Category: behind the scenes



Proposal Makeover #1: Brigitte Theriault, White Apron Chef

behind the scenes, business, case study

If you work in a service-based industry, you’ve likely had the distinct pleasure of putting together a proposal or two for your clients at some point or another. And by pleasure I mean stress, yes? I’ve written, designed, and received many, many proposals in the last decade or so. I’ve seen really well-designed but poorly written proposals, and I’ve seen really high value proposals put together in a simple Word or Google doc. Your proposals are a powerful device to set expectations, and make a killer first impression. Are you using them to their fullest potential? Enter Proposal Makeover: Brigitte Theriault, White Apron Chef My good friend (and meal planner) Brigitte needed to put together a proposal for her new offering: coaching for personal chefs.  She shared her initial Google Doc with me, and my mind immediately went to the all the possibilities: She’s got amazing photography, why doesn’t she leverage it? What are next-steps if a client wants to “accept” this proposal? How does the client pay for this service? What are the intangible benefits of Coaching for personal chef? What value does this really provide? Brigitte was focusing more on the specifics of what would be covered in the coaching calls, and less on the “results” her clients would experience through working with her. I helped edit her copy to be more results-focused (saving them time, having a focused strategy, having all their questions answered, accountability, etc.) Using a simple (and cheap) pre-made InDesign template from Creative Market, I customized it and pulled in her gorgeous photography, creating a beautiful branded document that sets the tone for what kind of quality interaction her clients can expect. I added a call-to-action (linking to a Paypal Payment button) at the end of her proposal so the client knew exactly how to proceed. (Pro tip: Make it SO easy for them to pay you!) We took her boring, features-focused document, and...

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Why you need to design the experience of working with you

behind the scenes, case study, systems

Have you ever thought about what it’s like to work with you, from your client’s perspective? From the first email, to the content revisions, to your invoicing and hand-off package, have you thought about how your clients experience working with you, whether they are delighted or inspired, frustrated or confused? Often designers don’t realize how their communication throughout a project impacts their client’s experience. And client experience is the one thing you have to get right, because business is all about people, and you can’t build a business from unhappy clients! Delight your clients, and not only will they return, but they’ll tell their friends. All designers experience hiccups at some point in the design process; it’s inevitable. They don’t teach this stuff in design school after all! One way to differentiate yourself in a crowded market is to strategically and thoughtfully craft your client’s experience of working with you. You have to design the experience of working with you, just as you would design a website. In my program, Digital Strategy School, each designer (or developer) takes a good hard look at their process, from the first client contact, to final sign off, and maps it out. From this process, some designers realize that they don’t really have a set process. Others notice glaring omissions or opportunities. Having trouble getting sign-off on final mockups? Have trouble getting your proposals approved? Are you sending 10 emails back and forth before getting a client’s approval to begin a project, or to get your first payment? Do you projects grow in scope throughout the process, leaving you underpaid and resentful? Are you letting your client know what you expect of them during the process (and when)? That last point is one of the most important. I would venture to bet that most failed projects tend to be a result of not setting expectations for your client. How can a process map help...

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Behind the scenes: building an online course

behind the scenes, case study, design

Some of you may know (from Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest) that I’ve been working on an online course, Digital Strategy School. It’s a design business accelerator for freelancers who’ve had a few years of experience working for themselves, but are ready to run their businesses more strategically. This has been one of the most personally rewarding projects I’ve ever taken on, and wanted to share some of the things I’ve been learning along the way. Perfectionism is crippling. Take imperfect action. I was terrified to “put it out there.” I’ve been thinking about it in some form or another for over a year, over-thinking the format, the cost, the content, etc. Initially I thought it was a book. Then perhaps it was an ecourse. I thought my audience was other website owners, and was trying so hard to do what I thought I should do (create an offering for those that couldn’t afford my full partnership services), and in the end, my audience wasn’t who I initially thought it would be. I decided to take Breanne’s Transform Your Course to help me piece together all the different parts, and it was instrumental in me discovering my real audience, and figuring out a way to deliver content that would help take them from Point A to Point B, which a clear plan of action. This also led to me releasing my unfinished/imperfect course to a small group of paying Beta testers. BETA TEST. BETA TEST. BETA TEST. I had no idea there would be such a demand for what I was assembling, and it wasn’t until I had someone offer me money for my insights via Facebook that I realized: I need to do something NOW. Not 6 months from now when this is polished. (If I’d waited until it was perfectly polished I know I would never have started!) So with that encouraging push, I assembled a simple page to gauge...

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Behind the scenes: logo design for A New Possibility

branding, case study, design

This is the first post in my Behind The Scenes series where I show you my project process as it unfolds. It’s fun. It’s messy. And hopefully you find it interesting! Benjamin and Lorie from A New Possibility have given me permission to share our work and communication with you. Benjamin first contacted me in April 2013 (no that’s not a typo, it has in fact been over a year of working together!). Wow, what a lovely introduction! I get a lot of work requests each week; the way they opened with their admiration for my work/attitude helps me feel more invested in them already (and of course, I tend to trust referrals from people I know). I responded at the time that I was fairly booked already, but if they were open to waiting a few months, we could arrange a Skype chat, and make sure we were a good fit. They responded that it was more important for them to have a flexible timeline in order to ensure that the experience was positive, and that they were hiring the right person for the job (aka they were willing to wait). After establishing our start dates and the project scope, the next step was to move our project communication into Basecamp, the project management tool I use to manage all of my client projects. My brain would surely melt if I had to manage all of our communication via email… I also started a Pinterest mood board where I encouraged them to pin anything relevant to the project: visuals, colours, symbols, photography, and anything else that related to the overall project look and feel. Inspiration We began by pinning images to the Pinterest board, and a few specific images I posted to Basecamp to encourage further discussion. Follow Marie Poulin’s board A New Possibility on Pinterest. Pinterest allowed us to get on the same page about the desired look and feel, by enabling us each to comment and give feedback on our various pins....

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She Takes On The World gets a Makeover

case study

When Natalie first approached me (via Twitter!) to redesign her website, She Takes on The World, she was armed with a creative brief, and had some very clear and measurable goals for the next iteration of her website. The old website: My goal is to at least double the number of opt-ins to our mailing list in a day, give the site a huge traffic boost of 25% or more, and see a lot more people tweeting things like “OMG I LOVE THEWEBSITE!” I knew that Natalie wanted to build something totally unique and forward-thinking. Something that people in her industry would point to as example of brilliant design. There are so many blogs and websites out there (especially in her niche) that follow the very same formula, regardless of the context, and the same approach doesn’t work for every business! I’m going to outline just a few of the strategic decisions we made in our process in order to demonstrate just how much strategic design decisions can make a huge, measurable impact on your business. TILED CONTENT LAYOUT FOR HOMEPAGE AND BLOG CATEGORIES One of Natalie’s biggest assets was her content creation. With tons of contributors and a plethora of great blog posts, a lot of her fabulous content was getting buried within her site navigation. Her category pages were somewhat hidden and hard to navigate to. We decided to clean up and rename her categories, and tile the content visually. This reduces the likelihood of people leaving the page because the first thing they see doesn’t necessarily resonate with them, or seem interesting. Now, with a quick glance, you get an overview of the breadth and depth of content she has available. The content blocks always stay the same size, but they reshuffle depending on the width of the user’s device. Impact: We reduced the bounce rate from 60% to 3%! RESPONSIVE AND MOBILE READY The Google analytics show that after launch, the number...

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