Case Study: OnePlace Inc. Design
When OnePlace Inc. came to me they had decided to shift the direction of their business and needed a new web design that reflected their new goals. While the target market was the same, the product was entirely new. Previously OnePlace was selling web portals to independent insurance agents, allowing them to easily manage their clients and increase their availability to their customers. The new goal was to accomplish all of this and more with a mobile application.
The existing OnePlace site was using a customized, pre-made WordPress theme. It made sense from both an implementation and maintenance standpoint to stick with the system everyone was already comfortable with (not to mention WP rocks) so WordPress continues to power the new OnePlace site. So we settled on building a new, custom site from the ground up while running WordPress, great! This project didn’t require anything particularly wild in terms of a WordPress setup. However, I will say that I have come to love working with Bones as my starting point for a new WP site and I’ve been using the HTML5 Boilerplate as a baseline for new projects in general for a while now. All in all I wind up taking advantage of different elements from both of these resources.
Another big move we wanted to make with the new site was the adaptation of a responsive design. I’ve been a proponent of responsive design since the idea burst onto the scene and it has really become a part of my standard design process in one degree or another. OnePlace is in the mobile and tablet business so we made it a point of the project to ensure that the site render well on devices of all shapes and sizes.
Of course like most projects, the design and deployment process came with a set of challenges. One request that has started to become commonplace in projects for me has been what I have come to dub the “2 week emergency site”. It is far from a rare occurrence that a client will agree on a project timeline of several months only to come back within a few days or hours of agreement with a list of reasons why they need their new website up in 2 weeks. Designers hate these situations. When a project has been scoped out for several months of wireframing, prototyping and development it’s simply impossible to turn around a product in 2 weeks that comes with a promise of being either effective or even close to resembling the final product.
Of course your client always has a good reason too. Maybe they are losing customers who are visiting their old site and getting confused about just what it is they do, or maybe in the case of a new company or product they need something tangible to show to investors. As the designer it is important to understand that this “2 week emergency site” is the result of your client trying not to lose money. I compare this to getting my internet connection setup in a new place or restored when it goes out. When I don’t have an internet connection I lose money on projects that I could be completing so I place unrealistic expectations and pressure on my service provider to drop everything and come to a resolution.
The process I have come to develop for these situations is rather simple but requires a lot of communication with the client. In the case of OnePlace the plan was basically to put their wireframes up in standard HTML format with no CMS, no responsive design and no other gimmicks. These wireframes would be more effective to potential customers than an existing site that marketed a service they no longer sold and gave more credibility than a “coming soon” page. The important part is to realize that this solution carries no promises with it. Before agreeing to this solution I had to make sure OnePlace was on board with the fact that this process would disrupt the normal flow of the project, add to the cost, and most importantly that the temporary site may not reflect the final product in any way. As you can imagine the first wireframes did indeed come out quite different than the final site.
At the end of the day the most important thing was that OnePlace was happy, with their temporary site and the final product. The new design has helped them establish a web presence that allows soft leads to build a better understanding of the service and reinforce their position with existing customers. If you have any questions about this project or the process taken throughout it hit me up or drop a line in the comments.