An importer, manufacturer and distributor of gas fireplaces, European Home CEO Holly Markham wanted to create a new website built with her customers in mind. The existing website’s navigation was difficult to use and confusing. In addition, Holly and her team had a hard time using the WordPress backend as it had been poorly designed using the Woo Commerce theme.
Completely redesign the website from the ground up with three goals in mind:
- Help people take the next step by visiting a dealer
- Make is easy for Holly and her team to manage their extensive product content
- Evoke a clean, modern European look and feel
- Holly Markham, Founder and CEO — Direction, feedback
- Dianna Huff, Huff Industrial Marketing — Project management and strategy, content organization, SEO, copy
- Rachel Cunliffe and Stephen Merriman, Cre8d Design — Navigation, usability, functionality, and WordPress design an d coding
Perform website audit and create strategy
Before doing any design work, Holly elected for a website audit and strategy because in her words, she wanted a professional to recommend what needed to be changed versus her trying to figure it out.
As part of this process, Dianna reviewed every single page of the European Home website, the navigation, and the usability. She also looked at dozens of e-commerce and distributor websites to learn various approaches to organizing content and navigation.
The result was a comprehensive analysis and strategic roadmap. After discussing the audit findings, Holly elected to move forward with the redesign. At this point, Dianna recommended she bring in Rachel Cunliffe of Cre8d Design. Not only would Rachel provide the breath-taking design Holly was seeking, but we needed her usability and custom WordPress expertise from the get-go.
Develop a whole new WordPress backend
One of Holly’s challenges was that each fireplace unit came with specifications, collateral, accessories, and “fire media.” Holly had struggled with trying to figure out how to present this information on her old site.
In addition, when prospective customers called on the phone, she often found herself telling them how to find information on the website. Her main concern was, “I’m always having to tell them to click the ‘back’ button” because of all the PDFs that were in use.”
Holly had also created a separate navigation scheme in order to make it easier for people to find fireplaces by size; it did help but it also cluttered all the pages.
Thus, Rachel, Holly and Dianna spent a good deal of time talking through how to best present the product information.
Rachel’s solution was to make it super easy for people to find the fireplace they were looking for by size, type, or brand. This was accomplished on the backend through the use of a category functionally custom designed and coded by Stephen Merriman.
Stephen also made it so that when Holly’s team uploaded a new fireplace, they simply click boxes to place the fireplace in the correct categories — by size, type, fuel, brand, etc.
On the front end, a site visitor can click the exact category boxes to refine a fireplace search to easily find the fireplace needed — which you can see in the “After” screenshot.
For each product, Rachel created “tabs” for specifications, collateral, accessories and fire media — making it easy to view this essential information, but without cluttering the page.
We also completely redesigned the Design Gallery and Dealer pages to help people share European Home fireplaces on Houzz and Pinterest and to take that next step of visiting a dealer.
Putting it all together
While Rachel and Stephen focused on the backend and the design, Holly and Dianna worked on revamping the copy across the entire website, but especially with each fireplace page. Some products were deleted and others completed updated.
Dianna also focused on completely optimizing the content for search — with the focus on optimizing by fireplace type (e.g. vented, ventless, three-sided, etc.) and by brand. Once Holly approved the copy, Dianna uploaded it into WordPress and worked with Holly to fill in any missing gaps.
The result is a simply stunning website on both the front end and the backend. The front end is clean, modern and fresh. The “refine your search” process is easy to use and works flawlessly. The entire website is a joy to view and to use.
The best part, however, is that Rachel and Dianna received numerous emails from Holly and her team telling us how easy it was to use the backend and how happy they were with the final outcome. In fact, when Dianna visited the European Home offices for the first time a few months after the redesign, every single person in the office thanked her — because the new website made their jobs easier.
(Be sure to read the follow up blog post, How a Strategically Designed Website Can Make People’s Jobs Easier.
“Dianna helped me immensely with redesigning my website. She was able to focus in on what was needed and clear out the clutter. When I thought things were off-track, she calmly steered it right back on-track. She kept the site development moving along. Without Dianna’s involvement, the redesign project would have taken us much longer and wouldn’t have turned out as well. Dianna has a very positive and professional attitude.”
Postscript: Once the website went live, Holly retained Dianna to train her new hire, Cory Ploessl. Hired straight out of college with a fine arts degree, Cory needed to learn marketing. Dianna and Cory worked together for two years, with Dianna acting as coach and teaching him everything she knew about marketing, SEO, and PR (read his testimonial).
In 2017, Holly decided to completely revise the website again due to business growth and new product lines. Cory worked directly with Rachel to oversee the site redesign. The result is visually stunning — and shows the culmination of Cory’s combined marketing and design expertise. At this point, Dianna told Cory he was officially graduated. 🙂