10 December 2015
I make no apologies for the length of this post. I've used the correct amount of words to explain the process of beginning with an idea and moulding it into reality.Adrian
Jewellery By Rachel – The story
A step by step guide into the whole process of designing and building a website (as well as a business too).
This is an interesting project for us at the Web Lab Co. Not only is the client an employee, she’s also my business partners’ daughter and is engaged to one of my closest friends. So as usual, we have to manage the relationship between client and service provider with utmost consideration.
Rachel has had a passion for sparkly girlie things for many years like most women who like jewellery and accessories. Rachel has always wanted to take it a stage further and coupled with her love of interacting with the public, decided she wanted to spend her weekends out in the cold selling at markets and festivals. It made sense to Rachel to couple her love of girlie things with human interaction and start a jewellery business.
Nothing wrong with that, but what about the future? We all know the back story of many successful businesses. Alan Sugar sold car aerials from the back of a van before starting Amstrad and eventually becoming Lord Sugar, Philip Green imported jeans from the far east with a £20k loan to sell onto retailers in London and then went on to become the owner of the Arcadia Group. So it’s a good idea to open your mind to the possibilities when considering starting a business and ensure you keep an open mind.
Part of what we do at the Web Lab Co. is exactly that. We are more than just a website design business, we are also entrepreneurs. Nothing gives us more pleasure than being part of a story like we’ve just described with Alan Sugar and Philip Green. We know it’s possible and we with our expertise and encouragement, want to help our clients get there, and that includes Rachel.
Let’s be transparent, if we can take credit for the success of our input then that can also market our business. Everyone wins.
The Brand – Step 1
Before we get going on this journey, the first thing to consider is the brand. What does it say and what does it do. Although Rachel has already registered the company as being called ‘Jewellery By Rachel Ltd’, right from the get-go we can spot a problem. She also sells handbags, clutch bags and scarves. These items aren’t jewellery.
To her this isn’t so much of a problem, but let’s consider this. She starts with the intention of selling jewellery as the main focus, but what if she sells out of handbags and continues to do so. What if she suddenly finds that handbags or scarves or even clutch bags becomes 80% of her sales?
What if no matter how hard she tries to push jewellery as the main focus, those bags and scarves just keep flying out the door. She likes jewellery and handbags equally as much as scarves and clutch bags, so there is no real need to focus on either product as she likes them all and wants to sell all these things. But if the market is forcing her to buy and sell more accessories then of course she’s going to do so. Why wouldn’t she?
So, the question is “is it a good idea to call the business Jewellery By Rachel?” Probably not as it tells the customer “We are focused on jewellery but as a side line we also sell other stuff too”. It’s the wrong message.
Let’s prove it.
To begin with, Rachel wants to sell her product range at local markets and events like we recently hosted at The Old Chapel. Incidentally she did very well at the recent even, I was there, and she sold a bit of everything. In the aftermath, I asked Rachel what proportion of sales were jewellery, handbags, accessories and scarves. After a bit of calculation, the following came back.
Interesting results. It shows that handbags and jewellery both returned 33% of the total sales, but if you lump all the bags together at 44%, that’s nearly half of the companies’ revenue. Ok, this is the first event, and the second even may tell a different story, but it’s reasonable to assume, and let’s face it, obvious to see, that we are not just dealing with a jewellery business.
Welcome the new business name – Rachel Ann Ltd.
So that’s the first alteration out the way, all of a sudden the road looks a lot longer, so the journey is going to be longer and for the better. We’ve opened up the possibilities and changed the name of the business to Rachel Ann Ltd. We tried several iterations using the name Rachel to try and come up with a brand, legal entity and domain that matched, and finally settled with Rachel Ann firstly because Rachel liked it, the name was available at Companies House and the .co.uk domain was too. Happiness all round.
There’s some administration to do in the way of bank account names to change, a receipt book to have reprinted along with a few smaller clean up processes, but it is far better to do these things early doors rather than further down the line. It’s cheaper, and is a better use of precious time.
As we are starting everything pretty much from scratch, we can look at designing logos for both the website and for printed materials she will need. So we take what is designed and start experimenting. Rachel’s fiancé, Matt (my close friend) is a very clever designer of POS material amongst other things so has a pretty good idea when it comes to creating things and using CAD software. So, he’s been busy designing and making display stands and mocking up logos for the brand, or as they say, generating brand collateral etc. Here’s what he has produced.
Ok, it’s a popular concept for the type of business Rachel is embarking on and I can see Matt’s direction.
Right at this point I’ve been doing a bit of research into the industry sector and I’m finding the use of colours such as black, white, gold and silver to be the popular choices. I’ve also noticed how overuse of achromatic colours i.e. black can have a spoiling effect on a website and can alter the mood of the viewer.
I can see, when marketing Jewellery either online or in print form how black works. It absorbs all the colours of the spectrum therefore reflecting none. So anything other than black placed on top of it becomes highly visible. All the intricacies of an object can be spotted because there is nothing to distort the view. A silver necklace can be seen in its full glory, every chain link and light reflection can be spotted as the black background absorbs any light overspill. You see nothing but a beautiful necklace.
But now we are also focusing on accessories. Handbags, clutch bags, purses, scarves, watches as well as bracelets, necklaces, rings and earrings. Lots of products emanating everything from colour to touch and feelings of warmth.
De gustibus non est disputandum
“In matters of taste, there can be no disputes” is a quote I frequently use. It always astounds me why we take so literally the views of judging panels on cooking shows because no-one can agree in all honesty. Unless something is blatantly bad it can never be argued as to whether or not there is enough seasoning, texture, sweetness, bitterness, sourness or just anything’ness, it’s really down to personal taste. I myself am a bit of a foodie, and I believe I know what tastes good or not or at least to me anyway, and left up to me and my own choice, there would be no McDonalds, KFC or anything like that because I personally find their food disgusting. But I’m frequently in the minority.
So after doing extensive research and seeking the clients’ approval, we have decided to use some black, white and grey. This is largely down to the fact we want to showcase the products as much as possible without distracting the important eye. We want the viewer of the website to focus purely on the product so much so their desire for it increases, the moment they start wading through text or being distracted by stark colours or other unnecessary elements is the moment they avoid engagement with the product. We need to encourage the viewer to develop emotional feelings and as we know in any relationships, the eyes and the mind are where it starts.
The website and any other printed material will serve as a clean backdrop. The product will decorate the page. The text will be minimal. We think that will do it.
Using the font that Matt and Rachel chose, French Script MT, we have come up with a logo. I’ve altered Matt’s original design as he had initially spread the font out to balance it up with the larger word ‘jewellery’, but as this was being dropped it was no longer necessary, and also the font looked fatter as a result of stretching which for delicate items as necklaces, rings and so on, didn’t feel right. Again it comes down to personal taste so it’s worth canvassing a few opinions and taking the majority vote.
Here is what we have ended up with.
Clean and simple. For the website this will form the header as you can see by visiting the website.
Nothing else will be present, but in time, when she decides to sell on line, we can utilise this area for a shopping cart and login for the ecommerce section.
Menus – often there is too much on the menu to choose from
Always a tricky part in any website project, the navigation. What goes on it? where does it sit?, what does it look like? and how it behaves are difficult questions and subsequent decisions to make. With this website, simplicity is always going to be the key to getting it right. After all, why design a website to be subtle if all you are going to do is through a complex and overly fancy navigation bar at it? There’s no reason to. The user needs to be able to keep their eye on the products as much as possible so navigating around the website needs to deliver the same experience. Simple, intuitive and discreet.
Because there is no requirement for online selling, or ecommerce, our menu items just need to include a few familiar and basic choices. So we’ve opted to link to a page containing information about Rachel, a gallery where she can showcase her product range, an area where she can talk about her products and any upcoming events she may be doing and finally a page where people can get in touch. Simple and very usual for a website starting out.
Websites are like fashion, fashion is never finished.
We don’t want all the fancy boxes around the menu choices as these tend to complicate design, nor do we want lines or markers pointing to the choices when hovered over. We will just go for a subtle difference in colour tone both on hover and selection. Less is more will be the motto when designing the menu. Here is what we’ve ended up with.
It looks really simple I know, and some might argue that it’s so simple, it must have taken a few minutes to design and put together. This isn’t true. As with any good brand, it’s not how much is in it, it’s about how much thought goes into it and how it will engage with the customer. We’ve also created a social media icon for not only the likes of Facebook, Twitter etc. but also for the purpose of creating a Favicon. For those that do not know what a Favicon is, it looks like this (circled in blue).
There are a couple of ways to develop a home page. I wouldn’t say there’s a right way or a wrong way. I’ve chosen to do it a particular way whereby it develops itself. Once I’ve spoken to the client about what it is their website needs to do or show, I then developed the navigation, the page structure and so on, I then summaries what is contained within the site and build a home page to summarise the contents, rather like a book cover.
So in the case of Rachel’s website, the home page is going to show off the featured products in visual form, and her next event. She’s planning on doing an event at least once a week so there will never be a blank space on the home page where the next event will be shown. This has the added advantage of keeping the home page interesting, as you never know what is going to be on there as it reflects the changes made within the site. Every time she adds a new product, the home page changes to reflect that. Every time she updates her event calendar, again the home page changes to reflect that. This is all new content which is not only engaging for the customer resulting in returning traffic, but also new content for the search engines to crawl.
There’s no losses in doing this, only wins all round.
This is always a confusing area for most people. What really is the purpose of the footer? And what information should we place in it?
For this site, in its simplicity, we are going to put the absolute bare minimum. The copyright stuff, a credit to Web Lab Co for designing, building and hosting the website, some social media links and the legal stuff. Because of the nature of Rachel’s business, it lends itself to Social Media. Facebook, Twitter and so on will be excellent platforms to talk about upcoming events, new products and general chit chat about the products, so it is essential we place these icons in the correct area’s and make use of information sharing via social media and so on.
So this is what we have ended up with.
It doesn’t get more simpler than that!
So we are now bang-up-to-date with this article. The website isn’t any further developed than what is included in this piece of writing, so as things evolve, i.e. more content is added, more functionality and more developments of the business Rachel Ann Ltd, we shall release the next piece for you to share.