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A Look Inside

Case Study: Christina Prescott Design

Christina Prescott Design (CPD) is an interior design studio bringing together principles of sustainability, beauty and functionality, they are passionate about creating homes with heart.

Design challenge

The challenge was to provide CPD with a design review for their digital platforms and build engagement and showcase their expertise to new clients.

With a small, busy design team and limited budget, the design solution needed to be easily implemented using the existing tools and skills available in-house.

My Process

  • Understand the business and audience needs
  • Review of website and social platforms
  • Competitor analysis
  • Identify strengths, challenges and opportunity areas
  • Produce initial concepts and designs
  • Present concepts to client

Audience

The primary audience are time poor professionals, typically executives, whose lives are full.

Some have children at home and some are empty nesters.

They intend to live in their home for the long term and want to enjoy that space and time.

They believe that a design expert will help them realise their vision and are prepared to invest in that service.

They need someone to manage the entire design process from concept to delivery and are happy to be involved but not burdened by more work.

The secondary audience are developers and builders. Looking for a designer to partner with or recommend.

Reviewing socials

Visual, lightweight and high impact — Instagram is perfect for a design business.

Among the beautiful imagery of the CPD Instagram account, there was a good mix of posts from finished designs, abstract and ornamental, stories, quotes and textural mood-boards to show some of the process.

There was room for more storytelling and distinctive variation.

Reviewing the wider landscape

Generally speaking all Interior Design websites shared a similar architecture and layout.

  • Strong imagery is used to stir the senses and inspire that ‘whoa!’ moment.
  • Users can easily browse through projects and have quick access to get in contact through a form and/or socials.
  • A few of them included additional text to add further context to projects.

Interestingly, they all showed the finished product without any before / after comparisons. Why was that?

CPD Website Review

Focusing on the wrong thing: The oversized header pushed the ‘whoa!’ off the screen.

The first impression of the CPD home screen was that it looked the part: clean, suitably minimal with big photos.

But there was little impact.

The header and logo occupied 30% of my (laptop) screen 😕 pushing the showcase image and brand story out of view.

This was consistent throughout the platform.

Portfolio: Tell me more…

The portfolio index was minimal and the photos were professional and well curated.

I wanted more information to hook me into the projects.

Individual project screens began with a compelling story about the project and you could see how CPD’s onboarding process informed the project story.

A series of beautifully shot images of the finished project flowed down the screen.

I wanted to know what was important about each photo. There was no additional information about the project, the thinking behind the design direction or how they arrived at this point.

Onboarding new clients

New clients are required to complete a long questionnaire. It works but there’s room for improvement.

The client onboarding process included a long form / questionnaire for the client to complete. This would become the skeleton of the design brief, and also serves as a pre-filter for potential ‘tyre-kickers’.

Smart move 👌

In principal, the form was doing its job but came with experience issues.

  • There was a small mountain of questions to work through.
  • Many of the questions required the user to think, gather their thoughts and communicate their (design) needs were restricted to single line text fields.

How might we make onboarding more humane?

When you can only see a fraction of what you’re writing and you try and retain that information in your head, it quickly becomes an impossible task.

Concepts Sketches

A few iterations on the home screen layout to get the balance of story, impact and variety right.

The home screen had some heavy lifting to do. It needed a balance between visual impact, brand story and showcasing a range of projects.

Exploring details and storytelling on the Project Screens

Project screens were missing a big opportunity to showcase CPD’s expertise throughout the entire design process. I explored ways to bring clients along on that journey.

Proposed Solution

Initial designs for the proposed home screen

Home Screen

Focus on the right thing

The first priority was to reclaim valuable space back from the existing global header area throughout by collapsing the logo and navigation into a simple bar across the top of the screen.

Make an impact

Putting CPD’s amazing product on display — front and centre. Using large carousel of poster To capture that ‘whoa!’ moment, coupled with incorporating the Brand Story in that first view.

Show how we can help

Moving projects and services onto the home screen would give potential clients an at-a-glance showcase of their range.

It also provided a good entry point into the narrative of each project.

Initial designs concept for the project screen

Projects Section

Tell more of the story

People want to see the designers’ work. This is how they determine if they are the right fit for the project.

What is also interesting is when the designer lets you see them working. The methods, the mis-steps, why they did things the way they did… all of it.

My recommendation was to include more of the behind the scenes, thinking and action. To give clients a peek into CPD’s process and thinking, their tastes and styles.

This could include details of product imagery supported brief notes on why this might be an appropriate choice for the design. Early thumbnail sketches and renders could be included to show the evolution of the project.

Combining and contrasting the work in progress with the finished product.

Inviting clients along on the journey and adding value to CPD’s process.

Onboarding

Remove the unnecessary: The main pain-point of the onboarding was the size of the questionnaire are. I recommended exploring ways to reduce the size of the questionnaire by removing any unnecessary fields that may be captured at a later time, possibly during the first meeting.

Chunking: In an effort to make the form more digestible, another solution was to better group related sections of the form, chunking them into stages. Giving users respite between efforts.

Big questions need more space: Where questions required long and thoughtful answers, form fields would be designed to accomodate these behaviours and needs.

Have a conversation: An alternative idea could be to flip the onboarding process so that most of the information gathering was done in a person, as a conversation. This would make for a more natural, humane experience.

The conversation could be recorded to ensure that nothing is missed and the designer can give their full attention to the client.

Social Media

Tell more of the process story. Use social to demonstrate thinking and expertise. Others might learn from it too!

  • More human connection.
  • Make a plan. Create a social calendar / strategy to relieve the burden of having to think what to do.
  • Add more texture and interest with more variety and post types.
  • Create social templates to speed-up production.

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Az Roberts

Az Roberts

Human Experience Designer, Host of Paper Fox Radio