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Andy Golpys

Andy Golpys

Published on 9 Dec 2015 ・ Updated on 12 Nov 2018 ・ 7 min read

Rachel Bates Interiors Goes Live

18 months ago we received an enquiry from Rachel Bates, who appreciated the work we had previously produced and to arrange an initial meeting with her team to discuss the possibilities of a new eCommerce website. The background to the company was that Rachel Bates, was / is an Interior Designer at heart ( and a very good one at that! ) who had an existing website that didn't portray the quality of service she offers to her high calibre clients.

I visited Rachel and her team in Cheshire at her design studio, on arrival I was warmly welcomed and I instantly realised this would be a great project to work on, with a great team. I could feel the enthusiasm and passion Rachel and her husband had about the project, which always excites me when meeting new clients. Rachel explained that she had a vision of creating her own products and that a big eCommerce website was needed for the new venture.

Rachel Bates needed a high end website to match her luxury products that range from £37 to £30,000. Small items would be available to purchase online but the majority of products are bespoke and will be made to order so the website needed to cater for these features. At least 75% of the collections and collaborations will be exclusive to Rachel Bates Elegantly Curated.

I quickly explained that a responsive website was needed for this project and of high priority. In every new meeting for eCommerce, I always explain the options in terms of Payment gateways, whether that be PayPal Standard, PayPal Pro, SagePay, WorldPay or Stripe. For a project of this size, the price of the products and given the target audience - payments needed to be on-site for ease of use, speed and customer retention - so PayPal Standard and WorldPay were not viable options for Rachel Bates. For this project, we decided to work with Stripe for a few different reasons.

1. Ease, and speed of account setup.

For the end user, the Stripe online experience is very easy. No matter of your computer knowledge, experience and understanding of UI - the initial setup to create an account with Stripe is brilliant.

2. Customisation
For us here at MadeByShape, it's very important to have no boundaries with design and development. We design and build bespoke, so we want our eCommerce to look just as good as the product pages, and to feel part of one whole website, and Stripe allows us to do this.

After pitching for the project, explaining what we do here at Shape, and what we can offer long term - I returned to the studio awaiting their decision. Not long after, we received a great email from Sophie, outlining the reasons why Rachel Bates wanted to work with us on this project.

As with every project, we follow the same process - which is a simple 5 step guarantee to success.

Step 1 - References

We ask the client for website references, both industry competitors and general website references they like. This gives us a good understanding of what the client likes, and what their vision for their brand would be. As professionals, we then give feedback on these references and offer our own direction that compliments their own ideas. Together, as a team we have a discussion and agree on a direction for the project.

Step 2 - Design
We then design 2 or 3 pages for the client based on the project direction. Using Lorem Ipsum, we create a concept that includes either the Brand Guidelines of the company ( if existing ) or design a full concept for the client to view. The Lorem Ipsum also helps understand user flow and an idea of fresh content ( which is further mentioned below ). This concept can be amended as many times as the client likes, and once signed off. We go ahead and design the rest of the website pages for review by the client.

Step 3 - Development
Once the designs are signed off, we go and build the front end, which is then wrapped around a Content Management System. On this occasions we used Expression Engine, a commercial licensed CMS which is very powerful and great for customisation.

Step 4 - Content
The website is now ready for content

Step 5 - Testing
The de-bugging stage starts once all content is complete, testing the site on all latest devices as it needs to be responsive, and in all the latest browsers. Once this phase is complete, the site is ready for launch.

During the design phase ( and throughout the project ), it was great to work alongside such a creative individual like Rachel Bates, and a business orientated approach from Justin. As a University Lecturer, I see many web concepts, and research a 'heck' of a lot of sites on a day to day basis - this combined with 10 years experience in the Digital Industry allows me to understand quickly what clients want, and what the end goal should be. For this project, I realised that the design needed to be colourful, image led and elegant. With all the sites we do here at Shape, typography is of key importance - and this project was no different. Utilising Typekit allows us to choose from a whole range of fonts and pretty much design however we like.

The functionality of the site, and user experience is slightly different for this site as the target audience is niche. High priced products means that the site will receive many visitors who browse, or should we say 'window shoppers', so it's important to give visual impact as well as a choice of user navigation and routes thorughout the website. We did this via the clean menu and photographic aesthetics throughout the site directing end users to the products that they want to see. Giving them options as they navigate is vital.

As the project moved along over the months, Rachel was having products created and Philippa Gedge was producing the photographic content for the site. This was..... GREAT news for us, because it meant that our design concepts would come to life with fantastic imagery. Both the product images, and lifestyle images were fantastic and the colours fitted our designs immediately. As a design studio, we believe content is just as important as design and functionality - and Philippa brings this in abundance. So, thanks Philippa!!

The website boasts a range of features and functions such as Scroll Reveal to smoothly fade in elements of the pages to enhance the end users experience online, and to give that touch of elegance on initial page load. Subtle rollovers, animations using CSS, integrated Vimeo videos, automatic scrolling slideshows, and Mailchimp integration are just to name a few of the elements. For me, as the Designer on this project - I am very pleased to see this site go live with my original concept from over 12 months ago. With a few tweaks here and there over the past few months, it's of great pleasure to know that my original concept was on point and fit the brief. So many agencies and businesses change their website every year or far too often, for us, well.... in my opinion - I think a good website lasts at least 3 years. The reason being that the design should be on trend, and it should reflect future trends via research and knowledge of the industry and target audience. I'm not saying a website should launch and never be touched for 3 years, it does need tweaking and new technologies will certainly come out in that time, so as a design agency it is our job to feed the client with options for upgrades and changes to the site to improve user experience. Here at shape we've had the same site for years, but tweaked the design slightly, added functionality and made it responsive - and we're still happy with the general flow.

Throughout the project, I've had the chance to visit Cheshire, London, Paris and Prague meeting some great companies and seen first hand their expertise and craftmanship. For me, personally, I think the Double Old Fashioned Glasses are absolutely fabulous! And I've seen how much work, effort and skill goes into making these gorgeous pieces of work. I'm sure people all over the world will enjoy drinking from these beauties!

Go take a look at the site on desktop and mobile to experience the luxuries that is Rachel Bates Interiors.

Since the launch of the website, in a matter of days, the site has already been featured on numerous inspiration galleries and nominated for various awards. We hope you enjoy the website as much as we do.

If you're looking to start a eCommerce project of your own, feel free to get in touch with us via email or call us on 01942 894596.

Andy Golpys
Written by Andy Golpys in Web Design
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