Date: December 2016

Type: ,

Client: Surety1


I gave a makeover with a new theme. It needed a lighter and more modern design. is one of the websites owned by the folks at Surety Solutions Insurance Services, Inc. (Surety1). They’ve been one of my regular clients since September. I’ve been doing a lot of SEO work behind the scenes for their main website, but they also needed a makeover for one of their smaller websites.

This will be a brief portfolio entry, but it provides some before-and-after images, which people always like to see. There wasn’t too much that was out of the ordinary on this project.


We Always Start With a Theme

I helped the owner find a new theme for the website. We needed one that was responsive, up to date, and would suit the needs of this particular site. He liked the idea of a large slideshow at the top, with support for showing a few blog posts on the homepage and other similar content.

We ended up going with the Venture theme from WPZOOM. I’ve used their themes in the past and liked them, and this one seemed to be a good choice.


WordPress Installation Issues

There was one troublesome thing about this project. Normally I would create a development environment by installing WordPress in a subdirectory so that the current website would not be disturbed while the new one is in development. But this time, it didn’t work no matter what I did. Everything appeared to install correctly, but I just couldn’t access the final steps of the installation. The page returned a 404 even though it was on the server in the proper place.

I tried installing on a subdomain as well, but had the same problem. I even called the hosting company twice, hoping they could help me get it figured out. The first person that I spoke with had no answer. The second person seemed to have answers, but it was all beyond me. I barely understood what he was talking about, and I partly suspect that he didn’t even understand my original question. This was a case in which I just didn’t have enough knowledge in highly technical server-side stuff, which is an entirely different job from what I do, so it was hard to know what the real problem was. I set up the development environment under one of my own domains instead, and then just copied everything over to the actual domain when it was ready to go live. (In general that’s not a great solution, but this website is so small that it was fine.)



The development process was very straightforward. I installed and configured the theme, made a few minor customizations, and helped the owner understand the content required to get everything put together.



The website’s logo needed an update. This is what it looked like before:


I made some logo mockup/brainstorming options, none of which the owner liked. Which is okay—it’s not like I’m a logo designer.

He decided that we should make a version of the logo that looked like their main company’s logo.

So I made this:

to match this existing design:


Before and After

Here are a few before and after screenshots. Click any of them to get a full-size view.


Homepage Before


Homepage After


Customs Bonds Page Before


Customs Bonds Page After

(Hello, sneaky Pinterest button.)


Apply Page Before


Apply Page After

And that is the story of the work I did on this site so far. I think it will get a lot more work in the future. It especially needs some SEO effort and additional content. But I think it’s a great improvement over the old version already.

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