Research for a Client

By | October 11, 2011

Hotelier and health specialist, Dr Indie Rock, has asked me to come up with some ideas for his 3 new websites.

There are certain features good websites share in terms of usability, visual design and information architecture (e.g. use of whitespace, golden ratio, layout grid, accessible content & logical hierarchy), but the specific goals of each site also need to be considered.

The Dead Sea Squirrels

an upcoming indie rock band from Sheffield 

Design Focus

  • Business: promote music and events; sell music, merchandise and event tickets; list news and upcoming gigs
  • Firmness: focus on promotion and sales; use YouTube to share videos and to minimise server load
  • Commodity: enable the band and fans to connect directly; place for fans to discuss the music; RSS feeds for instant updates
  • Delight: free content; premium merchandise; visually reinforce the band’s indie image; high quality video and audio; news updates & newsletter signup; fan comments and discussion; use Twitter/Facebook so no need for additional account login details; use YouTube as established medium for video sharing
Research - The Dead Sea Squirrels

Examples

Examples

  • Arctic Monkeys: simple and minimalistic design gives an indie feel, also makes it accessible on many devices and less intensive on the server; social media integration for login/signup; main navigation includes links to Forum, Signup/Members & Store; video on home page; videos hosted by YouTube to reduce server load and take advantage of social aspect
  • Sky Larkin: simple and offbeat design; breaks convention by having a splash screen, but in this case it works as it is in-keeping with the style of the band and the focus is immediately on viewing and selling the “product”; the main site is navigable and usable, but still keeps the indie feel; main navigation includes links to Store, Twitter & Facebook; uses Vimeo instead of YouTube, possibly to reinforce the indie image
  • The Black Keys: music player at the top of the page; generally monochrome style reflects the band name; main navigation includes links to Forum & Store; blog posts and newsletter signup

 

Beech Farm

a homely bed and breakfast in Cornwall

Design Focus

  • Business: sell accommodation, breakfast food and a personal/friendly holiday experience; attract a range of holidaymakers – low budget to international
  • Firmness: robust room availability and booking system; mobile accessibility; display endorsements from independent groups, e.g. Trip Advisor, the AA
  • Commodity: translate function; list house rules, seasonal variations, breakfast hours, etc.; clear prices and contact information; guest reviews and user feedback; local food and drink information for other meals
  • Delight: images of rooms, facilities, food and local attractions; links to and special deals for local attractions; friendly fonts, possibly more traditional serif fonts; light tints and pastel colours
Research: Beech Farm

Examples

Examples

  • Castle Cottage, Chilham: clear contact information and call-to-action for booking; online booking; travel directions; guestbook; business facilities; gallery (though should be jQuery instead of Flash for accessibility); detailed travel information; use of dark colours and serif fonts gives a more traditional and austere feel than Beech Farm needs
  • Roundhouse Barn Holidays: clear contact information and booking link; online booking; natural blues and browns, bright images of food and facilities, use of fonts all contribute to the friendly feel of the site; special offers; information about local attractions; guest reviews; mailing list
  • St Mawes Hotel, Cornwall: hi-res photo as background image gives the sense that you have already arrived and are touring the hotel as you browse the site; otherwise neutral colours with contrasting calls-to-action; serif fonts give a traditional and friendly feel; booking system provided by CaterBook but use of lightbox maintains the sense that you are still on the St Mawes website; virtual hotel tour from WeirMedia uses same lightbox trick; social media presence

 

Primary Health

a private healthcare company based in London

Design Focus

  • Business: online booking and sales; account management (reduce staffing costs) for patients, businesses, etc; business partnerships with hospitals, clinics, consultants, etc; corporate healthcare sales
  • Firmness: accessibility of prime importance as this is likely to affect a core user demographic; simple and robust booking system with clear visual cues about progress; quality of care reports; breadcrumb trail due to complex hierarchy
  • Commodity: clear prices and contact information; translation for the many languages spoken in London; community support and discussion forum; quick search for hospitals, treatments & consultants; detailed treatment information; hospital contact and travel information
  • Delight: packages for different client types – children, pensioners, families, etc. – to simplify the decision to buy; friendly, non-technical content; clean style (whitespace and light colours), friendly but not clinical; greens and blues suggest natural well-being; sans-serif fonts formal but friendly; images of health, happy patients and healthcare professionals
Research - Primary Health

Examples

Examples

  • BMI Healthcare: clear contact information, 0800 helpline; quick search for hospitals, treatments & consultants; breadcrumb trail; online bill payments; profiles of consultants with images; social media “Share” button for services; “Your Feedback” tab on the right of the page
  • Ramsay Health Care: quick search for hospitals, treatments & consultants; “mega menu” gives quick access to all site content; breadcrumb trail; social media and YouTube links
  • HCA Hospitals: clear contact information; quick search for hospitals, treatments & consultants; breadcrumb trail; social media links for news; consultant podcasts; font-size switcher for readability