Fresh Tilled Soil Case Study: Boston Private Bank

How A Financial Institution Tripled Conversion Rates Through Better Design

Heath Umbach
Fresh Tilled Soil
Published in
9 min readOct 4, 2018


Boston Private is a leading wealth management, trust, and private banking company headquartered in Boston, serving individuals, families, businesses, and venture & private equity. While they provide the full spectrum of wealth, trust, and private banking services, what sets them apart is what they call The Why of Wealth. Everyone has their own reason for working hard to achieve wealth and why it matters to them. And Boston Private prides themselves on thoroughly understanding this why. It allows them to simplify and target their messaging and content to give clients the one trusted resource they need “to create both the wealth and the lives they want to enjoy.”

Among the resources Boston Private provides to their clients is educational and promotional content. They have an active newsletter that they email to their constituents on a regular basis. They also frequently offer webinars and events in addition to hosting an annual conference. The team at Boston Private made use of a “template library” to distribute and communicate this information, but this library had its limits:

  • Each individual communication was its own design and distribution project that took too long to produce.
  • The existing templates weren’t flexible or modular — they couldn’t easily borrow from one template to create another.
  • Ultimately they weren’t achieving the level of engagement or conversion optimization that they felt could be achieved with a new design and a better user experience.

Boston Private engaged Fresh Tilled Soil in a rapid two week project to create a design system for their promotional efforts, including modular templates for:

  • Newsletters
  • Webinars
  • Events
  • Conferences
  • General promotional content

The team also needed new landing page designs for delivering their growing library of Why of Wealth customer videos.

Design Principles

Boston Private Brand Book and Style Guide

The Boston Private team had a very clear idea of the design principles that would guide the project from the outset. The new system of templates would have to be:

  • Modern, clean, and consistent with their brand and style guidelines. Colors should be used sparingly and intentionally, and they should “mean something” when they are used.
  • A self-service system with adaptable and interchangeable modules that could be used across templates (e.g., newsletter, email, event, conference, etc.). Boston Private had no in-house design or development staff, so the final system needed to be very flexible and as “plug-n-play” as possible to maximize implementation, efficiency, and production.
  • Responsive to the all devices and form factors. Boston Private had very detailed statistics on the devices and platforms used by their target audience, and they wanted to optimize presentation regardless of the technical environment.
  • Able to support dynamic content based on user persona and preferences.

Most importantly, all assets would need be consistent with their brand and voice.

Boston Private is a human brand. As sophisticated and innovative as our services happen to be, our delivery is often one of simplicity. Our tone of voice is conversational, engaging, and approachable. We’d much rather speak with you than at you, and that is evident in every call, every email, every piece of communication we create.

Design Process

So how do you design and deliver five templates and two dynamic landing page designs that incorporate multiple rounds of feedback in only two weeks!? It takes an organized, informed, and committed team to pull it off for sure. The team at Boston Private came prepared with a lot of information on how their current templates performed, the most common paths users took to reach their content, and the platforms and technologies most frequently used to consume this information. The project team also curated a list of websites and templates to serve as design inspiration — examples from within and outside of their industry that inspired them.

We collectively decided on an approach that involved creating a single version of each module (e.g., newsletter, webinar, etc.) then designing variants based on feedback, starting with the newsletter design and extrapolating to other templates from there. Of course, just creating designs won’t get you anywhere without regular communication and design reviews. The project team established an aggressive schedule of check-in meetings while supporting real-time communication and feedback via Basecamp.

By the time the project wrapped up, the team had created, reviewed, and iterated through more than thirty different concepts over the course of the two week project!

Design Concepts — Newsletter

The team worked through six newsletter design concepts during the first week of the project.

Newsletter design versions 1–3

The team provided a lot of feedback in working through all of the concepts to get to a final design — from the color and content of the footer, to the location of social media links, to the design and layout of the table of contents.

Newsletter design versions 4–6

Newsletter Performance Improvement

The new newsletter design resulted in an immediate increase in email engagement. The flexibility and modular design of the system also dramatically increased production efficiency with design and production time decreasing from days/week down to just hours.

Newsletter template performance

Design Concepts — Webinar

The team considered twelve different webinar and event design concepts during the second week of the project. Following are six of those designs (other iterations included fairly minor differences such as including sponsor logos).

The project team iterated on twelve different webinar design concepts, including variations on the use of hero images and the display of sponsors as appropriate.

Six of the twelve webinar template design concepts

Webinar Performance Improvement

The review, feedback, and iteration process for the webinar template followed a similar process as with the newsletter template and achieved similar outstanding results. Both webinar registrations and attendance rose dramatically.

Webinar template performance

Design Concepts — Conference

Much of the focus on the conference template was on the top block treatment and on the modularity of the system. The final design was created to allow the team to pull in modules from different webinar and invitation templates to give it more or less formality, depending upon the specific conference and audience.

Top Block design concepts
Conference promotion template design

Conference Template Performance Improvement

Once again, performance increased across (almost) all metrics with the new template design

Perhaps most importantly, this year’s conference sold out and they had to close registration early for the first time!

The Why of Wealth Microsight Design Concepts

The final portion of our project with Boston Private included building out main and sub-landing page templates for their customer videos that are part of their growing Why of Wealth series.

The Fresh Tilled Soil team delivered the first design concepts two days after the initial kickoff meeting.

Why of Wealth design concepts 1–3

The Boston Private team liked these initial concepts and provided helpful feedback to continue iterating on the design, including:

  • “Users don’t need to watch all of the videos. The goal is to lead them to the one that’s most relevant to them. How can the design lead them to the best video for them”
  • “Love the ‘What about you’ layout. Is it possible to combine concepts from 1 and 3 together somehow?”
  • “How can user know which video is most relevant to her/him”

The Fresh Tilled Soil team went right back to work incorporating this feedback into two new concepts.

Why of Wealth design concepts 4 and 5

Just one more day of feedback resulted in SIX more design concepts.

Once the team agreed to a final design for the landing page, all that was left was to quickly iterate on the sub-pages that would display and deliver the actual videos selected by the persona.

Final 6 landing page design concepts

The team worked through sixteen different sub-page revisions before landing on the final design.

The Why of Wealth homepage and subpage

Feedback For The Team

So what kind of feedback did the Boston Private team receive from their colleagues?

“You did an awesome job on this template. This thing looks great.” — AVP, Digital Marketing

“When you open an email now, it looks exactly like the website. Which is exactly what we want. There’s just such great design consistency. This has done wonders for us in terms of webinar attendance simply because we are driving so much more registration.”— VP, Digital Client Experience & Insights

“This looks great!” — Executive Vice President, Chief Corporate Development Officer

“What a difference this makes! Thanks for everyone’s work on this client communication.” — National Director, Corporate Treasury Solutions

Do you have a user experience or product challenge that you’d like to discuss? Let’s talk!

Fresh Tilled Soil is a strategic product, user experience and interface design firm working with product leaders and designers at emerging & category leadership companies.



Heath Umbach
Fresh Tilled Soil

Father, husband, coach, mediocre cyclist, Product Marketing at TRUX. I write about product, marketing, and design when I’m not riding bikes.