solid brand image, responsive website and omni-channel experience which will create the foundation for success in this new normal.

Simon Cooke, managing director of full-service digital agency BozBoz, states it succinctly when he says, “The point is, what you do now will set your business up for stability and success in the future.”

More people than ever are online at home. Take advantage and contact us to begin developing your new brand, website and omni-channel marketing plan today!

chrysalis salon
Chrysalis Salon Santa Fe

Chrysalis Salon

SIMPLE CAN BE BOLD

Softshell Design partnered with TrafficDeveloper on this project. After eight years, Rick came to us asking for a hip and simple site that would appeal to a younger generation. The new site’s responsive design enable it to be accessed on mobile and with the ability to book appointments integrated, Chrysalis has refreshed their image and brand.

 
 
 
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Chrysalis Salon Santa Fe
Chrysalis Santa Fe Phone

The minimalistic design mimics the energy and vividness of the salon and invites customers to experience their extensive beauty services.

Full Case Story Coming Soon
anewfound.org
ANEW Found

ANEW

A SIMPLER WAY TO PRESENT ITS SERVICES

J9 Design hired Softshell Design for the programming and implementation of this new site which translates ANEW’s mission, vision and services clearly to prospective clients. Incorporation of video and content reorganization makes their new presence easy to use and more accessible to users on any device.

 
j9design.com

Softshell Design Website Production
production
Softshell Design Website Software Implementation
software
SERVICES

ANEW Found
ANEW Found

The responsive design enhancements increased conversions & improved the mobile experience

Full Case Story Coming Soon
stvin.org
CHRISTUS St. Vincent Regional Hospital

CHRISTUS St. Vincent Regional Hospital

ST. VINCENT REFRESHENS ITS BRAND TO PREPARE FOR A NEW ERA

We have worked with CHRISTUS St. Vincent for over six years now. We help them manage and design their intranet in Ektron as well as their public site in SiteCore. In the constantly changing world of healthcare, this client keeps us on our toes.

Softshell Design Website Design
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Softshell Design Website Production
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Softshell Design Website Marketing
marketing
Softshell Design Website Software Implementation
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Softshell Design Website Social Media Integration
social
SERVICES

CHRISTUS St. Vincent Desktop
CHRISTUS St. Vincent Handheld

A fresh design allows CHRISTUS St. Vincent to compete with new local health facilities.

Full Case Story Coming Soon
awo.aws.org
The American Welding Society Learning Department

The American Welding Society

EXPANDING WELDING ONLINE EDUCATION

This was our second time redesigning the American Welding Society Learning site. Over the past seven years Softshell Design has been working with AWS to increase the online exposure of their education offerings through omni-channel marketing. By integrating a blog, newsletter, glossary and podcast resources, the education department quickly gained a wide audience of users.

AWS Learning is your one-stop resource for welding education. Our comprehensive catalog of educational materials are specifically designed to help you achieve your welding career goals.

Softshell Design Website Design
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Softshell Design Website Production
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Softshell Design Website Marketing
marketing
Softshell Design Website Software Implementation
software
Softshell Design Website Social Media Integration
social
SERVICES

American Welding Society Learning Desktop
American Welding Society Handheld

The combination of software integration,  fresh blog & educational content, and social media feeds quickly made AWS Learning a valuable resource for all welding students online.

Full Case Story Coming Soon
cridenlove.com
Criden & Love, P.A.

Criden & Love

BRANDING REFRESH

Criden & Love came to Softshell Design needing a redesign for their existing website. Our custom-tailored design helped to elevate Criden & Love’s web presence with a professional brand specific to their Miami firm. Their renewed look & feel accurately portrays the expert level of litigation and dedication provided by the firm.

Criden & Love, P.A. is a leading national law firm that focuses on antitrust, consumer fraud, securities, class actions and complex commercial litigation. For over 25 years, they have successfully pursued litigation to compensate our clients.

 
 
 
Softshell Design Website Design
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Softshell Design Website Production
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Criden & Love Desktop Site
Criden & Love Mobile Site

Exceptional & accessible design coupled with ease of maintenance.

design solutions
ADA Compliance
Criden & Love Focus
Content is accessible to the blind, deaf, and those who must navigate by voice or with screen readers.
Following WCAG 2.0 guidelines set forth by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), Softshell worked to make Criden & Love’s site compliant under The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • buttons / links are highlighted on focus
  • text alternatives for all non-text content
  • functionality is keyboard accessible
  • elements are distinguishable
  • and more
Criden & Love Text Alternatives
Criden & Love Distinguish colors
Criden & Love Keyboard Accessible
production solutions
website maintenance
Criden and Love Practice Areas
Maintaining professionals for Criden and Love
Admin maintenance allows Criden & Love to easily update their site independently.
Ability to edit & add case profiles, people and practice areas.
  • move cases from current to results
  • add and remove cases from practice areas
  • update professionals
  • repository of contact form submissions
Criden and Love Sample Cases
The Language House TEFL

The Language House

NEW DESIGN AFTER 7 YEARS!

We were so ready to make this happen for The Language House. Softshell Design created a sleek custom design for them updating their brand which enabled TLH to challenge competitors, regain its contemporary feel, and expand its audience to younger users on mobile.

The Language House is an internationally recognized, American owned, 4-week, fully accredited and externally monitored teacher training course that will give you the skills and qualifications needed to make it as an English teacher.

Softshell Design Website Design
design
Softshell Design Website Production
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Softshell Design Website Marketing
marketing
Softshell Design Website Software Implementation
software
Softshell Design Website Social Media Integration
social
SERVICES

The Language House Homepage
The Language House Phone Screenshot

The responsive design enhancements increased conversions & improved the mobile experience

design & production solutions
ease of navigation
Ease of Navigation Example 1
Tiered menus, animations & iconography help users find what they need – fast.
Icons improve readability, bridge language gaps, add graphic interest & look pretty cool too. Animated banners highlight important information.
  • multiple level navigation structure
  • animated call-to-action banners
  • reorganization of content
  • iconography
Ease of Navigation Example 2
The Language House Icon Bar
The Language House Icons
marketing solutions
campaign strategies
Marketing Solution Example 1
Marketing Graduates for The Language House
A network of graduates that have gone through the same thing, what could be better for people new to Prague & TLH?
Helping to develop marketing strategies so that your product sells.
  • market past graduate community
  • share graduate stories as student resource
  • open communication between past graduates
    & current students
Marketing Solutions Example 2
software solutions
boost functionality
YouTube
YouTube

All videos are served by YouTube which enables increased exposure for a growing video library and lighter server loads

Gravity Forms
Gravity Forms

Application entries stored in a trusted & protected environment along with GDPR compliance & encrypted forms made working with Gravity Forms a no-brainer

MailChimp
MailChimp

MailChimp allows TLH to correspond with users by creating email sales and promotion campaigns which help to inform prospective students

social media solutions
custom instagram feed
Instagram Feed
mesaphotonics
Mesaphotonics

Mesaphotonics

NEW WEBSITE & REBRAND

Softshell Design partnered with TrafficDeveloper on this project. After designing and developing their first website more than nine years ago, Mesaphotonics came to us asking for a rebrand that would update their image and work to market the endeavors that have evolved with the company. The new site’s colors and bold elements better represent this growing organization’s bright future. The responsive design enables it to be accessible on mobile and now with the ability to accept support tickets online, their customer service logistics are much improved.

Additional exhibition and printed brochure materials were created for Mesaphotonics in order to create a consistent message and brand style across different media and marketing channels.

 
Softshell Design Website Design
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Softshell Design Website Production
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Softshell Design Website Marketing
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Softshell Design Website Software Implementation
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Mesaphotonics Desktop Comp
Mesaphotonics Handheld Comp

Mesaphotonics’ new site features their scientific test & measurement products and educates the public on their research & development projects

design & production solutions
brand revitalization
Mesaphotonics Ultra Fast Last Pulse Products
A fresh brand coupled with a revised website has enabled Mesaphotonics to approach their marketing in a new light and rebrand their image to successfully represent scientific innovation.
The new design highlights Mesaphotonic’s products and technology in a bright new format which suits the high intensity of its involvement with and impact on today’s ever-changing world.
  • graphic elements mimic scientific & mathematical properties
  • restructure navigation to market multiple arms of the company
  • creation of svg graphic elements for reuse in print
  • updated color palette
About Mesaphotonics - Scientific Test & Measurement
Page Builder Templates
Mesaphotonics FROG products
marketing solutions
consistent branding
Mesaphotonics product specifications
Mesaphotonics stamp
Softshell Design worked with Mesaphotonics to develop a new marketing approach which would help to sell their products as well as educate the user on the research & development arm of the business.
We also created supporting marketing materials consistent with the new brand style for both online and offline opportunities.
  • products & technology vs. research & development
  • highlight governmental grants & contracts
  • new product brochures
  • creation of exhibition backdrop, podium cover & tablecloth
  • online specifications for greater availability and exposure
Mesaphotonics Product Brochure & Booth Backdrop
software solutions
boost efficiency
customer support
Customer Product Support

Softshell Design helped to implement a new ticketing system on Mesaphotonics’ site which enables them to handle all product inquiries online. They now have an organized system that lets them quickly answer, set the priority and reassign customer tickets allowing them to quickly provide support in addition to easing the logistics of customer requests.