WEBSITE & UX DESIGN

Fueled by a vivid imagination and caffeine overdoses

Welcome to Ess Effect Design Studio, a design firm specializing in user experience and web design. I like making users happy. I like making clients happy.

Do your customers find it frustrating to navigate your website or application? Is that hurting your business? Let’s fix that. Do you simply need an online presence? Let’s get you up and running. Pulling from years of experience in the print world, the tech world, the do-it-yourself world, and the psychology of design, I know how to tailor your website to that sweet spot where your business goals and your users’ needs coincide—and make it look good doing so. 

Sonia Williamson here. I’ve been a designer for over a decade. I dabble in photography as my side hustle (read: an excuse to buy a drone) and I love to travel. I’m based in Bozeman, Montana, but have spent many a late night working from countries around the world. If work / life balance is taking a conference call from a street table in Dubrovnik’s old city while the sun goes down, I have it covered. If that’s not how it works, I’m taking suggestions. I look forward to getting to know you and working with to make your online presence not just functional, but delightful as well.

Work experience brought to you in part by

MY WORK Gallery

The Chronicles of Maggie Moon is a concept sketch for a potential photobooth business. Starting a business can be intimidating and paying for a website can also feel like a lot. The value add of an online presence is hard to beat though—it instantly lends credibility, accessibility, and brand recognition. Being able to show a potential client a mock of their website can instill confidence, not only in the designer, but in the business itself. And an online presence doesn’t have to be an all or nothing endeavor. There are phased approaches that can make it more financially manageable and create anticipation. A gorgeous landing page may be the perfect option to begin driving businesses while other components of the business are sorted out behind the scenes.
Full Ecology is a website created for a duo, Mary & Gary, who are passionate proponents of the natural world and our connection to it. Their extensive offerings, from workshops and keynotes to blog posts, books, and audio needed a home that first of all introduced their philosophy and secondly showcased the ways they are available to bring that philosophy to life for individuals and institutions. This beautiful site gives a taste of the deep wisdom of Full Ecology and invites the viewer to learn more.
Full Ecology
Yellow Kiss Boutique is a successful clothing store in Quincy, Illinois that also has an online presence. The owners wanted a brand and website refresh geared at a younger, trendier market (on the right). Their goal is to build their online presence and appeal to the up-and-coming fashion-forward market. The logo update uses the acronym YKB to create a mark that is fresh and implies a tied bow, which hits on current fashion trends. In addition to the visual update, the new website includes more options and strongly presents the different categories to browse and minimizes the secondary and tertiary information that were displayed at the top level in the old design (on the left).
Yellow Kiss Boutique
This straightforward website is a slightly more complex presentation of what we consider an ‘online business card’. While word of mouth remains the most powerful form of generating business, we live in a world where roughly 85% of consumers search for businesses online. Building the word-of-mouth portion of your business in tandem with a strong online presence (defined as a website that pops up in searches and is user friendly while telling your story in a clear way) is the sweet spot in the formula for business success. Overcomplicating your website is never a necessity, but a compelling and clear online presence is.
RHL Enterprises
This bottle design was a fun project for a local winery looking to introduce a blended red and white. The winery creates serious wines but wanted to also have a playful and approachable entry-level option. We had a blast playing with the the ’empty’ / ‘MT’ pun and gearing the whole design towards both Montana wine lovers and wine-loving tourists alike. This website may advertise my services as web design and UX consulting, but if your needs fall anywhere in the range of design to workflow, I have you covered. These two bottles will be part of the wine selection offered at Blend, and as the brand is built out, around the whole state of Montana.
Blend | Wine Bar & Gallery
Every style of business has a corresponding design style that best showcases and promotes it. For photography, large format, arresting imagery is key. A picture is worth a thousand words, and a photographer’s pictures, especially, should do most of the talking on a website. This site was designed with two main goals: first, to highlight the work, second, to make contacting the photographer a breeze. In this case, the photographer happens to be me (this could be considered a form of inception), and I loved the added challenge of making the branding related, but distinct.
Ess Effect Photography
There’s a statistic that states that for almost 70% of users, being able to find what they’re looking for is the most important part of a website. Aesthetics certainly matter, as does search engine optimization, but the fundamental goal of any website should be to link the user to what they’re looking for as quickly as possible. In the case of a law firm, the main goal is two-fold: first, trust and clarity that this particular lawyer can handle their particular issue, second, fast access to getting ahold of him (or her).
Tibbs Law
Coldwater Drilling and Pumps is a new business that needs to have a trusted online presence. It needs to show up in search engines and load quickly. Web design / online presence involves many layers and one critical component is optimizing the SEO. Another is making sure the site is just as usable on mobile as it is on desktop. Nearly 50% of all traffic to sites comes from mobile devices. The design of Coldwater Drilling and Pumps accounts for all the behind-the-scenes elements that makes a site findable, usable, and accessible.
Coldwater Drilling and Pumps
My skill set on this site focuses on web design and usability, but I often find people in need of other design pieces like logos and business cards. While doing a usability audit on a local Bozeman accounting firm’s website, we also branched into a discussion about marketing and branding. The intent was to shift the branding of the firm from a specific person’s name to a more ubiquitous business name that would allow the firm to expand its offerings in the future and build an entity with multiple employees. The fruit of that conversation is the logo you see on the left in a corresponding business card and Facebook branding.
ReBalance Tax and Accounting Solutions
Valo Cellars is a Bozeman winery that cares a great deal about simple, clean design and clarity of message. The logo design was done by a friend of the owner, and the website was built to echo the beautiful simplicity of the logo, as well as to provide clear navigation. So many websites try to do too much; there is a misconception that you have to communicate everything to be effective. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Less is more. Simple is powerful.
Valo Cellars
FasDraft is a tool for appraisers that is currently in its introductory stage. The framework is in place, but there are UI and UX refinements that need to take place as the product moves forward. Additional functionality and requirements are being explored in tandem to the development of the base product. I was given a Word doc of requirements and from that created some first-round, low-fidelity wireframes for the proposed management dashboard.
FasDraft
I love the polished final product of projects (if anything is every truly ‘final’ in the software world), but I love the process as well. Great user experience design is flexible—it’s the ability to start with a concept sketch and treat it as mutable as the project goes through all the stages of implementation and is tested with real users. This is a sketch pulled from the exploratory phase of one of my Workiva projects, a filing wizard intended to do as much work for the user behind the scenes as possible, similar to a TurboTax experience.
One of my big projects at Workiva was to update an outdated and complicated area of the product. Our product team worked together to make major changes on both the front-end and the back-end. We vetted it with internal and external users. There were objective wins to the changes, but also resistence to doing things differently, given the complex nature of this part of the product. To help ease the transition, we created this video to provide a light-hearted highlight of the changes and convert our internal team into champions of the changes to our external customers. As a result, the update was well-recieved and rolled out with minimal frustration.
Jon Asa Tayler, a colleague under a psuedonym, wrote a book. I designed the cover. The last few years of my career have revolved around web design and workflow processes. I enjoyed taking on this project that hearkened back to my print design beginnings. One of the the biggest lessons moving from print to web was making the shift from static layouts to fluid ones. Print design principles strengthen web design, just as web design promotes thoughtful information architechture, as long as the requirements of each are honored.
Excessive Forces
The Chronicles of Maggie Moon is a concept sketch for a potential photobooth business. Starting a business can be intimidating and paying for a website can also feel like a lot. The value add of an online presence is hard to beat though—it instantly lends credibility, accessibility, and brand recognition. Being able to show a potential client a mock of their website can instill confidence, not only in the designer, but in the business itself. And an online presence doesn’t have to be an all or nothing endeavor. There are phased approaches that can make it more financially manageable and create anticipation. A gorgeous landing page may be the perfect option to begin driving businesses while other components of the business are sorted out behind the scenes.
Full Ecology is a website created for a duo, Mary & Gary, who are passionate proponents of the natural world and our connection to it. Their extensive offerings, from workshops and keynotes to blog posts, books, and audio needed a home that first of all introduced their philosophy and secondly showcased the ways they are available to bring that philosophy to life for individuals and institutions. This beautiful site gives a taste of the deep wisdom of Full Ecology and invites the viewer to learn more.
Full Ecology

This straightforward website is a slightly more complex presentation of what we consider an ‘online business card’. While word of mouth remains the most powerful form of generating business, we live in a world where roughly 85% of consumers search for businesses online. Building the word-of-mouth portion of your business in tandem with a strong online presence (defined as a website that pops up in searches and is user friendly while telling your story in a clear way) is the sweet spot in the formula for business success. Overcomplicating your website is never a necessity, but a compelling and clear online presence is.
RHL Enterprises

There’s a statistic that states that for almost 70% of users, being able to find what they’re looking for is the most important part of a website. Aesthetics certainly matter, as does search engine optimization, but the fundamental goal of any website should be to link the user to what they’re looking for as quickly as possible. In the case of a law firm, the main goal is two-fold: first, trust and clarity that this particular lawyer can handle their particular issue, second, fast access to getting ahold of him (or her).
Tibbs Law
Every style of business has a corresponding design style that best showcases and promotes it. For photography, large format, arresting imagery is key. A picture is worth a thousand words, and a photographer’s pictures, especially, should do most of the talking on a website. This site was designed with two main goals: first, to highlight the work, second, to make contacting the photographer a breeze. In this case, the photographer happens to be me (this could be considered a form of inception), and I loved the added challenge of making the branding related, but distinct.
Ess Effect Photography
Coldwater Drilling and Pumps is a new business that needs to have a trusted online presence. It needs to show up in search engines and load quickly. Web design / online presence involves many layers and one critical component is optimizing the SEO. Another is making sure the site is just as usable on mobile as it is on desktop. Nearly 50% of all traffic to sites comes from mobile devices. The design of Coldwater Drilling and Pumps accounts for all the behind-the-scenes elements that makes a site findable, usable, and accessible.
Coldwater Drilling and Pumps
This bottle design was a fun project for a local winery looking to introduce a blended red and white. The winery creates serious wines but wanted to also have a playful and approachable entry-level option. We had a blast playing with the the ’empty’ / ‘MT’ pun and gearing the whole design towards both Montana wine lovers and wine-loving tourists alike. This website may advertise my services as web design and UX consulting, but if your needs fall anywhere in the range of design to workflow, I have you covered. These two bottles will be part of the wine selection offered at Blend, and as the brand is built out, around the whole state of Montana.
Blend | Wine Bar & Gallery
My skill set on this site focuses on web design and usability, but I often find people in need of other design pieces like logos and business cards. While doing a usability audit on a local Bozeman accounting firm’s website, we also branched into a discussion about marketing and branding. The intent was to shift the branding of the firm from a specific person’s name to a more ubiquitous business name that would allow the firm to expand its offerings in the future and build an entity with multiple employees. The fruit of that conversation is the logo you see on the left in a corresponding business card and Facebook branding.
ReBalance Tax and Accounting Solutions
Yellow Kiss Boutique is a successful clothing store in Quincy, Illinois that also has an online presence. The owners wanted a brand and website refresh geared at a younger, trendier market (on the right). Their goal is to build their online presence and appeal to the up-and-coming fashion-forward market. The logo update uses the acronym YKB to create a mark that is fresh and implies a tied bow, which hits on current fashion trends. In addition to the visual update, the new website includes more options and strongly presents the different categories to browse and minimizes the secondary and tertiary information that were displayed at the top level in the old design (on the left).
Yellow Kiss Boutique
Valo Cellars is a Bozeman winery that cares a great deal about simple, clean design and clarity of message. The logo design was done by a friend of the owner, and the website was built to echo the beautiful simplicity of the logo, as well as to provide clear navigation. So many websites try to do too much; there is a misconception that you have to communicate everything to be effective. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Less is more. Simple is powerful.
Valo Cellars
FasDraft is a tool for appraisers that is currently in its introductory stage. The framework is in place, but there are UI and UX refinements that need to take place as the product moves forward. Additional functionality and requirements are being explored in tandem to the development of the base product. I was given a Word doc of requirements and from that created some first-round, low-fidelity wireframes for the proposed management dashboard.
FasDraft
I love the polished final product of projects (if anything is every truly ‘final’ in the software world), but I love the process as well. Great user experience design is flexible—it’s the ability to start with a concept sketch and treat it as mutable as the project goes through all the stages of implementation and is tested with real users. This is a sketch pulled from the exploratory phase of one of my Workiva projects, a filing wizard intended to do as much work for the user behind the scenes as possible, similar to a TurboTax experience.
One of my big projects at Workiva was to update an outdated and complicated area of the product. Our product team worked together to make major changes on both the front-end and the back-end. We vetted it with internal and external users. There were objective wins to the changes, but also resistence to doing things differently, given the complex nature of this part of the product. To help ease the transition, we created this video to provide a light-hearted highlight of the changes and convert our internal team into champions of the changes to our external customers. As a result, the update was well-recieved and rolled out with minimal frustration.
Jon Asa Tayler, a colleague under a psuedonym, wrote a book. I designed the cover. The last few years of my career have revolved around web design and workflow processes. I enjoyed taking on this project that hearkened back to my print design beginnings. One of the the biggest lessons moving from print to web was making the shift from static layouts to fluid ones. Print design principles strengthen web design, just as web design promotes thoughtful information architechture, as long as the requirements of each are honored.
Excessive Forces

TESTIMONIALS (aka kind words from real humans)

I have worked with Sonia since 2012. Sonia’s vast design experience and professional ethic, far exceed the expectations we had for any contractor. Sonia is well versed in all styles of UI design, including best practices. She truly maximized our budget, by listening and understanding our needs first, and then executing her concepts in a lean fashion to deliver her solutions. Sonia is a true design partner and I could not more fully endorse her for your next project.
Jason Moore, Director of UX at Workiva

Not only is Sonia responsible for the layout, implementation, and upkeep of our website, she is instrumental in creating print material for us on the fly and generating content for our social media presence. Web design is not in my wheelhouse and it is a huge weight off to be able to trust it all to her rare combination of talented design eye and technical capabilities.
Michael Ruhland, Owner of Valo Cellars

Sonia grasped my ideas for two different logos quickly and easily. Her perceptions and artistic flare are wonderful. I am very happy with the work she did for me. She is a joy! I’d definitely work with her again and recommend that others take advantage of her skills whenever possible.
Kathleen Karlsen, Artist

It is without reservation that I recommend Sonia’s UI & UX expertise to anyone. We work with small businesses throughout different parts of the U.S. and Sonia’s insight has been invaluable to making our client’s websites as easy to use as possible. This, in turn, has helped our customer’s grow their businesses. Sonia’s services are a great investment for anyone attempting to make their product as user friendly as possible.
Luke Ciciliano, Co-Owner of SEO for Lawyers

Supremely gifted beyond all practical parameters of space and time.
Barbara Banach, Best Friend

I’ve worked with a lot of people over the course of my career and there is nobody more dedicated to the happiness of the end-user than Sonia.
Jack Whitehouse, Senior Engineer at 45 North Solutions

PHILOSOPHY / Manifesto / Public Policy

I could probably also write content for you, but I have to draw the line somewhere.

All content © Ess Effect Design Studio 2019