The couch story is one that should be told from a plush Grandpa style leather Milton Armchair. It was a day much like any other, back to back meetings, telephone calls, copious amounts of tea and few Krispy Kremes thrown in for good measure.
On this particular day we’d arranged a meeting with Tom Ridgwell of SofaSofa to come to BED, he had a few ideas for a new project that he was putting out to tender to a few local agencies and we were in the mix for selection.
We took on Tom’s brief and put our proposal together, it was based on creating an instantly recognisable brand that users could aspire to. We would use the brands USPs – Free UK delivery, UK manufacture and no middlemen to its advantage. These would all help set couch apart from the competition and really go to work for the fledgling brand.
We submitted our proposal and Tom was keen to come and have another chat with us about our vision for the project over a cuppa. From that meeting, a brand was born and we ran with the project. We weren’t sure in the beginning if it was going to be Couch or Slouch, but we knew it needed to feel approachable and personable as soon as the user encountered the brand. We wanted them to feel instantly at home, like the site was familiar and that its proposition was one they could trust.
In a market dominated by a few big time brands we couldn’t just knock up any old site! Couch needed to be built to last more than a just couple of years and easily adapt to new trends so that it could compete with the likes of Made.com.
Our brief was to provide Couch’s users with an experience that could match the business’s excellent customer service. There really was lots to cover, and we had lots of fun exploring and developing our ideas.
We started the project with branding. Although in the beginning we were unsure of which name to use – the typography that we fell in love with worked well for both Couch and Slouch – It had to really, we went back and forth on this a few times before landing firmly on Couch. Slouch had the wrong connotations for the friendly persona that we were going for.
The type itself is quite soft on the eye and all lower case, it gives the impression of being feminine and approachable.
This was echoed through to the colour palette- a soft purple that radiates luxury. Wanting the site to be clean and confident with lots of personality and individualism, we felt a white site with touches of colour would work well. Bespoke hand drawn illustrations were also added, this made the site look less corporate and dry, giving it a unique feel that would match the chatty, tongue-in-cheek nature of the content that would be flooded throughout the site.
We spoke with Tom a lot around using the site’s ‘real estate’ area (that bit above the fold) to sell the brand and products to maximum effect. He was keen to get a big dynamic banner in that space rotating through it’s high end products and I don’t blame him. The product shots are fantastic and work well to create that aspiration we set out to achieve.
Once the design phase was over, we needed a platform to build it on. Tom already had Magento in mind after doing a bit of research around its potential; needless to say, this was right up our street! Not only would it provide a blank canvas for us in terms of design, but it would also give Tom and his staff the ability to have full control over content and product management which would be important as the range on offer grew.
We weren’t going to be launching the site with a great deal of products to begin with, but that’s not to say that the process would be a straightforward one. Couch would be offering its users the ability to get any style sofa in any fabric colour (which ordinarily would have been fine).
The spanner in the design works was Toms desire to show the user all of the colour options available on the product page, even if there were 40+ choices.
This proved a tad tricky to display in a way that didn’t make your eyes burn! So we came up with a few options, our favorite was having a sort of show/hide slide out functionality beneath the product image which was the design we launched with. Post live, we tweaked this to be as you see it today, not as swanky but much more functional for Tom’s users.
As with all our Magento builds we integrated a few snazzy extras to make it stand out from it’s competition, namely; WordPress, a live chat module for real time customer service, bespoke animations throughout the site and 360 degree product views. Unique ‘Be Inspired’ sections at product level also give the site that extra dash of pizzazz.
It goes without saying that the new Couch website is fully responsive; although we couldn’t envisage some one buying a sofa from their phone, the browsing experience is on point and easily transferred from mobile to desktop without losing any of the overall buying experience.
Working with the Couch team to take forth their vision has been a great project, from the initial brand concepts right through to the original UX ideas we designed. Tom and the team were fully on-board, they really allowed us to push our creative ideas forward, the ‘Cut Out The Retailer’ section is a great example where we added real value into the process by suggesting and then storyboarding an overview of Couch’s key values to the customer, this concluded with us building an slick interactive animation sequence to really push their USP’s.
Personally I’m really happy with the outcome of the store and we’re already looking forward to where we’ll take the next phase.